Americans live in an increasingly mobile society. We move for jobs, family, and military reassignments. When a family has a custody order, relocation can be complicated. Find out what you need to do if you have a custody order and need to move.
This blog post will discuss Colorado Motions for Relocation. It will review the factors Colorado judges consider in granting relocation requests and modifying child custody orders. It will explain the special rules available to active-duty servicemembers who are reassigned. It will also give strategic tips for what to do if you have a custody order and need to move.
Moving While Your Divorce is Pending
When a family relationship breaks down, many parents want to move away as soon as possible to be closer to family and other support networks. However, in Colorado, every divorce case includes an order prohibiting either parent from moving the children out of state without the other parent’s permission or an order from the court.
Instead, if you have a currently pending divorce and need to move, you can ask the court to consider your desired new location in allocating parental responsibilities including custody and parenting time. A Colorado case, Spahmer v. Gullette, 113 P.3d 158 (Colo. App. 2005), says the judge can’t deny you the ability to move once the divorce is final and you have a custody order. However, you may receive less parental responsibility if your move would make it difficult to share in the day-to-day parental responsibilities.
What to Do if You Have a Custody Order and Need to Move
If you already have a custody order and need to move, in most cases you will need to file a Motion for Relocation. This motion allows the judge to evaluate the current and proposed allocations of parental responsibility and decide what is in the best interests of the child. If you have a custody order and find out you need to move, Colorado law requires you to send written notice to your child’s other parent “as soon as practicable”. Examples might include when you receive the job offer or learn that your loved one will need someone to care for them. That notice must include:
- A clear statement that you intend to move
- Where you plan to move to
- Why you are relocating
- How you propose revising the parenting plan
If the other parent consents to the move, or if you can negotiate a new parenting plan that you both can agree on, the case ends there. You can sign a new parenting plan and pack your bags.
However, if the other parent objects to the relocation, you will need to file a Motion for Relocation with the court. There the court will consider the best interests of the child, as well as several other factors included in the law:
- The reasons for relocation
- The reasons the other parent objects
- Each parent’s relationship with the child
- Differences in education (particularly gifted programs or special education) in each location
- Access to extended family including grandparents
- Any advantages to the child remaining with the current primary caregiver
- How the move will affect the child
- Whether a reasonable parenting schedule is available if the move is granted (including extended summer and holiday parenting time)
- Any other relevant factors
The law doesn’t presume that a move is automatically good or bad. Each parent has the responsibility to make his or her case and the court will consider both sides equally. If the court grants your Motion for Relocation it will enter a new custody order allocating parental responsibility between both parents.
Special Rules for Military Reassignments
There are special rules that apply when one or both parents are active-duty military servicemembers that have a custody order and have to move. The Colorado Uniform Deployed Parents Custody and Visitation Act (UDPCVA) still requires deployed parents to notify the other parent of their move as soon as reasonably possible. However, it also acknowledges that a deployed servicemember may not be able to wait months, or even weeks for the court to rule on his or her request to move.
The law allows parents with a custody order to make out-of-court agreements about how custody and visitation will work while the deployed parent is away. If they cannot agree, the UDPCVA allows for an expedited court process to be sure a modified custody order is entered before, or as soon as possible after, the military parent is deployed. Also, if a civilian parent files a Motion for Relocation during a servicemember’s deployment, the UDPCVA allows the court to postpone the proceedings until the servicemember is able to return from service.
Move-away cases can be hard for everyone involved. Children don’t want their lives disrupted. Parents don’t want to miss opportunities while waiting for the court. If you have a child custody order and need to move, you need the help of an experienced family law attorney to help you comply with the law and do what is best for your child and your family.
At Aviso Law, LLC, our divorce lawyers know how the law works for civilians and veterans alike. We are veterans ourselves, and we know what it is like to have to move on short notice. If you have a child custody order and need to move, we will help you understand your parenting time options and advocate on your behalf in court. We are here to serve you and your family. Contact us today to schedule a consultation.