Prior to 2001, a custodial mother could relocate with her child even though the non-custodial father would be remaining in Colorado and objected to the move. As long as certain conditions were met, the court almost always granted the move.
Now, though, any move of a custodial parent must be in the best interests of the child, according to updated Colorado child relocation laws.
Since Colorado began using the “best interests of the child doctrine” as a determining factor in parental relocation, the court does not automatically grant a presumption or advantage to either parent. Neither do they allocate the burden of proof to either parent.
However, within the “best interests” criteria, several points must be addressed by the court:
- The reason or reasons for the relocation must be provided. Is it because of a job transfer or better job-finding prospects?
- The non-custodial parent’s objection must be given.
- The court then looks at the historical relationship of the child with each parent. For example, did the non-custodial dad show a pattern of engaging in as much parenting time as possible with the child?
- The court will review the quality and opportunity for the child’s education at each location.
- The judge will also want to know if the child will have access to extended family.
- The relocating custodial mother must provide what she believes is the advantage to the child of remaining with her as the primary caregiver.
- The custodial mother must provide the court with what she believes will be the impact of the move on the child.
- If the custodial mother is allowed to relocate with the child, will a reasonable parenting time schedule be possible for both parents?
- If the child is mature enough to express his or her own preference, he or she will be given an opportunity to do that.
- The current adjustment of the child to his/her home, school, and community will be considered.
- The mental and physical health of the child and both parents will be carefully scrutinized.
- The court will investigate if either parent was the perpetrator of child abuse, neglect, or domestic violence.
- The court will want to know if the parents’ value system represents time, commitment, and mutual support.
- Last, the judge overseeing a relocation case will want to have a clear understanding of each parent’s ability to place the child’s needs ahead of his and her own.
Long-Distance Parenting Plan
If the parent is allowed to relocate with the child, a long-distance parenting plan must be negotiated and provided to the court. Commonly, a child will live with the mother during the school year and the father during the summer months or vice versa.
An arrangement for paying the child’s travel expenses will have to be agreed upon between the parents. The payment of child support may need to be adjusted, also.
The more recent law also states that relocation does not necessarily have to be out of state. Relocation within the state of Colorado is subject to the same determining criteria.
How To Fight Relocation
If your child’s mother has told you that she will be moving out of state, it is important to consult with a Colorado family law attorney as soon as possible because time limits will apply.
Your ex-wife may be under the impression that she can relocate because she is the custodial parent. However, current relocation law will make it much more difficult for her to move your child to a new location without rigorous evaluation by the court.