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Roger, Attorney
Category: Family Law
Satisfied Customers: 31680
Experience:  BV Rated by Martindale-Hubbell; SuperLawyer rating by Thompson-Reuters
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My son is 16 years old and lives a state away with his father.

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My son is 16 years old and lives a state away with his father. There is no custody order, just child support of which I pay his father. I moved to Colorado with my son two years ago, but he didn't care for the adjustment and went back to Utah with his father. He has had very rough times with his father, being put in detention twice and would like to move back with me, so he can concentrate on graduating and moving on with his life. His father has shut down his communication with me because he has told my son he will not allow him to move back home. With no custody order, can I just go pick up my son or do I need to try to get custody even though he is nearly 17 years old. He has lived with me the majority of his life.
Submitted: 5 years ago.
Category: Family Law
Expert:  Roger replied 5 years ago.

Hi - my name is XXXXX XXXXX I'm a Family Law litigation attorney here to assist you.


If there is no custody order, you have just as much right to the child as the father, and you can take the child anywhere you please just as the father can. However, if you were my client, I would not recommend that you show up un-announced and try to get your son and go back to Colorado for a few reasons.


First, if you did this, the father could file an emergency petition for custody and get a court order requiring you to return the child. Secondly, if you go to the father's home, you could be charged with criminal trespassing and arrested. Third, an altercation could result in a domestic violence situation, which you want to avoid.


You're much better off filing a petition for custody of the child and get a court order granting you custody. You would have to file in Utah, however, if your son has been living there for at least 6 months.

Customer: replied 5 years ago.
He has been living there for almost two years. Can I file for custody in Utah while living here in Colorado or do I go to the courts there. Also, I was told to alert the police if I went to Utah to pick him up and let them know what I was doing so they could go there and intervene and let the father know that the child is old enough to make his decision on this. I'm not a rulebreaker and want to accomplish this as quickly as possible because my son is suffering quite a bit. He has contacted me through a friends phone at school and is failing at school because of what his father is putting him through.
Expert:  Roger replied 5 years ago.

Yes, you can file in Utah even though you don't live there. Jurisdiction is determined by the residence of the child.


Alerting the authorities won't do any good in this instance because you don't have any more right to the child than the father. Thus, the authorities would not force the father to let the child go. Also, it is not true that the child is old enough to make his own decision as to who he wants to live with. A minor child (under 18) NEVER has the right to decide who he wants to live with. He can tell the judge his preference, but it is not outcome-determinative. Instead, the judge mus do what he/she believes is in the child's best interest. The judge will put a lot of stock in what your son wants, but the judge doesn't have to follow his wishes.

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