People’s lives change over time, and the same is true after a divorce. But what happens when your former spouse wants to move and take your child with them?
You may wonder, Can I prevent child relocation after a divorce? Below, the Denver family attorneys at Plog & Stein P.C. provide general information about the law regarding child relocation after a divorce. However, you should speak with one of our experienced family lawyers for guidance that is specific to your case.
Post-Divorce Child Relocation
First, you should examine the parenting plan issued as part of the divorce. A parenting plan reflects either a custody agreement between the spouses or an order by the divorce court allocating custody between the parents.
Most Colorado parenting plans ,state that if either parent wishes to move a “significant distance,” they must get permission from the court or the other party. Colorado law mirrors this requirement. If the parent with whom the child resides a majority of the time wants to relocate, and the relocation would “substantially change” the ties with the other parent, they have two choices. They can either:
- Obtain the consent of the other parent to relocate, or
- File a motion with the court asking to relocate.
In other words, you cannot just leave if you are the one thinking of relocating. You must get permission first. If you want to prevent your child’s other parent from relocating, you can refuse to give them your consent. They’ll likely go to court if you refuse, so speak to a lawyer for assistance.
What Is a Significant Distance?
Moving a “significant distance” under this relocation law is not limited to situations where the parent moves out of state. If the move would reduce the other parent’s time with the child or burden the other parent’s ability to see the child under the parenting plan, the relocating parent must take the above steps.
Suppose the parent would like to relocate from one part of Denver to another. This would not likely be considered a move that would significantly change the other parent’s ties with the child. However, if the relocating parent wishes to move from Denver to Colorado Springs, this would likely be considered a significant change. It should be noted that each case is different and there is no set distance.
Motion to Relocate
If the non-relocating parent does not consent to the move, the relocating parent must ask the court for permission to relocate. To do so, they must file a Motion to Relocate with the court. The court will consider many factors when deciding whether to approve the parent’s and child’s relocation.
The court decides any such motion based on what is in the best interests of the child. The best interests of the child include the following considerations:
- Each parent’s wishes;
- The child’s wishes, if they’re of suitable maturity;
- The relationship between the parents, child, siblings, and other family members;
- The mental and physical health of all parties;
- The parents’ abilities to communicate and cooperate; and
- Current and past involvement in the child’s life.
These are factors a court examines in any child custody or visitation matter.
The court will also examine factors specifically pertaining to the relocation, such as:
- Why the parent wants to relocate,
- Why the other parent objects to the relocation,
- Each parent’s relationship with the child since the implementation of the prior parenting plan,
- The educational opportunities at the new and current locations,
- The presence of extended family at either location,
- The benefits of the child staying with the primary caregiver,
- How the move could impact the child,
- Whether the court can construct a reasonable long-distance parenting schedule, and
- Any other factor that the court deems relevant.
Plus, the court will consider any domestic violence when deciding whether to approve the relocation.
Can I Prevent My Child’s Relocation?
The answer to this question depends entirely on the facts and circumstances of your case. You could refuse consent and oppose the relocation motion, and the court might still decide that relocation is in your child’s best interests. The court could even significantly alter the parenting plan to reflect this change. Thus, you should speak with a qualified family attorney if you want to prevent your former spouse from relocating with your child.
Contact Our Skilled Attorneys About Child Relocation
Child custody matters can be stressful, and the child relocation law is complex. At Plog & Stein P.C., our lawyers have decades of experience representing parents in custody disputes, including relocations, throughout the Denver area. Contact us today.