Visitation / Parent Time
Children are greatly affected emotionally when parents go to court and get divorced. Aside from spousal support and child support payments, provisions of state law on the custody of children also become relevant after divorce. While the legal rights and best interests of the child are at the core of child custody laws, this parent-child relationship is more complex than it seems.
Child custody includes parental rights to care for, raise, and make decisions on matters related to one’s child. Under family law, legal custody is about making decisions and certain rights and responsibilities involving the care and upbringing of a child. Physical custody, on the other hand, refers to where the child’s primary residence. Even with a joint physical custody court order, primary physical custody signifies that a child will reside with the custodial parent while the non-custodial parent gets to spend time through visitation rights (or parenting time).
Child custody laws (part of Utah Code 30-3) cover how the family court decides on who gets awarded custody, what must be included in a parenting plan, and guidelines in making a child visitation schedule. Seeking legal help from a reliable family law attorney enables you to come up with a visitation schedule that works for you and your child.
Your Visitation Rights in Utah
As long as there is no history of domestic violence, abusive behavior, or neglect, Utah’s child custody law specifies minimum standards governing visitation rights. Again, regardless of the circumstance, at the core is the best interest of the child. The minimum parenting time of a non-custodial parent and a child, who is five to eighteen years old, must be:
- If the child is in school, one weekday evening (from 5:30 p.m. or when school is dismissed until 8:30 p.m.), depending on the availability and preference of the non-custodial parent
- If the child is not in school, one weekday from 9:00 a.m. until 8:30 p.m., provided that the non-custodial parent can provide personal care during the period
- Alternating weekends, from Friday 6:00 p.m. to Sunday 7:00 p.m.
- By request, alternating weekends from Friday after school or 9:00 a.m., if the child is not in school (a grandparent or step-parent may pick up the child as long as the non-custodial parent can provide personal care for the child by 7:00 p.m.)
- Rotating holidays and special days, with a parent having the child in certain holidays in odd years and other holidays in even years
- By request and with proper notice to the custodial parent, up to four consecutive weeks if the child is not school, with two weeks being uninterrupted parenting time (under state law, the custodial parent must also have two weeks of uninterrupted parenting time if the child is not in school)
Proceeding with a divorce case and child custody case is difficult. However, some divorcing parents decide to agree on parenting plans and cooperate to create a visitation schedule that can better meet the needs of the child involved. In some child custody cases, a child may benefit more when an equitable amount of time is spent with each parent.
Divorcing parties may be able to create a schedule that meets the minimum visitation schedule above and serves the best interest of their child. These must be submitted through certain court forms for approval. If it is rejected by the court because it fails to meet certain statutes, the next step would be modifying the visitation schedule.
In contrast, if, despite mediation and all other efforts, divorced parents are still unable to reach an agreement, the minimum standard schedule shall apply. In most instances, getting expert legal help makes all the difference.
At Wᴀʟᴅʀᴏɴ Lᴀᴡ Gʀᴏᴜᴘ, we can help you understand visitation rights and help you meet parenting time requirements. We’ll help you protect the things most important to you. Contact us today to schedule a consultation with our experienced family law attorney