Can the Non-custodial Parent Consent to a Tattoo for His/Her Minor Child?

Can my non-custodial parent consent to a tattoo for me? I’m a minor and my mom has full custody of me. She’s thought about allowing a tattoo but has never gone through with it. My dad would be for me getting a tattoo as long as it wasn’t stupid.

First, my personal opinion, then my professional opinion, if you don’t mind.

Personal opinion: Tattoos are a bad idea for many reasons, but basically, they make people less attractive than they were without them. Even the beautifully executed tattoos (and there are some tattoos that are aesthetically stunning) lose their appeal sooner than later and eventually make people look worse for them (self-indulgent, trendy, insecure, trashy). Some people get tattooed without caring what others think about them, but even then, a tattoo strikes me as an odd way to enjoy your time, money, and art (especially if you’re tattooed where you can’t see the tattoo). If you feel you must get a tattoo, less is more. Some might say, “But lots of people come up to me and tell, ‘I like your tattoo’” as a form of proof that people like the look of tattoos, but that is misleading. The socially acceptable thing is to say something complimentary or to say nothing at all. For everyone who says, “I like your tattoo” there are more who, out of courtesy, won’t tell you they find it ugly and off-putting.

Don’t tattoo a minor child. Let him or her make that decision when he or she is mature enough to be responsible for the consequences of his or her own choices.

Professional opinion (I am basing my answer on the law where I practice family law (Utah), so be sure to consult the law as it applies in your particular jurisdiction).

Utah has a statute on the subject of tattoos for minors:

76-10-2201. Unlawful body piercing and tattooing of a minor — Penalties.

(1) As used in this section:


(b) “Consent of a minor’s parent or legal guardian” means the presence of a parent or legal guardian during the performance of body piercing or tattooing upon the minor after the parent or legal guardian has provided:

(i) reasonable proof of personal identity and familial relationship; and

(ii) written permission signed by the parent or legal guardian authorizing the performance of body piercing or tattooing upon the minor.

(c) “Minor” means a person younger than 18 years of age who:

(i) is not married; and

(ii) has not been declared emancipated by a court of law.

(d) “Tattoo” means to fix an indelible mark or figure upon the body by inserting a pigment under the skin or by producing scars.


(3) A person is guilty of unlawful tattooing of a minor if the person performs or offers to perform a tattooing:

(a) upon a minor;

(b) without receiving the consent of the minor’s parent or legal guardian; and

(c) for remuneration or in the course of a business or profession.

(4) A person is not guilty of Subsection . . . (3), if the person:

(a) has no actual knowledge of the minor’s age; and

(b) reviews, photocopies, and retains the photocopy of an apparently valid driver license or other government-issued picture identification for the minor that expressly purports that the minor is 18 years of age or older before the person performs the body piercing or tattooing.


(a) A person who violates Subsection (2) or (3) is guilty of a class B misdemeanor.

(b) The owner or operator of a business in which a violation of Subsection (2) or (3) occurs is subject to a civil penalty of $1,000 for each violation.

So, in Utah, it appears that if a parent does not have legal custody of a minor child (or has joint legal custody but doesn’t get the consent of the other parent*) and pays to have his or her minor child tattooed (whether for a fee or free of charge) by one who performs tattooing as a business or profession, that parent has committed a crime. Even if it weren’t a crime, if a parent who is the non-custodial legal parent or a parent who is a joint legal custodial parent were to get a child tattooed without the other parent’s consent, it is likely that the court would punish that parent.

* There are some situations in which the parents are awarded what is called joint legal custody, yet one of the parents has what is known as “final decision-making authority.” What that means is the parents seemingly must make decisions for their children jointly and by agreement so that legal custody decisions are made jointly, when in reality, it means that if both parents don’t agree, the parent with final decision-making authority gets to decide the matter. Which means, after just a moment’s thought, a so-called “joint legal custody” parent vested with final decision making authority is not really a joint legal custodial parent at all but a sole legal custodial parent.

Utah Family Law, LC | | 801-466-9277

(15) Eric Johnson’s answer to Can my non-custodial parent consent to a tattoo? I’m a minor and my mom has full custody of me. Shes thought about allowing a tattoo but has never gone through with it. My dad would be for me getting a tattoo as long as it wasn’t stupid. – Quora

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