Put simply, yes, child custody plans can be changed. If you find you are in a position where your current arrangements are no longer working for your child, you are not stuck! Potentially you and your co-parent have a decent relationship and if that is the case, you can come to an agreement on parenting time changes. If that is the route for you make sure to formalize the agreement in writing and file it with the court. Some co-parents may not be as fortunate to have a civil relationship and if you find you are more likely in that boat, you may request the court to consider a Motion of Modification of Parenting Time so long as certain conditions exist. If a party files a request with the Court to modify the arrangements with the court, just as there are a lot of factors that the court will consider when initially determining custody arrangements, these factors will be considered in updating any existing parenting time arrangements.
Colorado Revised Statute Section 14-10-129 gives the court the ability to modify existing parenting time arrangements. As part of their consideration, the court must take into account what the best interests of the child, as outlined in Colorado Revised Statute 14-10-124. These factors include but are not limited to the wishes of the child’s parents as to parenting time, the wishes of the child if he or she is sufficiently mature to express reasoned and independent preferences as to the parenting time schedule, the interaction and interrelationship of the child with his or her parents, his or her siblings, and any other person who may significantly affect the child’s best interest; any reports of domestic violence; the child’s adjustment to their home, school, and community; mental and physical health of all individuals involved excluding disabilities alone; the ability of the parties to encourage and share love, affection, and contact between the child and the other party; whether the past involvement of the parties with the child reflects a system of values, time commitment, and mutual support; the physical proximity of the parties to each other as it relates to practical parenting time; and the ability of each party to place the needs of the children ahead of their needs.
In conjunction with considering the best interest of the child factors, the court will review the existing plan and consider whether a modification will truly benefit the child and whether the individual has satisfied the requirements of Colorado Revised Statute Section 14-10-129. If a court finds that a request for modification of child custody is in the best interest of the child satisfying the factors mentioned above, the request to modify child custody will likely be granted. Likewise, if a court finds that a modification of child custody has the slightest potential to endanger the child’s physical health or significantly impair the child’s emotional development custody will not be altered. As stated above, there is always the potential for the parties to work together to come up with a new parenting time arrangement that they believe is not only in their best interest but more importantly in the best interest of their child.