For military families relocation with their children outside the state of Colorado presents serious challenges. Attorney Ray Chamberland employs his 25 years of military service and 19 years of knowledge of Colorado family law to assist with relocations. Relocations occur after there has been a divorce or parental responsibilities (custody) case and there is a parenting plan in place that needs to be modified because one parent desires to move out of Colorado or to a location in Colorado that changes the geographical distance between the children and the other parent sufficiently to require a court order authorizing the relocation.

Military relocations typically fall into three categories:

  1. One parent is military and the other is civilian and either the military member or the former spouse desires to relocate and wants to take the children with them.
  2. Both Parents are military and one of them gets PCS orders and wants to take the children with them.
  3. A non-military former spouse who was married to another civilian, marries a military member who is either stationed in Colorado and gets Orders to another State or Country, or marries a military member already stationed outside of Colorado.

Ray can assist either the parent desiring to move with the kids or the parent trying to prevent the relocation. One important consideration in relocation cases is per Colorado Revised Statute 14-10-129(2)(c), normally, only the parent who has primary responsibility for the children can seek to relocate with them. For example, if one parent has more parenting time than the other, they are the primary responsible parent. If there is equal parenting time, or joint custody, then both are primary responsible parents, and either can ask the Court to allow them to move. There are a couple of exceptions. If there is agreement of the Parties that the minority time parent can take the kids, or if the previous Court Order named one parent as having primary custody, but the kids have been actually living a greater portion of the time with the other party, then the minority time parent can apply to move.

If a relocation is requested, by the primary custodian, both Parties are to be considered on equal footing. In other words, even though one parent is the majority time parent, that does not mean they will automatically be allowed to relocate. The Court will consider the best interest of the kids and may decide that them remaining in Colorado with the minority time parent is in their best interest. In reaching this determination the Court will consider all relevant factors including whether either parent has been a perpetrator of spouse abuse, whether such spouse abuse occurred before or after the prior decree. The Court will also consider all the factors listed below which come both from Colorado Revised Statute 14-10-124 and 14-10-129 in determining the best interest of the children.

C.R.S. 14-10-124 factors:

  1. The wishes of the child’s parents as to parenting time;
  2. The wishes of the child if he or she is sufficiently mature to express reasoned and independent preferences as to the parenting time schedule;
  3. The interaction and interrelationship of the child with his or her parents, his or her siblings, and any other person who may significantly affect the child’s best interests;
  4. The child’s adjustment to his or her home, school, and community;
  5. The mental and physical health of all individuals involved, except that a disability alone shall not be a basis to deny or restrict parenting time;
  6. The ability of the parties to encourage the sharing of love, affection, and contact between the child and the other party;
  7. Whether the past pattern of involvement of the parties with the child reflects a system of values, time commitment, and mutual support;
  8. The physical proximity of the parties to each other as this relates to the practical considerations of parenting time;
  9. Whether one of the parties has been a perpetrator of child abuse or neglect under section 18-6-401, C.R.S., or under the law of any state, which factor shall be supported by credible evidence;
  10. Whether one of the parties has been a perpetrator of domestic violence, which factor shall be supported by a preponderance of the evidence;
  11. The ability of each party to place the needs of the child ahead of his or her own needs.

C.R.S. 14-10-129 factors:

  1. The reasons why the party wishes 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 of the child remaining with the primary caregiver;
  7. The anticipated impact of the move on the child;
  8. Whether the court will be able to fashion a reasonable parenting time schedule if the change requested is permitted; and
  9. Any other relevant factors bearing on the best interests of the child; or(d) The child’s present environment endangers the child’s physical health or significantly impairs the child’s emotional development and the harm likely to be caused by a change of environment is outweighed by the advantage of a change to the child.

Attorney Ray Chamberland is adept at working with military members and military family members to highlight their strengths as parents and to take maximum advantage of those factors that tilt strongly in favor of his client. Military members and family members should strongly consider these strengths when selecting the attorney to represent them.


Ray Chamberland, family law attorney, discusses these and many more common family law questions on his Youtube.

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