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Can My Ex Leave the State With Our Child?


It is not unusual for one spouse to want to move away for a fresh start after a divorce in Colorado. When children are involved, however, moving away is complicated. Every citizen has the right to travel freely. You may have legal recourse as the noncustodial parent, however, if the move will negatively affect your child or infringe upon your custodial rights.

The Basics of Child Relocation After a Divorce

When determining all matters involving children, the courts in Colorado will do what is in the child’s best interests. This is the case for child support, child custody and child relocation. When a custodial parent wants to move out of the state with a child after a divorce, the courts will consider whether or not the move is in the child’s best interest. If the child has established roots in his or her community, with deep ties to school, church, family and friends, the noncustodial parent may have a case to require the custodial parent to stay in the state.

The courts will assess many factors when deciding whether or not a parent can leave the state with a child. A judge will look at the reason for the proposed move and your reason for objecting to the move, as well as the relationship between each parent and the child, whether the child will have family in the proposed location, whether it will be possible for you to have parenting time after the move, what impact the move will have on the child, and any other factors related to the child’s wellbeing.

In general, the Colorado courts prefer both parents to work together to make relocation work. A judge will typically sign off on a parenting plan or agreement created by a child’s parents. If this is not possible and the child relocation matter goes to court, a judge will try to balance each parent’s rights with the best interests of the child. A judge may or may not allow a custodial parent to leave the state with a child, depending on the circumstances.

What Can You Do to Prevent Your Ex From Leaving the State With Your Child?

You may have legal options if you do not want your ex to leave the state with your child. First, review your custody plan. If a judge gave you and your ex-spouse joint custody in the divorce, it is generally best for both parents to live near each other to carry out the terms of the custody agreement.

With a joint custody arrangement, you and your ex will have an equal say in where the child lives, as well as major decisions such as education, religion and health care. Although sharing custody can work long-distance, it is more difficult. If it will be so difficult that it infringes upon your rights or goes against what is best for your child, a judge may order your ex to stay within state lines.

Next, determine whether your ex-spouse fulfilled the requirements for moving out of state with a child. In Colorado, the custodial parent has to give written notice of a plan to move to the noncustodial parent. This plan must identify the reason for the move, the new location and a proposal for a new custody plan. As the noncustodial parent, you will then have the chance to negotiate a custody or visitation agreement with your ex.

You also have the right to file an objection to the move and to request a hearing to adjust your custody arrangement. You will go to court to try to prevent your ex from moving out of the state. You can use arguments such as your ex not having a valid reason for the move or the move taking a toll on your child’s emotional health. A judge may rule in your favor and stop the relocation if he or she believes moving out of state would negatively impact the child’s wellbeing. Work with an attorney for assistance with child relocation in Colorado for the best possible outcome.

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