December 18, 2017

Post-Decree Modifications of Parental Responsibilities — Best Interests, Endangerment, and More

Sometimes, after a decree of dissolution is entered, parents seek to modify their allocation of parental responsibilities. The standard for modification of decision-making is found in C.R.S. § 14-10-129(2)(a) through (d). Subsection (a) allows for modification when the parties agree, but in practice this rarely or never happens. Subsection (b) allows modification when the child has been integrated into the family of the moving party with the consent of the other party — this, too, rarely happens. Subsection (c) addresses relocation and lists specific criteria for modification. The “meat” of the statute, however, is in subsection (d).

Subsection (d) allows modification of decision-making when “The child’s present environment endangers the child’s physical health or significantly impairs the child’s emotional development and the harm likely to be caused by a change of environment is outweighed by the advantage of a change to the child.” Many cases have interpreted “endangerment” as it relates to the modification of decision-making; it is where attorneys get creative with their arguments. Typically, though, “endangerment” is when the parent fails to make decisions or when the parents cannot agree on even the most minor of decisions and it harms the child.

The standard to modify parenting time is the best interest of the child standard, which is slightly less onerous to meet than the endangerment standard. Learn more about the interplay of the two standards and practical applications of the standards in case law from Marie Moses, a partner at Lass Moses Ramp, LLP. Ms. Moses presented a program, “Mastering Post-Decree Modification Standards: Best Interests Versus Endangerment,” which is available here:

Ms. Moses discusses the difference between the best interests and the endangerment standards, and how courts apply the two in practical situations.

The materials and homestudy are available for purchase here.

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