It's crucial to know your rights after a divorce, especially when it comes to decisions regarding your child. You may want to move as far away from your ex as possible, but unless your custody arrangements allow you to do so, it may not be in the cards.
In Colorado, these arrangements always proceed with the best interest of the child at heart. As such, the court may require your child's permanent residence to be within a reasonable distance of their other parent, especially while the divorce case is still pending.
During a Pending Divorce
Under Colorado law, neither party can remove the child from the state while a divorce is pending. That includes temporary ventures and vacations out of state. The only legal way to do so is to get permission from the other parent or the court itself.
Fortunately, it's often relatively easy for a parent with custody of a child to get permission to leave for short visits or vacations. However, it's highly unlikely that either party will receive permission to move out of the state permanently.
As Part of Custody Orders
One or both parents may be able to work around the above rule by declaring their intent to relocate during the initial custody hearings. In this scenario, the judge cannot deny the parent’s intent to relocate.
How the court proceeds from here can differ based on how far the parent wants to move. If the parents involved in the custody hearings still remain geographically close (for example, within a reasonable driving distance of each other), the custody arrangements may remain the same.
However, if one parent is looking to move cross-country, the court may present them with a custody choice. This custody choice will always favor the child, not the parent. For example, if the parent stays in Colorado, they may retain joint custody, but if they move too far, they may lose custody altogether and only keep vacation parenting rights.
After a Divorce
Moving after a divorce (or post-decree relocation) is difficult but not impossible. The court will take several things into account before making a decision, such as whether extenuating circumstances exist, the initial reason for the relocation, and other factors.
If the court sees that it's in the child's best interest to move, they are far more likely to grant permission. However, the court will consider the objections of the other parent, too, as well as any children involved. If an older teenager wants to stay with one parent, for instance, the court will take that into account when making their decision.
At worst, parents who decide to move will face less parenting time with their children. However, if the parent’s reasons for moving are strong enough (such as moving closer to family or escaping domestic violence), they may have a better chance of retaining custody. If you need help navigating Colorado’s child custody laws, contact our team at McCoy Family Law today. Call (720) 460-9193 or leave us a message online.