Modification of a Parenting Plan in Colorado

Modification of a Parenting Plan in ColoradoHere at my practice, Elizabeth Henson, Attorney Mediator, P.C., I often help clients work through the modification of a parenting plan in Colorado. While many parents think, they can simply make an oral agreement or change, it’s often not considered legal by the courts. Here’s why – even after a divorce and custody (also known as parental responsibilities) case has been settled, jurisdiction over the child(ren) remains with the court until they’re 18 years of age.

So, if a change in circumstances requires modification of the original parenting plan, you must again seek approval from a family law judge to make it legal and protect your rights.

Making Changes to Parenting Time

To modify parenting time, the court will grant or deny most requests based on the “best interests” of the child. If the requested change substantially alters the schedule and changes the parent with whom the child primarily resides, a physical or mental “endangerment” standard will be considered (absent other circumstances). The preferences of a child who is older can also carry a lot of weight with the court when it comes to custody and parenting time /visitation.

Parenting time (previously known as “visitation”) is part of the allocation of parental responsibilities and covers:

    • Weekday/weekend schedule during the school year, including transportation
    • Summer schedule, including transportation and drop-off/pick-up arrangements
    • Holidays and special occasions (Christmas, Spring/Winter Break, birthdays, etc.)
    • Travel and vacation plans, out-of-state and overnight travel notifications

Allocation of Parental Responsibilities for Major Decision Making

Parental responsibilities also include the allocation of decision-making responsibility, which parents sometimes want to change. Decision-making addresses major life decisions for the children. This area includes determinations regarding the following issues and more:

  • Educational
  • Medical/dental/health (non-emergency)
  • Religious
  • Extracurricular and recreational activities

The law contains a list of situations in which modification of decision-making responsibility can happen. As with parenting time, if the parents agree, any modification of decision-making duties should be put in writing and filed with the court.

Relocation that Substantially Changes Geographic Ties

Relocation means that the children are moving away with one of the parents. Relocation requires a motion with the Court and permission unless both parties have submitted to the Court a written agreement/stipulation (with verified signatures of all parties) allowing one of the parties to relocate with the minor child(ren). Given the relocation, parents must also submit a new proposed parenting plan which addresses how the parties intend to address all the parenting issues.

What Else Does Modification of a Parenting Plan in Colorado Include?

There are a number of other issues that a parent may want to modify and both parents will subsequently need to agree on. These can include the right of first refusal, ground rules in parents’ homes, the establishment of driving privileges as children get older, etc.

As you can see, the modification of a parenting plan in Colorado can encompass a broad range of issues. Changes in time spent with the child(ren), decisions that affect the child(ren) and other matters can all quickly become points of contention.

Now, if you do not come to some mutual agreement, all decisions are left to the court to choose. Even if the parents think that they have an agreement on these issues, it should be put in writing and filed with the court to be enforceable. This written agreement also has to comply with Colorado law and contain certain language and provisions. That’s why I provide mediation services where I assist all parties in finding a resolution instead of going to court and having a judge dictate terms.

To find out how Elizabeth Henson, Attorney Mediator, P.C. can help you through the modification of a parenting plan in Colorado, please call or contact my office for more information.

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