A move-away case in Utah involves one person relocating 150 miles or more from the other parent's residence. You can’t move this far away without notifying your ex 60 days (or more) in advance. And your partner could go to court to block your move.
While Utah move-away cases are complicated, you can negotiate them successfully. You may have very good reasons for shifting your home to someplace new. If you and your ex can’t reach an agreement on your own, mediation can help you navigate a move-away situation.
What can lead to a move-away case?
During your divorce, childcare arrangements were settled. You outlined where your children would live and when they would visit the other party. But what happens when you want to move away?
Families are rarely fixed. The plans you made during your divorce may no longer fit your current circumstances. If your reasons are compelling, pursuing a move-away case could be smart.
You could look into a move-away case due to the following factors:
- Housing: Utah has one of the highest housing costs in the country. If you moved into an apartment after your divorce but want to buy a home, you may need to move away to make it work.
- Family: If you have custody of your children, moving closer to your siblings or parents could offer additional support and enrichment.
- Employment: While many companies offer work-from-anywhere options, some organizations require your on-site presence. If you land your dream job, you may need to move to accept it.
- Lifestyle: Your friends, hobbies, and volunteering preferences may shift when your marriage ends. Running into people you knew as a couple could be awkward too. Moving away can give you a fresh start.
It’s reasonable to worry about how a move-away case might harm your children. But clearly, it’s the right option in some circumstances. Your relocation could help you build a better life for your kids.
How do custody laws work in move-away cases?
Utah Code Section 30-3-37 outlines parental rights when one person moves 150 miles or more away from the other. The relocating party must notify the other, in writing, at least 60 days in advance. That document should include child-sharing arrangements and ensure that contact is preserved.
Utah courts can stay out of these conversations if parents agree. If you’re moving 151 miles away and plan to drive your kids back and forth to preserve your custody arrangements, your ex may have no objection.
But the codes include provisions for arguing parents. If your ex disagrees with any part of your plans, you will head to court. A judge will decide what’s best for your children, including banning you from relocating with kids in tow.
What happens when a divorced parent wants to move away?
Start communicating with your ex as soon as you know a move is in the works. The move-away case process can be time-consuming. Follow these steps:
1. Notify your spouse in writing
You must give your spouse written notice of your intent to move more than 151 miles from their residence. That document must be in their hands at least 60 days before you relocate.
A simple text message won’t do the trick. Use Utah’s Notice of Relocation form to ensure that you don’t miss any part of the required information.
2. (Optional) File your document with the Utah courts
A messy divorce can close communication channels. If you’re certain your spouse will object to your move or claim you didn’t handle things correctly, file your documents.
Go to the court that handled your divorce, and file your Notice of Relocation. You’ll pay $100 in filing fees for this petition to modify your divorce decree.
3. Watch for a response
If your ex doesn’t agree with your move, you’ll be served with a motion filed with the court. This motion will include information about why your partner objects to your plans.
If your spouse files this paperwork, you’ll be notified of a hearing date. The court will review the information and determine what should happen next.
What factors will the courts consider?
Courts put children first in move-away cases. If one parent can prove that a move is truly in the child's best interest, relocation will likely be approved.
Your judge could review factors such as these:
- The reasons for your move
- Additional costs involved in shuttling kids back and forth
- The economic health of both parties
Courts can also consider any other factors deemed “necessary and relevant.” That could include the age of the children, their relationships with parents, what their life in a new spot might look like, and how a shift might improve their economic future.
Tips for a successful Utah move-away case
You know a move is right for you and your children. How can you ensure that your spouse won’t block a successful relocation? Following these tips can help:
1. Start early
You’re required to give your spouse at least 60 days’ notice, but there’s no harm in starting the process a little earlier.
If you’re hunting for a new job that could take you out of town, tell your spouse. If you’re house-hunting in a neighboring community, talk about that. Keep the lines of communication open, and don’t surprise your ex with a court order.
2. Highlight the benefits
Parents want what’s best for their children. If your move can truly make your kids healthier and happier, explain that to your ex. For example, you could highlight the beautiful backyard in your new home. Or, you could talk up the exceptional schools in your district. Put the kids first when you talk.
3. Keep it formal
Don't skip the legalities, no matter how much you talk to your spouse. Use Utah’s forms and procedures to outline what you want to do and when it will happen. Don’t give your spouse the opportunity to block your relocation on a technicality.
4. Be generous when you can
If your move will place a financial hardship on your spouse, take on those expenses yourself. Offer to drive your children back and forth, or give your spouse a generous gas allowance. This is your move, and you should be responsible for the fallout.
5. Consider mediation
You’re not required to fight over every detail in court. If you’ve started the conversation about a move with your spouse, and you can see it’s not going well, schedule a mediation session. You could settle your agreements without the court’s involvement.
ReferencesRelocation of a Parent in Divorce and Custody Cases. Utah State Courts.
Cost of Living Data Series. (2023). Missouri Economic Research and Information Center.
Filing/Record Fees (Court Filing, Transcript, and Record Fees). Utah State Courts.
Utah Code, Title 30, Chapter 3, Section 37. (May 2020). Utah State Legislature.
Divorce. Utah State Courts.