Interstate and International Child Custody
Divorce is contentious, but child custody battles tend to be even more antagonistic. With a divorce, splitting up assets is easy since the level of attachment to material things tends to be minimal. Children, on the other hand, are a whole different matter. If the parents separate, it means that time spent with the child will be minimized. Long periods of separation can also take an emotional toll both on the child and the non- custodial parent.
Often, courts will set the terms of custody for both parents. But these terms are not cast in stone since life is dynamic and changes occur. One such change is relocation. Sometimes, the custodial parent may relocate within the state, outside the state, or even outside the country. So, what does the law provide concerning such movements?
Why is The Law Concerned with Movement?
The main reason why movement matters so much in custody matters has to do with jurisdiction. Simply put, courts have power over a specific geographic location. Beyond it, any orders they make will not have any effect. This means that even if you have a child custody agreement that is enforceable in the state of Utah, the terms of the contract may not be binding beyond the state or even outside the country. For this reason, the law treats the movement of a custodial parent very seriously and regulates it heavily.
Logistics are another reason why courts concern themselves with the removal of a child from one place of residence to another. Even if the custodial parent wishes to honor the agreement, how practical is it to do so? For instance, is it realistic to let a child of tender years fly alone from one state to another? How will this affect them physically, emotionally, and mentally, both in the short and long term? Who will pay for such long-distance travel? These and many questions must be addressed before a parent can be allowed to relocate with the child.
Types of Relocation
The custodial parent may move from one residence to another but within the state of Utah. This is usually the least contentious type of movement since the parent does not remove the child out of the court’s jurisdiction. Nevertheless, if the custodial parent wants to relocate beyond a 150- mile radius with the child, Utah law requires them to give written notice of their intention to move. They must give the notice to the court and the non- custodial parent 60 days before the move. This gives the other parent a chance to consider the impact that the movement will have on the child and whether the court should consider changing the terms of the custody agreement. This is also a good time for the parents to work out a schedule of how the non- custodial parent will spend time with the child.
Out of State Relocation
If you wish to move a child out of the state, a court decree permitting the movement is mandatory. You must prove to the court that removing the child out of the state is in their best interests. Usually, the court considers several factors before deciding on such matters. These include;
• How this will affect your co- parent’s custody rights
• The physical and emotional needs of the child
• The maturity of both parents
• How likely you are to foster a good relationship between your child and co-parent
• The relationship between the child and their primary caretaker.
If your co-parent feels that there have been material changes in the circumstances since the last custody agreement, they may file to be the custodial parent. The court will consider their case, and if it is in the child’s best interests, their request may be granted.
Immigration is arguably the most problematic type of relocation for custodial parents. The court is unlikely to relinquish its jurisdiction over the matter, given that other countries are under no obligation to enforce the terms of the custody agreement. With immigration, you may experience more resistance even from your co-parent. They may be worried about losing touch with their child or experiencing significant challenges in trying to establish a connection with the minor. Unless you can satisfy the court that the move is good for the child, and assure your co-parent that they will still have a place in your child’s life, then your chances of retaining custody are lower.
If you have guardianship over your child, then relocating can jeopardize your chances of maintaining that custody. For such matters, it is best to work with an attorney. A lawyer will help you know your rights, argue your case convincingly and help you and your co-parent come to a fair agreement on the custody of your child. We are ready and willing to help you with such matters. Contact us today for help.