Colorado law recognizes that parents might need to adjust their parenting time schedules to fit with changing life circumstances. Because a judge is held to certain legal standards when modifying a parenting time order, you’ll need to return to court to change it. Below, the family law attorneys at Plog & Stein P.C. outline the basic legal requirements and common reasons for modifying parenting time orders:
Modification Standard in Colorado
Generally, a parent can apply to the court to modify a parenting time order if they can show that it’s in the best interests of the child. The court weighs a number of factors when examining whether the change is in the child’s best interests. These factors include the child’s physical, emotional, and educational needs, as well as each parent’s ability to care for the child.
Depending on why you’re seeking to change the parenting order, the court could also look at other factors. We’ll explain these below.
Reasons a Judge Might Change a Parenting Time Order
Below are several reasons a judge will consider changing a parenting time order.
If one parent is moving to another neighborhood close by, it may not be necessary to change a parenting time order. However, suppose the physical relocation would substantially change the other parent’s parenting time and ties with the child. In that case, the moving parent must request permission from the other parent and the court.
The court will examine the best interests of the child standard. The court will also weigh other factors, including:
- The reason for relocation,
- The child’s educational opportunities,
- The existence of extended family,
- The benefit to the child if they remain with the primary caregiver,
- The impact of the move on the child,
- The court’s ability to construct a reasonable parenting schedule after the move, and
- Any other factor that the court believes is relevant.
The court will also consider whether the move is due to domestic violence. You should consult with a lawyer if you’re faced with these circumstances.
The Child’s Safety
Absent an agreement, a court will only change the child’s primary residence if the current schedule poses a physical or emotional risk to the child or might impair the child’s emotional development. Examples of this include if perhaps the primary custodial parent abuses drugs or has been accused of child abuse.
A Parent’s Conviction of Certain Crimes
A court will alter a parenting time order if one of the parents is convicted of certain crimes, such as sexual assault, child abuse, or exploitation of a child. Courts and the law recognize that a parent who engages in such behavior is a threat to the child.
The Child’s Needs or Wishes
What may have worked for an infant may no longer be appropriate or necessary in their adolescence. As a child grows and develops they can voice their own needs and the court may take their wishes into account. Since any court’s primary concern is the child’s best interests, a court can alter a parenting schedule if a new schedule is better suited to the child’s current needs. As kids get older, particularly into their teenage years, a court may put greater weight on their wishes when assessing a parenting time modification.
Violation of Current Parenting Order
Parenting time orders exist to provide guidelines to parents and stability to a child’s life, among other reasons. When one of the parents is repeatedly violating the custody orders, the other parent may have a reason to request a change in parenting time. It’s important for the parent requesting the modification to keep records of the other parent’s violations and also be able to explain why these violations are harmful to the child. In these instances, modifications may be sought under C.R.S. 14-10-129 or C.R.S. 14-10-129.5, which authorizes modifications to parenting time as a potential remedy for violations.
Contact Plog & Stein, P.C. About Parenting Time Modifications
Colorado’s law regarding modifications to parenting time is complicated. Fortunately, the skilled and knowledgeable family law advocates at Plog & Stein P.C. can help. We have decades of experience representing parents in modifications and other family matters. Contact us today.