Modification of Allocation of Parental Responsibilities
It is not unusual for changes to occur after entry of permanent orders in a dissolution or allocation of parental responsibilities action that require a modification to the court order. The court issuing the original order generally retains jurisdiction to modify it absent substantial change, such as all parties departing the state.
The legal standard for modification of parenting time is the best interests of the child standard. There is a higher standard to make a change of the majority time parent in order to foster stability for children. If there is a request to make a change to majority parenting time, there must have been (1) a change in the child’s circumstances, and (2) the modification must be in the best interests of the child. The standard is high.
The original parenting time schedule shall be continued unless generally (1) the parties agree to a modification, (2) the child has been integrated into the family of the moving party with the other party’s consent, (3) the party having majority time parenting is intending to relocate to an area that would substantially change geographic ties, or (4) parenting time endangers the child’s physical or emotional health. If majority time parenting is changed, another petition for change can not be made for two years absent child endangerment or relocation. Initial permanent orders entry does not start a two year clock.Modification of Decision-Making Responsibility
In joint responsibility modifications, the best interests of the child standard apply. In modifications of sole decision-making, the standard is endangerment. The burden of proof rests on the moving party.Procedure
The requesting party must submit a motion for modification and affidavit explaining the basis for the request and provide a copy to the other party who can respond. The Court must then either hold a hearing or deny the request on the motion. The court can not grant the request for a change in parenting time without hearing. It is the responsibility of the requesting party to set the matter for hearing and notify the other party.Modification of Foreign Custody Orders
Federal law governs modification of foreign child custody orders. The governing law is the Uniform Child Custody and Jurisdiction Enforcement Act which applies to out-of-state orders. Colorado can modify the order if (1) the court that entered the order no longer has jurisdiction or has declined to exercise it, or (2) all parties and the child have left the issuing state. If there is a dispute regarding residency, a court must hold a hearing to resolve it.Parental Kidnapping Prevention Act
In order to combat parental kidnapping, the federal Parental Kidnapping Prevention Act provides that the state issuing the original custody order maintains jurisdiction to modify the order if jurisdiction continues under its own laws. For example, most states provide that if all parties and the child have permanently left the state, then that state loses jurisdiction.
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