While most Colorado parenting plans are considered “final decrees,” it may be possible for you to ask the court for a modification.
There are several reasons why someone might want a modification: The existing plan may have been written years ago and now life has changed; one parent might be relocating to a different state; one parent might have a significant financial setback, or one parent might fear that the child is in imminent danger under the existing parenting plan. Regardless of the reasons, in Colorado, either parent can file for child custody modifications.
What is required for a successful modification?
Generally, Colorado courts review modification requests with an eye toward consistency. Courts will not grant modifications that are unduly disruptive.
Under Colorado Rev. Stat. (CRS) § 14-10-129, the standard for successfully modifying a parenting plan is whether the proposed change is in the child’s best interest.
Some of the most common parenting time modification requests arise from one parent’s intention to relocate the child. In such a case, the court will take into consideration “all relevant factors” relating to the child’s best interests, including:
- Past patterns of domestic violence
- The reasons why the moving party wishes to relocate the child
- The reasons why the opposing party might object to the proposed relocation
- The history of each party’s parenting relationship with the child since the previous parenting order
- The child’s educational opportunities at both the existing location and the proposed new location
- The presence or absence of the child’s extended family at both the existing location and the proposed new location
- The overall impact the move would have on the child
- Whether a “reasonable parenting time schedule” is possible
In addition, a parent may seek to restrict the other parent’s parenting time by filing a motion alleging the child is in imminent physical or emotional danger. If such a motion is indeed filed, the court is required under CRS § 14-10-129(4) to make a ruling “not later than fourteen days” after the motion was filed. Courts will not restrict a parent’s parenting time rights “unless it finds that the parenting time would endanger the child’s physical health or significantly impair the child’s emotional development.”
When can I file for a modification?
A request to modify the existing parenting time order can be done at any time, so long as the request doesn’t go against the two-year rule. C.R.S. 14-10-129(1.5), or “the two-year rule”, states that “a parent cannot request a modification of parenting time within two years of filing a prior modification request, whether or not it was granted if it seeks to change the party with whom the child primarily resides.” The only exception to this is if the child will be placed in imminent danger if the existing parenting plan is followed.
This website includes information about legal issues and legal developments. Such materials are for informational purposes only and may not reflect the most current legal developments. These informational materials are not intended, and should not be taken, as legal advice on any particular set of facts or circumstances. You should contact an attorney for advice on specific legal problems.
Lauren Lester is an affordable family law, estate planning, and probate lawyer licensed in Colorado.