Colorado Interstate Custody Case Shows Time Can Alter Original Agreement
Denver, CO (Law Firm Newswire) November 23, 2011 - A recent Colorado Supreme Court ruling settled an interstate child custody case in favor of the mother who moved two children across the country to Colorado and holds that New York courts no longer had jurisdiction in the case because the children had been gone for too long.
The original custody agreement from the 2004 divorce gave the mother custody and gave the father visitation rights. Two years later, the mother moved the children to Massachusetts and four years after that the mother and children moved to Colorado. During the Colorado move, the father went back to the New York courts to try and enforce the original custody agreement.
The couple agreed to allow a family court referee settle the matter. The referee agreed with the mother that New York no longer had jurisdiction in the case and suggested to the father that he file his petition in Massachusetts. Then the mother moved the children, now 11 years old and 9 years old, to Colorado.
The father took the matter to New York Supreme Court (which the Colorado Supreme Court said is “the equivalent of our district court”) and it overruled the family court’s decision and granted temporary sole custody to the father.
“If you don’t pay close attention to your child custody agreement and make sure it is followed to the letter, you could wake up to find your children on the other side of the country,” said Denver child custody lawyer Bill Thode. “Interstate custody cases can be tricky. If you spend a few years letting the other parent move the children around without pressing for your rights, bad things can happen.”
The Colorado Supreme Court found that the New York Supreme Court no longer had jurisdiction in the case because the state had been released by the original family court’s order. The court relied on the rules set forth in the Parental Kidnapping Protection Act of 1980 to guide the decision.
“The courts always will try to rule in favor of the children. In this case the family court in New York felt like the children were in a good spot, and the father had waited too long to press his rights in a New York court,” Thode said. “This is why you have to press your rights consistently in order to keep your custody agreement working for you and your children.”
Thode Law Firm, P.C.
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Denver, CO 80206
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