Relocation and child custody

On Behalf of | Dec 14, 2021 | Firm News |

Sometimes you need a change, and the best way to get it is to move to a new neighborhood, a new town, a new state or even a new country. Perhaps one of those times is after you have gone through a divorce. However, if you are in this situation and you have minor children, your freedom to relocate may be limited.

Under Colorado law, parents who are party to a child custody order must get approval from the other parent and/or the court before they can move. This is especially important if the parent seeks to take the child with them when they relocate.

Parental responsibilities

Colorado generally uses the term “parental responsibilities” instead of “child custody.” This recognizes that parents have rights and responsibilities with regard to their children, even when they don’t live with the child full-time.

Among these rights are the right to spend time with their child and the right to make important decisions about their health, education and upbringing. Among the responsibilities are the responsibility to provide food, clothing, shelter, medical care and other necessities for their child.

When parents go their separate ways in divorce, or in cases where the parents never married, they must divide these responsibilities between them. Both parents must pay for the child’s needs, and so a parent who does not live with the child must pay child support. However, a parent still has parental rights even if the child does not live with them all the time.

Relocation

With this background, it’s clear that one parent moving far away can cause complications with the rights and responsibilities of the other parent. The extent of these complications depends on the circumstances, and whether the child is moving with the parent.

If you are seeking to move to another state with your child, you will make it harder for the other parent to visit with their child. This type of move can also require some adjustments to account for differences in state laws and bureaucracies.

If you are seeking to move far away without your child, the other parent needs assurances that you will continue to meet your obligations for child support. Once again, in this scenario you will need to clear things up according to the laws of both states.

Best interests of the child

In many cases, the other parent does not object to the move. Even so, they may need to clear things with the court before relocating, and modify their parental responsibilities agreement as needed.

If the other parent does object to the move, things become much trickier.

When the parents disagree, the court must decide whether the parent can relocate. As with all family law decisions regarding children, the court makes its decision based on its determination of the best interests of the child.

The court will also look for the parent’s reasons for wanting to move. If the parent wants to move for a career opportunity or other compelling reason, the court is more likely to allow the relocation. However, the primary concern will still be the best interest of the child.

Get help

Relocation disputes can be emotional and legally tricky. If you are a parent in one of these disputes, it’s important to have sound legal advice, whether you are the one staying put or the one seeking to move.