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Child Custody and Relocation in Colorado

A common issue involved with a child custody arrangement is one parent wishing to relocate. A spouse may wish to move farther away to have a fresh start after the breakup, or may get relocated for work long after the divorce. Whatever the reason, specific protocols must be met to legally relocate with a minor child in Colorado. If you are dealing with a child move-away or relocation matter, consult with a child relocation attorney right away for assistance.

Can a Parent Relocate With a Child During or After Divorce?

Yes, a parent can move away or relocate with a child during or after a divorce, but only if the parent meets certain requirements. There are legal obligations that must be met before the parent can move. If the divorce has not yet been finalized and the couple does not have a custody agreement, the moving parent will need permission from the other parent or the court to relocate a child (even temporarily). In general, it is difficult to get this permission from the courts during a pending divorce.

If the couple is divorced and a parent with primary or joint custody wishes to move someplace that will substantially change his or her geographic location, the parent must also obtain permission from the other parent or a judge. The proper steps for relocating are:

  1. The moving party must provide written notice of the intent to move as soon as practicable.
  2. The party must write down the location where he or she wishes to move and the reason for the relocation.
  3. The party must include a new proposed parenting that takes the new location into account.
  4. If the other parent does not permit the move, the moving party can file a Motion to Relocate.
  5. Both parents will then have to speak before a judge on the issue during a relocation trial.
  6. A judge will review the facts of the case and determine whether the relocation serves the child’s best interests.

If the case goes to court in Colorado, the courts will generally make it a priority. Under Colorado law, a court should schedule a relocation hearing within 35 days of an opposing parent filing an objection. When determining a relocation matter, a judge will look at factors such as the current custody arrangement and the needs and desires of the child. If a judge grants the relocation request, it may also give a new custody order.

What if Your Ex Relocated Without Your Permission?

Without permission from the other spouse or the courts, it is against the law for a parent to relocate with a child during or after a divorce. It does not matter if the moving parent has primary or sole custody; the parent must still go through the proper outlets to receive permission to move, especially if the proposed relocation is out of state.

If your ex-spouse moved away with your child without your permission or an order from the court, take action immediately. If you believe your child is in imminent danger, call the police. This is called parental kidnapping and it is a crime in all 50 states. Then, go to the family court that created your custody order and file for an emergency or expedited relocation hearing. The courts will have resources to help you hold your ex-spouse accountable. They may also alter a custody agreement if your ex is no longer serving the best interests of your child.

Can You Modify Custody Due to Relocation?

If your ex-spouse plans on moving to a different geographical area – someplace farther than just the next town over – you can request a custody order modification from a judge. A judge may modify your custody arrangement if your ex-spouse plans to place a significant amount of distance between your households. As is the case with all custody matters, a judge will rule according to the best interests of the child. For legal assistance relocating or stopping a child relocation in Colorado, contact a family law attorney today.

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