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Relocating with Your Children When There are Existing Child Custody Orders

If you have existing child custody orders in Colorado and are the primary residential custodian, it would be natural that when you want to move out of Colorado, you expect the child(ren) to move with you. However, if the children’s other parent does not agree with the move, you may have to ask the Colorado courts for permission to move with the children. C.R.S. 14-10-129 governs modifications to parenting time, and you need to plan ahead in order to show the courts that despite removing the children from the geographic location of the other parent, the move is still in the child(ren)’s best interest.

            If the other parent agrees to you moving out of Colorado with the child(ren), then you should turn that agreement into a written document, or stipulation, have both parents sign the stipulation, and file the stipulation with the court. However, if the other parent does not agree with the move, you may still seek to move out of Colorado with the child(ren) despite her or his objection to the move. If you must seek the court’s approval, it is important to note that the court will presume that it is in the best interest of the child(ren) to be near both parents, and to have a strong bond with each parent. This presumption can be difficult to overcome, but it is not impossible.

            In addition to the best interest of the children, for which the determining factors are set forth in C.R.S. 14-10-124, the court will also look at the standards set forth in C.R.S. 14-10-129(2)(c) and (d), which can include: 

  • The reasons why the party wishes to relocate with the child;
  • The reasons why the opposing party is objecting to the proposed relocation;
  • The history and quality of each party’s relationship with the child since any previous parenting time order;
  • The educational opportunities for the child at the existing and at the proposed new location;
  • The presence or absence of extended family at the existing location and at the proposed new location;
  • The advantages of the child remaining with the primary caregiver;
  • The anticipated impact of the move on the child;
  • Whether the court will be able to fashion a reasonable parenting time schedule if the change requested is permitted; and;
  • Any other relevant factors bearing on the best interests of the child; or
  • The child’s present environment endangers the child’s physical health or significantly impairs the child’s emotional development and the harm likely to be caused by a change of environment is outweighed by the advantage of a change to the child.

If you are the parent looking to relocate out of Colorado, make sure to do your research about where you are hoping to move well in advance. You should communicate in writing to the other parent as soon as possible your intent to relocate, the location where you intend to move, the reason for the relocation, and the proposed revised parenting plan.  Once that information is given, you can determine if they are opposed to the move. If they are opposed, you will need to seek permission from the court through a motion and the necessary procedures that accompany motions to the court.

If you are the parent who is opposed to the move and are hoping to stop the child(ren) from being moved out of Colorado, you should begin by communicating your objection to the other parent in a calm manner, and also in writing. Do not threaten, harass, or be inappropriate either by text, phone calls, or in-person, as this will only have a negative impact on your case. You should then begin preparing to respond to the other parent’s motion to relocate and show that it is in the children’s best interest to stay in Colorado. You may also seek a modification of parenting time to make yourself the primary parent in the children’s best interest.

The success of your motion to relocate, or your objection to the motion, relies on your ability to adequately show to the court that what you are asking for is in the children’s best interests. Therefore, it is wise to hire experienced legal counsel. The exceptional attorneys at Burnham Law have years of experience with relocations, both during the initial divorce proceeding as well as after the divorce when a parenting plan is already in effect. We can help put you in a position to succeed and achieve your goals.

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