What does the law in Utah require of divorced parents of minor children when they want to relocate? Unless your decree of divorce provides differently, then Utah Code § 30-3-37 has the answers.
Section 30-3-37 defines “relocation” as moving 150 miles or more from the residence of the other parent.
A parent who intends to relocate is required by § 30-3-37 to provide 60 days advance written notice of the intended relocation to the other parent.
If you have to move before you can give 60 days advance written notice (which can arise if you’re in the military or have a job that may require you to move at a moment’s notice), § 30-3-37 is silent on that, but the wise course of conduct would be to give the proper notice to your ex the moment you find out you’re moving.
A parent who fails to comply with the notice of relocation requirement is deemed in contempt. The written notice of relocation must contain the following statements: 1) an affirmation that the parent-time provisions in Subsection (5) of § 30-3-37, or a schedule approved by both parties will be followed after relocation; and 2) an affirmation that neither parent will interfere with the other’s parental rights pursuant to court ordered parent-time arrangements, or the schedule approved by both parties. We’ll discuss the parent-time provisions in Subsection (5) of § 30-3-37 a little later in this video.
If you or your ex gives notice of relocation and you and your ex agree upon the proposals in the notice as to how you’ll adjust child custody and parent-time, then you and your ex can proceed as proposed. But if the parent receiving notice of relocation objects to relocation or to the proposed changes to parent-time that would result, then that parent can file a motion with the court to review the notice of relocation and parent-time schedule as provided in Utah Code Section 30-3-35 and make appropriate orders regarding the parent-time and costs for parent-time transportation.
Any action under this section may be set for an expedited hearing. The court shall, upon motion of any party schedule a hearing and give notice to you and your ex. In the hearing to review the notice of relocation, the court will, in determining if the relocation of a custodial parent is in the best interest of the child, consider any other factors that the court considers relevant to the determination.
If the court determines that relocation is not in the best interest of the child, the court can order a change of child custody. If the court finds that the relocation is in the best interest of the child, the court must determine the parent-time schedule and allocate the transportation costs that will be incurred for the child to visit the noncustodial parent.
In making that determination, court must consider: (a) the reason for the parent’s relocation; (b) the additional costs or difficulty to both parents in exercising parent-time; (c) the economic resources of both parents; and (d) other factors the court considers necessary and relevant. Unless otherwise ordered by the court, upon the relocation, § 30-3-37 provides a default schedule that shall be the minimum requirements for parent-time for children 5 to 18 years of age. For children under the age of five, the court may also set a parent-time schedule tailored to them, which I will cover a little later.
The default § 30-3-37 schedule for children 5 years and up is: in years ending in an odd number, the child spends these holidays with the noncustodial parent: Thanksgiving holiday beginning Wednesday until Sunday; and Spring break, if applicable, beginning the last day of school before the holiday until the day before school resumes. In years ending in an even number, the child spends the following holidays with the noncustodial parent: the entire winter school break period; and the Fall school break beginning the last day of school before the holiday until the day before school resumes.
The noncustodial parent also gets to spend 1/2 of the summer or off-track time with the children for consecutive weeks, but the children are to be returned to the custodial home no later than seven days before school begins, but this week is still counted when determining the amount of parent-time to be divided between the parents for the summer or off-track period.
Upon the motion of any party, the court may order uninterrupted parent-time with the noncustodial parent for a minimum of 30 days during extended parent-time, unless the court finds it is not in the best interests of the child. If the court orders uninterrupted parent-time during a period not covered by the provisions of § 30-3-37, it must specify in its order which parent is responsible for the child’s travel expenses for that period of parent-time.
The noncustodial parent also gets one weekend per month, at the option and expense of the noncustodial parent. If the noncustodial parent has not designated a specific weekend for parent-time, the noncustodial parent shall receive the last weekend of each month unless a holiday assigned to the custodial parent falls on that particular weekend. If a holiday assigned to the custodial parent falls on the last weekend of the month, the noncustodial parent shall be entitled to the next to the last weekend of the month.
If a noncustodial parent’s extended parent-time or parent-time over a holiday extends into or through the first weekend of the next month, that weekend shall be considered the noncustodial parent’s monthly weekend entitlement for that month. If a child is out of school for teacher development days or snow days after the children begin the school year, or other days not included in the list of holidays in § 30-3-37’s default list, and those days are contiguous with the noncustodial parent’s monthly weekend parent-time, those days shall be included in the weekend parent-time.
In the event finances and distance preclude the exercise of minimum parent-time for the noncustodial parent during the school year, § 30-3-37 provides that the court should consider awarding more time for the noncustodial parent during the summer time if it is in the best interests of the children.
Who covers the costs of transporting the child for parent-time under § 30-3-37? § 30-3-37 provides that unless otherwise ordered by the court the relocating party is responsible for all the child’s travel expenses relating to Thanksgiving, Spring break, Winter Break, and Fall break. But the parents share equally the costs of transportation for the summer or off-track break. However, if the noncustodial parent is not current on all support obligations and has been found in contempt for not being current on all support obligations, the noncustodial parent is responsible for all of the child’s travel expenses for summer or off-track break, unless the court rules otherwise. Reimbursement by either responsible party to the other for the child’s travel expenses must be made within 30 days of the other parent receiving documents detailing those expenses.
Here’s the link to the version of § 30-3-37 that was in force at the time this blog was originally posted. Make sure that the version you review is the one that applies to your case.