Moving Out Of State During A Divorce - What To Expect

July 28, 2021

According to the United States Census Bureau, 34% of women and 33% of men over the age of twenty have been divorced. In many cases, the divorced couple may have children and must work together to ensure their children get the best possible care. This situation can quickly become complicated when a custodial parent intends to move out of state - perhaps for a new job or to pursue education or even for remarriage. It becomes even more complicated when a parent is moving out of state and there is no custody agreement. If you are moving out of state with your child and no custody agreement in Colorado, you may have many questions about the process and your legal rights. The compassionate and knowledgeable legal team at Johnson Law Group may be able to provide you with guidance. Consider reaching out to them at (720) 463-4333.

First Steps When Seeking Permission to Relocate

When a custodial parent realizes that they will be moving out of state with his or her child and have no custody agreement in Colorado, the first thing he or she should do is notify the other parent. This notice must:

  • Be in writing.
  • Specify the location where the parent intends to relocate.
  • List the reasons for the relocation.
  • Include a proposal for a revised parenting plan.

In some cases, the parents may be able to come to an agreement on their own - either in private or through mediation. They may be able to work together to decide how to divide time and responsibilities towards the child. The agreed-upon modifications must then be filed with the court to officially and legally alter any pre-existing agreements.

However, in some situations, the parents may not be able to come to an agreement. Colorado law dictates that a parent cannot move with their child out of state without the other parent’s permission. If one of the parents refuses to grant permission, then the custodial parent needs to seek court approval.

What The Court Considers In Relocation Cases

When a parent is moving out of state with his or her child and there is no custody agreement in Colorado, the court will prioritize the best interests of the child. The factors that judges will consider when deciding what is in the best interest of the child include:

  • The reasons why the parent wants to relocate with the child.
  • Why the other parent objects to the move.
  • The history of each parent’s relationship with the child.
  • Whether the move will impact either parent’s ability to financially provide for the child.
  • The educational opportunities available for the child in both their present home and the proposed new location.
  • Whether there is a social network, such as extended relatives, in the present home and the new location.
  • The advantages to the child remaining with the current custodial parent.
  • What kind of access the child will have to the non-custodial parent if the relocation is granted.

Seeking court approval can be a daunting process, which is why it can be helpful to work with the attorneys at Johnson Law Group to advocate for your goals, while also ensuring your child’s best interests.

Other Factors That Parents Should Know About

As in all court cases, different factors will lead to different outcomes. For parents moving out of state with their child and no custody agreement in Colorado, here are some additional factors they should consider.

  • It is easier for parents to get permission to relocate when it is a mandatory relocation - such as one required by their employer - than when it is a voluntary relocation.
  • The more time a non-custodial parent spends with their child, the better their chances at blocking relocation.
  • A parent will have an easier time obtaining permission from the court if they are planning to relocate somewhere where there is extended family.
  • School is typically only a factor if the child is advanced or IEP since most American schools are considered adequate.
  • The child’s personal wishes make a difference - if a teenager, for example, has strong preferences about where he or she lives, that will be a significant matter.
  • Courts are typically reluctant to separate siblings.

Questions About Parental Kidnapping

According to the national non-profit organization, Child Find of America, in cases of family or parental abductions, 78% of the abductors were non-custodial parents. Parental kidnapping is one of the most common forms of child abduction and one of the most common examples of this is when a parent violates a custody order by removing a child from the state. Parents moving out of state with their child with no custody agreement in Colorado may wonder if they could inadvertently be participating in parental kidnapping. In short, the answer is no. This is because the laws around parental kidnapping and child relocation in Colorado vary from several other states.

In Colorado, the custodial parent has the right to move out of the state with the child without the other parent’s consent - and this is not considered parental kidnapping. The non-custodial parent has the right to petition the court to block the child’s removal from the state. This is different from most other states, where the custodial parent is required to petition the courts for permission to relocate. It is not parental kidnapping in Colorado if the parent takes the child out of the state without a custody order.

Consulting an Experienced Family Law Attorney

Navigating the process of moving out of state with a child with no custody agreement in Colorado can quickly become confusing for many parents. You may have questions about your legal rights and what to do if a non-custodial parent petitions to block the relocation. An experienced and compassionate lawyer from Johnson Law Group may be able to provide guidance. Contact our legal team today for a consultation at (720) 463-4333.

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