Utah relocation: Moving out of state with kids after divorce

Utah custodial parents cannot just pack up and move out of state; rather they must obtain permission from their child’s noncustodial parent or the court.

Situations in life may lead people to consider moving away from Utah, including wanting to make a fresh start, a job opportunity, or the desire to be closer to family or friends. This is particularly true following a divorce. With few exceptions, however, parents cannot just make the decision, pack up their belongings and drive away. Often, custodial parents require permission to move out of state with their children.

Under Utah state law, custodial parents must get approval if they intend to relocate more than 150 miles away from their children's noncustodial parents. Generally, they may gain this permission in one of two ways - through an agreement with the noncustodial parents or by court order.

Parental permission

Perhaps the easiest way for custodial parents to relocate is by consent from their children's noncustodial parents. Sometimes, people will discuss their planned move with their child's other parents to seek permission and to come up with an altered custody and parenting time agreement. Even when parents agree to an out of state move on their own, they must go before a judge to obtain formal approval for the relocation.

Court orders

In some cases, custodial parents may not be in communication with their child's other parents, or they may be unable to reach an agreement with them. As such, they may choose to formally notify the other parent and the court. This must be done at least 60 days prior to their planned move date.

Once notified, noncustodial parents may choose to contest the relocation request. In these cases, a judge will determine whether or not to allow the move. To make this decision, the judge will consider whether the move is in the best interests of the child, the reason for the proposed relocation, and how moving will impact the child's relationship with his or her noncustodial parent, among other factors. If a judge permits the relocation, he or she will typically employ the state's parenting time guidelines to establish a modified child custody arrangement, according to the Utah Courts.

Divorce decrees

Sometimes, people have the foresight to account for relocation proposals in their divorce decrees. When they have already decided how they will handle an out of state move, parents often discuss their plans with each other and defer to their previously agreed upon arrangement. Generally, parents in these cases must still go before a judge to obtain formal approval for their planned relocations.

Seeking legal counsel

Obtaining the necessary permission to move out of Utah with their children may be complicated for some custodial parents. Failing to do so, however, could result in serious legal repercussions. As such, people who are considering relocating with their children after a divorce may benefit from working with an attorney. A legal representative may explain their options, and help guide them through the process.