In Colorado, parenting plans are used to establish the rights and responsibilities of unmarried parents. But what happens when one parent wants to change the plan by moving with the child?
The law in this area is more complicated than you might think. Here is an overview of how the process works.
How far away do I have to be moving?
Parents have to follow Colorado's relocation law whenever moving would "substantially change the geographic ties" between the child and the other parent.
Moving out of state definitely counts. Moving within Colorado may also qualify, depending on where you are planning to move. It is always best to discuss a move with your lawyer beforehand, so that you can be sure you are not accidentally violating the law.
Can the other parent object to the move?
They can. Before you move, you must give official notice to the other parent. You must tell them where you are moving and why. You must also propose a revised parenting time schedule that takes the move into account.
In addition, a judge will have to approve the request to move and modify the parenting plan. As part of this process, the other parent can object and offer evidence that moving will be detrimental to the child's well-being.
How does a court decide whether I can move with my child?
Ultimately, the court's job is to determine whether moving is in the child's best interest. As part of this, the court considers all relevant circumstances and all of the factors that would normally be considered in a child custody matter. Additionally, the law sets forth nine factors that courts must consider in "move-away" cases. They are:
- Why the parent wants to move with the child
- Any objections the other parent has to the move
- The nature of each parent's relationship with the child
- Educational opportunities in the current community and the new community
- The presence of extended family in the current community and the new community
- The benefits of the child continuing to live with the same parent
- How the move might impact the child
- Whether the other parent will be able to have meaningful parenting time or visitation
- Any other factors relevant to the child's best interests
What is my first step?
If you are planning on relocating with your child, or if you have gotten notice that your ex is planning on moving, the best first step is to consult with a Colorado family law attorney. This does not necessarily have to be the same lawyer who handled your divorce.
The move-away process in Colorado is complicated, and you don't want to take the risk of making mistakes. Your lawyer can help ensure that the process is handled fairly, and that your child's best interests are properly considered.