Protecting Your Rights & Advocating For Your Interests
When parents get a divorce or separate, crucial decisions must be made about how much time each parent spends with their children. The amount of time each parent is allocated will depend on a variety of factors, including their proximity to the child, work and school schedules, and the child’s emotional needs.
Circumstances change, however, which may require modifying the time each parent spends with the child. Both parents may have been allocated equal parenting time, and one parent may later decide they should have a greater amount of time. Conversely, if the parents have unequal time, one parent may wish to move to a more equal schedule.
Our family law attorneys handle all aspects of divorce and custody cases, and we can help guide you toward the best solutions for you and your children. Call us today at (720) 608-2361 to schedule a confidential consultation.
Why Changing Parenting Time May Be Necessary
There may be many reasons to change the amount of time a child spends with a parent. You or the other parent may have a new job that requires different hours, which would conflict with the child’s current schedule. One parent may have moved or might plan on moving, making it more difficult to effectuate the parenting time orders. There may be a more urgent need to modify parenting time, however, if one parent has developed a drug or alcohol addiction, is abusive, or poses some other immediate risk to the child’s safety and well-being.
Options For Modifying Parenting Time
It’s possible that all that is needed to modify a parenting time schedule is for both parents to agree on a new schedule. Courts encourage parents to work with each other to come up with a solution that is acceptable for everyone and is in the child’s best interests. Parents are required to go to mediation if they want to go to trial. In many cases, per their current orders, parents will also have to mediate before they file a motion to modify (except in emergencies). In most cases in which a change is contested, modifying parenting time requires filing a motion into your original case.
If you are seeking to substantially reduce the other parent’s parenting time, such a change may be deemed a “restriction.” A court will usually only restrict the parenting time of another parent if the current order endangers the child’s physical health or poses a detriment to their emotional development. If you intend to seek a restriction on the other parent’s parenting time, you should be prepared to present evidence that their time with the child is harmful. If the court finds that your motion was frivolous, you may be required to pay the other parent’s attorney and court fees.
Frequently Asked Questions About Modifying Parenting Time
If you are considering modifying your parenting time schedule, you may have a lot of questions. Your divorce lawyer or family law attorney is the best source for information about your particular case, but here are a few answers that may help.
If the other parent or I move, will the parenting time be changed?
If one parent has moved (or plans on moving) to a different geographical area, the parenting schedule may need to be modified to reflect the new circumstances. Unless your current orders state otherwise, you must take into account the factors enumerated in CRS section 14-10-1292)(c), including:
- The reasons for wanting to relocate with the child
- Reasons why the opposing party might object to the proposed relocation
- History and quality of each party’s relationship with the child since previous parenting time orders
- Educational opportunities at the child’s existing location and the proposed location
- Presence of any extended family at the existing location or proposed location
- Advantages for the child to remain with the primary caregiver
- The anticipated impact of relocation on the child and the best interests of the child
- Whether the court can fashion a reasonable parenting time schedule if the relocation is approved.
A move out of state or out of the country is an extreme change and may limit the amount of time the noncustodial parent can spend with their child. Case law in this area is very complex, and you should review these issues with an experienced family law attorney if there is potential for the move to be contested.
If you or the other parent are considering relocation with a child, read more about your rights on our relocation page.
If I’m worried that my child is in danger, can I refuse to allow my child to visit the other parent?
If you fail to follow your court’s ordered parenting time schedule, you may cause more legal trouble for yourself and the child. If you’re afraid for the child’s safety, you should instead immediately contact a family law attorney to try and get the order modified. If you wish to seek an immediate order, you will need to provide evidence that your child is in imminent emotional and/or physical danger while in the care of the other parent.
Can I have a parenting time order changed based on my child’s wishes?
As a child ages and matures, courts may begin to take the child’s wishes into account about how much time they spend with each parent; however, this is only one of many factors the court considers when determining parenting time. There is no specific age at which a court may consider the child’s wishes, but family law courts often may consider the child’s preferences as they reach their teen years.
Courts decide these issues on a case-by-case basis, however, based on the age and maturity of the child. If the child demonstrates the maturity to express opinions regarding parenting time, the court may consider the child’s wishes in determining whether to modify a parenting time order. It is critical to note that while the child’s wishes may be taken into consideration, what a child says they want will never be the entire basis for a court’s decision.
Can I refuse to allow the other parent their parenting time if they are behind on child support payments?
No. Parenting time orders are independent of a parent’s obligation to pay child support. Parenting time is the right of the child, and withholding parenting time from the other parent also punishes the child. If the other parent isn’t living up to their financial responsibilities, you should address your concerns with your attorney.
Speak With A Colorado Family Law Attorney Right Away
If you and your family have current orders and you’re considering modifying your parenting time with the children, you need an attorney experienced in Colorado family law. At Halligan LLC, we take pride in our ability to provide our clients and their families with compassionate and personalized legal services.
Navigating the aftermath of a divorce can be stressful and hard on your family, but you don’t have to go through this alone. Call us at (720) 608-2361 or fill out our contact form today to schedule a confidential consultation to discuss your concerns.