When two parents have joint parental responsibility for the children after a divorce, the court is giving each parent an equal say in the decision making for the children, as well as a nearly equal amount of time spent with the children. As long as the parents live close to each other and are able to work together – placing the needs of the children over any hard feelings they may have related to the divorce – joint parental responsibility works well. However, the management of joint child custody becomes far more challenging if one parent needs to move. So, just how far can you move with shared custody?
No Colorado law specifically states a distance that one parent can move away from the other without modifying the child custody award. In other words, state law does not say that one parent can move 30 miles without modifying the custody agreement, but not 31 miles. The court will take a number of items into consideration when trying to decide whether one parent’s move can occur without requiring a modification of the current child custody agreement.
How Does the “Best Interests of the Child” Affect How Far Can a Parent Move With Joint Custody in Colorado?
Although state law does not specify how far can a parent move with joint custody in Colorado, it does require that any court decisions consider the best interests of the child above all else. Colorado statute 14-10-129 lays out the emphasis on serving the best interests of the child.
If the court believes that one parent’s planned move would harm the child emotionally by removing the child from the other parent, from family members, from friends, from a familiar school, or from other factors that are important to the child, the court may choose to modify the parenting agreement to give the parent who is staying in the area a greater level of custody and extra time spent with the child.
Would the Court Tell You How Far You Can Move With Shared Custody?
The court will not tell one parent that he or she cannot move. Neither would the court tell you how far you can move with shared custody in place. Each case is unique, so the court will make any ruling based on the circumstances in your particular case, rather than setting a limit on the distance that one parent can move.
For example, if one parent is seeking an out-of-state custody agreement modification, but that parent is only moving several miles over the state line and not very far from the other parent’s residence, the court might decide that both parents can continue to have joint parental responsibility because the distance between them is not significant.
On the other hand, if one parent is moving from Fort Collins to nearby Denver, it may seem like the distance between the two residences is minimal. However, if the parent is moving to a southern Denver metro area suburb like Littleton, this could add quite a bit of time to any travel for the child between the two residences, and the court may determine this move is significant enough that a change to the custody agreement is necessary.
How Far Can I Move With Joint Custody Before I Need a Custody Modification?
When the Colorado court decides that one parent’s move is going to affect the child’s emotional well-being, you do not need to worry about how far you can move with joint custody. The court likely is going to require a child custody modification.
The court does not take the process of requiring a modification to child custody lightly, which is partly why it does not set a specific distance on how far you can move with shared custody. The court wants to consider all the factors in your case before making a determination on modification, rather than relying on a mileage measurement alone.
Who Can Request a Custody Modification When One Parent Is Moving?
The court does not start the child custody modification process on its own. Instead, one of the two parents will need to file a request for modification with the court. Our child custody lawyer can help you file this modification, whether or not we represented you during the divorce.
- Parent who is moving: When you are planning to move, you may want to be proactive and file a request for child custody modification with the court. Perhaps you are starting a new job in a new location, and you believe the children will be safer and happier if the other parent has a greater level of custody, so you want to give up joint custody. This occurrence is rare, though.
- Parent who is not moving: Far more often, the parent who is remaining in the area and in his or her residence will file the modification order with the court. You may believe the distance and location where the other parent is moving will be too far to allow the current custody agreement to be practical. You may want to seek a greater level of custody than you have in the current agreement, because it will allow the children to stay at the same school and to continue to see friends more often.
Do I Have to File for a Custody Modification When the Other Parent Is Moving?
In some cases, you and the other parent may believe that you can continue to cooperate and operate under the current child custody agreement, even though the other parent is moving away. If so, you do not have to file for a modification of the agreement. You and the other parent can always work things out on your own to try to make everything continue to go as smoothly as possible, always with the best interests of the child at the forefront.
If the other parent is moving outside Colorado, though, it almost certainly is in your best interest to seek a modification of the custody agreement. Once the child lives in the other state for six months, that state’s laws could supersede the laws in Colorado, possibly causing problems for you and your current custody agreement. Our team can help you determine the best path forward.
Seeking Child Modification May Be Your Best Option When One Parent Moves With Joint Custody in Colorado
When your ex-spouse informs you that he or she is planning to move to a new city, it may throw your joint parental agreement into jeopardy. This is an unsettling feeling for both parents, as well as for the children. However, some moves are necessary after a divorce for a new job or for the other parent to be closer to a support network.
Fortunately, Colorado allows you to seek a modification of the child custody agreement to make sure that the kids do not have to completely uproot their lives because one parent wants to move. This modification process is important, so that you can protect your rights and protect the best interests of the children.
Contact The Cossitt Law Firm TodayIf you have questions about how far one parent can move with shared custody, our team of child custody attorneys is ready to discuss your case and to provide advice on how we should proceed. Call The Cossitt Law Firm today at 970-488-1887 to learn more about the wide range of child custody services we provide. As soon as you choose to hire us, we will be ready to begin working on your behalf immediately.