Summer is a popular time for families in the Woodland Park area to make a major move with their children, as it gives a child a chance to adjust to their new home and community before the start of the new school year.

After a divorce, parents may want to move to another part of Colorado or even out-of-state due to a new job, a new marriage, to be closer to family or because they feel the move will provide their child with opportunities not available in their current place of residence. However, when parents are divorced, and the parent with primary physical custody wishes to make a big move with the child, it is important that the noncustodial parent’s right to parenting time with the child is not impeded upon.

Colorado law recognizes that a child, in the absence of abuse or neglect, deserves to have a meaningful relationship with both parents. Therefore, it has legal procedures in place when a custodial parent wishes to relocate with the child that protects the noncustodial parent’s parenting time rights as well as the best interests of the child. The following is a brief overview of parental relocation and child custody, but because there are legalities that must be followed in such matters, it is important that both parties in such situations seek the advice of an attorney, rather than trying to handle their matter on their own.

Modifications and the best interests of the child

First, it is important to note that any modification of a child custody order that either grants or denies parenting time will be made based on the standard of the best interests of the child. This includes cases where the parent with primary physical custody over the child wants to relocate with the child in a way that substantially changes the geographical ties the noncustodial parent has with the child.

Factors considered in parental relocation cases

There are certain factors the court will consider whether to modify a parenting time order that would substantially change parenting time of either party. Based on the best interests of the child, some factors that will be considered include:

  • The reasons for the relocation
  • The reasons the noncustodial parent opposes the relocation
  • Each parent’s relationship with the child
  • Educational opportunities available to the child both at their current home and the proposed new home
  • Extended family living both at the child’s current home and the proposed new home
  • Any advantages that exist if the child continues to live with their primary caregiver
  • The effect the move would have on the child
  • Whether a reasonable parenting time schedule can be developed if the relocation is allowed; and
  • All other relevant factors based on the child’s best interests.

Trying to do-it-yourself could backfire

Ultimately, parental relocation is a situation that could have a major impact on a child’s life. Family law issues such as this should not be handled without first consulting an attorney, as any missteps could lead to an unfavorable result or could even harm the child. Attorneys can help their clients find solutions to these difficult issues. Life’s journey has many twists and turns, especially when a divorce occurs, so it is important to seek legal help with regards to any issues regarding parenting time and child custody.