In divorce proceedings involving minor children, one of the most important issues is child custody and visitation. This includes such issues as who will receive sole or joint legal custody, physical custody, and reasonable visitation rights. Typically this is resolved before the divorce action is brought but if not, it becomes a contested hearing in court.
The Hardest Issue
But one of the hardest issues to resolve is if the parent who has sole legal and physical custody decides to move out of the area. So for example, assume Mrs. Smith is in California but has just received a promotion and wants to transfer to Georgia. No one would doubt her ability to move up in the company and better her life and salary. But what about the father who remains back in California. What about his visitation rights? For this to be accomplished, the wife must receive permission from the court. And she must abide by the applicable law.
So the first thing we do is look at the state’s statute 1) https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Statute. For example, in Utah, there is Utah Visitation Code 30-3-37. It lays out the ground rules for such a motion of relocation.
Definition of Relocation
Under the statute, relocation is defined as moving 150 miles or more from the residence of the other parent. In other words, if hypothetically the move was only 100 miles, there will be no need to secure court approval.
Next, the relocating parent must give at least 60 days advance notice of the intent to relocate. The notice must indicate very clearly state neither parent will interfere with the others parental rights including reasonable visitation, even if there is a move.
The Final Verdict
Ultimately at the hearing, the final decision is based upon the best interest of the child. If the relocation is allowed, the court will then determine the new visitation schedule and decide how transportation costs will be allocated between the parents. One of the factors is if the relocation makes it more difficult for both parties to share custodial time and typically the large cost and expense of the other parent in having to travel long distances for visitation. This is important because in many cases the other parent simply gives up because they don’t have the time and the money to fly long distances to see their children, even though they wish in their heart to do so.
Under Utah Visitation Code 30-3-37, the court must also follow strict guidelines. For example, for children between ages five and 18, the other parent, alternating years, must be able to visit for Thanksgiving and spring break. There must also be entitlement to Winter break and Fall break. Finally, one-half of the Summer break must be allowed to the other parent who could technically fly the child back to California in the above example.
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