Relocation cases

Parental Relocation

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Case Description*

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Relocation is a prevalent issue in the mountains. When a couple decides to divorce or to dissolve their relationship, they need support for their children. Some individuals decide they can receive the most support by moving closer to their extended families with their children.

The issue of relocation in family law cases can be complex. The court applies a different standard, depending on whether you or your co-parent are expressing your/their desire to move before or after any orders have been entered by a court.

Spahmer v. Gullette, 113 P.3d 158 (Colo. 2005), the Court concluded that the district court “must accept the location in which each party intends to live, and allocate parental responsibilities, including parenting time, accordingly.”

In August of 2018, the Colorado Court of Appeals released its opinion in In re the Marriage of Morgan, 428 P.3d 550 (Colo. App. 2018), click here . Mother stated her intention to move to California several times throughout the course of the parties’ divorce and at trial. However, she also admitted she would not relocate if the children were not permitted to relocate with her.  Relying on this statement by Mother, the district court ordered the children follow an equal parenting time schedule on a “5/2/2/5” basis, thus requiring Mother to remain in Colorado to be able to adhere to the parenting plan.

The Court of Appeals reversed the decision and clarified that the district court had to apply Spahmer, which required the court to accept Mother’s intention to relocate and order a parenting plan as if Mother were to live in California.  The Court of Appeals did not find Father’s argument compelling that Mother’s admission that she would not relocate without the children made her request to relocate “ambiguous.”  This holding calls into question the relevance of asking the parent seeking to relocate whether or not they would, in fact, relocate without permission to take their children.

What this means is that, if you or your co-parent has expressed a desire to move, and if orders have not been previously entered by the court, it may not be relevant whether they will stay, if the court determines that the children should not move with them.  Depending on the facts of your case, this could either help or harm the position that you have taken regarding parenting time.

Kalamaya | Goscha is a Colorado law firm founded by Ryan Kalamaya and Amy Goscha. We guide and support clients through relocation issues. Our boutique mountain law practice specializes in divorce, child custody, and family law. Kalamaya | Goscha has law offices in Edwards, Aspen, and Glenwood Springs. To speak to one of our capable attorneys call (970) 315-2365.

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