Asked in Family Law and Child Custody for Utah

Q: My son is 15 years old and i have a few questions i need some help with

My son is 15, my ex and i split up when he was 7 and he was spending time between the 2 of us, then one day he tells me if i want to see him again, to take him to court. I never did because my family advised against it, so i haven't seen him in years. Now, he got arrested in Utah and my ex sent him to Colorado to stay with my mom for the summer and school year. My mom is refusing to let me see him. Does my mom have any legal right to keep him from me? If i were to go pick him up and bring him back to my house would i be doing something illegal?

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

A: So many questions. Were you married? Is the ex on the birth certificate? Was there EVER a custody order entered by any court? How long ago was "one day"? Have you remained in communication with your 15 year old? Does he WANT to live with grandma or with you in Utah? Does grandma have a court-ordered guardianship?

The short answer to your question is: probably not. You are the minor's biological mother, your rights have not been terminated (that you have mentioned), and the minor's other parent is not able to care for your child. I'm guessing you do not have any lawyers in your family if they advised against taking your ex to court (or they know something about your background which would make you a terrible mother and they do not think the court would side with you).

The larger question, in my mind, is what is best for your son? If he is happy in Colorado, wants to live with his grandmother, his grandmother is providing a safe home, and you have not seen him for years; then whether or not you have a legal right to go rip him from his environment, if you care about your son, why would you? The moral and ethical questions should be addressed before considering your legal options. If you DO decide to bring your son home, it is critical that you resolve the custody issue with your ex. If there has never been a custody agreement, you need to get the court system to issue one. If you were married and you never divorced, get divorced. If you were never married, you need to file a petition for paternity, child custody, parent time, and child support. Regardless, if you want your son back in your life, you need to protect your rights.

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