When a divorce becomes final, both ex-spouses are free to begin a new life, and this usually includes new relationships and new locations. Most Americans relocate 12 times during their lives, with a majority of these moves happening due to work.
When children are involved, the custody, support payments and visitation arrangements in the settlement agreement or divorce decree have been hard-fought or negotiated by both sides. When a career move or other personal decision takes one parent outside of the norms and pre-planned scheduling of co-parenting arrangements, it can disrupt that fragile balance and cause disruptions in the children’s daily schedules.
Getting a modification of family law orders is preferable to relying on side agreements that attempt to adapt to new situations, such as weekend visitation swaps or after-school pickups. These informal arrangements are often spontaneously decided by both parents and may seem to make sense at the time, but they are completely unenforceable in family court.
How does the court decide on a relocation request in Colorado?
As in any custodial decision, the Colorado state law requires the courts to take into account what serves the best interests of the child in granting or denying parenting time rights. Where a substantial change of parenting time would involve relocating with the child or where the party with whom the child will reside changes, the court will also consider other factors such as:
- why the party is relocating with the child or why the other party is objecting to the move
- any changes to the quality of each party’s relationship with the child
- the educational opportunities offered to the child
- the presence or absence of extended family at the new location
- the impact of a move on the child
- if the court can establish a reasonable parenting time schedule with the new arrangement
In deciding whether or not to grant a post-decree relocation request, the courts may appoint a child and family investigator (CFI) to assist in determining if the move is in the best interest of the child.
When making difficult decision of whether or not to modify an existing divorce settlement that will impact parenting time, custody arrangements or support payments, it is essential to have the support of experienced legal advocates in the Denver metro area.