Utah Custody and Visitation Schedules
Your child custody and visitation schedule is important to you and to your child. Here's how to set up a Utah visitation schedule.
You can create your own custody and visitation schedule (on your own or with the other parent) or you can work with an attorney or legal professional and have them create it. If you don't want to pay the high cost of an attorney, and want to easily make your own schedule, you can use the Custody X Change software.
Custody X Change is software that creates custody schedules, calendars, and professional parenting plan documents.
Creating a child visitation schedule in the State of Utah can be made easier by becoming familiar with the family law of the state.
The laws pertaining to child custody and visitation can be found in the Utah Code, Title 30, Husband and Wife, Chapter 3, Divorce.
The law explains the different types of custody, details what to include in a parenting plan, (including the child visitation schedule), outlines the criteria the court uses when making custody rulings, and defines some of the terminology used by the courts.
By studying some of the key points in the legislation, you will develop a better understanding of what to expect from the court and what the court expects from you. This will give you an advantage when creating your child visitation schedule.
As long as there are no extenuating circumstances that would require protecting the child from a parent, such as abuse, neglect, or domestic violence, the State of Utah has minimum standards for visitation schedules that must be complied with if parents are unable to agree on a schedule.
The minimum amount of parenting time the non-custodial parent and a child (age five to eighteen) are entitled to consists of the following (30-3-35):
- One weekday evening, from 5:30 p.m. until 8:30 p.m., or from the time school is dismissed until 8:30 p.m., depending on the preference and availability of the non-custodial parent.
- If the child is not in school, the non-custodial parent may request to have the child one weekday from 9 a.m. until 8:30 p.m., if the non-custodial parent is available and able to provide personal care for the child during that time.
- Alternating weekends beginning on Friday at 6 p.m. and ending on Sunday at 7 p.m.
- At the request of the non-custodial parent, the start time of the alternating weekends may begin after school on Friday, or at 9 a.m. on Friday, if school is not in session and the non-custodial parent is available to provide personal care for the child during that time. However, a step-parent, grandparent, or other responsible adult may pick up the child at one of the earlier times on Friday as long as the non-custodial parent is able to be present and personally take care of the child by 7 p.m.
- Holidays and special days shall be rotated, with each parent having the child on some holidays in even years and the other holidays in odd years, as defined in section (30-3-35).
- The non-custodial parent may elect to have up to four consecutive weeks of visitation when school is not in session, after proper notice has been given to the custodial parent. Two of the weeks shall be uninterrupted parenting time.
- The custodial parent is entitled to two weeks of uninterrupted parenting time for vacation when school is not in session.
The State of Utah does not presume to have a preference as to the type of custody parents have.
Parents will be awarded either joint custody, sole custody, or no custody, based upon an examination of the facts in the case.
The State of Utah considers all factors related to the best interest of a child (30-3-10.2.5) when ruling on custody cases.
Some of the factors the court considers are:
- The past and current conduct of the parents
- The health and moral fitness of the parents
- Each parent's capacity to provide the child with a safe, nurturing, loving home environment
- Each parent's capacity to provide the child with basic necessities, such as adequate food, clothing, shelter, and medical care
- The history of the child's care
- Who has been the child's primary caregiver
- How long the child has lived in the current situation
- The child's adjustment to his school, friends, family, church, and community
- Any evidence of physical, mental, or sexual abuse, neglect, substance abuse, domestic violence or any other circumstances which would be considered to be detrimental to the child
- Any other relevant information
No. If you are able to work together with the other parent and agree on a schedule, you are free to create a child visitation schedule that is more tailored to the needs of your child.
Depending on your situation, you may feel that the minimum visitation schedule may not be what is in the best interests of your child, and that the child needs to have a more equitable amount of time with each parent.
When you are able work together and cooperate to create a child visitation schedule that meets your child's specific needs, you can submit it to the court for approval.
As long as your schedule provides the child with at least the minimum amount of time with each parent, and serves the best interest of the child, it should be accepted by the court.
If the court rejects your child visitation schedule because it does not meet the court's requirements, you may be given the option of modifying the schedule to appease the court.
If you are unable you reach an agreement with the other parent, despite all efforts, including mediation, the minimum standard schedule will be ordered.
You can choose to have a joint custody schedule if it is best for your child. When parents share physical custody of the child, it is called physical joint custody. The guidelines for physical joint custody are found in Chapter 30-3-10.1. In Utah, physical joint custody:
- Means the child stays with each parent overnight for more than 30% of the year
- Means that both parents contribute to the expenses of the child in addition to paying child support
- Can mean equal or nearly equal periods of physical custody of the child by each parent
- May require that a primary physical residence for the child be chosen
- Does not prohibit the court from specifying one parent as the primary caretaker and one home as the primary residence of the child
If you are considering whether or not a joint custody schedule will work for your family, you should make sure both of you are able to provide physical care for your child.
You will also have to be are able to cooperate with each other and be able to encourage your child to have a relationship with both parents if it is going to work.
The top twenty cities in Utah (by population, US Census Bureau, 2008) are: Salt Lake City, West Valley City, Provo, West Jordan, Sandy, Orem, Ogden, St. George, Layton, Taylorsville, South Jordan, Logan, Lehi, Murray, Bountiful, Draper, Riverton, Kearns, Roy, Cottonwood Heights.