Wait…I Can’t Just Call an Uber

Much like Kleenex, Band-Aids, or Xerox (products that have become synonymous with the brands that popularized them), Uber has become synonyms with ride-share applications.  Even if you take a Lyft, most people will still say “taking an Uber.”  Having an on demand driver 24/7 at your fingertips makes it hard to imagine how we survived before Uber was created.  Uber has solved many problems people did not realize they even had.  There is one problem it has not solved…transporting your children in a co-parenting relationship.

According to Uber, “account holders must be 18 or over and CANNOT request a ride for riders under 18 unless accompanied by the account holder making the request.” (Compare that to Lyft’s policy which states “Account holders must be 18 or over. Children under the age of 18 can take a ride on their own as long as the ride is requested by their parent or guardian.”)  If two two parents agreed to transport their child using Lyft there would not be a problem.  The problem would arise if one parent wanted to use Lyft and the other did not. The scenario has not been tested in California to our knowledge so we are not sure where a Judge would come down on that issue.

Uber and Lyft aside, the job of transporting children to and from their activities, school, and friend’s house can be a full time job on its own.  Coordinating these activities requires communication and cooperation between co-parents.  When communications break down, it will almost always lead to a problem.  Typically you see this problem arise when one parent is unavailable and needs a third party (e.g. Nanny, babysitter, family member) to pick up a child, but the other parent refuses to consent.

From a legal perspective, unless your court order defines who may transport you child, either parent may designate a third party to provide transportation. You do not need the other parent’s consent to use a third party driver. The only requirements are that the party is a licensed driver, has a safe and reliable vehicle, and has a clean driving record.  Though not required, we would suggest using an adult at least 18 years old (unless it is a sibling) and someone who is known by the child.

It is also a good idea to speak with the other parent about the person who will be retrieving the child, especially if it is someone the other parent has never met.  This is just common sense.  No parent would  feel comfortable sending their child with a complete stranger.  We advise clients to provide the other parent with the following information:

  • Name
  • Age
  • Relationship (Nanny, friend, family)
  • Driver’s license number
  • Phone number;
  • Picture to identify.

Even if you provide all of this information, there is still a chance the other parent will refuse to release the child.  If this happens, avoid the temptation to send your driver to pick up the child anyhow.  Not only will they be unsuccessful, it will only cause more trouble and stress.  Instead file a motion with the Family Court seeking an order that allows you to utilize third parties to transport your child.  You need to provide the court (or your attorney), with copies of the emails or text messages with the other parent showing that you attempted to resolve this issue without involving the court.  You should also save any responsive text message or emails that show the other party was being unreasonable.  Family Law judge do not want to deal with these types of requests, but they will do so if the parties cannot reach an agreement.  Nonetheless, exhaust all other options before you file a motion with the court.

Feel free to contact us if you are considering a divorce from your spouse, a legal separation, or have questions regarding child custody and visitation issues related to transportation. Nancy J. Bickford is the only Certified Family Law Specialist (CFLS) in San Diego County who is also a licensed Certified Public Accountant (CPA) with a Master of Business Administration (MBA). Don’t settle for less when determining your rights. Call 858-793-8884 in Del Mar, Carmel Valley, North County or San Diego.




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