PARENT TIME

Chapter 9 Parent Time

Pertinent Utah Code. (See: http://le.utah.gov/xcode/code.html)

§30-3-32
§§30-3-35, 35.1, 35.5
§30-3-37
§30-3-33

 

Parent time (not visitation) describes the physical custodial arrangement that a parent has to spend time with his/her child.

Utah’s legislature struggles with this delicate issue and has passed statutes intended to promote parent-time schedules consistent with the parent’s interest. When considering a parent-time schedule the parties should consider the primary safety and well-being of the child.  It is presumed to be in the child’s best interest to have frequent, meaningful, and continuing access to each parent following a divorce; and each parent is entitled to and responsible for frequent, meaningful, and continuing access with his/her child and for both parents to be actively involved in the child’s life.

If the parties cannot agree on a parent time schedule, and absent a court finding for some other arrangement, the court will follow the statutes that describe the ‘minimum’ parent time schedule for the children.

This minimum parent time is the usual ‘every other weekend and one weeknight visit per week’ that most people are familiar with. However, many states and courts are now moving towards alternative schedules to accommodate the needs of the parents and children. Utah recently passed UCA 30-3-35.1, which provides an optional schedule for children 5-18. This schedule contemplates the non-custodial parent having 145 overnights a year with the child(ren), if the parties can communicate effectively, it is in the best interest of the child(ren) and the non-custodial parent has the ability to facilitate the increased parent time (and any other consideration the court may find relevant).

UCA 30-3-37 deals with relocation (relocation statute). A parent that is contemplating relocating more than 150 miles or more from the child’s residence needs to give 60 days advance written notice of his/her intended relocation. Either party may approach the court to ask for a new parent schedule to address the needs of the child and parent. Generally, when one party moves away, the parent time schedule is modified to allow the child a larger block of time with the non-custodial parent in the summer months.

Holidays are generally divided and alternate every year.

Divorce Note: Remember is you are asking for ‘Joint Physical Custody’ you must present a plan that provides a minimum of 30% of the overnights each year to one of the parties. You may want to make a calendar of a proposed parent time for submission to the court. Some parties just ask for the statutory minimum to avoid conflict – however, this may not be in the best interest of the child if the other parent can show he/she can be actively involved with the child. One should consider including a ‘relocation’ provision in the petition to reflect closely the statute (UCA 30-3-37).