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utahdivorceattorney

October 28, 2021

New Statute in Utah: Equal Parent Time

There are several decisions parents are faced with when they go through a divorce. They need to separate the life that they shared during their marriage into two separate lives. They need to separate their physical home, money, possessions and their time with their children. The parents will no longer be living with each other, and the children will need to spend time with each parent separately.

The parents usually need a parent-time schedule that states when the children will be with each parent. There can be many different types of schedules depending on the circumstances of the parents. However, some parents will have an equal parent-time schedule. As of 2021, a new statute outlines the court’s factors when determining whether equal parent-time is appropriate.

The factors include, but are not limited to:

  • Each parent’s activity in their children’s lives – each parent’s responsibility for caring for children; their involvement in school and extracurricular activities; their involvement in meals, bathing, and putting the children to bed; and other relevant factors.
  • Each parent’s ability to facilitate an equal schedule – how close the parents live to each other; their ability to provide after-school care; employment schedules; the layout of each parent’s home; their ability to spend playtime with children; and other relevant factors.
  • Whether it is in the children’s best interest.

If equal parent-time is ordered or agreed to by the parents, they will follow the schedule outlined in the statute unless otherwise agreed to by the parents. This schedule states that the children will be with one parent on Monday and Tuesday, and with the other parent on Wednesday and Thursday. The parents would alternate weekends from Friday to Monday morning.

There are many options for parent-time schedules in Utah. If the parents cannot agree on a parent-time schedule, the court will determine whether an equal parent-time schedule is appropriate and state the schedule. These are very fact-specific matters, and consulting with experienced attorneys could be beneficial.

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October 8, 2021

Holiday Co-Parent Time: Halloween

It’s that time of year. Falling leaves, pumpkin spice, and Halloween school parades. With the fun also comes questions about Halloween parent-time. The questions arise because Halloween is treated differently than all of the other holidays outlined in Utah Code Ann. 30-3-35, which provides the default schedule for holiday parent-time. All of the other holidays include at least one overnight and the days of the holidays are somewhat fixed by school schedules and federal government holiday declarations.

With Halloween, there is no corresponding overnight. Further, the date and time of celebration is not fixed by school or the federal government but rather by the local community.

Utah Code Ann. sec. 30-3-35(2)(g)(vi) states that in even-numbered years, the non-custodial parent is entitled to Halloween. This assumes that the custodial parent is entitled to the holiday in odd-numbered years. If your court order does not specify which of the parents is the non-custodial parent, it is usually considered to be the parent with fewer overnights per year.

The code specifically says:

“(vi) Halloween on October 31 or the day Halloween is traditionally celebrated in the local community from after school until 9 p.m. if on a school day, or from 4 p.m. until 9 p.m.”

The law references “the local community” to determine the date and time of this holiday. That means, that when Halloween falls in the middle of a week, the local community might have “trick-or-treat” hours on Friday or Saturday, and that might be different for the custodial home and the noncustodial home. Also, some parents don’t engage in “trick-or-treat” in the community at large but prefer to attend a local event for kids.

Communicate as parents regarding Halloween plans.

As parents, you may agree to something different, but it is always suggested that you have any agreement regarding a change to the holiday schedule in writing.

No matter if this is your first Halloween since separating as parents or if you have been separated for years, it is a good idea to touch base with the other parent regarding plans for the children over Halloween.  Early communication regarding the holiday (in other words, not sending an email the night of October 30th regarding the following nights activities and requests) ensures each parent is informed regarding Halloween, and communication could make any changes to your schedule much easier.

As children get older plans may change when it comes to friends, family, school, church or neighborhood activities.  If you have more than one child, you may also want to consider whether there will be different age appropriate Halloween activities to attend and how best you can make those happen between the two of you as parents.

Be safe this Halloween and enjoy the holiday.

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utahdivorceattorney

August 13, 2021

Back to School-What Co-Parents need to know

The beginning of the school year is fast approaching, with most Utah school districts beginning mid-August. This means that schedules and responsibilities shift, and healthy parent communication is crucial. It is time to step up your co-parenting game! Your children are naturally more anxious when school starts. It is a big adjustment. Avoid adding contentions between parents to your kids’ plates.

For those who share legal custody of their children, contact your child’s school to gain access to the school’s “parent portal”. Parents who share legal custody have the right to access school records and can be equally involved in the child’s education.  It is much easier to have your own accounts. This can help eliminate miscommunication between parents. There’s nothing more frustrating to some parents than when they don’t find out about the school program until that morning or even after the fact. (Both parents should experience the sinking feeling and panic of finding out about mid-day school programs three days before the performance.) 

Reach out to teachers and ask that you are included on correspondence and volunteer opportunities. If joint parent-teacher conferences are not an option, ask to schedule a separate conference. Finally, keep in mind that school staff and administration may not know your circumstances, and will err on the side of safety. If you try to sign your child out of school for any reason, and the school does not have you “on the list” in your child’s record, they may refuse to release your child to you without confirming with the custodial parent. (Trust us when we tell you that this is not an ideal situation for anybody.) To help avoid snags like that, verify with your child’s school that you are included in the records as a legal custodian of your child. They could ask you for a certified copy of your custody orders to show that you are, in fact, a legal custodian. It isn’t a bad idea to acquire a certified copy from the courthouse to have on file. 

We receive several questions this time of year about school fees, after school, school breaks, visitation times, transportation, etc. 

MONEY

Money tends to be a point of contention for parents. So, who pays for what?

Child support is for the purpose of caring for the children. That means if your custody and child support order does not state otherwise, school fees; school lunch; yearbooks; extracurricular activities; class fees; parking passes; school supplies; school clothes; etc. are generally paid by the party receiving child support. If needed, check with your schools about their fee waivers and reduced or free lunch programs.

WHO, WHAT, WHEN, WHERE

Unless you and your co-parent have agreed otherwise, Utah Code § 30-3-35 provides guidelines for the minimum parent-time schedules, including holiday and summer time. 

Parent-time schedules can become confusing during the school year between holidays and those random Fridays, Mondays, and short days that are thrown into the mix. When a school day or snow day falls on the noncustodial parent’s regular mid-week day, they may choose to exercise their parent time with the kids from 9:00 a.m. until 8:30 p.m., accommodating the custodial parent’s work schedule, and if the noncustodial parent can be with the kids. Similarly, on short days, the noncustodial parent and child may start their weekend as soon as school gets out through 7:00 p.m. on Sunday evening. If there is a long weekend or holiday (generally teacher planning days), it gives the noncustodial parent and child a longer weekend together. 

Parents don’t always think about holidays that fall on a day when school is in session—Columbus Day and Veteran’s Day. If this is the case, just as the custodial parent would be responsible, the noncustodial parent is responsible for making sure the child gets to school. You can find more detailed information about holiday parent-time schedules, including fall and spring breaks, here.

HOW

Finally, sometimes there are hiccups and frustrations over who will be spending time with the kids and/or transporting the kids to and from school. There are times where one parent may not like an in-law, step-parent, or another adult who is involved in transporting. This has been an issue large enough to justify the Utah legislature and courts to spell it out for us. Utah code provides that a step-parent, grandparent, or other responsible adult that the noncustodial parent has chosen, can pick up the child if the custodial parent knows the identity of the person and the noncustodial parent will be with the child by 7:00 p.m. (Utah Code Ann. § 30-3-35). If there are circumstances you feel might justify otherwise, call one of our attorneys. We are well-seasoned in child custody matters. 

As always, reach out to one of our skilled Utah family law attorneys if you need help with any custody or child support issues. Don’t forget to bookmark this blog, so you can check back for upcoming posts about child custody and what to expect with Halloween and Fall Break parent-time.

 

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April 12, 2021

Co-Parenting: Emergency Preparedness Plan

April 15th is the Great Utah Shakeout. An annual event to help Utahn’s consider and prepare their emergency preparedness plans. When it comes to co-parenting, having an emergency preparedness plan will ensure you and your former spouse know what to do. (more…)

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March 28, 2021

Communicating with co-parenting apps

From school obligations to extra curricular activities, and keeping up with orthodontist appointments. There is a lot to juggle when it comes to managing children’s schedules. Communicating with co-parenting apps can provide a reliable system, and help alleviate miscommunication between two-households. Not to mention, a missed pick-up.

If you and your ex struggle to communicate respectfully then these apps can help on multiple levels. (more…)

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March 21, 2021

How to split stimulus funds for dependents

Are you unsure how to split stimulus funds for dependents?

The news of a $1,400 stimulus for adults and children is providing some relief for many families across the nation. However, in the case of divorce, confusion over how co-parents should split  stimulus funds for dependents is becoming a common point of contention.

(more…)

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February 28, 2021

Co-Parenting Goal: Consistency is Key

Hitting co-parenting goals won’t happen overnight. It is something that takes patience and energy, but well worth the time spent in terms of setting your kids up for success. Today’s co-parenting goal is to help you better understand why consistency is key, when it comes to helping your children cope.

Divorce has a tendency to uproot the foundation kids have come to know. When it comes to co-parenting having a sense of consistency with rules and rewards between households provides a constant. (more…)

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utahdivorceattorney

October 12, 2020

Co-Parenting Goal: Let Them Love You Without Guilt

Following the guidance of a co-parenting goal is not always easy. However, the anger and frustration you feel toward your ex should not become your children’s burden too. It is essential to let them love you both without guilt. (more…)

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