Tag: medical

Custody order says mother and child can’t leave the state. Is that legal?

If custody order says mother and child are not allowed to leave the state, is there any chance the court would allow them to go on a vacation to another country if the father says no?

I cannot speak for all jurisdictions, but I can answer the question based upon the law where I practice divorce and family law (Utah):

First, if the court were to order a parent not to leave the state (just the parent, not the parent with the child), that would likely be held unconstitutional, as a civil court does not have the authority to infringe upon an individual’s right to travel without a compelling reason.

Second, if the court were to order a parent not to leave the state with the child, that may be within the court’s authority to do so, especially if:

  • there were evidence that you have tried to abscond with the child to a foreign country (whether the foreign country is beyond the reach of the Hague Convention) or are at risk of absconding with the child to a foreign country.
  • the custody award, such as a joint physical custody award, was conditioned upon the parties residing within a certain geographical distance of each other.

That stated, if:

  1. there is no concern about you absconding with the children to a foreign country, never to return;
  2. the foreign country to which you want to travel on vacation is not a dangerous place (i.e., a place where Americans are routinely kidnapped or killed and/or where there are wars, insurrections, and/or dangerous natural disasters occurring);
  3. there is no harm that a child would suffer by traveling with you internationally (such as a certain health or medical or mental health condition that makes international travel a serious danger to the child), I cannot see any reason why a court would deny you the right to travel to a foreign country on vacation; and
  4. there is no other compelling reason to deny you and the child(ren) the opportunity to vacation internationally,

I doubt that any court would bar you from travelling internationally with the child(ren).

Utah Family Law, LC | | 801-466-9277

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What is child support intended to cover?

Child Support Purposes. What are they?

Black’s Law Dictionary defines child support as:

child support (1939) Family law. 1. A parent’s legal obligation to contribute to the economic maintenance and education of a child until the age of majority, the child’s emancipation before reaching majority, or the child’s completion of secondary education. • The obligation is enforceable both civilly and criminally. 2. In a custody or divorce action, the money owed or paid by one parent to the other for the expenses incurred for children of the marriage. • The right to child support is the child’s right and cannot be waived, and any divorce-decree provision waiving child support is void.

 (Black’s Law Dictionary (11th ed. 2019))

Does this mean that a parent receiving child support can spend some of the child support money on his/her rent or mortgage and the associated utilities? I would say yes. After all, the parent and child(ren) reside in the same place, and the child(ren) need housing too. Does this mean that a parent receiving child support can spend some of the child support money on his/her own food that the parent himself/herself eats? I would say no. A parent is responsible for purchasing his/her own food out of his/her own income, not the money provided for the support of the child. These same principles would apply to all other expenses. Although child support funds are paid to a parent, the funds are for the support of the child and the child alone, not for support of the parent.

In Utah (where I practice divorce and family law), here are some links to key statutes governing the purposes of child support:

Utah Code § 78B-12-105.  Duty of parents.

(1) Every child is presumed to be in need of the support of the child’s mother and father. Every mother and father shall support their children.

Utah Code § 78B-12-218.  Accountability of support provided to benefit child — Accounting.

(1) The court or administrative agency which issues the initial or modified order for child support may, upon the petition of the obligor, order prospectively the obligee to furnish an accounting of amounts provided for the child’s benefit to the obligor, including an accounting or receipts.

(2) The court or administrative agency may prescribe the frequency and the form of the accounting which shall include receipts and an accounting.

(3) The obligor may petition for the accounting only if current on all child support that has been ordered.

Utah Code § 78B-12-102.  Definitions.

As used in this chapter:

(4) “Base child support award” means the award that may be ordered and is calculated using the guidelines before additions for medical expenses and work-related child care costs.


(8) “Child support” means a base child support award, or a monthly financial award for uninsured medical expenses, ordered by a tribunal for the support of a child, including current periodic payments, arrearages that accrue under an order for current periodic payments, and sum certain judgments awarded for arrearages, medical expenses, and child care costs.

Utah Code § 78B-12-108.  Support follows the child.

(1) Obligations ordered for child support and medical expenses are for the use and benefit of the child and shall follow the child.

(2) Except in cases of joint physical custody and split custody as defined in Section 78B-12-102, when physical custody changes from that assumed in the original order, the parent without physical custody of a child shall be required to pay the amount of support determined in accordance with Sections 78B-12-205 and 78B-12-212, without the need to modify the order for:

(a) the parent who has physical custody of the child;

(b) a relative to whom physical custody of the child has been voluntarily given; or

(c) the state when the child is residing outside of the home in the protective custody, temporary custody, or custody or care of the state or a state-licensed facility for at least 30 days.

Utah Family Law, LC | | 801-466-9277

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Is there any way I can reduce child support?

In Utah (where I practice divorce and family law), yes, there are many possible ways to reduce child support. They may not be applicable to every child support payor, but there are ways:

  1. If you can persuade the court that you do not earn and cannot earn in the future the amount of money upon which your current child support obligation is based, then child support can be reduced (that may be cold comfort, however, given that the reason for a reduced child support obligation is your reduced income);
  2. Become disabled. This is kind of a corollary to way #1, in that if you become disabled that matters to the court to the extent your disability renders you unable to earn the amount of money upon which your current child support obligation is based.
  3. If you can persuade the court that the child support payee is now earning (and will likely continue to earn in the future) more money than the amount of money upon which your current child support obligation is based, then child support can be reduced;
  4. Other ways you can get child support reduced:
    • If custody of the child(ren) changes from the other parent to you. Obviously, you shouldn’t be paying child support to the noncustodial parent;
    • Material changes in the relative wealth or assets of the parties. If you are obligated to pay child support on the meager $2,400 you make per month, but your ex-wife or ex-husband is pulling down $20,000 take home pay per month, you could likely argue that you need all or most of the $2,400 for your own support in light of the fact that your ex has more than enough money to cover all the children’s financial support needs;
    • Material changes in the employment potential and ability of a parent to earn (if your ex has, since the child support order was issued, completed medical school or a PhD program or just obtained a Commercial Truck Driver license, etc.);
    • Material changes in the legal responsibilities of either parent for the support of others (for example: you have to take care of a parent or sibling or spouse or after-born child whose health or medical needs require you to quit or limit your employment for the sake of providing the care).

See Utah Code § 78B-12-210(9)

Utah Family Law, LC | | 801-466-9277

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Disparaging the Other Parent: what not to say

What are some examples of things you shouldn’t say if your custody order says not to disparage your ex to the kids’ medical providers?

Look at it this way: if you wonder whether what you’re thinking of saying is disparaging, it likely is, or at least might be considered disparaging by a reasonable person. Thus, when in doubt as to whether it’s disparaging, either don’t express it or think of a way to express a sincere thought in a non-disparaging way.

Look at it this way too: if you do not believe what you are contemplating telling the medical provider(s) will help the medical provider(s) care for your children’s health, then don’t tell that to the medical provider. A corollary: if it doesn’t need to be told to the medical provider(s), it probably shouldn’t be.

And look at it this way too: if what you are contemplating tell the medical provider(s) 1) would cast your ex in a negative light; and 2) is not true, that’s almost surely disparaging.

Utah Family Law, LC | | 801-466-9277

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