Fort Collins Child Relocation Attorney

When a couple separate or divorce, many times one or the other will want to move away and start a new life in another area. When there are children involved, however, this can pose a problem, as a move may put so much space between the two parents that the non-custodial parent may feel that his or her parenting ties to the children are being compromised or even eliminated. Any citizen has the constitutional right to travel freely, a right the courts cannot deny. However, allowances need to be made for the parenting rights of the non-custodial parent, as well as for how the move might affect the child.

The question of the custodial parent wanting to relocate may come up when the initial custody decision is being made, or at some later point, after a custody order has been in effect.

So how do Colorado’s courts handle these difficult situations when the parents are unable to agree on a solution?  The short answer is, as with all questions pertaining to child custody, the court must consider what is in the best interests of the child or children. In cases where there is already a parental responsibility order in place, there is not necessarily a presumption in favor of the custodial parent, as there was in the past.  Although there is no hard and fast rule, there are fairly extensive list of factors that must be considered in each case.

The Procedure

Whether the proposed move is to a place outside of Colorado or within the state, the custodial parent wishing to relocate must start by providing notice to the non-custodial parent, containing the following, in writing:

  • Informing the other parent of the intent to relocate
  • Identifying the location of the new residence being proposed
  • Stating the reasons for the move
  • Providing a proposal of a new visitation (parenting time) plan and schedule

A List of Considerations to Help the Court Decide on the Child’s Best Interests Regarding Relocation

In addition to the guidelines in place regarding determining custody when relocation is not at issue, Colorado judges will apply nine additional considerations when a parent intends to move:

  1. The reasons for the proposed move with the child.
  2. The reasons for the other parent’s objection to the move.
  3. The relationship each parent has maintained with the child since earlier custody orders.
  4. The educational opportunities available in the new proposed community, relative to those available where the child is currently living.
  5. Whether there is extended family living in the current or proposed community.
  6. Whether remaining with the parent who currently has primary custody is of a particular benefit to the child.
  7. What impact the move will have on the child.
  8. Whether it will be possible to arrange reasonable parenting time for the non-custodial parent if the move takes place.
  9. Any other factors that could affect the child’s well-being and best interests.

The judge, if the matter goes to trial, will attempt to balance the best interests of the child with one parent’s right to move and the other parent’s right to maintain a close relationship with the child. However, it is always preferable for the two parents to work together to arrive at their own solution that benefits all concerned.

Mediation

A solution that works for both parents is more likely if you are able to communicate with each other and agree on a way to handle a proposed move between the two of you.  With this in mind, usually a judge being presented with a motion for relocation will require you to attempt to resolve the issue through mediation, before scheduling a trial date.  Mediation is a way to attempt to negotiate an agreement with the opposing party rather than leaving everything up to chance with a Judge at a trial that will be very expensive.  At The Law Office of Stephen Vertucci, LLC, we will help you prepare for the mediation and help negotiate an agreement that best fits your needs.

If you are the custodial parent hoping to relocate, these might include difficulties finding a suitable job where you are now living, better educational opportunities for your children in another community, presence of grandparents of other extended family in the proposed community, and many other considerations.

If you are the non-custodial parent objecting to the move, considerations might include the difficulty of your getting time off work to travel to the new location, the travel expenses involved in bringing the children to your home community, the presence of extended family or superior educational opportunities where you are now, the children’s friends, activities and ties to the current community.

Skilled Legal Help Can Make the Difference when You Fear Losing Time with Your Child

With so many different factors going into the decision-making process, it is important to present your side clearly and logically to the judge, with well-stated arguments that will influence the decision in such a way as to protect your interests as well as those of your child. Having an experienced family law attorney assisting you in drafting the notice to the other parent―if you are the one proposing to move―and, in either case, preparing motions and responses to the court and providing competent representation at trial can go a long way toward ensuring that your parental rights and responsibilities will be preserved.

In Ft. Collins, CO, child custody attorney Stephen Vertucci has the experience, skill, and negotiating ability to present your viewpoint and concerns in talks with the other parent before putting the matter before the court, as well as to assist you in preparing for mediation or representing you in a trial, should that become necessary.  Call the Law Office of Stephen Vertucci, LLC at 970.900.1800 today to schedule a consultation and learn how we can help.