When parents in Colorado divorce, it is possible that one of them will eventually want to move far away or even to another state — especially if he or she is looking for a new job or merely wishes to be closer to certain family members.
However, it is important to remember that a parent cannot simply choose to pack up and move with a child if that child is subject to an existing parenting time arrangement. After all, the other parent has rights too.
Colorado's child relocation process
Fortunately, Colorado law clearly outlines the process and procedures that govern child relocations in the Centennial State.
First, the custodial parent — i.e., the parent with whom the child resides a majority of the time — must notify the other parent as soon as possible of his or her intent to relocate with their child to a location that “substantially changes the geographical ties between the child and the other [parent].”
This notice must 1) be in writing, 2) name the location of the intended relocation, 3) identify the reasons for the relocation and 4) include a proposed revised parenting time plan. If the noncustodial parent objects to this relocation, the court will schedule a relocation hearing, which is typically given priority on the court’s docket.
During this relocation hearing, the court will need to determine whether a modification of parenting time is in the child’s best interests by examining several factors, including, but not limited to:
- The reasons offered by the relocating parent for the move
- The reasons why the other parent objects to the proposed move
- The existing relationships between the child and each parent
- The available education opportunities for the child in the current location and at the proposed location
- The presence or absence of extended family members at either location
- The possible impact that the relocation will have on the child
- The advantages to the child if he or she remains with the primary custodial parent
- The likelihood that the court will be able to create a reasonable parenting time schedule should it permit the relocation
- Any history of domestic violence by either parent
It is important to keep in mind, however, that the information above barely scratches the surface of what you need to know should you ever find yourself involved in a child relocation dispute in Colorado. This is why you should always seek experience legal guidance as soon as possible.