One of the worst things you can imagine as a parent is not having your kids around.
That’s why receiving a letter from your ex saying she’s moving out of Utah, and, oh, by the way, she’s taking your kids with her, is such a terrifying experience.
Unfortunately, this happens all the time.
What You Could Have Done To Keep Your Kids in Utah
We’ll talk about what you should do when you get that dreaded relocation letter in a minute. I wanted to take time to review what people can do preventatively to keep their kids from moving away.
- Get as much parent-time as possible in the divorce decree.
As a general rule: the more parent-time you have, the less likely it is your ex will be able to take your kids and move out of Utah with them.
So, if you have parent-time every other weekend (i.e., about four overnights per month), and your ex wants to move, she’s going to move.
If, on the other hand, you share 50/50 parent-time, there’s almost no chance she’ll be able to move away with the kids.
- Exercise every second of parent-time you have in your divorce decree, and more.
It’s one thing to have parent-time on paper; it’s another to exercise parent-time in real life.
If you skip parent-time, if you don’t take your kids when your ex offers them to you (because she’ll be out of town, for example), or if you’re generally an uninvolved parent, then the court may determine you really don’t care that much about spending time with your kids.
When you stand in front of a judge and say you want your kids to stay in Utah and not move, you’ll be much more successful if your past behavior demonstrates you spend time with your kids.
- Pay your child support in full and on time.
Technically, child support doesn’t have anything to do with visitation, but it does anyway.
If your ex is moving and says she has to move because she can get a better job in Florida, and she needs that better job because you don’t pay child support, that’s a pretty good argument.
Don’t muddy the waters. Pay your child support in full and on time.
- Have a good relationship with your ex.
I know, you don’t particularly like each other. That’s why you’re divorced.
But, you still have kids together, so it really makes sense to get along the best you can. It makes co-parenting much easier.
And, it’s a lot harder to take away your co-parent’s kids if you like your co-parent.
What You Can Do now To Keep your Kids in Utah
If you’ve done all four things above, then you’re very unlikely to receive that letter saying your ex wants to relocate and take the kids.
If you haven’t done those things and receive that letter, have hope. There are things you can do to keep your kids in Utah.
- Don’t delay; act.
If you get that relocation letter and do nothing for a month or two, you’ll have really put yourself behind the eight ball.
Parents who want to move have to provide notice of the move sixty days before it happens. So, if you sit on things for thirty days, you’ll have trouble getting before the court before the kids move.
- Ask for mediation to take place before the date of the move.
Mediation isn’t the best way to keep your kids from moving, but courts require mediation in situations like this. So, you might as well mediate now.
That, and if your ex refuses to mediate with you, the court will not be pleased with your ex, which is good for you.
- Request a “30-3-37” hearing with the court and object to your kids relocating to another state.
If you take nothing else from this discussion, take this: to keep your kids from moving, you’ll need to file a motion with the court asking for a 30-3-37 hearing.
30-3-37 is the law that deals with parents trying to move away from Utah with kids.
One of the things in 30-3-37 is a provision that allows you to file a motion with the court and object to your kids moving out of state.
In this motion, you will need to explain to the court all the reasons why you think it’s better for your kids to stay in Utah rather than move away.
Put your all in to this 30-3-37 motion. If you aren’t convincing to the court, your ex will be allowed to move away, and you’ll see your kids, on average, about three times per year.