THE REPRESENTATION YOU NEED IN ORDER TO PROTECT YOUR FAMILY
Posted in Child Relocation on April 15, 2019
Developing a custody agreement is often a long and stressful process, and the divorced parent’s lives can change in drastic ways after a custody agreement has already been established. Fortunately, the court system allows divorced parents to revisit and amend an existing custody agreement in light of changing life circumstances. For example, if your employer offers you a fantastic promotion that requires relocating to a different state, you may need to weigh the potential financial benefits against the time you spend with your kids.
If you are considering relocating, speak to a Fort Collins child custody attorney today for more information about the legal process.
Every parent must ultimately make these decisions on an individual basis. However, if you reach such a decision and need to amend your custody agreement, you must take time to reach out to the other parent. These discussions may be difficult, but things may be even more difficult when it comes to telling a noncustodial parent you intend to move.
Physical Custody and Moving
When one parent has primary physical custody or majority custody over a child with an ex-spouse, the custodial parent has the right to make major decisions on behalf of the child. One such decision could be moving to a new state. If you have primary physical custody over your children and intend to move, you must inform the noncustodial parent of your decision. Some child custody agreements may even have strict stipulations as to time limits for giving the noncustodial parent notice about these things.
Violating your custody agreement could have a negative impact on your custody rights and your relationship with your ex and your children, so be sure to carefully review your custody agreement and follow all rules pertaining to major decisions.
If a custodial parent intends to move, he or she must file a written notice to the noncustodial parent. This notice must include the date and time of the intended move, the reason for relocation, and the address of the custodial parent’s new residence. The noncustodial parent usually has the option to object to this move, and the parents may need to return to court for a ruling.
Most states have specific rules when it comes to providing a noncustodial parent with notice of a move, but some child custody agreements will specify these matters on an individual basis. For example, a divorcing couple may include mutually agreed upon grounds for relocation in their custody agreement. Always refer to the child custody agreement before making any major decisions about relocating, and consult with an attorney before proceeding.
Relocation With a Child Custody Agreement
Every state has unique laws for handling relocation-related issues in child custody agreements, but typically the parents must provide the court with a sound list of reasons supporting or condemning the proposed move. The noncustodial parent may seek to prevent the custodial parent from moving with the children or adjusting the custody agreement to secure primary physical custody.
As with all matters related to child custody, the court has a legal duty to rule in favor of the best interests of the children. The judge hearing the relocation matter will assess the custodial parent’s proposed reasons for relocating, such as taking a lucrative new job or moving closer to extended family, and then weigh them against the noncustodial parent’s grounds for refusing the relocation request. The court has a responsibility to assess the potential positive and negative effects of a relocation on a couple’s children.
The court may determine that the custodial parent taking a promotion in a new state and adjusting primary custody to the noncustodial parent remaining in the area would be a net benefit to the couple’s children. Such an arrangement could mean more financial support for the children’s futures with minimal disruption in their day-to-day routines.
If you notify your noncustodial ex that you intend to move, prepare for the possibility of amending your custody agreement and be sure to follow the applicable time limits and procedure for notifying your ex. For more information on child relocation and custody arraignments, contact a divorce specialist in Fort Collins.
The most common form of child abduction is parental kidnapping. Parental kidnapping occurs when a non-custodial parent takes children without the custodial parent’s knowledge or consent. Colorado laws define taking a child as kidnapping, even if the abductor is a parent, if that parent does not have custody or parenting time privileges. If a non-custodial parent unlawfully takes a child, the other parent has available options for the child’s safe return.
Examples of Parental Kidnapping in Colorado
A non-custodial parent in a situation with a court-ordered custody agreement can never be too careful with what he or she does with children. Surprising children at school, for example, might not be a good idea if a parenting time order expressly forbids unsupervised parental visits. Picking children up from school, church, or elsewhere and taking them somewhere – even for ice cream down the road – without the legal right or the other parent’s consent, is parental kidnapping.
One of the most common examples of family abduction is removing a child from the state in violation of a custody order. Some families may live in one state, but have a child custody order from another state. This can present issues, as state officials can only enforce orders from within their state. If you moved to Colorado with a custody agreement from a different state, get a Colorado court order as soon as possible. That way, law enforcement will have the right to recover children and return them to the custodial parent. Otherwise, your ex-spouse may be able to escape liability because of a loophole in the system.
In Colorado, a parent with primary custody of minor children has the right to move out of state with them, without the other parent’s consent. This does not constitute parental kidnapping. However, the non-custodial parent has the right to petition the court to prohibit the removal of children from the state. The courts will hold a hearing to decide whether it should prevent the move or permit it to happen. Blocking the move may occur if the courts believe it is in the children’s best interests.
Colorado is unique in that most states do the opposite: the custodial parent must petition the courts to move out of the state. Note that removing children from the state or taking them elsewhere is not parental kidnapping if the courts have not issued a custody order. If the parents never went to court and received an official custody agreement, it is not kidnapping for one parent to take the children – even without the other parent’s consent or knowledge. Both parents will retain equal responsibilities and rights, until the court says differently with an official custody order.
What to Do About Parental Kidnapping
Finding out your ex-spouse breached a custody order and took physical control of your children without consent can be frightening. If you have already filed for allocation of parental rights and won, then your ex-spouse is in violation of the custody agreement and may be guilty of parental kidnapping. Your first step should be to call the police, especially if you believe your children to be in danger. The other parent could be guilty of 2nd-degree kidnapping, or wrongfully retaining a child under 18 years old. This is a class 5 felony.
Colorado law enforcement will have the power to take steps to retrieve your child as long as you have a state-issued court order granting you custody of the children. If your ex-spouse receives a conviction for parental kidnapping, he or she could face up to three years in prison and $100,000 in fines. The police may ask if you want to press charges, and the city may decide to prosecute regardless of what you say. Once you call the police, the matter is generally out of your hands.
Posted in Child Relocation on September 5, 2018
International travel with children has grown increasingly common over the past several years, and so have the number of marriages between parents of varying national backgrounds. Traveling with children often entails some stress, but this increases significantly when international travel is concerned. Additionally, a divorced parent may worry about an ex-spouse abducting the couple’s children and taking them out of the country.
If you plan to travel internationally with your children, or if your ex-spouse may take the children out of the country for vacation or to visit relatives in another country, then your custody agreement should be your first resource for determining the proper procedures for these events.
Custody Agreements and Travel
When couples with children divorce, the custody agreement will typically outline each parent’s rights and obligations, and this should include domestic and international travel. For example, if one parent has family in Canada, the custody agreement should have clear instructions for visits outside the country, each parent’s custodial rights, and any adjustments that will take place to compensate the other parent for the trip, if applicable.
One element of the agreement could state that if the children spend the school year with their mother and the summer with their father and the father has family or property in another country, he may take the children out of the country for summer vacation since it would not interfere with their schooling. There would likely be specific requirements in place for phone calls, correspondence, emergencies, and other possible issues. If for some reason the father is unable to take the kids for the summer one year, he may ask for an adjustment to the custody agreement to compensate for lost time.
If you plan to take your children out of the country, it is always in everyone’s best interest to notify your ex well in advance. Make plans and be sure that your ex understands the details of your travel itinerary, how he or she can reach you and the kids, and what to do in case of emergency. It’s best to obtain written consent from your ex for any trip outside of the U.S.
International Child Abduction
If one parent fails or neglects to obtain consent from the other parent and takes the couple’s children out of the country, the traveling parent may become the subject of an international child abduction case and face significant legal penalties. Depending on the other country’s immigration and child custody policies for international travelers, it’s possible for embassies and even government officials to participate in such a case.
The U.S. State Department advises parents who intend to travel internationally with their children to obtain letters of consent from ex-spouses staying behind in the U.S. Have your divorce attorney retain a copy of this letter just in case, and file it with the U.S. embassy in your destination country. It’s also wise to secure passports for your children, even if your destination country does not require them for minors. Having as much documentation as possible will help you sort out any confusion and protect against an unwarranted kidnapping charge.
If your ex-spouse does attempt to abduct your children and take them to another country without your consent, you should notify local law enforcement as soon as you become aware of the situation and contact the relevant travel companies to see if you can intercept the abduction. Notifying the airline your ex intends to use can help delay abduction long enough for local law enforcement to retrieve your children. If your ex successfully reaches his or her destination country with your children, local law enforcement will likely partner with federal law enforcement and international entities to locate your children and bring them home.
If you are concerned about your ex attempting an international abduction or you simply want to protect yourself and your kids before an international trip, speak the a family law attorney as soon as possible to review your custody agreement.
A divorce is hard on everyone in the family, especially the children. Many times, the custodial parent will want to move to a new city or state and start life anew. While the parent may feel this necessary, child relocation is often a contentious subject between the two parents, because one will feel that their rights and abilities as a parent are being violated.
Process of Filing for Child Relocation in Colorado
If you wish to move far enough away from the other parent that the geographic ties between them and the children would be erased, you must file a petition with the court if you and the other parent cannot come to an agreement on your own. The relocation papers are not filed until after a court order regarding parenting time is given. The process of filing for relocation includes:
- Written notification must be given to the other parent – and usually their lawyer as well – which contains the location you wish to move to, why you are moving and a revised parenting plan.
- A filing fee of $105 is required. If you cannot pay it, you must complete a Motion to File without Payment.
- Other forms that could be necessary include: sworn financial statement and child support worksheets.
- Upon filing all the proper forms, there will be a court hearing to determine the validity of your wishes.
The forms can be gotten from the Colorado Judicial Branch website, and should be as honest and thorough as possible. If the other parent disproves any of your claims for why the move is necessary you may face criminal charges.
Colorado Child Relocation Court Hearing
Bottom line, the court tries to determine what is best for the children. According to Colorado law, the court will take all of the following into account during the hearing:
- 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 location and at the proposed new location.
- The presence or absence of extended family at the existing location and at the proposed new location.
- Any 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.
- Any other relevant factors bearing on the best interests of the child.
All of this information must be provided in order for the court to consider your petition seriously. If your reasons for relocation include fear of violence or abuse by the other parent towards you or the children, Colorado law stipulates that the motion be heard within seven days.
It’s worth re-mentioning that the court will determine the best course of action based on the needs of the children; a move within Colorado or even within the same metropolitan area can create logistical and emotional problems for the children, so your reasons and evidence for the necessity of relocation should be convincing.
A good Colorado divorce attorney will help you sift through the paperwork and comply with all legal requirements. Going through a separation is not just difficult for you but for the children as well, and an attorney can help make the process as painless as possible.
For more information on divorces: see our divorce FAQ’s.