Utah Code Section 30-3-37 defines “relocation” as moving 150 miles away from the child’s noncustodial parent.
In most cases, moving out of state is considered "relocation" and requires permission from the noncustodial parent of the court. Whether or not the court approves relocation will depend on the case and the judge’s perspective.
Some courts routinely allow the parent who has been the primary caregiver to relocate. Other courts will not do so if the children have lived in Utah most of their lives—and that goes for even fairly young children. This kind of case requires highly skilled advocacy.
60-Day Advance Notice
Utah’s relocation statute requires the relocating party to provide 60-day advance notice to the other parent before moving. However, the courts frequently do not apply this provision, and they just consider the reasons for the move.
Reason for Relocating
The statute requires the relocating party to provide a reason for the move to the court.
Usually, getting a better job, marrying a person out of state, or living closer to extended family members who can help care for the children are good reasons that a court will consider; however, since relocation will mean a serious break in the relationship between the non-relocating parent and the children, Utah courts will frequently require the children to remain in Utah unless these reasons are compelling, or if there is no alternative.
Again, since each district court judge is different (with their own perspective), sometimes the only reason given by the court for allowing the move is that the primary caregiver wants to move with the children.
Can a Child Choose Which Parent to Live With in Utah?
No. In Utah, the court decides which parent the child lives with in a contested joint custody case. The judge might take the child's preference into consideration, but ultimately, they will make their final decision based on the best interests of the child.
Utah Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction & Enforcement Act
Sometimes, a parent relocates with a child out of state before a custody determination has been made by any state court. Sometimes, both parents file a custody action in competing state courts. When either of these events occur, only one state court can have jurisdiction to make a custody determination.
Relocation after Divorce
Generally, the court(s) will consider where the home state of the child has been for the six months prior to the court’s initial determination of custody. Once a state court makes a custody determination, it generally maintains exclusive jurisdiction over the case unless the parties or the child no longer reside in the state. A state court having jurisdiction may decline jurisdiction because it is inconvenient to the parties or the child to litigate the case there.
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