QUESTION: The court gave my mom full custody of me, can I live with my father without her doing anything about it?
ANSWER: First, we start with the obligatory “don’t break the law” disclaimer. I am not, in answering your question, telling you that you can or should break the law.
Now let’s be very frank here.
In answering your question I make a few presumptions.
I presume that your mother is not physically abusing you or physically neglecting you. If your mother is physically abusing you or physically neglecting you, you are not required to suffer that. Tell your school counselor or nurse that you’re being physically abused. Call the police. Call child protective services. Tell your father. These people can bring your physical abuse to the attention of a court to help you get immediate emergency protection and eventually permanent protection from an abusive parent.
I presume that your mother is not brutally abusing your verbally, meaning that while there may be a lot of tension between you and Mom she is not calling you an f—-ing this or that, a worthless piece of sh—-, telling you you’re less than dirt, won’t amount to anything, possessed by Satan, that kind of thing. If your mother is verbally abusing you , you are not required to suffer that either. Again, tell your school counselor or nurse that you’re being so horribly mistreated. Tell your father. If you have the ability to record your mother when she engages in the verbal abuse (and if it’s legal to record in your jurisdiction), do so—you’ll need evidence to prove your claims because most people won’t believe you without proof. A school nurse or counselor and your other parent can bring the verbal abuse to the attention of a court to help you get immediate emergency protection and eventually permanent protection from your abusive parent.
OK, so if you aren’t being physically or verbally abused, the question remains: can you live with your dad when the court ordered that your mom has custody of you?
ANSWER: Technically: no. Practically: yes (at least in Utah, where I practice).
If you are too young to take your mom in a fight, that’s usually the “power” that determines where you (or any other minor child) resides.
A court can exercise its power of compulsion and direct law enforcement officers to force a child to reside with the parent to whom the court awarded physical custody, but I’ve never seen that happen, and I doubt I ever will because if a child is so truly unhappy with the custodial parent (as opposed to being manipulated by the noncustodial parent) that the child will refuse to live with the custodial parent, run away from home, refuse to leave the noncustodial parent’s house, etc. the court usually concludes (and usually such a conclusion is wise) that if a custody award does a child and parent more harm than good, perhaps that child ought to be left alone.
Right or wrong, children who are 1) not criminals; 2) old enough to take their custodial parents in a fight (if it came to that); and 3) shown to do better (in school, at home, at work, in public etc.) residing with the noncustodial parent than with the court-ordered custodial parent are effectively de facto ungovernable and have the power to vote with their feet. There is a certain kind of equity and justice in this.
Utah Family Law, LC | divorceutah.com | 801-466-9277