People move all the time. People with kids move as well. When it becomes difficult is when one parent moves away with the children.
As you may already know, the default visitation schedule where one parent has primary custody goes something like this: one day a week for a few hours, every other weekend, and split the holidays. How much parent-time can you expect if one parent wants to move away?
In Utah, when parents live more than 150 miles apart the “Relocation Statute” defines the minimum parent-time schedule. Let’s break that down:
- “Relocation statute” is the law that sets out the parent-time schedule when parties live more than 150 miles apart.
- “Relocation” means moving 150 miles or more from the residence of the other parent.
- “Parent-time” is just another term for visitation, which some people prefer because parents don’t “visit” their children they “parent” them.
- “Minimum parent-time” schedule is what a court will use at the default parent-time schedule, or put another way, the schedule that the non-custodial parent will get with the child as a minimum.
Why 150 miles apart? Good question. Here in Southern Utah, where the Arizona border is a few miles away, a distance apart makes more sense than having the relocation statute kick in when a parent moves out of state. 150 miles must have seemed like a good number to the Legislature. On the highway, that’s about 2 – 3 hours of travel, one way. That may seem like a reasonable travel time for every other week of parent-time. Or at least, that’s my best guess.
So what is the minimum “relocation” visitation schedule for school- aged children? It breaks up the big school holidays and rotates them every other year.
In even years, like 2016, the parent without primary custody (“non-custodial parent”) will be able to have these holidays with their children: one half of the summer break (kids must be back home 1 week prior to the end of break), fall break, and the entire winter school break (yep, that means from when the kids get of school and all of Christmas through New Years).
In odd years, like next year, the parent without custody will be able to have these holidays with their children: Spring break, one half of the summer break, and Thanksgiving break.
Additionally, the non-custodial parent can opt to have one weekend a month at his/her expense (that means you pay travel expenses). More on splitting costs and the optional weekend parent time later.
So what about if your child is not school-aged? That my friends, is a bit more fuzzy. The court can take into consideration a number of factors to determine an “appropriate schedule” including:
- Age of the child. The closer a child is to school-aged the more likely a judge is to order a schedule similar to the default schedule.
- Developmental needs of a child. For example, it may not be a good idea to have a child who needs weekly speech therapy to split her time between two parents in two different states.
- The distance between the parents’ homes. The closer to 150 miles you are, the more likely you will be able to convince a judge that more frequent parent-time is good for the little ones.
- The travel arrangements and cost. If the kiddos have to get on a long plane ride to have parent-time, weekly parent time is not going to be affordable or good for little ones even though they are not in school.
- The level of attachment between the child and noncustodial parent. Honestly, I think this may be a tougher factor to show with a child under the age of 5.
- Any other factors the court decides are important. Do you love these catch-all provisions as much as I do? Be creative here. Junior has seen his grandma every day since he was born. The ex has moved five times in two years. These are all good “other factors” to raise.
Also, all of these factors will be important points to raise when arguing that a parent should not be able to move with children at all.
As always, your case is unique. Talk to a qualified attorney to get a legal opinion about your specific case.
Do you dig the legal stuff? Find the relocation statute here.