Stephen J. Buhler, Attorney at Law

Can a custodial parent in Utah relocate?

Raising a child is a difficult task even in a two-parent household. That task can be even more difficult when marriages fail or once happy couples call it quits and the two-parent household turns into two separate households. In these situations, issues such as child custody, visitation and child support are usually hammered out rather quickly. Even in situations in which both parents get along and are able to co-parent their child, life can throw a curve ball. Job changes, promotions, new relationships and a host of other reasons could require one or both parents to move from the city and even the state that they once called home. When these situations occur, hearings regarding custody are sure to follow.

For the purposes of family law in Utah, "relocation" means moving 150 miles or more from the residence of the other parent. In order to relocate, the custodial parent must provide the non-custodial parent with written notice at least 60 days in advance of the move. The notice must affirm that the move will not affect the parenting time of the non-custodial parent or be signed by both parties. The court or either party can request to have a hearing scheduled regarding the move.

At the hearing, the court will review whether or not the move is in the best interests of the child. The court will consider any and all factors that the court deems relevant to helping it make a determination; these factors can include why the parent is moving, additional costs that may be incurred by either party as a result of the move and even each parent's economic resources. If it is determined that the move is not in the best interest of the child, the court can order a change in child custody if the custodial parent relocates.

A custodial parent who relocates without following the rules of the court can be found to be in contempt of the court and will face a hearing before the court, which can ultimately result in a court changing custody. Before attempting relocation, it is wise to seek legal advice.

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