What happens when you have a parenting time order but you want or need to move or the other parent wants or needs to move out of state? Absent a court order or an agreement of the parents, a parent cannot move a child out of state. The parent themselves can move, but they cannot remove the child.
So what if the other parent won’t agree to the move out of state? In Colorado, the governing principle is based on what is in the best interests of the child. In the context of relocation, that can mean a somewhat different evaluation than was made for the initial parenting time determination.
Modifications of parenting time orders are frequently an issue. The standard for modifying is the same as when the order is initially established – the best interests of the child. The court is reluctant to order a major change in a child’s life without considering all possible implications of a change.
If a parent is considering a relocation, even one within the state, but that would “substantially change the geographical ties between the child and the other parent,” then they must follow the proper protocol in order to gain approval.
- The relocating parent must provide the other party with written notice as soon as possible
- This notice must include their intent to relocate, the new location, the reason for the relocation and a proposed new parenting time plan
By law, these hearings are supposed to have priority in the courts, but negotiation outside of court is likely the best option for getting an agreement between parents both for efficiency and cost-effectiveness.
More than just best interest factors
In addition to the best interest factors, the relocating parent must also demonstrate:
- Reasons why they wish to relocate with the child
- Reasons why the other parent objects
- History and quality of each party’s relationship with the child
- Educational opportunities for the child in the existing and new location
- Presence (or absence) of family members in the existing and new location
- Advantage of child remaining with primary caregiver
- Impact of move on child
- Whether reasonable parenting time can be created after relocation
- Any other relevant factors
A relocation may be a good or bad thing for your family, but it depends entirely on your individual circumstances. Consider the above process and guidelines before considering taking a major step that may have an impact on your child and your child’s relationship with the other parent.