What to do When Your Ex-Spouse Relocates without Prior Approval

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Americans in the 21st century are as mobile as they have ever been. Statistics show that most Americans will relocate once every several years. The reasons for relocation can be varied – remarriage, new job, desire to be closer to other family, etc. If a person doesn’t have children with an ex-spouse, packing up and moving on a whim is something which be arranged fairly easily. When a child is involved, the matter is complicated many times over. When couples who have children split up, and a child custody order is created, the custodial parent needs approval in order to relocate with the children. Approval is necessary to safeguard the purposes of the custody order. But what happens when a custodial parent packs up and relocates without prior approval from a judge in Colorado? Let’s explore this issue below.

The Notice Requirement for Relocation

In order to obtain approval for relocation, the custodial parent needs to first provide notice to the non-custodial parent. The notice needs to be in writing, and it must provide certain information on the proposed relocation – new address, reasons for the relocation, and a new parenting plan proposal. A hearing will take place within 35 days of the non-custodial parent’s response.

Colorado Does Not Have a Presumption against Relocation

Unlike some jurisdictions, Colorado doesn’t have a standing presumption against relocation, but simply considers the best interests of the child in its analysis. So, if the non-custodial parent objects to the relocation, that parent needs to be aware that he or she won’t have an advantage in the courtroom. Instead, the judge will listen to arguments on both sides, and then develop a decision based on all relevant factors. In all cases, the final determination will be consistent with the best interests of the child principle.

Factors Which Influence the Court’s Determination

The following factors have been known to carry weight in the judicial analyses of relocation proposals: the underlying reason or reasons for the move; the relationship of each parent with the children; the stated preferences of the children; the likely impact of the move on the children’s emotional and physical health; the quality of the current environment versus the quality of the proposed environment; any other factor deemed relevant. Again, all these factors will be evaluated based on their consistency with the best interests of the child. The parent seeking relocation is burdened with demonstrating to the court why the relocation should be granted, or why the relocation will be an improvement.

Consequences for Relocation without Approval

What if the custodial simply shirks this whole process and relocates without prior approval? The answer is that this type of action can lead to serious negative consequences for the offender. When a parent moves without approval, this is a clear violation of the custody order. The parent is unilaterally changing the custody order without the permission of the court, and this type of offense is not taken lightly. Parents who relocate without approval can be fined, be put in jail for contempt of court, and have their status as custodial parent stripped. In some cases, judges will reverse the custody order as a response to relocation without approval, and so the non-custodial parent can then become the custodial parent. The specific consequences will always depend on the circumstances involved, but clearly, the measures taken to correct this type of incident can be drastic.

Contact the Drake Law Firm, P.C. for More Information

If you have plans to relocate, or you suspect your ex-spouse may relocate without telling you or the court, contact an experienced family law attorney today.  If you’d like to learn more, reach out to the Drake Law Firm, P.C. today by calling 303-261-8111.

Copyright© 2022. The Drake Law Firm, PC All rights reserved.

The information in this blog post (“post”) is provided for general informational purposes only and may not reflect the current law in your jurisdiction. No information in this post should be construed as legal advice from the individual author or the law firm, nor is it intended to be a substitute for legal counsel on any subject matter. No reader of this post should act or refrain from acting based on any information included in or accessible through this post without seeking the appropriate legal or other professional advice on the particular facts and circumstances at issue from a lawyer licensed in the recipient’s state, country or other appropriate licensing jurisdiction.

The Drake Law Firm, PC
2117 Ford St.
Golden, CO 80401


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