While citizens have a right to relocate, competing interests come into play when the parent with primary custody of a child desires to relocate.
A recent article published in the Huffington Post discusses the problems which can arise when a parent who was awarded majority parenting time decides to relocate a significant distance from the minority time parent. If a child custody modification is granted by a court, the minority time parent will probably end up missing out on the day-to-day life of his or her child. Indeed, if the relocation is well over a thousand miles away, the parent remaining behind may have significant difficulty spending very much quality time with the child. On the other hand, if a court denies the request for a modification, the majority time parent will be forced to make the difficult decision as to whether to relocate without his or her child.
America is a mobile society and relocation is fairly common. In a scholarly article she wrote on the subject of relocation, Linda Elrod noted that census data reveals that almost half of Americans move in a five-year period with an estimated one-fourth of custodial mothers moving within four years of a divorce. After a divorce, a parent who has primary majority parenting time may desire to move due to better job opportunities, a job transfer, educational opportunities or perhaps to be with a new spouse or partner.
As Elrod points out, relocation is not to be taken lightly in that it will fundamentally alter and disrupt the child's existing relationships. Relocation means that the child will be removed from his or her friends, community and school. In an article published in Psychology Today, it is observed that studies show that children of divorce tend to do considerably better emotionally if their parents remain in the same local area since children with strong relationships with both parents are emotionally more secure. Relocation stresses and disrupts a child's relationship with the minority time parent. A younger child's relationship with the minority time parent is highly vulnerable to being adversely impacted by relocation.
Shared parenting can be made to work when parents live some distance apart. This is especially true if the child is a teenager. Nevertheless, the author of the article published in Psychology Today believes that relocation should be undertaken only after careful consideration of what impact the relocation will have on a child and his or her relationship with both parents.
Colorado's balancing act
Obviously, citizens of the United States have a right to relocate to another state if they so desire. As recognized by the Colorado Supreme Court several years ago in In re Marriage of Ciesluk, courts deciding relocation disputes must employ a tripartite balancing act since three competing interests are involved. First, a majority time parent has a right to travel and relocate to another state. Second, a minority time parent has the right to continue to be a parent to his or her child. Third, the best interests of the child must be protected. Therefore, relocation disputes present the Colorado courts with the following challenge: promote the best interests of the child while trying to protect the majority time parent's right to travel and the minority parent's right to parent.
Seeking legal advice
Regardless of whether you are considering having a parenting time order modified, or your former spouse is seeking a modification, you are advised to contact a Colorado attorney. The modification of parenting time in a relocation dispute can be a complex and highly emotional process. An attorney who has experience in handling Colorado modification cases can help you defend and protect your rights.
Keywords: child custody modification, relocation, dispute, Colorado