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How Do I Transfer My Custody Orders From Another State to Colorado?

The first step in determining the proper answer to this question is to assess the purpose of transferring the case. Interstate child custody matters are generally governed by the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act. Under Colorado Statute, the U.C.C.J.E.A. is set forth in Title 14, Article 13. Pursuant to the U.C.C.J.E.A. child custody orders from one state can be transferred to another state for two different purposes. The first purpose would relate to enforcement of the child custody orders, including as relates to visitation (parenting time) and parental responsibilities regarding the making of major decisions for a child. The second purpose from transferring a case relates to modification of the current custody orders.

In technical terms, the U.C.C.J.E.A. calls a custody order a “child custody determination.” Under the Act, initial child custody determinations are to be made in a child’s “home state,’ which is generally the state the child has resided in for the 6 months preceding the filing of the case. However, in today’s mobile society, people move and circumstances change. As such, though orders might be issued in one state, one or both parents, and the child may leave the originating state to move elsewhere. The Act has been adopted by all 50 states so as to provide uniformity in terms of how interstate custody cases are handled and uniformity in terms of determining which state has jurisdiction over a child custody matter.

When Can Child Custody Orders Be Transferred to Another State?

When dealing with enforcement issues, once the final, original orders are entered, a case may be transferred to another state if the child no longer continues to reside in the issuing state. In these instances, the child custody orders could be registered in the child’s new state for purposes of enforcement. For example, if parents were divorced in Kansas and mother and child then moved to Colorado, father could register the Kansas orders in Colorado for purposes of enforcing them, as relates to visitation or otherwise, should the mother decide she’s not going to follow them.

When dealing with modification of custody orders from another state, the ability to transfer a case is a little different. Generally, to transfer custody orders to Colorado for modification purposes, C.R.S. 14-13-203 states that both parents and the child must no longer reside in the issuing state. Using the example set forth above, if after the Kansas divorce, mother and child move to Colorado and father moves to California, mother, after having the child in Colorado for 6 months or more, could transfer the Kansas orders to Colorado for modification purposes. The father could do so as well. Unless all parties and the child are gone from the issuing state, jurisdiction is Kansas’ to relinquish. If one parent remains, but the child has been gone for an extended period of time from Kansas, either parent could ask Kansas to give up its jurisdiction to Colorado and the, once done, could formally transfer the case here.

To transfer a child custody case to Colorado, under either scenario and properly register it with the appropriate court, you will need to comply with the procedural and substantive provisions of C.R.S. 14-13-305. You will need to get a Certified Copy of the original order and any additional orders from the issuing state. They will then need to be submitted to the court in Colorado, along with a Petition to Register Foreign Child Custody Determination, a Summons, and a Notice of Registration. These documents would all need to be personally served upon the other side, who would have the ability to challenge the transfer. However, a challenge to transferring the case would likely fail if the person seeking to register the out-of-state custody orders has properly complied with the dictates of the U.C.C.J.E.A. and all procedural requirements of statute or the court. Interstate custody issues can be complex and it’s generally better to seek the assistance of a qualified Denver child custody attorney. Again, it should be noted that transferring a child custody determination to Colorado from another state can be done for different purposes and that there are specific, applicable section of the U.C.C.J.E.A. for each purpose.

Instances Where You Can Transfer a Custody Case to a New State

As a parent, you will only have the ability to transfer a child custody case to a new state in a few circumstances according to the U.C.C.J.E.A. The first is if both parents and the child have moved to a different state than the one that granted the original custody order. If you moved out of Colorado with your child and have lived in another state for more than six months, and your spouse also no longer lives in the same state, you will have the right to transfer your child custody case to the new state.

You may also be able to transfer a custody case if the judge in your original state agrees that the state no longer has significant connections or evidence regarding the child. If you and your child have moved out of Colorado, for example, and your child no longer has any relatives in the state, Colorado may allow the transfer. If a judge finds your new state would be a more convenient place to handle your custody case, he or she may also grant a transference.

A judge could decide that the original state is no longer the most convenience place to handle your child custody case if you are part of a domestic violence situation in the original state, if you have lived outside of the state for a significant time, if the two states are very far apart, if one or both parties do not have the financial ability to travel to the original state, if you and your spouse have signed an agreement deciding to transfer jurisdiction, and if the new state can resolve the litigation quickly and effectively.

Handling Custody Arrangements in Two Different States

A parenting plan can be complicated enough without the added difficulties of you and your spouse living in two different states. Interstate parenting plans generally give jurisdiction to one state over the other when two parents live in different states. Only one state may grant a custody order. This state’s laws will preside over your case, including how the courts will determine and uphold custody arrangements. If multiple states qualify as the presiding state, the state that makes a custody decision first will have jurisdiction.

First, the courts will allow you and your spouse to decide which state’s laws to use in an interstate parenting case. If you and your spouse cannot mutually agree on the state, the courts will then use the U.C.C.J.E.A. to decide. The Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act says that one state can determine custody arrangements over another during an interstate case only if the child has lived in that state for at least six months, the child has significant connections (e.g. relatives) in that state, that child is in that state out of fear of domestic abuse or violence in a different state, or no other state can meet these requirements.

Once the courts in one state create a parenting plan, the parents must obey its terms. Many long-distance parenting plans use visitation rather than a standard joint custody agreement. Since joint custody might not be practical based on the distance between the two parents, the courts may instead grant one parent primary custody and the other visitation rights. Your parenting plan will also include matters such as who is responsible for paying for travel.

Can You Modify a Custody Order Based on Relocation?

It is possible to modify your child custody order based on a significant change in circumstances, such as you or your co-parent moving to a different state. You will need to file a request for child custody modification with the courts in the state that has jurisdiction over your case. The courts will assess your situation and make changes to your custody order, if applicable. The courts may arrange a different custody or visitation plan to address the added distance between both parents, for example. Until the courts grant your modification request, however, you and your ex-spouse must obey your existing custody order. For help with a child custody modification contact our law firm, our attorneys have over 20 years of experience solving complex family law issues throughout Denver.