Colorado family courts follow the “best interest of the child” doctrine when establishing, enforcing, and modifying child custody agreements. To maintain a secure and safe environment for children, the court expects parents to request a modification only when necessary.
Here are the most common reasons for modifying a parental responsibilities plan.
A parent relocating to another city or state will seek to modify the original custody agreement. People may relocate for – a job, remarriage, or other obligations, such as taking care of an elderly parent.
Colorado prefers that parents share physical custody whenever possible. However, an even 50/50 split is not always possible. When the primary custodian becomes sick, injured, or disabled, the non-custodial parent must step into that role.
A parent can seek sole custody or restrict visitation to protect their children from dangerous situations, violence, and neglect. Child endangerment is often the result of substance abuse, untreated mental illness, or the introduction of an abusive partner or spouse to the child’s home.
Children who were too young to voice their preference for a custodial parent in the original agreement can request a modification through a parent. A judge will listen to the child’s request and other considerations.
You need to justify the modification, whether you’re seeking a change in parental responsibilities or parenting time.
Seeking a change in a parent’s visitation schedule must meet the court’s requirement that it is in the child’s best interest. A parent may seek to keep an equal parenting time but needs to change days and times (for example, if their job requires them to work different shifts).
Another modification might be to reduce visitation if the non-custodial parent moves a considerable distance.
A parent who fears for their child’s safety can request supervised visitation. Filing a motion to restrict parenting time or custody requires proof that the child is in immediate danger.
If granted, the restricted parent may only see their child while supervised by a qualified adult. The motion is effective immediately and lasts for seven days. An emergency hearing should take place within that time.
Requesting a custody modification that affects where the child lives (or lives most of the time) requires elevated proof beyond the child’s best interests.
Because this is a significant change, the court only considers a modification to primary custody under specific circumstances:
Both parents must agree to the custody modification. If they cannot agree, the court makes its decision based on the evidence presented by each party.
Under Colorado law, you’ll return to the court that entered the original child custody orders to modify parenting time or parental responsibilities. For most families, the court overseeing custody modifications is the 2nd Judicial District Court in Denver County.
It costs approximately $105 to file the necessary paperwork.
To file a Motion to Modify Parenting Time, click here to download JDF-1406.
You also need to file an Order Regarding Modification or Restriction of Parenting Time. Click here to download JDF-1424.
You should download a proposed Parenting Plan (JDF 1113 – click here) to explain the change in circumstances that triggered your request for custody modification.
Finally, you should complete JDF-1123 to schedule a custody modification hearing.
Fill out these forms completely using information from the original custody or divorce papers. You’ll mail a copy of the Motion, Order, and proposed Parenting Plan to the other parent (or their attorney).
File the original and one copy of each form with the Clerk of the Court. Usually, the Clerk’s office can schedule the date and time of your hearing when you file. You might have to send a copy of this notice to the other parent if the court does not.
Except in the case of endangerment, you cannot file another change request within two years of the court’s modification ruling.
The court does not consider custody modifications lightly. If you seek to restrict the other parent’s custody, you must have proof of child endangerment or show why you should have majority custody.
Evidence to support a claim of child endangerment might include:
A parent who wishes to relocate with their children must show that it is in their best interest. The court will want to see proof that moving an extended distance from the other parent will not cause alienation of affection or undue stress on the child.
A parent seeking custody against relocation must show that they are prepared.
Submitting a Proposed Parenting Plan helps the judge understand each party’s point of view. In addition, the court considers:
Child custody can be an emotional issue for divorced parents and their kids. Seeking a custody modification is more than downloading forms, especially since submitting incorrect or incomplete information could affect the outcome.
Working with a child custody lawyer offers:
An attorney coordinates communication between you and your ex-spouse. If you have a hostile relationship or a history of violence or abuse, having an attorney is likely safer than talking one-on-one.
Attorney Michael Fayard is an experienced child custody lawyer and litigator. He understands that divorced parents need help navigating the judicial system. If you need to modify your current child custody agreement, contact 303 Law Help for a free consultation. Call 303-990-8585 or reach out online.