If I Have Sole Legal Custody of Our 15-Year-Old Son and His Father Has Visitation Rights Only, Is He Allowed to Pull Him Out of a Sport He Has Already Started?

I can’t speak for what the law is or how it applies in all jurisdictions, but I can answer this question as it would apply in the state of Utah, which is where I practice divorce and family law.

In Utah (as is the case in most jurisdictions), the law is that if a parent is awarded sole legal custody of a child, then that parent has the sole and exclusive authority to decide matters like who the child’s pediatrician and other health care providers will be, where the child goes to school, whether the child will practice a religion, and if so, which religion, whether the child will engage in any athletic and/or extracurricular activities, and if so, which athletic and or extracurricular activities.

So, a parent with sole legal custody who chooses to sign the child up to participate in a sport, whether that be a team sport or an individual sport like golf or martial arts, the other parent (it would be, in this case, the “non-legal-custodial parent” does not have the power or authority to withdraw the child from the sport.

But what if the sport in which the legal custodial parent has involved the child interferes with the other parents exercise of joint physical custody or visitation or parent time (if the other parent is a non-physical-custodial parent)? What if the amount of time spent in practice and in competition takes up hours or even days that prevent the child from spending that time with the other parent? In such a situation, it is not only possible, but likely that this parent would prevail in court if this parent filed a petition or motion with the court for an order that prevents the legal custodial parent from involving the children in sports or athletics or other activities that interfere with the exercise of physical custody or visitation/parent-time.

Utah Family Law, LC | | 801-466-9277

(30) Eric Johnson’s answer to If I have sole legal custody of our 15-year-old son and his father has visitation rights only, is he allowed to pull him out of a sport he has already started in Ohio? – Quora

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