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Child Custody Frequently Asked Questions: Modifications of Parenting Time or Custody

  1. How often can my ex file a motion to change custody?The answer to this question depends upon the content of the existing orders. If one person has the majority of the visitation, or time, with the children, C.R.S. 14-10-129(1.5) indicates that absent a showing of danger, a motion to modify parenting time that also changes the party with whom the children reside a majority of the time, can only be filed after 2 years has passed from entry of the final orders or disposition of the most recent motion to change custody. If the parties already have equal parenting time, there is no set time frame in terms of how someone must wait to try to change the orders as to custody. That being said, most Denver family law courts will ultimately have an issue with someone who files repeated motions. The absolute exception to the 2-year rule is endangerment, whether physical or emotional in nature. When children are in danger, statute and courts understand that action may need to be taken without waiting.
  2. I am in the military and being deployed overseas. What happens with my parenting time and joint legal custody?The Colorado legislature has deemed the deployment of a person in the military to be a legitimate endeavor warranting special treatment under statute. As such, pursuant to C.R.S. 14-10-131.3, any changes to parenting time or decision-making are going to be viewed by the court, as per statute, as interim or temporary in nature. A service member going overseas should certainly attempt to get any agreements in place prior to leaving regarding parenting time or decision making. Statute indicates that upon return to Colorado, and the filing of a notice with the court, parenting time and decision-making as per prior orders resumes. Thus, those in the military are afforded the protection of knowing that being deployed overseas will not likely be used against them in future legal proceedings. One should also keep in mind that statutory standards for modifications of legal custody/decision-making would still apply. Fortunately, in this day of internet, cell phones, and Skype, decision-making regarding major issues should not be seriously interrupted from a logistical standpoint due to overseas deployment. We are ready to help Armed Forces members with their custody and visitation matters, before and after deployment.
  3. I have custody of my kids. Can I move out of state with them?Relocation of children outside the Denver metropolitan area is one of the issues our firm handles for our domestic relations clients. When a party has primary residential custody, or even sole decision-making, he or she does not have the legal right to relocate the children out of state, or in a manner that geographically impacts visitation in a significant manner, without written permission from the other party or an order of the court. In reality, we believe that relocation is the most difficult battle to win. As with other aspects of custody cases, a court must make the decision as to whether to authorize relocation of the children based on the “best interest standard.” C.R.S. 14-10-129, the statutory section dealing with modifications of visitation, sets forth the criteria a court will look at when assessing a request to relocate. In instances in which there are two good parents and significant visitation for the non-custodial parent, getting permission to relocate is highly unlikely.In essence, the party wishing to move with the children must have a very good reason, such as a new job making much greater income, or perhaps the other parent is not following his child support or alimony obligation, or maybe that parent has not been exercising his or her visitation for quite some time. Each case is different and unique, but a court will be looking for a significantly important reason for the move, whether reasonable visitation can be implemented for the party left behind, and whether the move is truly in the kids’ best interest. A new spouse or significant other living, or moving, out of state is not a valid reason in the eyes of most court. It is not uncommon for the court to appoint a child and family investigator or parental responsibilities evaluator to investigate all aspects of the case as relate to relocation. We can help you assess your potential relocation case, whether bringing it or fighting against it.

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