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Relocate with child out of state _before_ filing for divorce in Colorado - can this be done legally, without losing custody?

Denver, CO |

My H and I have been working in a collaborative law divorce process for several months - the primary issue involves parenting time (I want to move out of state with our child, but my husband doesn't want our child to leave the state). I've recently learned that my spouse is consulting with a new lawyer for litigation, i.e., abandoning collab process. I have no family members and few friends in Colorado, and I want to move to a place where I have support - especially if I'm going to be drawn into a long legal battle. I'd been trying to work with spouse for fair parenting time, but he's refused to cooperate and basically abused the collab process to stall for time. No divorce papers have been filed yet - can I file for a divorce in Colorado, but from out of state, and without losing custody?

Husband also has serous issues with substance abuse and depression - a formal S.A.E. was done as part of the collaboration.

Attorney Answers 3

  1. Best answer

    You can legally leave the state at any time before the divorce has been filed. However, unless you are able to establish residence for yourself and the children in the new state for six months before your husband files for divorce in Colorado, you can expect the divorce and child issues to be addressed in this state. If your husband has a lawyer he is almost certain to be told this.

    If you move out of state and then have to defense a divorce in Colorado, you will have to return to the state to address custody and parenting time. It is not absolutely certain, but it is certainly possible, that the Judge may order the child returned to Colorado. In that case you will either have to come back or turn the child over to your husband for the majority of the parenting time.

    You need to have a good family law attorney on your side and be prepared for a serious fight if you plan to move before the divorce is filed. From what you have posted, your husband isn't going to let go easily.

    You can reach Harkess & Salter LLC at (303) 531-5380 or Stephen Harkess is an attorney licensed in the state and federal courts of Colorado. This answer is for general information only and does not create an attorney client relationship between Stephen Harkess or Harkess & Salter LLC and any person. You should schedule a consultation with an attorney to discuss the specifics of your legal issues.

  2. If you relocate with your child prior to filing for divorce after having known for several months that the issue of relocation was in dispute, be prepared for your husband to file for divorce when you leave and for a very angry judge to order you to return the child to Colorado. This answer is provided as general information about a legal issue, is not legal advice specific to a particular case, and does not create a lawyer-client relationship with the person asking the question.

  3. You can legally move before the case is filed but its a bad idea. If you want to move, you should get the divorce filed and get the court's permission to relocate with the child on a temporary basis. The court may not grant permission but that will save you a lot of headaches later on in your case. Do it the right way.

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