Asked in Family Law for Utah

Q: I agreed to let my exhusband take our 15 year old to Spain and he got her a tattoo while there. Can anything be done?

We have joint custody but they have lived with me full time for over a year.

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1 Lawyer Answer
Mike Branum
Mike Branum
  • Saint George, UT
  • Licensed in Utah

A: Yes, but . . .

Operating under the assumption that you have joint legal as well as physical custody, it was inappropriate for your ex-husband to allow your minor child to be tattooed without your knowledge or consent. A couple of questions come to mind. 1) What is the battle worth to you? 2) Do you plan to force the child to have the tattoo removed?

As I tell clients and potential clients often: you can sue for nearly anything. Whether or not it is worth your time, money, and energy to file a lawsuit is an entirely different matter. You have not provided information about where on the child's body this tattoo resides, what its subject matter is, or any other information from which to form an educated guess about how offended you might be by its placement on your child. One of the first complications you will have in pursuing a legal action against your ex-husband would be determining what the actual damages might be.

If you plan to have the tattoo removed, you would have an action against your ex for the cost of the procedures. Before embarking on that course, however, you should really spend some time considering how that may affect your relationship with your daughter. Tattoo removal is painful and, presumably, the tattoo is something she WANTS to have on her body. You would essentially be taking something from her and she could potentially feel violated as well.

My last thought is that you could use this action and the fact that your ex has not been meeting his parenting time obligations to petition the court for a modification of your custody (and potentially support) order. Should you elect to take this action, or even as an independent action, you could request the Court issue an order restricting the ex's parenting time activities and forbidding him from allowing your daughter to have any further body modifications without your express (written, preferably) permission.

I hope that is helpful.

Brian Craig agrees with this answer

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