Can a Judge Keep a Child From Leaving the State After a Divorce in Colorado?

By Mike Broemmel

Father and daughter with moving boxes

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Colorado law grants significant leeway to a divorced parent who wants to leave the state with the children. Under Colorado law, a parent with primary custody of minor children generally can move out of state with them. The non-custodial parent must take action to prevent the primary caretaker from leaving the state with the children. This involves filing a motion with the court seeking an order preventing removal of the children from Colorado. In many other states, an opposite process exists: the parent who wants to leave a state with the children must obtain court approval.

Objection by Non-custodial Parent

When a non-custodial parent learns of the custodial parent's intention to leave the state with the children, three options exist: do nothing to stop the removal, move to the other state or seek a court order stopping the move. If you choose to file a motion requesting the court to block the move, a hearing is held to consider whether or not the proposed relocation should be blocked by the court.

Court's Discretion to Stop Move

In Colorado, the judge possesses discretion to block the move. He considers a number of factors laid out in Colorado law in deciding whether to prevent the custodial parent from leaving the state. These factors include the reasons why the custodial parent wants to leave the state and the reasons why the other parent wants to prevent the move. The court also looks at the potential effect of the move on the children and whether a reasonable parenting time schedule can be created for the non-custodial parent remaining in Colorado.

Burden of Proof

The parent opposing the move bears the burden of proof of demonstrating to the court why the removal should not be allowed. For example, the non-custodial parent must demonstrate that fashioning a reasonable parenting time schedule is impossible if the move is allowed. This might be the case, for example, if the custodial parent plans to move a great distance from Colorado.

Automatic Injunction

The only time an automatic injunction is in place preventing moving children from Colorado is when a divorce case is ongoing. The automatic injunction goes into effect the moment the divorce petition is filed. The injunction remains in effect until the judge lifts the order or the case ends with the granting of a divorce decree.