Introduction In Colorado, relocation cases present complex legal challenges. The standards governing pre-decree (before the custody order) and post-decree (after the custody order) relocations differ significantly. 

Part 1: Legal Framework for Relocation Cases in Colorado

A. Overview of Colorado’s Approach Colorado’s family law provides specific guidelines for relocation cases, aiming to balance parental rights with the best interests of the child. These guidelines are influenced by statutory laws and judicial interpretations.

B. Statutory References

  • Colorado Revised Statutes § 14-10-129 governs post-decree relocation.
  • Pre-decree relocation is addressed under Colorado Revised Statutes § 14-10-124, focusing on the child’s best interests.

Part 2: Pre-Decree vs. Post-Decree Relocation Standards

A. Pre-Decree Relocations

  • Focus: Determining the best custody arrangement that serves the child’s best interests.
  • Factors Considered: The wishes of the parents, the child’s needs, and the child’s adjustment to their home, school, and community.

B. Post-Decree Relocations

  • Standard: A more stringent standard, focusing on changes in circumstances and the child’s best interests.
  • Factors Considered: The reasons for relocation, the impact on the child, and the reasons opposing the move.

Part 3: Key Case Law in Colorado

A. In re Marriage of Ciesluk

  • This landmark case set important precedents for post-decree relocation, emphasizing the child’s best interests and the reasons for and against relocation.

B. In re Marriage of Spahmer

  • Spahmer case further elaborated on Ciesluk, focusing on the necessity to provide detailed reasons for the proposed relocation.

Part 4: Comparing Pre-Decree and Post-Decree Relocation Standards

A. Criteria for Decision Making

  • Pre-Decree: A broader evaluation of the child’s best interests without the burden of altering an existing court order.
  • Post-Decree: A more rigorous examination of the necessity for change, considering the existing custody arrangement’s stability.

B. Burden of Proof

  • Pre-Decree: Generally, a shared burden between the parents.
  • Post-Decree: The burden is primarily on the relocating parent to justify the move.

C. Impact on the Child

  • Both Scenarios: The child’s well-being, stability, and continued relationship with both parents are central considerations.

Part 5: Practical Guidance for Relocation Cases

A. Legal Representation

  • Given the complexities, obtaining experienced legal representation is crucial in both pre-decree and post-decree cases.

B. Documentation and Preparation

  • Detailed documentation supporting the reasons for relocation can significantly influence the case’s outcome.

C. Effective Communication

  • Effective and open communication with the other parent and the court is essential.

Conclusion

Navigating the complexities of relocation in Colorado family law requires a deep understanding of the differing standards for pre-decree and post-decree cases. The cases of Ciesluk and Spahmer highlight the nuanced approach taken by Colorado courts, emphasizing the child’s best interests and the need for detailed justification in relocation cases.

References

  • Colorado Revised Statutes § 14-10-129 and § 14-10-124
  • In re Marriage of Ciesluk, Colorado Supreme Court
  • In re Marriage of Spahmer, Colorado Court of Appeals