Understanding Parental Relocation in Colorado

On June 24, 2024

As a resident of Colorado Springs navigating the complexities of post-divorce life, you may face the prospect of parental relocation. A tricky matter in any situation, the legalities of parental relocation come with their share of ups and downs that require the guidance of a Colorado Springs family law attorney.

Without a skilled attorney on your side, you run the risk of making costly mistakes that could jeopardize your relocation plans. Hiring an El Paso County divorce lawyer is your best course of action before attempting to handle a parental relocation on your own.

Understanding Colorado’s Relocation Laws

Colorado’s relocation laws balance parents’ rights to move freely with the need to protect the child’s relationship with both parents. The fundamental principle is that any proposed relocation must be in the child’s best interests. Even if a parent has the legal right to move, the court will still carefully evaluate the move’s impact on the child before granting approval.

Relocation During Divorce Proceedings

During the divorce process, neither parent can take the child out of Colorado, even briefly, without the other parent’s agreement or approval from the judge. If a parent wishes to relocate as part of the initial child custody evaluation, the court will consider the proposed move as it determines its parenting time and parental responsibility.

Before attempting parental relocation during your divorce, contact a knowledgeable Colorado Springs divorce attorney. With their careful guidance and expertise in the field of family law, they will help you develop an appropriate plan for a successful relocation.

Post-Divorce Relocation

Once the divorce is finalized, the situation becomes more complex. If the parent with whom the child resides most of the time seeks to relocate somewhere that “substantially changes the geographical ties between the child and the other party,” they must provide written notice to the other parent.  Your written notice must include the proposed new location, the reason for the move, and a revised parenting plan.

If one parent objects, the parent seeking to move must get written approval from the court before proceeding. The court will consider various factors, including the reasons for the move, the impact on the child, various educational opportunities, the presence of extended family, and the ability to maintain a reasonable parenting schedule.

Related: Preparing for a Child Custody Case

Factors Considered in Parental Relocation Decisions

When evaluating a request to relocate, Colorado courts will carefully weigh various factors to determine what is in the child’s best interests. These include:

Reasons for the Relocation

The court will examine the parent’s motivations for the move, such as job opportunities, proximity to family, or escaping an unpleasant climate. Moves driven by legitimate needs or opportunities are more likely to be approved than those perceived as attempts to limit the other parent’s involvement.

Reasons for Objection

When a parent seeks to relocate with a child in Colorado, the court will consider the reasons why the other parent objects to the relocation. Concerns about the potential negative impact on the child’s relationship with the non-relocating parent or disruptions to the child’s routine and stability will be given significant weight in the court’s decision-making process.

Relationship History and Quality

In the context of parental relocation laws in Colorado, the court will thoroughly review the history and quality of each parent’s relationship with the child. The court will also take into account any instances of domestic violence or other factors that may affect the child’s overall well-being.

Educational Opportunities

Under Colorado’s parental relocation laws, the court will assess the available educational opportunities for the child at the current and proposed new locations. This evaluation ensures that the child’s academic needs are adequately met and contributes to the determination of the child’s best interests.

Presence of Extended Family

In Colorado, the court will consider the presence or absence of extended family support for the child at both the current and proposed new locations. This evaluation takes into consideration the potential impact on the child’s emotional and social development, as extended family support can play a crucial role in the child’s well-being.

Advantages of Remaining with Primary Caregiver

When addressing parental relocation matters in Colorado, if the relocating parent serves as the child’s primary caregiver, the court may weigh the advantages of the child remaining with that parent, provided that the move aligns with the child’s best interests.

Anticipated Impact on the Child

In parental relocation cases in Colorado, the court will carefully assess the anticipated impact of the move on the child. This assessment includes considerations of potential disruptions to the child’s routine, social connections, and overall well-being, all of which are pivotal in determining the child’s best interests.

Ability to Maintain Parenting Schedule

In the context of parental relocation laws in Colorado, if the relocation is permitted, the court will evaluate whether a reasonable parenting time schedule can be established. This evaluation seeks to ensure that the non-relocating parent maintains meaningful involvement in the child’s life, even after the relocation.

See Also: How Losing Your Job Affects Divorce

Perkins Law - Parental Relocation

Procedure for Parental Relocation Requests

If a parent wishes to relocate with their child, they must follow a specific legal process. The relocating parent must advise the other parent with written notice of their intent to move, including the proposed new location, the reason for the relocation, and a revised parenting plan.

If the other parent objects to the proposed relocation, the parent seeking to move must file a motion with the court, and the matter will be set for a hearing. The court will then carefully make a careful determination based on the child’s best interests.

The court cannot simply “deny” the relocation and require the parent to remain in Colorado. The court’s options are limited to either permitting the move or denying it, in which case the child will remain with the parent who is not relocating.

Potential Consequences of Relocation

In some cases, a parent’s relocation request may result in a change of custody, even if they have previously been the primary caregiver. If the court determines that the move would harm the child’s well-being, it may award primary custody to the non-relocating parent. This judgment would then apply the more lenient “best interests of the child” standard rather than the higher “endangerment” threshold typically required for custody modifications.

Relocation Within Colorado

Applying for relocation doesn’t just mean moving out of state. Any move that substantially changes the geographical ties between the child and the other parent, even within El Paso County, can trigger the relocation requirements. These requirements include moves within the same metropolitan area that may significantly impact the parent’s ability to maintain their established parenting schedule.

Don’t Relocate Without Seeking First Expert Guidance – Contact Perkins Law Today

As you navigate the complexities of parental relocation, having an experienced Colorado Springs family law attorney by your side is imperative. A Colorado Springs lawyer with knowledge of the local family courts can help you understand your rights and advocate for a resolution that prioritizes your child’s best interests.

Contact Perkins Law of Colorado Springs to arrange your free, no-obligation consultation.

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