Child Relocation Cases in Colorado
Sometimes, it may be necessary for a divorced individual to move out-of-state after the divorce. What happens if you have kids? Unless you have a written agreement between you and your ex-spouse explicitly stating you can relocate with the children, you will have to either get permission of your ex-spouse or permission of the Court.
If you are requesting to move, attorneys and the Court consider your new issue a “relocation case.” Generally, you will need to file a motion to relocation of the minor child in Colorado. The Court oftentimes will require that you attend mediation and then will set the matter for a hearing.
What Does the Court Consider?
The Court considers nineteen different factors contained in two statutes, C.R.S. §14-10-124 and §14-10-129. First, the Court considers eleven factors that it considers are in the “best interests” of the minor child. The Court determines what is in the “best interests” of a child after it considers the following:
- The wishes of the child’s parents as to parenting time;
- The wishes of the child if he or she is sufficiently mature to express reasoned and independent preferences as to the parenting time schedule;
- The interaction and interrelationship of the child with his or her parents, siblings or other person who may significantly affect the child’s best interests;
- The child’s adjustment to his or her home, school, and community;
- The mental and physical health of all individuals involved;
- The ability of the parents to encourage the sharing of love, affection, and contact between the child and the other parent;
- Whether the past pattern of involvement of the parties with the child reflects a system of values, time commitment and mutual support;
- The physical proximities of the parties to each other as this relates to the practical considerations of parenting time;
- Whether one party has been a perpetrator of child abuse or neglect, which factor shall be supported by credible evidence; and
- The ability of each parent to place the needs of the child ahead of his or her own.
The Court is to consider all these factors, but can gave weight to different factors that it feels are more important in each specific case. This gives a Judge a large amount of discretion in determining what it believes is in the “best interests” of a child.
Furthermore, when a parent requests to relocate, a parent must also provide testimony and/or evidence regarding the additional factors:
- The reasons why the parent wishes to relocate with the child;
- The reasons why the other parent is objecting to the proposed relocation;
- The history and quality of each party’s relationship with the child since any previous parenting time order;
- The educational opportunities for the child at the existing location and at the proposed new location;
- The presence or absence of extended family at the existing location and at the proposed new location;
- Any advantages of the child remaining with the primary caregiver;
- The anticipated impact of the move on the child; and
- Whether the court will be able to fashion a reasonable parenting time schedule if the change requested is permitted.
Parenting Professional Needed?
With all of these factors to consider, it can be easy for a parent to get overwhelmed trying to prove his or her case to relocate. It can also be difficult for a parent to defend against such motion.
Sometimes, it may be necessary to hire a Parental Responsibility Evaluator (PRE) or a Child and Family Investigator (CFI) to thoroughly investigate the case. The PRE or CFI would likely interview both parents, review the interaction of the child with the parents, and review other collateral sources statements regarding the parents. The parenting professional would make recommendations to the Court regarding what the parenting time plan should be if one parent relocates, suggesting the child either stays or relocates based on the factors listed above.
A CFI or PRE can be helpful for two reasons. First, he or she oftentimes is a trained therapist, doctor, or has a background in psychology. He or she may be more qualified to know what is best for your child than a Judge. Furthermore, a CFI or PRE spends much more time with you, your child, and your ex-spouse. A Judge only has a few hours, sometimes a day, to hear the facts of your case. You may be more comfortable hiring a professional who will spend a greater amount of time determining what is best for your child, rather than a Judge who has a small amount of time to get to know you and the facts of your case.
If you want to relocate with your child, it is important to do some research before a Court hearing and gather evidence that relates to the factors listed above. If you are going to relocate, determine the where you are going to live exactly, where your child would go to school, information regarding the community, and who will care for your child while you are at work. Then, take the research a step further. How is the school rated? What is the crime rate in your new location? What are the special features of your new community that would benefit your child? How will your new caregiver be a positive influence in your child’s life?
Essentially, you need to provide solid reasons for the Judge as to why the move will be better for your child than remaining in Colorado with your ex-spouse.
Finally, make sure your reason to relocate is legitimate. For example, if you want to move to California because you like the sun better than snow, this reason probably will not be legitimate in the eyes of the Court. A Judge wants to keep both parents in a child’s life, so it does not take a request to relocate likely. Some reasons that would be considered more legitimate would be: a job opportunity that does not exist in Colorado or your new spouse is in the military and is required to relocate as part of his or her job.
Keep in mind, however, having a legitimate reason to relocate does not guarantee that the Court will permit you to relocate with your child. Whether you are requesting to relocate or you are defending against this motion, it may be helpful to consult and retain an attorney to help you in this type of case. If you have any questions regarding the specifics of your case, do not hesitate to contact the Hulse Law Firm at (720) 480-2247.