When custody for your child was initially determined and established by the courts, it reflected your then-current situation. It is not unusual for things to change over time, however. One common question that arises is whether a custody order can be amended when one parent has a job opportunity that will take them out of their current geographic area permanently. Legally, this is referred to as a "relocation" or "removal" situation.
If the parents are unable to come to an agreement among themselves in a relocation case and it proceeds to the court, a determination about modifying the custody agreement will hinge on several factors. When the parent with primary custody is relocating, either within Colorado or to another state, the court will look at whether relocating the child is in the child's best interest.
Other considerations include:
- Whether the child's current environment poses a danger to the child's health or emotional development, and the move is likely to change that.
- The reason for the relocation
- The reason the other parent objects to relocating the child
- The quality of each parent's relationship with their child, and the history of those relationships since earlier court orders
- Educational opportunities for the child both in the existing community and in the new community
- Whether the child has extended family available in the existing community or in the new community
- Benefits to the child of staying with the custodial parent
- Anticipated impact of the move on the child
- If the move is granted, whether the other parent would be able to have meaningful visitation or parenting time
Procedurally, the parent who wants to move the child with them needs to provide the child's other parent with written notice stating the intent to relocate, the location of the new home, the reasons for the move and a proposed new parenting time plan.
For helpful tips on successful long-distance parenting, see "Connecting with Your Kids", a publication of the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment. If you wish to modify an existing custody plan for a relocation, or if your child's other parent is requesting such a modification, speaking to an experienced, knowledgeable family law attorney can help protect your child's interests.