Relocation and Child Custody Arrangements
Divorced or unmarried parents should have a legally binding child custody agreement in place. Although a child custody agreement is enforceable by law, there are certain circumstances in which one or both parents can request to amend the agreement. Relocation is one common reason for this request.
If a parent intends to relocate to a state or community that substantially changes the geographic ties to the other parent, legal protocols need to be followed. Child custody lawyers Fred A. Dunsing and Joseph W. Galera can assist their Denver, CO, clients in dealing with issues of child custody and relocation.
Notifying a Parent of Intended Relocation
If a custodial parent intends to move a considerable distance from a parent who shares custody or visitation, they will need to provide an official notification of their intent. An acceptable notification of relocation should meet these standards:
- The notification must be in writing
- The notification must include the parent’s intended new location
- Reasons for the relocation must be given
- The notification needs to include a proposal for a revised parenting plan (i.e. new custody or visitation schedule)
Once a parent receives a notification of relocation, they have the opportunity to accept the request or to object the proposal. If the proposal is objected, the matter will need to be settled in court.
Relocation matters are often prioritized by the court, because they can have a significant impact on a child’s life. Still, the court recognizes that important matters such as a relocation are often best addressed through mediation, where both parents can express their views and work together towards an acceptable resolution. As such, most Colorado courts will require that parents attempt mediation before bringing a relocation request to court.
Our lawyers can work with our clients as they go through the mediation process. During mediation, each parent is able to discuss their desires and concerns regarding the relocation request. Each parent can have an attorney with them to help present their case. There will also be a neutral mediator present, who attempts to help both sides come to an arrangement that is agreeable to both sides and, most importantly, in the best interest of the child.
What If My Case Goes to Court?
If our clients do not come to an agreement through mediation, a relocation request must be considered by the court. In a court trial, both parents will need to present their argument for why the relocation is or is not in the best interest of their child. The parent opposed to the relocation can either request that they take over majority custody, or they can suggest their own revised custody and visitation plan.
When considering whether or not to approve a relocation, the court will evaluate several factors:
- The reason the parent is relocating and the reason the other parent objects to the relocation
- The relationship each parent has with the child and how that will be maintained if the relocation is approved
- Educational and social opportunities for the child in the new location
- Whether there is extended family in the proposed new location or in the present location
- The impact the relocation could have on the child’s well-being
- The advantages of the child remaining with the primary custodial parent
When all factors are considered, the court will ultimately decide whether or not the relocation is in the child’s best interest. A Child and Family Investigator may be apppointed by the Court to investigate the impact of any proposed move on the child.
If you have questions regarding an issue of child custody, the lawyers at Dunsing, Deakins, & Galera, LLC would be happy to assist you. Call (303) 758-8981 or (970) 343-023 at your earliest convenience, or send us a message to schedule a personal consultation with our legal team.