Modifying Parenting Time in Your Divorce, Family Law or Child Custody Case

At the end of a divorce, family law, or child custody case in Colorado, a parenting plan should be ordered by the court as part of the Court’s permanent orders, which are the orders that will govern the parties concerning their children going forward after the case is finalized.

While a parenting plan may be appropriate at the time it is ordered by the court, things change. Children grow. Parents move, change jobs, begin new relationships, and sometimes end up having more children. Chances are, a parenting plan that worked pretty well when the children were 2 and 4 may not work well when they are 10 and 12, or 15 and 17.

Because of this, the courts have a mechanism for modifying parenting plans and specifically, parenting time. Essentially, a party wishing to request a change in the current parenting time arrangement has to file a motion to modify parenting time with the Court.

Modification of parenting time is governed by Colorado Revised Statutes section 14-10-129, which states that the Court may make or modify an order granting or denying parenting time rights whenever such order or modification would serve the best interests of the child. However, the law is not quite so simple, as there are quite a few exceptions and qualifications to this rule.

First of all, in cases in which a party who currently has the majority of parenting time wants to relocate to somewhere that is a substantial distance away from the other party, the Court, in making a determination as to whether the relocation is in the best interests of the child shall take into account all relevant factors, which include factors that are written into the statute.

Additionally, a Court may 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.

If a motion for a substantial modification of parenting time, which also changes the parent with whom the child resides a majority of the time, is filed, then, regardless of whether or not it has been granted, no subsequent motion may be filed within two years unless the Court decides that the child’s present environment may endanger the child’s physical health or significantly impair the child’s emotional development.

The statute goes on to define more exceptions to the best interest rule, that are crucial to be aware of if a parent is interested in potentially requesting a parenting time modification. Also, these provisions are subject to change at any time. Without knowing the ins and outs of this complicated statute, it is impossible to have a good understanding of what one’s chances of success in having their requested modification granted are. Oftentimes, people spend a great deal of time and energy filing something in Court that has no realistic chance of success. This is where a good family law attorney can be of great assistance. If you are interested in a potential modification of parenting time, please feel free to reach out to us for a free consultation.

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