What Happens When a Parent Needs to Relocate?

In an ideal world, even after divorce, families remain geographically close and it is convenient for children to see both parents despite not living in the same home. Unfortunately, this is not always the case and quite often divorced parents live in different towns or even different states. Though technology has made it easier for children to maintain regular contact regardless of a parent’s location, fulfilling actual visitation requirements can be challenging.

What Does Colorado Law Say about Relocation?

During divorce proceedings, the law prevents parents from removing his or her children from the state unless there is permission from the other parent or a judge. Once the divorce is finalized, parents may be permitted to take children out of state for travel. However, legal permission or an agreement between the parents is needed if a permanent relocation is desired.

According to C.R.S. § 14-10-129(1)(a)(II), in order for a parent to relocate with a child after a divorce, the parent must provide a variety of information to the court and to the other parent, including:

• Written notice of the intent to relocate
• Location to which he or she plans to reside after relocation
• Reason for relocation
• Revised parenting plan based on approval of the relocation

Following the submission of this information to the court, a removal hearing is scheduled. These are given top priority because the court understands that relocation cases are time-sensitive issues.

At the hearing the judge determines whether the proposed relocation is in the child’s or children’s best interests. According to C.R.S. § 14-10-129(2)(c), the court uses the following to determine best interest and whether the move will be approved:

• Reason for relocation
• Reason why the other parent objects to the relocation
• History and quality of the child’s relationship with both parents
• Educational opportunities for the child at the current and proposed locations
• Location of extended family
• Advantages of the child remaining with his or her current caregiver (the parent who wishes to relocate)
• Anticipated impact on the child
• Whether a reasonable parenting schedule is possible if the relocation is approved
• Any other factors that could affect the child

What If a Parent Needs to Relocate without the Child?

Parents who wish to relocate without their child are free to do so, but they will need to create a new parenting time schedule if their relocation affects the current schedule. This situation is often less contentious because the relocating parent is sacrificing time with his or her child, and may be willing to take on the responsibility, both financially and logistically, of future visits which would likely include travel. Should either parent object to the new arrangement, the court will rule on the individual issues at a hearing.

If you need to relocate or your child’s other parent has requested to relocate with your child, it is important that you seek legal guidance and ensure your parental rights are protected. For more information or to schedule a consultation concerning a Colorado family court matter, contact Montgomery Little & Soran, PC at 303-773-8100.