Many parents, in an effort to put their divorce and prior life behind them and start new, consider relocation. There are many reasons for such a relocation, including a new job, to be closer to family members, remarriage or simply a change of scenery. Because our society has become more and more transient over the past few decades, moving out of state is not considered as problematic as it once was.
Relocating with a minor after a divorce, however, can significantly impact the level of time each parent will ultimately have with the child and the other parent may strongly oppose the move and can wreak havoc with the parenting plan in place. Obviously, if the primary custodial parent moves 700 miles away, it will make a difference if the other parent has visitation every other weekend. Many states control relocation of minor children following a divorce by statute and by case law. In most instances, there are specific steps which must be followed when a move is proposed which will substantially change the current parenting times.
First, the parent with primary custody will provide written notice as soon as possible noting the intent to relocate. It may happen that the other parent does not oppose the move, particularly if the child will gain opportunities or when moving parent will obtain a significantly better job. In the notification, the location of the move, the reason for the move as well as a revised (proposed) parenting plan will all be included. If no agreement can be reached between the parents concerning relocation, then a judge will decide whether one parent can move a significant distance away from the other. Most courts will give relocation hearings priority on the docket, realizing the matter is usually time-sensitive.
Both parents must clearly demonstrate how it will be in the children’s best interests to move, or whether it will be better for the child to remain at his or her current location. The court makes no presumption as to whether the child will suffer disadvantages or benefits as a result of the relocation. In the state of Colorado, all relevant factors will be considered by the court, including the following:
- All the reasons related to why the parent wants to relocate;
- Educational opportunities the child will have at the new location as opposed to his or her current educational opportunities;
- Whether there are extended family members at the proposed location and whether the child will be leaving extended family members if the move is allowed;
- The current relationship of each parent to the child or children;
- The objections of the other parent to the move;
- Whether a parenting time schedule which is reasonable, yet fair to both parents, can be implemented if the move is granted;
- The advantages associated with the child remaining with his or her primary caregiver;
- How the move may potentially impact the child, and
- Any other relevant factors pertaining to the best interests of the child.
If the judge is persuaded that the proposed move will create a more stable financial situation for the family or a better support system, then the move may be considered. If, on the other hand, the judge gets the feeling the parent wants to move in order to get away from his or her ex or to prevent the other parent from spending time with the children, then the move may not be granted. In the end, if the positive reasons for moving outweigh the negative—for the good of the children—then a new parenting plan will be drawn up, and the move will be allowed.
If you are considering a move, it is important to understand how this could affect your custody agreement. Contact the Boulder divorce attorneys at Goff & Goff, LLC today for a free initial consultation.