Colorado Modification of Child Custody
There are times when a change of circumstances or parenting concerns leads individuals to wonder if they have the power to modify an order of the court concerning primary residence, parenting time or decision making. In Colorado, differing standards apply given the level and kind of change that is being requested.
Modification of Parenting Time
If you are asking for a change to parenting time that does not change who the child spends the majority of their time with, then you can bring a Motion for Modification. The Court will look to see if the modification would serve the best interests of the child. If you are asking for a change that substantially changes the parenting time as well as changes the party with whom the child resides a majority of the time, then the Court will look to see if there are new facts that show a change in circumstances of the child or the other party from the time of the last custody order. The Court will allow a modification if these new facts show that the modification is necessary to serve the best interests of the child and one of the following also exists: The parties agree to the modification The child has been integrated into the moving party’s family with the consent of the other party The party that the child resides with for the majority of the time is relocating to a new location that substantially changes the geographical ties between the child and the other party. or The child’s present environment endangers the child’s physical health or significantly impairs the child’s emotional development and the harm of the change in environment is outweighed by the advantage of the change to the child. You can bring a motion to modify parenting time if the other parent has been convicted of certain crimes or a crime where the underlying factual basis has been found by the court to include an act of domestic violence that constitutes a potential threat or endangerment to the child, the other parent or any other person granted parental responsibility by the court. The court will suspend the offending party’s parenting rights unless the offending parent can prove at hearing that it is in the best interests of the child to keep parenting time. If you are requesting the Court to restrict the other party’s parenting time (without a criminal conviction as described above) then a higher standard of endangerment to physical health or significant impairment to the child’s emotional development will apply.
Modification of Decision Making
If you are requesting a change to the Court’s Order regarding decision making, there must be new facts since the last Order that change the circumstances of the child or the other party and the change is necessary to serve the best interest of the child. The change will only be granted if: The parties agree to the modification The child is integrated into the family of the person requesting the change with consent of the other party and such change warrants a change in decision-making authority. There has been a modification of parenting time that warrants a modification of decision-making responsibilities. There has been a consistent pattern of the other party allowing you to make decisions that were theirs to make under the past order. The retention of the present decision making arrangement would endanger the child’s physical health or significantly impair the child’s emotional development and the harm of the change is outweighed by the advantage of the change to the child.
The longer you wait to speak to a Colorado family law attorney the higher your chances are of inadvertently giving up your legal rights.