In our previous post, we discussed an overview of relocation with children. Now we will discuss what to think about when putting that plan together. Call us at (720) 445-9779.
The pertinent law on what constitutes the best interest of the child should be the starting point of any plans to relocate. While the wishes of the parents and the child constitute the first items in that statute, it makes sense to put together a comprehensive plan that addresses all of the concerns of the law before approaching the other parties. That is, the idea to relocate shouldn’t simply be floated with the other parent or the child to gauge reaction. This underscores the need to work with an attorney from the earliest possible stages of the process to give the best chance for a relocation to work out and to work out smoothly.
The first step is to examine how this will impact current relationships with the other parent, with any siblings of the child, other family members, and other significant relationships such as friends and important adults in the child’s life. The emphasis on the well being of the child should be the centerpiece of this plan. Thus, it is important think comprehensively about the relationships in your child’s life and to plan for ways the changes brought about by a relocation can be mitigated.
Secondly, one of the most critical areas the court will consider is the history and quality of both parent’s relationship with the child. It is important to consider your own level and depth of involvement in your child’s life. For example, how aware are you of your child’s schedule, who their friends are, how they feel about school, or the personal issues that are important to them? Your knowledge of your child’s every day life and your level of involvement in that are significant factors that a court will consider. Your ability to document this is an important part of your planning.
A third critical area to think about in regards to the child is the change in schooling that the child will experience. This means you need to have a thorough understanding of the the current educational situation and opportunities that your child is engaged in. Knowing this will allow you to explore what the comparable opportunities are where you are planning to relocate. Conversely, it is important to know what educational opportunities are lacking for your child to determine ways in which a relocation may enhance the current educational situation. In short, having a comprehensive grasp on your child’s educational situation will enable you to make an informed argument about the impact the move will have on this important area, and also demonstrate a meaningful level of engagement in your child’s life.
Fourth, the change in your child’s community will be something you need to consider. What kind of community engagements is your child currently taking advantage of? For example, do they play sports? Are they engaged with a religious community? Do they take lessons in music, dance, or martial arts? Knowing the activities your child is engaged in will help you to assess the changes that moving to a new community will entail. In a similar vein as education, the community you are relocating to may have opportunities currently unavailable to you child. Are there actives available to your child that are currently unavailable in their current living situation? Having a clear sense of what your child is engaged in, what he or she may want to explore, and how the new community meets those needs, will also help in demonstrate your meaningful involvement in your child’s life.
Fifth, connected to the concern around community is the difference in the culture and lifestyle that exists between where the child is and to where they might relocate. For example, while Boulder, Colorado is relatively close geographically to Laramie, Wyoming, the cultural distance is much greater. In a wide range of areas, such as economic setting, politics, religious beliefs, physical fitness, and food choices, the cultural divide is quite broad. While this may not be an area that resonates with a child, a child will take on or react to the cultural milieu in which they grow up. The other parent may have concerns to this cultural shift in ways it is important to consider.
Sixth, coming back to your own relationship with your child, you need to be able to make a sober assessment of the depth and quality of your involvement in your child’s life, and that of the child’s other parent. This goes beyond a comprehensive knowledge of your child’s life. The court is examining the kind of values that are being promoted by both parents, and their ability to foster the child’s relationship with the other parent. While divorce commonly results in hostilities between parties, the court is concerned with whether parents can rise above those issues and encourage and support the child’s relationship with the other parent. Clearly, this issue becomes more paramount in the context of relocation.
The factors and considerations of the court begin with the wishes of the other parent and the child. It is important to have thought through the above factors before engaging with the other parent and child and to consult with an attorney first before broaching the subject of relocation. While a veto by either party doesn’t rule out the possibility of a move, it will make it much more difficult and contentious. In addition, the manner in which the subject is broached and discussed will reflect strongly and the court’s interpretation around shared values and mutual support by the parents’ in showing they are acting in the child’s best interest.
The planning stage of relocation requires that you gather a wide range of information on a number of factors that will affect your plans to relocate. The litigating of that plan requires first and foremost a competent attorney and secondly, compelling evidence to back up the information you have gathered in your plan. In broad terms, this means you need to think about how you can back up the claims you are making in with evidence.
Next time, we will discuss what and how to present that evidence in Court.
Peak Legal Services
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