Can primary parenting rights be taken away?

By Kate Miller
November 16, 2017
Can primary parenting rights be taken away?

Primary parenting rights can be taken away from the parent to whom they were originally assigned and awarded to the other parent. There are many reasons that someone would experience a change in primary care.

The basic answer, which might seem too simplistic is that life happens. If the primary parent becomes unable or even dangerous for the care of the child, the other parent can request a modification or change in primary parent.

Reasons this might happen is if the primary parent is arrested or puts the children in imminent danger through illegal drug use. If the primary parent has a change in circumstances like losing a house or job and is unable to provide for the children, there can be a change in primary care too.

If the court makes findings of a parental alienation then the court will likely change care to the non-alienating parent. If a parent needs to relocate such that sharing parenting with the other parent is affected then the court might change primary care in that instance as well.

Custody agreements can be changed in several different ways as a practical matter. If the parents agree to the change they can file a stipulation, this is the word for agreement, they can file that agreement with the court and ask the court to grant the agreement as an order. If the parents disagree the parent who wishes to change the custody agreement can file a motion to modify.

Motion to modifies are filed if you have already received a court order for parenting time and are now wishing to change it. In Colorado if the parties disagree they can modify if they have not yet filed for modification in the past two years.

You can also change the parent who has the majority of parenting time if facts have arisen since prior court order that were unknown to the court at the time of that order. For example there has been a change in the circumstances of the child or party with whom the child lives the majority of the time, and that the modification is necessary to serve the child's best interest.

Based on the individual circumstances of each motion the court will evaluate the motion and determine if the custody agreement should actually be changed. It's really important when considering to change a custody agreement that parents keep in mind consistency and routine are really best for the children. So when it comes time to change an agreement parents should really look at whether the change is for them or if it's for their children.

Kate Miller is a Denver, Colorado attorney focused exclusively on the practices of divorce and family law. She has lived many of the issues regarding divorce and child custody, and is passionate about helping people through this process. To learn more about Kate and her firm visit

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November 16, 2017
Categories:  FAQs

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