Modifying Child Custody Orders in Colorado: When and How to Seek Changes

Child custody battles can be emotionally challenging and legally intricate, and when circumstances change, modifying an existing custody order becomes a pressing concern for many parents in Colorado. As life evolves, jobs shift, living situations change, and children grow, the once-ideal custody arrangement may no longer meet the needs of all parties involved. If you face such a situation, it’s essential to understand the intricacies of the Colorado legal system and the factors that courts consider when assessing custody modifications.

Colorado’s legal system prioritizes the child’s best interests in custody disputes. When seeking a modification, parents must present a compelling case for how the proposed changes will positively impact the child’s well-being and overall stability. The court’s main goal is to ensure children access loving and supportive environments that promote physical, emotional, and educational development.

Significant Change in Circumstances

Since the initial custody order was issued, there must be a substantial and material change in circumstances to request a custody modification. Such changes could include job relocations, changes in a parent’s living situation, a child’s medical needs, or instances of abuse or neglect. Gathering evidence and documentation to support your claim that the modification is in the child’s best interest is essential.

Colorado Springs Child Custody Lawyers

Filing a Motion for Modification

If mediation does not yield a resolution or is not required, the next step is filing a Motion for Modification with the court that issued the original custody order. The motion should detail the reasons for the requested changes and include any relevant evidence or documentation. Adhering to the court’s guidelines and rules when filing legal documents is crucial to ensure a smooth process.

Mediation and Settlement

Most judges will often require parents to attend mediation in an attempt to resolve their differences before any court hearing. Mediation can be a valuable tool to discuss concerns, find common ground, and reach a mutual agreement without going to trial.  While there is no requirement that the parties come to an agreement, the court will generally approve the modifications, provided they are in the child’s best interest.

Child’s Best Interest Standard

Colorado courts base their custody decisions on the best interest of the child. When seeking a modification, you must demonstrate how the proposed changes will benefit the child’s overall well-being and stability. Factors considered include each parent’s ability to provide a safe and stable home, the child’s emotional and physical needs, the child’s relationships with parents and siblings, and the child’s school and community involvement.

Court Hearing and Presentation of Evidence

After filing the motion, the court will set a date for a custody hearing. Both parents can present their arguments during the hearing and provide evidence to support their case. This is where the importance of preparation comes into play. Make sure you have compelling evidence and witnesses to strengthen your position. Consulting with an experienced family law attorney can be advantageous during this process.

Co-Parenting Plans

In many cases, the court may require parents to submit a proposed co-parenting plan outlining how they intend to share custody and make important decisions regarding the child’s upbringing. This plan should address issues such as visitation schedules, education, medical care, and communication between parents. A well-crafted co-parenting plan can demonstrate your dedication to your child’s best interest and cooperation with the other parent.

Co-Parenting Plans

The Role of a Guardian ad Litem

The court may appoint a Guardian ad Litem (GAL) to represent the child’s interests in complex custody cases. The GAL will conduct an investigation and provide recommendations to the court. Cooperating fully with the GAL and providing any required information is crucial, as their report can significantly impact the court’s decision.

Finalizing the Modification Order

A custody modification order will be issued once the court has reviewed all evidence and considered the child’s best interest. This order will outline the specific changes to the custody arrangement. Both parents must adhere to the new order, and failure to comply may result in legal consequences.

Modifying a custody order in Colorado is a significant undertaking that requires careful preparation, consideration of the child’s best interest, and adherence to the legal process.

If you find yourself in a situation where modifying a custody order in Colorado is necessary for the well-being of your child, don’t hesitate to take action. Reach out to a family law attorney and initiate the process of modifying the custody order. Your child deserves the best, and you have the power to make a positive impact on their life.


About the Author:

Andrew Bryant is a well-respected Colorado Springs criminal attorney who has been practicing in the area for years. A Colorado native, he returned to the home he loves after graduating from the University of Kentucky College of Law. Now, he uses the knowledge he gained as an El Paso County District Attorney to fight tirelessly for his clients’ rights. He is AV-Preeminent rated, has been recognized for his work by The National Trial Lawyers, and has been named to Best of the Springs lists by The Gazette for years.