In two previous blog posts, we discussed that in custody cases, a parent might decide to relocate far away. Long-distance relocation can result in a need to change the court’s previous custody/parent time orders.
Your current custody order might not already deal with long-distance relocation. If so, it is likely that Utah Code § 30-3- 37 will have an effect on your case. That statute provides what are becoming the default rules for such situations.
When you (or the court) are operating under Utah Code § 30-3- 37, you should keep some things in mind. Our two previous blog posts pointed out and discussed some of these things:
A parent’s long distance relocation can result in a change of custody. Parents wanting to relocate need to do it correctly so as to avoid unnecessary trouble and a bad outcome. Long-distance relocation can be a good opportunity for a noncustodial parent to gain custody. The legal process under Utah Code § 30-3- 37 will move quickly. You need to be well prepared if you are facing proceedings under Utah Code § 30-3- 37.
Failure to properly prepare for a hearing under Utah Code § 30-3- 37 can lead to an adverse result. Moreover, even a well-prepared and deserving parent may face a bad result at the hearing before the domestic commissioner. This blog post discusses what happens if you dispute the commissioner’s decision. Additionally, this blog post briefly discusses options after an adverse decision from a judge.
Unhappy Parents Can File an Objection to a Commissioner’s Decision Regarding Relocation
If you go to a relocation hearing and the domestic commissioner rules against you, you still have a chance to object. In Utah, domestic commissioners are not judges, and their “orders” are only recommendations. A recommendation is a court order unless/until a judge changes it. Unhappy
litigants have fourteen days from the recommendation to object and ask the judge to change the court’s order.
The ability to object to the commissioner’s recommendation is a second chance for a better decision from a judge. But, it is not necessarily a second chance to present a better case than you did to the commissioner. Rule 108 of the Utah Rules of Civil Procedure sets limits on objections.
It bars you from bringing the judge information you did not offer to the commissioner. This means you must do your best before the commissioner. If you are planning on initiating the relocation process or are facing a hearing, consider hiring an attorney to help. Regardless of whether you have counsel or not, the judge also may make a bad decision.
Unhappy Parents Can File an Appeal to a Judge’s Decision Regarding Relocation
Judges can make wrong decisions, too. If your objection to the commissioner’s recommendation is unsuccessful, you can appeal to a higher court. Alternatively, if you win in front of the commissioner but lose in front of the judge, you may want to appeal to a higher court.
An appeal is different from what you encounter at the trial level and much more complicated. It can be difficult to prevail on appeal in custody cases. Appellate judges look at transcripts and written documents. There are appellate rules that prevent appellate judges from reversing a lower court unless there is a clear error or abuse of discretion. If you are interested in an appeal, you should consult an attorney about your chances on appeal and consider hiring an attorney to write the appeal for you. If successful on appeal, the original judge will either have to order the result you desire or hold another hearing and eliminate any prior mistakes.