As a parent, you always want what’s best for your child, and this means responding to changes that affect their life. If there is a child custody order in place and you feel that it needs to be updated to reflect a change in your situation, you may request the court to modify the existing custody order. You can file this request whether you are the custodial or non-custodial parent.
Remember, though, that the court aims to uphold the best interests of the child. Before it grants any custody modification, it will look at the changes in your circumstances and determine whether modifying the custody order would benefit your child best.
What kind of changes are valid reasons to modify a child custody order in CO? There are numerous possible scenarios, and here are common examples.
The child is now in danger.
If you find evidence that the physical or emotional wellbeing of your child is at risk with the other parent, this could be a strong reason to change the custody order. Perhaps you found injuries on your child that indicate abuse, or you discovered that your little one was in the car while your ex-spouse was drunk-driving.
The court will investigate these kinds of matters. If it is determined that your ex-partner’s behavior or living arrangements endanger your child, it is possible that you will gain sole child custody.
The other parent wants to relocate.
This is one of the most common reasons for child custody modification. A change in one parent’s address affects many other things around raising your child, such as the child’s schooling and daily commute, the child’s visitation, and the contact between the parents.
If your former spouse is considering moving, you may want to request custody modifications specifically on visitation, known in Colorado as parenting time.
The child does not want to continue visitation.
Colorado family courts do give consideration to the child’s own wishes, though the wishes of an older child (a teen, for example) have more weight than that of a younger one. This being said, it is possible to change visitation terms when the child no longer wants to spend time with the non-custodial parent. It may be that traveling and switching between parents now places unnecessary stress on the child, thus needing to be taken out of the custody arrangement.
The other parent repeatedly violates custody orders.
If your ex-spouse keeps violating the parenting plan, or interferes with your agreed-upon visitation, it is a clear sign to ask for a child custody modification. The court will still listen to your former spouse’s reasons for not cooperating under the agreement, but it is likely that it will grant modifications based on the current circumstances.
The custodial parent has died.
This is a situation where child custody modification is necessary. Generally, the court will want the child to stay with the remaining parent, but it may consider alternative arrangements if needed. For example, perhaps the remaining parent is not financially capable to have sole child custody, or the child has expressed strong wishes to stay with a grandparent or a guardian.
If you are now the only parent that your child has, you will want to show the court that you are the best party to continue raising the child.
Are these family scenarios similar to yours? Or do you have a unique concern regarding child custody? Talk to us at Goldman Law for experienced legal advice that is specifically suited to your situation.