Child Relocation: What Parents Need to Know
The United States Constitution recognizes the freedom of movement as a fundamental right. The freedom of movement is defined as the right of free ingress into and egress from another state. Because of these constitutional protections, the trial court does not have the authority to require a parent to reside in a particular or specific location. Relocation cases usually arise when a parent seeks to relocate to another state with the child, and the other parent objects to the child moving. One parent’s objection to the child moving to a different state does not necessarily mean that the parent wishing to relocate is absolutely barred from doing so. Pursuant to Section 14-10-129 of Colorado Revised Statutes, in allocating parenting time, the court must consider the physical proximity of the parties to each other as this relates to the practical considerations of parenting time. However, the statute in no way extends so far as to mandate that a parent reside in a particular location. In deciding whether a child should be permitted to relocate with a parent, the court must determine whether the relocation is in the best interest of the child. To determine the best interest of the child, the court considers a number of factors, including the reasons as to why the parent wishes to relocate, the availability of daycare in the new location, the quality of schools, etc. Usually, it is easier to acquire a permission to relocate if the child is very young, and/or relocation is requested at the outset of the divorce or a custody proceeding.
Finding a Solution with the Other Parent
Whenever there is an issue affecting the child, it is always in the best interest of the child not to be exposed to the conflict. In order to avoid litigation, the parents can resolve the matter by enlisting the help of an attorney to mediate the issue, draft a new parenting plan, and file the appropriate modification paperwork with the court. However, if the parents are not able to agree on relocation, the party seeking to relocate must file a motion requesting relocation with the child, draft a proposed parenting plan, and attach a proposed order. In requesting relocation, the moving party must also address the issue of child support. If relocation warrants a modification of child support, both issues may be raised and resolved in one proceeding. As the issues of relocation tend to be very contentious and complicated, retaining adequate legal representation is vital for any party contemplating a move with a child.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is exclusive continuing jurisdiction?
Once a state enters an initial child custody determination, that state has exclusive jurisdiction to modify the custody determination. Exclusive jurisdiction continues until the court determines that the child and the parents no longer have a significant connection with the issuing state, or until the court determines that neither the child nor the parents presently reside in the issuing state.
My ex wants to relocate with our child. What can I do to keep the child in Colorado?
In Colorado, before a parent can relocate with a child, both parents must convince the court that their proposed parenting schedule is in the best interest of the child. Therefore, you as the party seeking to keep the child in Colorado must convince the court that keeping the child in Colorado is in the child’s best interest.
If my ex is allowed to relocate, will I still be able to see my child?
Yes. In a relocation proceeding, absent an agreement between the parents, the court will set a new parenting schedule that will specify the parenting time of each parent. In doing so, the court will take into consideration the distance between the parents, the frequency and the cost of travel. Some parenting time may take place in Colorado, and other parenting time may take place in the state where the child relocates.
Does it matter to the court whether it is mom or dad relocating?
No. Both mom and dad must convince the court that their respective position on child relocation is in the child’s best interest. The court does not presume that any person is better able to serve the best interest of the child based solely on his/her gender.
What is the cost of a relocation case?
Relocation cases tend to be expensive because they are highly contentious. In addition to attorney fees, the parties may face the expenses associated with hiring of a CFI or a PRE. Robinson & Henry, P.C. has a strong focus on mediation and reaching an agreement that will be acceptable to both parties.
What is a CFI?
CFI stands for Child and Family Investigator. A CFI is a third-party neutral appointed by the court to investigate, report, and make recommendations as to what is in the best interest of the child.
What is a PRE?
PRE stands for Parental Responsibilities Evaluator. A PRE is a county or district social services department worker or a licensed mental health professional qualified to perform an evaluation and file a written report concerning the disputed issues relating to the allocation or parental responsibilities for the child.
If you are a parent contemplating relocation with a minor child, the attorneys at Robinson & Henry, P.C., in Castle Rock and Denver, Colorado, are experienced and can help. All of our family law attorneys have years of experience in family law matters, custody, parenting time, best interest of the child, and child relocation. They have handled hundreds of such actions. Call 303-688-0944, email us, or make an appointment online, your initial consultation is FREE.