Relocation with children after divorce is a sensitive and complex issue. Job changes, new employment opportunities, education, re-marriage and military duty often cause parents to relocate with children to another state. Relocation with children from the local metropolitan area or relocation with children out-of-state frequently makes it impossible or impracticable to exercise parenting time under the existing schedule. It is very important to discuss your options with an experienced family law attorney. At Graf & Associates, P.C. we are highly experienced at relocation with children after divorce issues. Don’t make a move with your children or allow the other parent to relocate with the children without speaking to us first!
Even if the planned relocation with children is not out of state, Colorado law requires a parent to obtain the permission of the other party or Court approval if the relocation will impact the other parents visitation schedule. The best interest of the child standard does not always apply. In cases where the move will significantly impact the other parent’s rights, a more rigorous “endangerment” standard may apply. The Court will evaluate each party’s place of residence and then consider numerous statutory factors to determine where the child should reside and what visitation options (parenting time) the other parent should exercise. In some cases, a change in custody may take place and the child will remain in Colorado.
The Court must consider all relevant factors and circumstances before it will allow a party to relocate with the children to an area that effects the other party’s ability to exercise visitation (parenting time). The standard a Court may apply for a relocation with children after divorce is not necessarily the same as a parent who seeks to relocate without an existing Court Order. Talk to a family law attorney first before you put yourself in a position where you could be found in contempt of court or potentially loose custody.
Generally speaking, the Court will consider the existing parenting plan and whether the parties have been abiding by the existing plan. For example, if the parenting plan orders equal overnight parenting time with the children and the other parent fails to exercise that parenting time, it will be more likely that the parent seeking to relocate with the child will be permitted to move. In contrast, the existing practices of the parents may result in a parent exercising more time than is provided in the existing parenting time order. The court will consider the existing written order with the actual parenting time and interaction exercised by each parent.
The court will consider why the parent wishes to relocate and the effect of the relocation on the parent who is remaining in Colorado. Other factors to be considered by the Court when a party seeks to relocate with children include:
The court will also consider other relevant factors such as lifestyle, job opportunities and cost of transportation for visitation. It is not uncommon for the parties to request that an outside evaluation be performed such as a Child Family Investigator (CFI) or Parenting Recommendation Evaluation (PRE). Relocation with children after divorce may also require the parents to calculate a new child support obligation.