Friday, June 10, 2005

Colorado's top court makes it easier for parents to leave state

This is the entire article so you can all feel as I sick as I do.... How on earth can a parent's constitutional right to move be equivalent to their child's constitutional right to two INVOLVED parents - not to mention the other parent's constitutional right to PARENT THEIR CHILD.

"Huge" rulings on divorce
Colorado's top court makes it easier for parents to leave state

By Mike McPhee Denver Post Staff Writer

In two related rulings this week, the Colorado Supreme Court significantly changed family law by making it easier for divorcing or already-divorced parents to move to another state.

Helen Shreves, a family-law attorney and mediator for 25 years, called the rulings "groundbreaking." One case deals with parents in the process of divorcing, the other with parents already divorced. Shreves said they could affect 15 percent to 20 percent of all Colorado divorce cases.

"This is a very significant change in the law," she said. "Until now, you literally couldn't leave the state while your divorce was in process. Or your spouse could get a restraining order and bring you back. Now you can leave.

"The second case protects the parent's constitutional right to travel after the divorce, saying it is just as important as the child's best interests."

Suzanne Griffiths, a family-law attorney for 25 years, called the ruling "huge."
"It not only will cause the filing of a large number of requests to relocate by parents who were told they couldn't leave, but it will also have an enormous effect on couples contemplating divorce," she said.

"This will cause many couples to think twice about getting a divorce, if they know one of them can take the child to another state for good reason such as a job or family."

In the first case, Jennifer Spahmer and Todd Gullete had a child in September 2001. The relationship ended, and during the divorce process Spahmer wanted to move to Arizona with the child to be near her family and to take a new job.

But a trial court denied her request, stating it was in the child's best interests for both parents to live in Colorado. Spahmer appealed.

The Supreme Court overturned the lower court, stating that parenting time must be arranged in the best interest of the child. But "nothing (in the statutes) authorizes a trial court to allocate parenting time by ordering a parent to live in a specific locale."

Hence, "the (trial) court must accept the location in which each party intends to live (then) allocate parental responsibilities accordingly in the best interest of the child."

In the second case, Michelle and Christopher Ciesluk divorced amicably in 2002 after seven years of marriage and one child. Five months later, the mother found a job in Arizona near her family. So she asked the court for permission to move with the child to Arizona and offered a modified plan allowing the father to have the child four times a year.

The trial court rejected her proposal on the grounds it would adversely affect the father's relationship with the child. It ordered the parents to remain in close proximity.

But the Supreme Court ruled that the trial court hadn't protected the mother's constitutional right to travel - "the right to migrate, resettle, find a new job and start a new life."

Hence, the parents right to travel (according the Colorado Supreme Court) is more important the child's relationship with their parent. Regardless of what side of the fence you are on in reference to custody - you have to see how sick this is.

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Anonymous Family Law London said...

Why exactly couldn't/can't one parent move to a different state? It is after all the same country. You could move to the next state and actually be closer than before. In my opinion each case should be taken on its own merits and there shouldn't be regid rules like this.

10:50 AM  

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