WomensLaw is not just for women. We serve and support all survivors, no matter their sex or gender.

Important: Even if courts are closed, you can still file for a protection order and other emergency relief. See our FAQ on Courts and COVID-19.

Legal Information: Colorado

Custody

View all
Updated: 
January 17, 2020

If an allocation of parental responsibilities order is already in place, how can I get it changed?

If you have an allocation of parental responsibilities order already in place, you can petition the court to modify (change) it and a judge may do so if the modification would serve the best interests of the child.1

Generally, the judge will not change an order that substantially changes the parenting time and changes with which parent the child lives a majority of the time unless:

  • there are new facts that have come up since the prior order that the judge did not know about;
  • a change has occurred in the circumstances of the child or the party with whom the child lives the majority of the time; and
  • the modification is necessary to serve the best interests of the child.2

Evidence of abuse, a criminal conviction for certain crimes, or domestic violence will most likely be considered a new fact or change in circumstance.3 To read more about Colorado’s modification law, go to our Selected Colorado Statutes page. If you want to relocate with your child, go to What steps do I have to take if I want to relocate?

If you believe that your child is in immediate physical or emotional danger because of the other parent’s contact or parenting time with the child, you may file a motion to restrict his/her parenting time or contact with the child. The judge will hold a hearing to decide your motion within seven days. During those seven days, any parenting time that the other parent has with your child must be supervised by an unrelated third party who has been approved by the judge.4Note: If the judge finds that your motion to restrict parenting time was frivolous, groundless or intended only to annoy the other parent harm, the judge will order you to pay the other parent’s attorneys’ fees and costs.5

To modify an allocation of parental responsibilities order, you will generally need to go to the court that issued the order, even if you have moved. Generally, once a court has jurisdiction, that court will keep jurisdiction, even if you move to another state. If you have moved, you can ask the court to change the jurisdiction to the new state that you are in. This is often complicated, and as with all allocation of parental responsibilities issues, we recommend that you talk to a lawyer about this. Go to the CO Finding a Lawyer page to find someone who can help you.

1 C.R.S. § 14-10-129(1)(a)(I); see generally C.R.S. § 14-10-129
2 C.R.S. § 14-10-129(2)
3 C.R.S. § 14-10-129(3)
4 C.R.S. § 14-10-129(4)
5 C.R.S. § 14-10-129(5)

What steps do I have to take if I want to relocate?

If according to your current parenting plan, your child lives with you a majority of the time and you want to relocate to a place that would substantially change the geographical ties between the child and the other party, you have to first provide the other party with written notice as soon as possible. The notice must explain:

  • your intention to locate;
  • the new location where you plan to live;
  • the reason for the relocation; and
  • a proposed revised parenting time plan.1

Usually, then a hearing would be held where the judge would decide whether or not to allow the relocation based on whether it’s is in the child’s best interests. The judge would consider all relevant factors, including:

  1. the reasons why you want to relocate with the child;
  2. the reasons why the opposing party is objecting to the proposed relocation;
  3. the history and quality of each party’s relationship with the child since any previous parenting time order;
  4. the educational opportunities for the child at the existing location and at the proposed new location;
  5. the presence or absence of extended family at the existing location and at the proposed new location;
  6. any advantages to the child if s/he remains with the party who is the primary caregiver;
  7. the anticipated impact of the move on the child;
  8. whether the judge will be able to create a reasonable parenting time schedule if the judge allows the relocation;
  9. whether a party has committed an act of domestic violence, has engaged in a pattern of domestic violence, has a history of domestic violence, and whether the violence happened before or after the original order was entered;
  10. the wishes of the child’s parents as to parenting time;
  11. the wishes of the child if s/he is mature enough to state his/her preference as to the parenting time schedule;
  12. the interaction and relationship of the child with his/her parents, siblings, and any other person who may significantly affect the child’s best interests;
  13. the child’s adjustment to his/her home, school, and community;
  14. the mental and physical health of all people involved;
  15. the ability of the parties to encourage the sharing of love, affection, and contact between the child and the other party (except that, if the court determines that a party is acting to protect the child from witnessing domestic violence or from being a victim of child abuse or neglect or domestic violence, the party’s protective actions will not be considered with respect to this factor);
  16. the past pattern of involvement of the parties with the child, considering the values shown, the time commitment made, etc.;
  17. how close the parties live to each other as this relates to a practical schedule of parenting time;
  18. the ability of each party to place the needs of the child ahead of his or her own needs; and
  19. any other relevant factors bearing on the best interests of the child.2

1 Colo. Rev. Stat. § 14-10-129(1)(a)(II)
2 Colo. Rev. Stat. § 14-10-129(2)(c)

What can I do if the other parent violates the order?

If the other parent violates the order, you can file a motion for contempt. The judge can set the matter down for a hearing or order the parents to go to mediation and report back to the court. The judge can then approve an agreement reached by the parents or set the matter for hearing.1

Upon completing the hearing, if the judge finds that a parent has violated the court order, the judge should issue one or more of the following orders:

  • An order making additional terms and conditions that are consistent with the prior order;
  • An order modifying the previous order to meet the best interests of the child;
  • An order requiring either or both parent(s) to attend a parental education program to be paid for by the parent who violated the order;
  • An order requiring the parties to participate in family counseling to be paid for by the parent who violated the order;
  • An order requiring the parent who violated the order to post bond (place money with the court) to ensure that s/he will follow the order in the future;
  • An order requiring that makeup parenting time be provided to the parent who was denied time at a time that works for him/her;
  • An order finding the parent who did not comply with the parenting time schedule in contempt of court and imposing a fine or jail sentence and/or a civil fine of up to $100 per incident of denied parenting time;
  • An order scheduling a hearing for modification of the existing order concerning custody or the allocation of parental responsibilities; or
  • Any other order that may promote the best interests of the child or children involved.2

Also, if the judge determines that a parent did violate the order, s/he will have to pay the other party’s attorney’s fees, court costs, and expenses that are associated with bringing the contempt motion. If the parent accused of violating the order is found by the judge to have not violated the other, the parent who filed may have to pay the accused parent’s legal fees.3

1 C.R.S. § 14-10-129.5(1)
2 C.R.S. § 14-10-129.5(2)
3 C.R.S. § 14-10-129.5(4)

Can I change the state where the case is being heard?

If you move to another state, you may be able to change the state where the custody (PR &R) case is being heard. You may have to ask the judge that is hearing the case to change the jurisdiction of your case to the new state.

For information on trying to modify a final Colorado custody order in another state, or an out-of-state custody order in Colorado, please see our Changing a final custody order page in the general custody information section. This will tell you what factors a judge should consider when deciding whether or not to transfer your case to a new state.

The custody process is often complicated, especially when trying to figure out if you can move your case to a new state. Therefore, we recommend that you talk to a lawyer about any custody questions you have. To find legal services in Colorado, go to our CO Finding a Lawyer page. To find legal services in a state other than Colorado, select that state from the Places that Help tab on the top of this page and then click Finding a Lawyer.