What Is Reasonable Visitation?

child custody attorneys
What Is Reasonable Visitation?

What is reasonable and liberal visitation? It is a time-sharing arrangement in which the specifics of child visitation are essentially left up to the parents to agree upon.

Many couples going through a divorce believe “reasonable and liberal visitation” is better than a strict schedule, but it can lead to problems in all but the most amicable divorces. If you are facing a child custody action, it is helpful to know the benefits and drawbacks of this option before visitation is formalized.

Who Determines Child Visitation

Whether you are going through a divorce or a child custody determination outside of a divorce proceeding, there are a few issues that will need to be resolved. Either you or your ex can agree on these issues, or the court can decide them for you. The primary issues to decide include:
Child support
Legal custody
Physical custody
Visitation or time-sharing

When it comes to visitation, states have adopted standard schedules such as every other weekend plus two weeks during the summer. Some couples adopt these standard schedules or use them as a starting point, and some abandon them to come up with something that works better for them. When the parents cannot agree, the court will hold a hearing to determine what is in the best interest of the child.

What is Considered Reasonable Visitation?

After a divorce, the children generally live with one parent or the other. The parent that the children lives with is called the custodial parent; the other is called the noncustodial parent. (Sometimes today the noncustodial parent is called the visiting parent.) In the interests of the children, the noncustodial parent is usually then granted the right to visitation with the children because courts believe children should have contact with both parents. The law calls this “reasonable” visitation.

“Reasonable” visitation generally means the parents of the child must come up with a schedule – a parenting plan, which is a schedule with days and times — for visitation. When the parents cooperate, this regime works better because it allows the parents to work around their respective schedules. In practice, however, the parent who has custodial rights generally has more power and influence over what is considered reasonable in terms of times and durations. The custodial parent has no legal duty to agree to any proposed visitation scheduled. However, an inflexible or malicious parent does not escape the notice of the judge who remembers his or her intransigence later on.

In most cases, the two former spouses will be able to work out a schedule together that they can both live with. Although the custodial parent has the power to decide what is or is not reasonable visitation, his or her decision making power is not absolute. For example, the custodial parent can refuse visitation in the middle of the night or while the other parent is intoxicated. However, the custodial parent cannot deny visitation just because he or she is upset with the noncustodial parent, or because the children do not want to visit with the other parent, or because the noncustodial parent is behind in support payments.

If a parent suspect that a loosely defined reasonable visitation regime won’t work, he or she should request on a fixed schedule and save time, and aggravation. If an existing reasonable visitation isn’t working out — for example, one parent is consistently late, skips scheduled visits, or doesn’t inform the other parent where he or she is planning on taking the children – a party can go back to court and ask that the arrangement be changed.
When parents cannot come to an agreement on their own, the judge makes one for them.

A common schedule may look something like this:
> Visitation with the non-custodial parent every other weekend;
> Visitation on either Easter and New Year’s, or alternatively, Thanksgiving and Christmas;
> Five continuous weeks with the non-custodial parent during the summer;
> Unlimited written and electronic communication with the non-custodial parent.

In order for a reasonable visitation schedule to work, parents must be communicate with each other in civil, sane, rational manner.

Reasonable Visitation versus Fixed Visitation

When you are involved in a Dissolution of Marriage proceeding and minor children are involved, child custody and visitation agreements or orders will need to be implemented. Here is an example of the difference between “reasonable visitation” and “fixed visitation”.

Reasonable Visitation: If the Court-Ordered visitation to the non-custodial parent is set forth as “reasonable visitation”, it is an open-ended visitation schedule with no specific periods of times, including holiday periods of time, being guaranteed to the non-custodial parent. Reasonable visitation should only be implemented between parents who prove to be flexible and exhibit good and reliable co-parenting habits between them. If one or both parents are, or will become, resistant to sharing the children by agreement, reasonable visitation is probably not a good option. Under reasonable visitation, the custodial parent maintains the final say in a visitation dispute. Flexibility is of the utmost importance in reasonable visitation orders. Each parent will be guaranteed to face certain circumstances that will cause them to want to deviate from an agreed-upon visitation schedule. If each parent can remember this and be willing to allow the other parent spur-of-the-moment visitation rights for special events such as weddings; opportunities to visit with relatives not often available with little prior notice; or special outings and events, just to name a few, then reasonable visitation will be successful. Your child(ren) will also appreciate each parent’s willingness to work together more than you will ever know. Make-up time to either parent can also be agreed upon when out-of-the-ordinary occurrences arise. However, if a disruption to the normal child-sharing schedule is likely to be met by resistance by the either parent, a Court hearing may become necessary to resolve any such disputes.

Fixed Visitation: If the Court-Ordered visitation sets forth specific days and times of day, which can include a Holiday visitation schedule, you have a “fixed visitation schedule”. A common example of a fixed visitation schedule would allow the non-custodial parent alternate weekends with the specific commencement and return dates incorporated into the order. Additionally, a mid-week visit lasting approximately four hours is often included so that the non-custodial parent can share a dinner, or other chosen event, with the child (ren) mid-week to ensure ongoing and frequent contact with the child (ren) between weekend visitation periods. A specific Holiday schedule can also be included in a fixed visitation order. This allows both parents and the children to be able to make holiday plans on an alternating-annual basis. Holiday schedules often prove to be of great assistance in ensuring that each parent will share equal time with the child (ren) during all holidays. Extended family members are also able to see and visit with the child (ren) when holiday events are able to be planned in advance.

Only you and the other parent know the best visitation plan that will work for you. When choosing the best option for you and your children, keep in mind such future possible actions as each parent entering into new relationships. If you choose a reasonable visitation option, make sure you believe that each parent will continue to work together, exclusively, to promote the best interests of their children absent undue influence from disinterested third parties. Upon a change of circumstances, however, any child custody and visitation orders entered can be modified until the child(ren) attain the age of 18.

When The “Reasonable” Approach Doesn’t Work

Flexible visitation rights can be tremendously helpful for busy parents who are still civil with one another, but these flexible arrangements don’t work for everybody. Many parents don’t get along after a divorce. In some cases, the parent with primary custody of a child may even try to keep his or her ex from ever seeing their child, simply out of spite.

Even parents who once co-parented amicably can have a falling out, but that doesn’t mean non-custodial parents have to give up their parental rights. If the custodial parent (referred to as the primary conservator in Utah) strays from what the two initially agreed to as what are reasonable visitation rights, it’s usually best for the non-custodial parent to seek legal advice on next steps. For example, if you end up in a situation where your ex stops cooperating and makes it difficult for you to see your child, you may need to seek a custody modification with a visitation schedule that is more clearly defined. As a parent in Utah, you typically do have a legal right to spend time with your child, and an experienced family law attorney can help you regain your parental rights.

What If Non-Custodial Parent Does Not Exercise Visitation?

While Utah courts will step in when a parent denies another parent court-ordered visitation, the courts cannot force a parent to spend time with his or her child. However, if the non-custodial parent routinely misses visitation, the parent with primary custody could petition the court to modify the visitation agreement but limiting visitation may do more harm than good.

Unfortunately, the child is the one who ends up suffering in these situations. Children often blame themselves when a parent promises to pick them up for visitation then doesn’t show up. We strongly encourage the primary parent NOT to disparage the no-show parent and seek guidance from a family counselor instead.

How Long Does It Take To Get Visitation Rights?

Establishing visitation rights can go much faster when a child custody suit is filed in conjunction with a divorce. Temporary orders—including visitation—are put in place pretty quickly once a divorce is filed. How soon you can finalize official custody and visitation arrangements depends on a variety of factors and how badly parents want to resolve their divorce and custody issues.

On the other hand, it may take longer for parents who never married to get visitation rights nailed down. Again, it all depends on the circumstances and how well the unmarried parents get along. An attorney experienced in child custody disputes can help you weigh your options.

Allowing Too Much Flexibility In Visitation Rights Can Be Problematic

Sometimes life and unforeseen circumstances force parents to alter schedules and end up caring for their children more or less than their possession schedule dictates. We saw this happen to many parents during the pandemic and strongly encourage parents to speak with an attorney about steps to take when drastic changes to work and life circumstances occur.

Due to COVID-19, many non-custodial parents ended up working from home (or were home due to job loss) and caring for and home schooling their kids who couldn’t go to school. In addition, many primary parents were forced to work long shifts on the front lines (doctors, nurses, first responders, etc.) and had to rely on non-custodial parents to keep children for extra hours or days.

These “temporary” schedule adjustments often lasted for several months. Some custodial parents worried they would lose custody, while many non-custodial parents were left wondering why they were still paying child support since they were sharing custody 50/50. Other parents hoped to be legally granted more possession time—since they had their kids more anyway—and called us about custody modifications.

Changes in circumstances may give some parents the grounds to request a modification, so it’s important to speak with a family law attorney about potential consequences and how to protect your visitation rights BEFORE these changes become “routine.”

However, it does NOT give a parent the right to stop paying child support. In fact, even getting a legal 50/50 custody arrangement in Utah doesn’t automatically mean you won’t have to pay child support—in most cases you will still have to pay something. Don’t assume anything—contact an attorney.

Implementing “reasonable and liberal visitation”

A reasonable and liberal visitation arrangement may come about by agreement or by order of the court. When the parenting plan specifies that visitation shall be reasonable and liberal, rather than stating specifically when the non-custodial parent may spend time with the child or children, it puts the responsibility on the parents to cooperate and continually agree on visits as they come up.

This solution makes the most sense when the parents are exceptional co-parents who communicate well and do not let any personal differences interfere with their parenting decisions. In the real world, even when parents have the best of intentions and consciously focus on their children’s best interests, the predictability of a predetermined schedule typically serves the family better.

Drawbacks Of A Liberal Visitation Arrangement

Most co-parenting relationships are not suited for the non-specific nature of a “reasonable and liberal visitation” situation. The flexibility that seems appealing at the beginning can lead to endless disagreements. If you and your ex do not have substantially similar ideas of how often visitation should take place and how long it should last, neither of you will have something separate, like a court-approved parenting plan that spells out whose idea controls in any specific situation. Even if you and your co-parent more or less agree, the custodial parent will have more power in the relationship. Since there are two opinions in every decision, there is no formal tiebreaker. The parent who has physical custody of the child, however, is an informal tiebreaker because he or she can, practically, veto the other parent’s wishes.

Perhaps the most concerning problem is that there is nothing to enforce. If one parent does not provide or return the children on time, the other parent cannot request police intervention because there is no violation of a specific time-sharing plan.

Modification Of Visitation

If you have a parenting plan that states that the non-custodial parent may exercise reasonable and liberal visitation and you run into conflicts with the other parent because of it, you may be best served by asking the court to change it. Revisions to visitation take place in a modification hearing when one or both parents allege that a change to the schedule is necessary due to a material change in circumstances. If you are going through an initial custody determination, it is helpful to be aware of the visitation options and to choose an experienced family law attorney to represent your interests. Effective representation in the early stages can save you the hassle and cost of requesting a modification later on.

Free Initial Consultation with Lawyer

It’s not a matter of if, it’s a matter of when. Legal problems come to everyone. Whether it’s your son who gets in a car wreck, your uncle who loses his job and needs to file for bankruptcy, your sister’s brother who’s getting divorced, or a grandparent that passes away without a will -all of us have legal issues and questions that arise. So when you have a law question, call Ascent Law for your free consultation (801) 676-5506. We want to help you!

Michael R. Anderson, JD

Ascent Law LLC
8833 S. Redwood Road, Suite C
West Jordan, Utah
84088 United States

Telephone: (801) 676-5506
Ascent Law LLC

4.9 stars – based on 67 reviews


Recent Posts

Probate Lawyer

What Is Child Custody?

What Is Collaborative Divorce?

What Is An Open Adotion?/a>


Estate Planning Lawyer

Divorce Lawyer and Family Law Attorneys

Ascent Law St. George Utah Office

Ascent Law Ogden Utah Office

What Is Child Custody?

Types of Child Custody
What Is Child Custody?

The term “child custody” refers to the legal and hands-on relationship between a parent and his or her child. Custody includes the parent’s right to raise, care for, and make decisions regarding the child. The natural state is for the child’s biological parents to make all decisions involving the child’s residence, healthcare, education, and religious upbringing. However, when couples separate, all of these issues may become contentious. When a child’s custody and upbringing are in dispute, the child custody laws and the court becomes involved. To explore this concept, consider the following child custody definition.

History of Child Custody

As far back as ancient Roman law, children were viewed as property belonging to the father, who had the unilateral power to sell them, or enter them into slave labor. Mothers had no rights to their children, even if the father died. This possessive attitude continued through to 19th century English common law, in which fathers had the sole obligation to support, protect, and educate their children as they saw fit, and mothers had very limited access to their children in the event of a divorce.

Landmark British legislation in 1839 directed the courts to award to mothers custody of children under the age of seven, and to give mothers visitation rights for older children. The original goal of this “tender year’s doctrine” was to give over the care of children to the mother only until they were old enough to be returned to their father’s custody. It was, however, the first stepping stone to shared custodial rights.

In the early 1900s, thoughts on gender-based custody did an about-face, the courts determining that mothers were better suited to raise children. This was based in part on a Freudian theory on infant attachment and relationships, though it also took into account the more practical aspect of the father’s frequent absence as he worked to support the family.

In the 1960s, fathers began asserting their parental rights, and courts began considering “the child’s best interest” in determining issues of child custody and new child custody laws. From primary residency, to visitation, to decision-making authority, the American family court system has expanded and refined this system, placing a gender-neutral focus on what is in the child’s best interest.

Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act

The Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act (“UCCJEA”) was enacted in 1997 to combat the issue of parents filing custody actions in other states, in an attempt to get around the jurisdiction and orders in the child’s home state. The UCCJEA states that a child is under the jurisdiction of the court in the child’s home state. The child’s home state is defined as the state in which the child has lived since birth, or for six consecutive months immediately prior to the custody action. Other provisions of the Act outline how the child’s home jurisdiction is determined in other circumstances.

Types of Child Custody

Parents navigating the mine field of child custody laws often become confused, as there are many legal terms bandied about. For instance, legal and physical custody are separate issues, visitation, rights to attend a child’s functions, and even financial support are issues decided by the court in the event parents cannot agree. The court-ordered custody arrangement often becomes part of the divorce decree, though it may later be altered if there is a change in circumstances.

In all states, joint custody is preferred, as the courts feel that it is important for children to have contact with, and be parented by, both parents. Circumstances, however, may necessitate other arrangements. A child custody and support order includes which parent the child will live with, how visitation will occur, who gets to make critical decisions regarding the child, and who will provide financial support.

Legal Custody

Legal custody is a separate issue from physical custody, as it has nothing to do with where the child lives, and everything to do with who has the right and obligation to make important decisions regarding the child’s care and upbringing. Legal custody entails making decisions about such issues as the child’s daily routine, schooling, daycare, healthcare, and religious upbringing. In most cases, parents share joint legal custody, which means they must consult one another regarding major decisions. If one parent makes a habit of making such decisions without consulting the other parent, he or she may have legal custody rights taken away.

In many cases, hostilities between the parents, or abuse on the part of one parent, makes such communication impossible, or is not in the children’s best interest. This is a situation in which sole legal custody may be granted to one parent, based on which parent is seen as being the most reasonable, and able to make the proper choices.

Physical Custody

Physical custody refers to the day-to-day care of a child, and where the child will primarily live. Even when joint physical custody is ordered, primary physical custody usually resides with one parent (the “custodial parent”), and the other parent (the “non-custodial parent”) will get visitation rights.

Joint Physical Custody is often worked out between the parents, according to their schedules, allowing the children to stay with the parent when he or she is available to take care of their needs. This is referred to as a “parenting plan.” In the event parents cannot agree, the court imposes a custody and visitation schedule. While the goal of joint custody is equally shared custody, reality has caused the courts to order “significant periods” of physical custody to ensure children have “frequent and continuing contact” with both parents.

Sole Physical Custody may be ordered in cases in which one parent is seen to be unable to provide a healthy and stable living environment for the children. This may occur when one parent abuses drugs or alcohol, is actively engaged in a criminal lifestyle, or is violent or abusive towards the children or others. Sole physical custody may also be awarded to one parent when the other parent is seen to be keeping the children from, or alienating them against, that parent.

Example Of Custody Situations

Amicable Joint Custody Arrangement

When they get divorced, Mary and James decide to work out shared custody of their two children. Both parents work, but because James has moved across town, and Mary is staying in the family home, they decide the children will live primarily with their mother, where they can remain in their neighborhood school. The children will stay with their father every other weekend, as well as spending time with him two evenings a week until bedtime. Mary and James also share joint legal custody, consulting with one another to make decisions regarding the children.

Joint Physical/Sole Legal Custody

Chloe and Bryan have a turbulent divorce, and cannot agree on issues regarding their 3-year old son. Bryan argues about every daycare provider Chloe proposes, and when he has their son for visitation, he often fails to return him as scheduled. In addition, friends report hearing Bryan tell their son “Mommy is mean,” and “Mommy is bad, she makes Daddy sad.” When Chloe asks the court for a change in custody arrangements, the judge determines that Bryan is uncooperative, likely to disobey the custody order, and is actively alienating the child against his mother. The court orders primary physical, and sole legal, custody to the mother, with the father having weekend visitation with strict orders to return the child on time.

Sole Custody/Supervised Visitation

When Helen and Zack divorce, Zack seeks sole custody of their daughter, stating Helen is an alcoholic, and leaving the little girl with her unsupervised would be dangerous. After speaking with the parents and the little girl, and after completing an investigation into the mother’s behavior, the court representative determines that the mother’s alcoholism indeed makes her unfit to care for the child. Zack is awarded sole legal and physical custody, and Helen is allowed to visit the little girl only at a supervising agency. The mother is ordered to attend AA meetings, or to enter rehab, after which she may apply for a change in custody status.

How to Get Custody of a Child

In situations in which the parents simply can’t agree on custody and visitation issues, they must go through the process of obtaining a court order. Most states use some form of alternative dispute resolution (“ADR”) or mediation to come up with a parenting plan before the matter is taken to the judge. During the ADR process, each parent submits a reasonable plan for custody and visitation to the mediator, who then sits down with both parents to work out an agreement.

If the parents cannot come to an agreement during this meeting, the mediator, who also meets privately with the children, creates a parenting plan that is in the best interests of the children. It is the mediator’s job to weed through heated arguments and allegations, as well as to determine whether one parent is trying to keep the children from the other for no valid reason. While the judge has some discretion, the mediator’s recommendation most often becomes the court order.

Common Considerations in Making a Custody Order

When a court is making an order for child custody and visitation, it must determine what is in the child’s best interest. To do this, the judge considers a number of factors, including:
• The length of time the child has been in the actual care of one parent or the other
• Any agreement reached by the parents regarding custody and residence of the child
• The child’s adjustment to home, school, daycare, and community
• Each parent’s ability and willingness to respect and promote the relationship between the child and the other parent
• Any allegation or evidence of spousal abuse
• Any allegation or evidence of child abuse, whether involving this child or any other
• Whether either parent is required to register as a sex offender, or resides with a person who is required to register as a sex offender
• Whether either parent has been convicted of abuse of any child, or resides with a person who has been convicted of child abuse

Common Ways to Sabotage Custody or Visitation

Divorce and child custody often become hot-button issues when any relationship ends. Letting anger toward the other spouse get in the way of the parent-child relationship is a sure way to lose custody, or to get an order for limited visitation. Common mistakes include:

Alienation of Affection – occurs when one parent puts down or disparages the other parent, either directly to, or in the presence of the children. This also includes attempting to keep the children from the other parent.
Physical Confrontations – engaging in physical contact with the other parent or children in anger instills fear, if not physical injury. Making physical contact with another person in anger is considered battery, and is illegal.
Criticizing the Other Parent – criticizing the other parent to family members, friends, co-workers, case workers, or others is likely to get back to the other parent, the children, and the court. This may be seen as alienation of affection, or a sign of non-cooperation.

Using Child Support as a Weapon – failing or refusing to pay child support because of custody and visitation disagreements not only shows contempt for a court order, but is likely to be seen as combativeness and non-cooperation.

Denying Telephone Contact – keeping children from contacting the other parent by telephone during visitation is generally considered to be keeping the children from the other parent, and thus alienation.

Removing Children from School – the removal of children from school or daycare without permission from, or notice to, the custodial parent triggers suspicions of non-cooperation or even risk of flight.

Related Legal Terms and Issues

Alternative Dispute Resolution – The resolving of disputes by means other than litigation. In a family court environment, this refers to mediation of custody and visitation.

Child Custody Mediation – The process by which a court-appointed mediator helps parents reach a custody and visitation arrangement that is in the best interests of the child.

Allegation – An assertion or claim that someone has done something wrong or illegal, typically made without actual proof.

Sex Offender – A person convicted of a crime involving sex, including rape, molestation, and production or distribution of child pornography.

Free Initial Consultation with Lawyer

It’s not a matter of if, it’s a matter of when. Legal problems come to everyone. Whether it’s your son who gets in a car wreck, your uncle who loses his job and needs to file for bankruptcy, your sister’s brother who’s getting divorced, or a grandparent that passes away without a will -all of us have legal issues and questions that arise. So when you have a law question, call Ascent Law for your free consultation (801) 676-5506. We want to help you!

Michael R. Anderson, JD

Ascent Law LLC
8833 S. Redwood Road, Suite C
West Jordan, Utah
84088 United States

Telephone: (801) 676-5506
Ascent Law LLC

4.9 stars – based on 67 reviews


Recent Posts

What Happens If My Child Turns 18 But My Ex Still Owes Child Support?

What If My Spouse Evades Service Of Divorce Papesr?

What Is An Alimony Waiver And Am I Eligible To Get One?

Business Lawyers

Estate Planning Lawyer

Divorce Lawyer and Family Law Attorneys

Ascent Law St. George Utah Office

Ascent Law Ogden Utah Office

What Factors Are Considered When Determining Child Custody?

During separation and divorce, the most heated argument between the couple is always who takes custody of the child, if the marriage has been blessed with child after this comes the argument of sharing and splitting property; who takes what. The court takes custody of the child seriously and treats it with utmost care and priority because this is what determines the future of the child. If the judge grants the physical custody of a child to a parent it means that the parent has the right to have a child live with him or her for the amount of time determined by the judge. The judge, in some instances, can grant primary custody of a child to a parent. In this case, the child lives with the parent and the parent makes the decision on the upbringing of the child in exclusion of the other parent. In some other instances, the court may also grant joint custody of the child to both parents. In this arrangement, the child spends a significant amount of time with both parents at different times and both parents contribute to the upbringing of the child physically, emotionally, and financially.

Joint custody may be joint legal custody i.e. both parents have joint legal custody of the child. Legal custody of a child simply means having the legal rights to make decisions about a child’s wellbeing and upbringing. Joint custody may also be joint physical custody i.e. the child spends some amount of time with each parent at different schedules and times. Finally, joint custody may also be joint physical and legal custody.
It should, however, be noted that a parent may have legal custody of a child and not have physical custody and vice versa while a parent can have both legal and physical custody of a child, and both parents although divorced or separated can have both joint legal and physical custody of the child.

There are some factors the court considers while granting custody of a child; whether sole custody i.e. custody to a parent or joint custody

The critical factor that the judge first puts into consideration before granting the custody of a child to any of the parents is what is referred to in law as ‘The best interest standard’. The court uses this best interest standard to determine what would be best for the child. The child’s best interest comes first before that of the parents. What is best for the child is prioritized. Although, it is inarguable that both parents definitely have good and genuine intention towards the child in question and definitely want what’s good for the child the judge applies the best interest standard where what the court feels will be the best for the child comes first and outweighs the interest of the parents.

In determining the child’s best interest, the court looks into these crucial factors which can be said are the essential factors that the judge considers in granting custody of a child and they include; The court considers if there is confirmed evidence of domestic violence, domestic abuse, or neglect or negligence by either parent of the child? The court will definitely not going to grant custody of a child to a parent who is negligent, violent, or abusive.

The court weighs each parent’s ability to provide for the child’s physical needs, emotional wellness, and medical care. The court will not grant physical custody to a parent who is incapable of financially and physically catering to the needs of the child.

The court will also check the psychological effect the custody will have on the child. The court will ask themselves if the child is okay where he or she is currently is or if the child doesn’t mind a change in physical environment and custody. The court will also consider the wishes of the child. The court will ask the child where he or she would like to stay or which of the parent would the child like to be with at the moment. This will only the done if the child is considered old enough to make his or her own decisions.

The court also considers the living conditions and accommodations of each parents’ home. The court is interested to know if the child will have his or her own room in a parent’s house and have a spacious and conducive environment for him or herself.

The court will also evaluate the mental and physical health of each parent and ascertain which of the parents is more mentally and physically fit to be granted custody of the child. The court is definitely not going to grant custody of a child to a mentally unstable parent or physically unfit parent.

The court will also consider the quality of the relationship the child enjoys with each parent. The court puts into consideration which of the parent does the child have a more cordial and loving relationship with. The court is more akin to granting custody of a child to a parent a child has a blossoming relationship with. While these are some of the factors the court considers before granting custody of a child to a parent, there may be other extenuating factors the court will also look into in granting custody of a child to a parent depending on the peculiarity of each case.

The Best-Interests Standard

Many parents find this legal jargon confusing. Don’t all parents want what’s best for their children? For the most part, yes. However, in the majority of contested child custody cases, the judge determines what would be best for the children, despite both parents’ good intentions and competing wishes.

Other Factors That Could Affect Child Custody Arrangement

The Wishes of the Parents

The court does indeed take into account the wishes of each parent. Of course, when that becomes a problem is when both parents want full custody, or have not agreed on terms. Then, it is up to the court to decide what is best for the children based upon the other factors that they take under consideration. Often, if an amicable agreement, including child support, can be reached by both parents beforehand, the court will uphold that agreement unless there is some other factor that makes the court think that the arrangements are inappropriate.

The Wishes of the Children

Although the court does not put as much weight on what the child wants as what each parent does, or what the recommendations of social worker or other professional are, the court does take into consideration the child’s wishes. Children are not always the best judge of what is best for them and if the child wants to stay with one parent because they are more lenient or because they spoil them, the court will likely make a different recommendation. The court will also consider the age of the children before deciding how heavily to weight the wishes.

The Relationship Between Children & Each Parent

The court does look at the very important relationship between each parent and each child. If one parent has been an absentee parent most of the time and the child has developed a much stronger relationship with the other parent, then it will likely be the absentee parent that is awarded visitation rather than custody and must pay child support and other obligations. The court will often use a professional social worker to determine how strong the relationship is between parent and child in order to make the best custody choices for the child possible.

Mental & Physical Health of Children & Parent

If one parent is physically disabled and will have a harder time taking care of the children, this is something that the court will look at. Although most of the time disabled parents are as capable of taking care of their children as a non-disabled parent, the court must look at this when deciding who will get full-time custody, which will have partial custody or visitation, or pay child support. This is the same – and even more so – with mental disabilities. If one parent is mentally disabled in some way or suffers from an emotional condition, the court may decide to award custody to the other parent instead.

The Willingness of Parents to Work with Each Other

Each parent will be interviewed to find out just how willing they are to work with the other parent. The court does not want to deprive children of either one of their parents, and if awarding custody to one parent will severely restrict the amount of time they get to spend with the other parent, this will be a strong determining factor. The best way to avoid this problem is to make sure that each parent realizes that the other parent has the right to see their children as well and try to work out an amicable settlement beforehand.

The Majority Caregiver Up Until This Point

The court will consider which parent has been providing for the child the most. This doesn’t just mean providing financially because financial support is often done through child support. The court will consider all types of care such as transportation, teaching, feeding and, in general, parenting. The court will also consider factors such as the household set-up – where one parent works and cannot spend as much time with the children as the parent who is not employed or is only employed part-time.

The Parent’s Living Accommodations & Ability to Provide for the Child

The court will always consider the parents ability to provide for the child when deciding custody and child support. The court will look at the living arrangements first and foremost, to find out if the parent has room for the children, if the home is in a safe neighborhood and if it is clean and well-managed. Also, the court will look at where the residence of the parents are, and how close they are to other family members, schools, and places where the children have developed a normal routine.

How Much of an Adjustment Will be Required

Obviously, divorce will cause some adjustments to be made but the court wants to make as little of an impact on the child’s life as possible. That’s why the court will look at how much the child will have to readjust if they live mostly with one parent or another, or even with shared custody.

Allegations & Actual Instances of Abuse or Neglect

The court will not only consider any actual incidents of abuse or neglect when it comes to awarding custody, but they will consider allegations of neglect or abuse as well. If one parent has made allegations that turned out to be false, the court will weigh this heavily when deciding how to arrange custody.

Physical And Mental Wellbeing

The physical and mental health of your children is a key component of their overall best interests. If there is any sign of abuse, violence, mistreatment or even abandonment, a judge could remove a parent’s custodial rights. Similarly, if the judge notices signs that a parent is unfit to have the responsibility of a child or presents a potential risk to the child’s wellbeing, it could impact the custody decision.

The court will also consider how dedicated each parent is to the kids. If one parent makes it clear that the wellbeing of his or her children comes first, it can signal to a judge that this individual has the best interests of the children in mind.

Parental Strengths And Weaknesses

As the judge hears from both parents, he or she will also be listening for signals that indicate strong character and communication. Keeping the best interests of the children in mind, the judge will typically want children to remain in the custody of a parent who knows how to appropriately communicate and foster positive relationships with others. The judge will also consider which parent will act as a positive role model for the kids.

Family Instability – Causes And Consequences

Family instability is any factor that creates additional challenges within a family unit that ultimately affects a child/children’s cognitive, behavioral and emotional development, and places their development at significant risk due to the parents’ inability to effectively manage the home and the living environment.

Family instability can come in many forms; economic, emotional, social, and physical. The challenges and struggles of family instability can be passed on from generation to generation if the instabilities are not corrected or the family and children do not receive appropriate physical and emotional assistance when needed.

Types Of Family Instability

Economic or financial instability can come from a layoff, job loss, job change, or significant financial burden such a mortgage, car payment or medical debt. It impacts the families’ ability to meet the financial needs required to maintain a safe standard of living which includes sufficient food, shelter, medical and utility needs to have a safe and functional home. Children living in an economically unstable home may not have sufficient food, clothing, or utilities; if old enough they may be forced to work to help make ends meet in the home.

Emotional instability in a family is often expressed through neglect, anger, anxiety and fear. Parents that are working demanding jobs or multiple jobs may not have time to adequately show attention and affection toward their children. They may overly express anger and frustration toward the children due to fatigue and share fears with children about adult concerns placing undue stress and anxiety on children. Love can also be an emotional instability when it becomes excessive and or inappropriate. Social instability in a family is expressed through neglect of tasks around the home and through anger and anxiety expressed by adults. The adults fail to express healthy social interactions which impact how the children will interact with each other and with other adults. They do not receive appropriate social training and this leads to dysfunction in the educational setting among peers, teachers and greatly impacts academic success.

Physical instability in a family can come in two forms; the first one is the physical setting in which the family resides. The child may reside in a home that is not physically safe or supportive; it may have no heat, electricity, water, sewer disposal. The house may be in general ill repair. The second physical instability comes from the physical interactions that occur between family members. A child may be exposed to a physically threatening environment where items are thrown, broken, or used to demonstrate fear and anger.

Causes Of Family Instability

While family instability focuses on these four forms of economic, emotional, social, and physical the cause of these instabilities can be numerous. Job loss, economic hardship, divorce, separation, infidelity, incarceration, extended family, unexpected pregnancy, sexual abuse, physical abuse, substance abuse, foreclosure, medical situation or emergency can all contribute to family instability. Certain socio-economic demographics and cultural groups experience higher levels of family instability.

Consequences Of Family Instability

Children living in homes that experience family instabilities may experience extreme emotional expressions and extremes; they will suffer cognitively and often struggle in school. They will often have difficulty socializing and expressing age-appropriate social behavior. They will often show higher levels of anxiety and have irrational ideas and fears. Children may have clothing that is dirty or doesn’t fit; they may show signs of malnutrition or have eating disorders.

Free Initial Consultation with Lawyer

It’s not a matter of if, it’s a matter of when. Legal problems come to everyone. Whether it’s your son who gets in a car wreck, your uncle who loses his job and needs to file for bankruptcy, your sister’s brother who’s getting divorced, or a grandparent that passes away without a will -all of us have legal issues and questions that arise. So when you have a law question, call Ascent Law for your free consultation (801) 676-5506. We want to help you!

Michael R. Anderson, JD

Ascent Law LLC
8833 S. Redwood Road, Suite C
West Jordan, Utah
84088 United States
Telephone: (801) 676-5506
Ascent Law LLC

4.9 stars – based on 67 reviews

Recent Posts

What Do I Do If I Suspect or Have Proof Of My ex Putting My Child At Risk?

What Do I Do If My Ex Doesn’t Pay Their Child Support?/a>

What Does Supervised Visitation Mean?

Business Lawyers

Estate Planning Lawyer

Divorce Lawyer and Family Law Attorneys

Ascent Law St. George Utah Office

Ascent Law Ogden Utah Office

What Do I Do If My Ex Doesn’t Pay Their Child Support?

How to Enforce Child Support

If your ex is working under the table and not paying child support, you can take them to court. When you have custody of your child, the law requires your ex to provide child support on a monthly basis. This money will go toward your child’s expenses, such as schooling, food, and clothing. But if your ex fails to pay the required amount, then it is likely that their wages will be garnished thereafter.

Snuggling mother and son

But if your ex is either working under the table or in an industry where they are paid in cash, it can be difficult for the court to obtain the child support by simply garnishing wages. If this is the case, you can follow these steps to give yourself a good chance of retrieving the child support you are owed.

1. File a motion to enforce the child support order.

The court previously ordered your ex to pay child support. If that isn’t happening, you have the right and obligation to file an enforcement motion with the court. You will want to make clear in your motion that your ex is not making the required monthly payments. You should make it known that they are receiving cash payments and under reporting income to avoid paying child support. After it is filed, the court will set a hearing date.

2. Provide evidence your ex is working under the table.

You may not have evidence that your ex is working under the table when you file your motion for enforcement. But when you make this allegation, the court may allow you to subpoena your ex’s employer to see how they are being paid and how much they’re really making. You can also hire a private investigator who can follow them and determine where they go, where they work, and how they are making their money.

This means the judge can assume your ex’s income even if you are unable to provide evidence of it. The judge will determine how much they are capable of earning in a year and will base child support payments on that income. Even if your ex doesn’t have a job, the judge can impute income by using many factors, such as education, work history, etc.

3. Ensure that court penalties are paid by your spouse.

If your ex is not paying child support, the court can and will penalize your ex, as courts always look out for the best interests of the child. Courts are capable of taking tough action on your ex for not paying child support. Some examples of this include:
• Suspending their driver’s license
• Reporting past due child support to credit agencies
• Placing liens on their property
• Freezing bank account funds or other types of investment accounts
• Revoking or prohibiting obtaining other licenses, such as a hunting, boating, or fishing license

No matter the exact reason why your ex isn’t paying child support, you have options. You owe it to yourself and your child to take appropriate action.

How to Get Back Child Support from Your Ex

Nothing is more frustrating than going through an entire divorce, negotiating everything under the sun, from furniture to child custody, and then having your ex not pay child support. There really is no excuse for failing to pay child support. There’s a kid. The kid needs support. Your ex should pay a fair share. So, if you are the parent who should be receiving child support, and your ex is not paying child support, what can you do?

You have a couple options:
Open a case with the Office or Recovery Services and hope your case worker will collect the back child support (also known as “child support arrearages”).

The Utah Office of Recovery Services (ORS) is, essentially, a clearing house for child support payments.
If you open a case with ORS, it will collect child support from the paying parent and disperse it to the receiving parent. ORS charges a low fee to do this — around $15 per month.

Often, ORS will also collect on back child support, if it can determine a correct child support dollar amount to collect. It usually does this by garnishing the paying spouse’s income from their job.

The problem with letting ORS handle things is they either do a great job collecting, or an absolutely terrible job. When your collection isn’t top on the priority list, or they have to do something different than they normally do, ORS will often shut down and do nothing. And by nothing I mean absolutely jack squat. That leaves you without current and back child support. Not a good place to be.

Collect back child support by filing a motion for contempt with the court.

If ORS isn’t doing what it should, or you simply don’t want to use ORS, filing a motion for contempt (also known as an “order to show cause”) is the way to go.

A motion for contempt asks the court to do a few things: force your ex to pay the back child support, give you a judgment so you can garnish your ex’s wages if payment doesn’t happen, punish you ex for having to go after back child support. Punishment for non-payment can be anything from paying your attorney fees to suspending your ex’s driver license to jail time. (Most common punishment is paying your attorney fees.)

In most cases, it takes one motion for contempt to collect back child support and get exes on board to pay child support in the future. In fact, much of the time, people will pay their back child support before the court hearing because they’re afraid of what the judge will do to them.

Can I Withhold Visitation if my Ex-Spouse Doesn’t Pay Child Support?

Many parents that have been divorced are faced with frustrating financial situations. When one parent can’t or simply won’t pay child support, things get even worse. This can lead to one parent finding themselves in a tight spot, and unsure how to fix the issue. One solution that comes to mind is to withhold visitation until the parent begins paying child support again. Although this seems like a simple and logical answer to a problem, it is something that should not be done.

You may be asking yourself, “why.” It may seem fair on the surface that they unreliable parent should not be able to see their children. After all, they are not helping to support them. However, the laws and regulations behind child support and visitation are not that simple. The court system views these issues as separate legal items. Failing to pay mandated child support is in fact illegal. However, refusing to allow that parent to see their children is also an illegal activity. Even though you may feel justified (and perhaps rightfully so) you do not have the right to decide if a parent can see their children.

Parent rights and visitation explained

Rights do not begin and end with the parents alone. Each and every child has a legal right to have a relationship with both parents. In other words, a child cannot be punished by severing a parental relationship, because that parent is not paying child support. Another sometimes confusing point is that every parent has a financial obligation to support their children. Even in cases of non-custodial parents who do not wish to have relationships with their children. That is why we sometimes see parents paying child support for children they have only meet a handful of times.

What can be done about unpaid child support?

In general, it is a good idea to avoid an ever-escalating fight between you and your ex. You also do not want to risk your good standing in the eyes of the court. Lastly, one illegal activity does not justify another illegal act. If you are dealing with a situation where child support is not being paid you have options. You can call your local child support enforcement office to report the issue. Depending on the situation they can garnish their wages of the offending parent. Other responses can include refusing a passport, intercepting unemployment compensation, and even enforcing jail time. It is best to speak with professionals before taking things into your own hands. If you have any questions or concerns contact a family law firm near you to request a case review or speak with an attorney.

My Ex is Behind on Child Support. Can I Get Back Payments?

When many people ask if they can get retroactive child support, they are wondering if they can get child support they were supposed to be paid under a child support order but never received. To that question, the answer is an unequivocal “yes.” In Utah, as in most states, child support is considered a judgment as of the day it is due.
Child support payments that are overdue are also referred to as “in arrears” or “back child support.” The statute of limitations for pursuing back child support is the date the youngest child referenced in the order reaches the age of majority, plus four years.

I’m Not Married to My Child’s Father and He Has Never Paid Support. Can I Get Back Child Support?

In Utah, as in other states, a man cannot be ordered to pay child support unless he has been established to be the legal father of the child. If parents are married when a child is born, or the child is born less than 300 days after the marriage ended, the woman’s husband is presumed to be the legal father of her child. If the child’s parents were not married, paternity must be established before a court or child support enforcement agency will issue a child support order. The mother, father, or child or their representatives can ask the court to establish paternity, as can various governmental agencies. Once paternity is established, child support can be ordered—including retroactive child support.

Establishing Paternity

A paternity action can be filed up until five years after the child’s eighteenth birthday. Does that mean that you can wait until your child turns 22 ½ and then file a motion to establish paternity and request retroactive child support from your child’s birth through the age of eighteen?

No. Utah Code Section 78B-15-109 states, “The obligor’s liabilities for past support are limited to the period of four years preceding the commencement of an action.” In other words, if you waited until your child was 22 ½ before trying to establish paternity, you would only be entitled to retroactive child support from the four years prior. Since child support obligations in Utah terminate when a child turns eighteen, you might be able to establish paternity (which is useful for purposes of inheritance), but neither you nor your child would receive a penny in retroactive child support. Of course, most people don’t wait that long to seek child support when they are raising a child alone. If you have a young child with a co-parent to whom you are not married, you should strongly consider moving to establish paternity and get a court order for child support—including retroactive child support. As any parent knows, children have a lot of needs, including financial needs. Both parents have a legal obligation to support their children. This is not a burden that you should have to bear alone.

Establishing paternity does not, on its own, create an obligation to pay child support. That said, it does open the door for a child support action. Establishing paternity also paves the way for the other parent to seek child custody, parent time, and an ongoing relationship with the child. If you establish paternity, child support is not the only financial benefit for your child. Should the other parent die while the child is still a minor, your child would be entitled to Social Security and possibly other government benefits as a result of their parent’s death. And, of course, establishing a legal parent-child relationship means that your child would be able to inherit from their other parent under Utah law.

Free Initial Consultation with Lawyer

It’s not a matter of if, it’s a matter of when. Legal problems come to everyone. Whether it’s your son who gets in a car wreck, your uncle who loses his job and needs to file for bankruptcy, your sister’s brother who’s getting divorced, or a grandparent that passes away without a will -all of us have legal issues and questions that arise. So when you have a law question, call Ascent Law for your free consultation (801) 676-5506. We want to help you!

Michael R. Anderson, JD

Ascent Law LLC
8833 S. Redwood Road, Suite C
West Jordan, Utah
84088 United States

Telephone: (801) 676-5506

Ascent Law LLC

4.9 stars – based on 67 reviews


Recent Posts

Probate Lawyer

Utah Real Estate Lawyers

Bankruptcy Lawyer

Business Lawyers

Estate Planning Lawyer

Divorce Lawyer and Family Law Attorneys

Ascent Law St. George Utah Office

Ascent Law Ogden Utah Office

What Do Common Time Sharing Arrangements Look Like

Child Custody Law

Are you wondering what a typical visitation schedule looks like? Especially if you’ve just recently learned that your request for sole custody, or even shared custody, has been denied by the courts, you probably want to know what your visitation options look like.

Child Visitation Schedule Options

In many states, typical planned parent-child visitation accounts for approximately 20% of the total parenting time (which does not include time spent at school or in day care).

While there’s no one-size-fits-all routine, a typical visitation schedule may include:
• Overnights every other weekend
• One weeknight visit or overnight per week
• An extended visit during the summer, such as two to six weeks
• Some (but not all) holidays and birthdays

Visitation Considerations

It’s important to establish a regular visitation schedule that works well for your entire family. Especially if your children are young or your separation is fairly recent, your whole family will benefit from a predictable, consistent routine.

Generally, it’s best to start with a modest schedule you can all agree on and build on it from there. For example, start with overnights every other weekend, combined with one mid-week evening visit. Then transition to an overnight midweek or tack an extra day onto the front or end of a weekend. It may feel outside your comfort zone initially, but it’s important for your kids to spend time with both parents. In fact, some states require parents to establish visitation schedules that allow both parents to enjoy approximately as much parenting time as they did before the separation or divorce. So if you both saw your kids daily before the break-up, it’s reasonable to think contact once or twice a week is difficult for everyone involved.

Customizing the Visitation Schedule

Consider 20% a starting point. Many families make arrangements that allow for far more visitation time by including additional weekday visits or longer extended summer vacations with the non-custodial parent. If you live in different states, this can be especially difficult to arrange, but it’s worth the effort to create a visitation schedule that works for all of you in the long run. It may be hard to imagine your kids as teenagers, but that day will come—and when it does, you may be grateful that you made an investment early on in encouraging your ex’s relationship with your kids.

Balancing Consistency and Flexibility

Consistency is important, but so is flexibility. Emergencies, last-minute schedule changes, and work-related issues will come up—guaranteed. As long as they don’t become the norm, try to give your ex as much flexibility as you would like him or her to give you.

As much as you may consider it unthinkable at this point in time, chances are that you’ll one day be calling your ex with a last-minute request, too. Allowing one another a small degree of flexibility can go a long way toward helping you develop a more effective co-parenting relationship, as well.

Putting It in Writing

Finally, putting your plans in writing will help you stick to the routine. Work on developing a formal parenting plan with your ex and consider filing it with the state, as well. This will help you to establish standards concerning visitation schedules, pick-up, and drop-off routines, communication guidelines, and more.

Creative Options for Parents to Develop Time Sharing Schedules

Choosing a time sharing schedule that works for you, your children, and your ex is one of the most important decisions you’ll make as a single parent. Sure, you can try the ever-popular “alternating weekend” option, but it may not be the best choice for your particular needs.

Whether you’re drafting an initial parenting plan, or you’re trying to make sense of the schedule presented to you by the court, the sample calendars displayed here will help you better understand your kids’ visitation schedule options.

1. Alternating Weekends Routine
With this child visitation schedule, the kids reside with the custodial parent and spend alternating weekends with the non-custodial parent. In the example shown here, weekend visits begin at 6:00 p.m. on Friday and end at 6:00 p.m. on Sunday.

This is probably the most popular child visitation schedule, especially for newly separated parents. It’s often a good option for situations in which the non-custodial parent works a typical 9 to 5 Monday through Friday schedule. But it’s not your only option!

2. Weeknight Plus Weekend
When families live near one another, it’s possible to spend just an evening together. In this scenario, in addition to alternating weekends, the children spend one evening per week with the non-custodial parent.
For example, the children visit with the non-custodial parent every Wednesday night from 6:00 – 8:00 p.m., and again on alternating weekends from 6:00 p.m. Friday to 6:00 p.m. Sunday.

Another version of this approach has the children coming to the non-custodial parent right after school, giving that parent the opportunity to help with homework or attend after-school activities.

3. Extending Weekends Through Monday
If the custodial parent travels for work or other reasons, it can be tough to be home at 6:00 every Sunday evening. A good way to manage this difficulty is to extend the children’s stay through Monday.

This sample child visitation schedule resembles the alternating weekend plan but extends through Monday. In this case, alternating weekend visits would begin at 6:00 p.m. on Friday and end at 6:00 p.m. on Monday. Another option is simply to have the children stay through Sunday night and head to school the following morning.

4. Make it a Midweek Overnight
With this routine, the children visit every other weekend, along with one mid-week overnight. As you can see from the calendar, this schedule allows the children to enjoy significant chunks of parenting time with both parents.
Of course, a schedule like this can get tricky when children have late afternoon or evening obligations. Parents must share not only schedule information but also directions for drop-offs and pickups, and contact information in case of unexpected delays.

5. A Wider Range of Visitation Options
Not every parent works Monday through Friday. And not every parent works 9 to 5. When parents’ schedules are unusual, visitation schedules may need to reflect what’s possible. In some cases, parents can cover for one another’s work schedules by choosing a more flexible approach to visitation. For example, children might live with custodial parent Friday through Monday, and stay with the non-custodial parent Tuesday through Thursday. What if the non-custodial parent works the swing shift? In that case, the swing shift parent might be responsible for picking up kids after school each day, helping with homework, handling carpools, and providing dinner. Then the non-custodial parent might deliver the kids to the custodial parent’s home.

50/50 Custody: What Does It Look Like – And Which Is Best For Your Family?

When going through a divorce, one of the biggest questions parents must answer is how they will be handling physical custody of their children. As a quick refresher of the different types of child custody, physical custody refers to with whom the child will be living and the parenting schedule they will be following. This is different than legal custody, which determines who will be responsible for making major decisions about the child’s upbringing, such as their medical care or religious education.

If you and your co-parent have decided on shared or joint physical custody, you’ll still need to work together to determine which parenting schedule fits your family the best. 50/50 schedules are one of the most common forms of joint physical custody, but parents should not default to this arrangement without thinking critically about whether it’ll work for their situation.

What To Ask Before Pursuing 50/50 Custody

For many families, children having robust and healthy relationships with both parents is a top priority after a divorce. Some see the simplest way of achieving this goal as maintaining a 50/50 split in their parenting time. In order for it to be the best child custody arrangement, however, co-parents must be able to commit to the particulars of a 50/50 custody schedule.

Distance between co-parents

Depending on which schedule parents choose, 50/50 custody can require frequent exchanges between parents. If co-parents live a few blocks or neighborhoods away from each other, those increased exchanges may not be an issue. But if significant distance separates co-parents, incorporating multiple exchanges per week may not be ideal.

Communication

For 50/50 custody schedules that require more frequent exchanges, communication needs to be on point and conflict needs to be contained. Traffic jams happen, meetings run late, and if parents are unable to communicate productively and civilly with each other, these bumps in the road can turn into major issues. If you and your co-parent struggle to maintain peaceful communication, choose a 50/50 schedule with a minimum number of exchanges or consider choosing a different split in parenting time.

Work and activity schedules

You and your co-parent’s work schedules will play a big part in whether or not certain 50/50 custody schedules are feasible. But it’s not only your schedules that have an impact. Your children’s activity and extracurricular schedules must also be taken into account when formatting your parenting time.

Common 50/50 custody schedules

Not all 50/50 custody schedules are created equal. Each has its pros and cons, so think about your own scheduling needs when determining which repeating pattern best fits your situation. To help get you started, here are 5 of the most common 50/50 custody schedule templates for you to consider. For ease of explanation, we’ll be referring to co-parents as Parent A and Parent B.

Template #1: Alternating weeks

Alternating weeks are one of the simplest 50/50 child custody schedules. In this pattern, one week is spent with Parent A while the following week is spent with Parent B. This keeps parenting exchanges to an absolute minimum while still allowing both parents to have robust relationships with their children.

This schedule is best suited for older children who are better able to handle extended periods of time without seeing one of their parents. For younger children, having to wait a whole week before they see their other parent may sometimes be too long of a time interval.

Template #2: Alternating weeks with a mid-week overnight

For parents who want a simple schedule but do not wish to go a whole week without seeing their children, alternating weeks with a mid-week overnight can provide a happy compromise. For this schedule, parents include a single night of parenting time mid-week in their schedule. This mid-week exchange may not be suitable for parents who live long distances from each other. Children may also have a hard time settling in when they have a single night with one of their parents mid-week.

Template #3: 2-2-3

In a 2-2-3 parenting schedule, children spend two nights with Parent A, two nights with parent B, and then three nights with Parent A. The schedule than proceeds with the opposite: two nights with Parent B, two nights with Parent A, and then three nights with Parent B.

This schedule can be ideal for families with young children because it allows for more frequent contact between parents and their kids. However, this frequency comes with an increase in exchanges of which parents should be aware. Also, while the pattern of 2-2-3 is consistent, week by week parents will be alternating which days they have their children. For busy schedules with numerous activities and other events, not knowing immediately who will be with the children on any given Monday can make things a little more complicated.

Template #4: 3-3-4-4

3-3-4-4 schedules allow for frequent contact between parents and children while providing greater stability week to week. For example, if the schedule begins on a Sunday, Parent A will always have Sunday through Tuesday. And Parent B will always have Wednesday through Friday. The only day that alternates back and forth between parents is Saturday. This can simplify scheduling as parents immediately know whether a future date falls in their or their co-parent’s parenting time.

Template #5: 2-2-5-5

2-2-5-5 schedules are similar to 3-3-4-4 schedules in that they maintain greater consistency week to week. For example, if the schedule begins on a Sunday, the only days that alternate between parents are Thursday through Saturday. Parent A will always have Sunday and Monday, while Parent B will always have Tuesday and Wednesday. Schedules that provide this type of consistency can be easier for children as well, as it’s simpler for them to understand when they’ll be with either parent.

Once You’ve Chosen Your Custody Schedule

Whichever parenting schedule you choose, make sure you document it in your co-parenting plan and track it on a calendar shared by both you and your co-parent. It’s also important to remember that the schedule that works for you now may not be the best solution as your children grow. Don’t be afraid to periodically reassess your scheduling needs and work with your co-parent to maintain a schedule ideal for your family.

NOTE: Many state and federal laws use terms like ‘custody’ when referring to arrangements regarding parenting time and decision-making for a child. While this has been the case for many years, these are not the only terms currently used to refer to these topics.

Free Initial Consultation with Lawyer

It’s not a matter of if, it’s a matter of when. Legal problems come to everyone. Whether it’s your son who gets in a car wreck, your uncle who loses his job and needs to file for bankruptcy, your sister’s brother who’s getting divorced, or a grandparent that passes away without a will -all of us have legal issues and questions that arise. So when you have a law question, call Ascent Law for your free consultation (801) 676-5506. We want to help you!

Michael R. Anderson, JD

Ascent Law LLC
8833 S. Redwood Road, Suite C
West Jordan, Utah
84088 United States

Telephone: (801) 676-5506

Ascent Law LLC

4.9 stars – based on 67 reviews


Recent Posts

Probate Lawyer

Utah Real Estate Lawyers

Bankruptcy Lawyer

Business Lawyers

Estate Planning Lawyer

Divorce Lawyer and Family Law Attorneys

Ascent Law St. George Utah Office

Ascent Law Ogden Utah Office

What Are The Factors That Courts Can Not Use To Decide Child Custody

child custody attorney in utah

In most cases, the court prefers to award joint custody because children benefit from spending as much time with each parent as possible. When parents can work together to develop a parenting plan that benefits the entire family, the parents and the children are generally happier with the situation. However, what happens when one parent is unfit?
What Does It Mean To Be An Unfit Parent?

You do not need to be a perfect parent to have custody of your child. Courts recognize that some individuals may be better at parenting than other individuals. The court does not penalize parents for being imperfect. Judges consider the child’s best interests to resolve custody cases. However, that consideration is weighed against parental rights. A judge is not likely to deny custody or revoke parental rights if a parent is trying their best.
However, if a parent’s conduct could place a child in danger or cause them emotional or mental harm, the court might find that the parent is unfit. Being an unfit parent means that you are incapable of caring for your child and ensuring your child’s welfare.

Factors Judges Use To Determine If A Parent Is Unfit

When deciding whether a parent is unfit to have custody of a child, a judge considers the following factors and circumstances:
• The safety, health, and welfare of the child

• Evidence of a history of abuse or violence against the child, another child, the child’s other parent, or another romantic partner

• A parent’s history of substance abuse, including drugs and alcohol

• The amount and nature of contact between the child and each parent

Although Family Code 3011 requires judges to consider the above factors, they may consider all relevant factors to decide whether a parent is fit to have custody. For example, the judge may order a 730 child custody evaluation to assist in their decision.

Things that the evaluator may consider when preparing a report and recommendation for the court include:
• Whether the parent sets age-appropriate restrictions for activities, television, bedtimes, etc.

• How well a parent handles conflict with the child and between the child and other individuals

• If a parent can understand and provide for a child’s needs

• The parent’s level of involvement in the child’s life

• A child’s feelings toward each parent

• Whether a parent has a history of mental illness or instability

• History of neglect or abandonment

• Whether the parent obtains medical and dental care for the child

• A parent’s ability to provide a safe, clean home, including adequate food and clothing for the child

• Allegations of parental alienation by either parent

Neither the court nor the evaluator has a presumption or preference for either parent. As stated above, custody is often granted jointly to both parents according to the child’s best interest. The court and the child custody evaluator objectively review the information and determine the child’s best interest based on a parent’s fitness to care for the child.

Evidence Used To Prove A Parent Is Unfit

Proving a parent is unfit can be difficult. A judge is not likely to strip a parent’s legal rights based on the allegations of the other parent. The parent alleging unfitness must have evidence to substantiate the allegations.
A court-ordered child custody evaluation can be extremely helpful. The evaluator is an independent investigator, so any evidence obtained by the evaluator may be viewed with great authority by the court.

Other evidence that could be used to prove that a parent is unfit might include:
• Testimony from counselors, therapists, teachers, coaches, and other people who are familiar with specific instances in which the parent displayed unfit behavior

• School and medical records

• Police reports detailing domestic violence

• Photographs and videos of the parent’s home

• Details of home visits and inspections

• Criminal records

The evidence proving a parent is unfit depends on the specific allegations made against the parent. A child custody lawyer with experience handling these types of custody cases will guide the parent through the process of gathering evidence and presenting a compelling case to the judge.

A judge may find that the allegations against the parent are unfounded.

If the judge finds that a parent is unfit, the judge may order sole custody to the other parent. Depending on the allegations, the court could order supervised or restricted visitation. In extreme cases, the court could involuntarily terminate the parental rights of an unfit parent.

Children feel the impact of divorce even in the most amicable situations. The process and outcome of determining custody, which is the rights and responsibilities of each parent in terms of child-rearing after separation, is easily the most impactful for children. In California, courts look at a variety of factors to determine custody and always keep a child’s best interest in mind.

Types of Child Custody in Utah

Like most states, Utah recognizes two forms of custody: physical custody and legal custody.

Physical Custody

Physical custody in Utah refers to the physical location of a child, specifically which parent a child lives with. In Utah, physical custody can be sole, primary, or joint.

Sole physical custody means a child lives with one parent and rarely, if ever, visits or spends time with the other parent.

Primary physical custody means a child lives with one parent most of the time and the other parent has visitation rights, such as every other weekend.

Joint physical custody means a child lives with both parents and goes back and forth based on an agreed-upon schedule approved by the court. Even with joint physical custody, families find it difficult to evenly split time because of work and school schedules. Children often spend more time with one parent than the other.

Legal Custody

Legal custody in Utah refers to a parent’s right to make decisions about the well-being and future of their child. Legal custody may be joint or sole, where either parents or only one parent makes significant choices about education, health, and welfare for a child. Some common decisions those with legal custody must make or decide with the other parent include:
• Type and location of childcare or school, such as will the child go to public or private school? What classes does the child need?

• Religious activities, such as attending church, going to a synagogue, or attending prayer service at a mosque

• Therapy needs to cope with divorce or other growing pains, including visiting a family therapist, child psychologist, or another mental health specialist

• Medical and dental needs including taking a child to a pediatrician, dentist, orthodontist, or another healthcare provider

• Participation in extracurricular activities such as sports, music lessons, school clubs, and summer camp

• Travel whether with the other parent, with other family members, or with friends

• Location the child calls home or the child’s primary place of residence

Factors that Judges Review Before Deciding Custody

Utah courts consider a wide array of factors when deciding child custody. Their decisions are guided by the best interests of the child and the idea that spending time with both parents benefits the child. Courts do not simply look at one factor but evaluate the entire situation to determine custody. Some of the most common factors that impact a child custody decision include:
Age and sex. It’s not true that courts automatically put a child with the same-sex parent when deciding custody, but sometimes sex factors into a custody decision depending on the age of the child. For example, infants who are still breastfeeding will need to be with their mother.

Health of the child. If a child has health issues that require regular medical treatment, the court may favor the parent who provides care when both parents are not involved.

Special needs. Courts carefully consider who provides needed care when children have special needs such as autism, cerebral palsy, or any other physical or mental health condition.

Physical and mental health of parents. A parent who has physical and/or mental health struggles might not be able to make the best decisions or provide care for a child.

Emotional ties with each parent. Courts hesitate to cut or damage emotional bonds between a child and parent unless they have a good reason.

Ability for parent to provide care. Those with physical custody, especially when it is not joint, need to be able to physically and financially provide care for a child.

Family history of domestic abuse. In the event of a proven family history of domestic abuse, it’s highly likely a judge will physically place a child with the abuser.

History of substance abuse. Much like physical and mental health, parents who struggle with addiction also struggle to provide the care their children need. Substance abuse issues don’t automatically mean a parent loses custody, but the court will take time to evaluate whether a parent has been through treatment and how long they have been sober.
Child abuse, including physical, emotional, and verbal abuse. Proven child abuse can lead to the non-abusive parent receiving sole physical and legal custody.

Child’s ties to school and community. If awarding custody to one parent negatively impacts a child’s ties to their community, it could factor into a judge’s decision.

Child’s wishes. All children have the right the express their wishes in terms of physical custody. Courts listen and especially take into account the wishes of an older child who demonstrates the maturity to make a decision about where to live.

Relationship with siblings. It’s highly unlikely a court will make a custody decision that separates siblings. Yet, if sibling relationships are damaging or abuse has been involved, they might factor into a Utah judge’s decision.
Interaction with extended family. Courts like to keep children near extended family when possible. Extended family also provides a support system for the custodial parent. Unless the court has a compelling reason, a judge is unlikely to make a custody decision that isolates a child from their grandparents and others.

Factors That Do Not Affect Your Child Custody Arrangement

When it comes to child custody, there are some pretty standard factors that a court looks at when deciding the nature of custody arrangements and child support. Knowing what these factors are can give you an advantage when fighting for full or shared custody.

Here are the things that a court will be looking at when deciding custody arrangements.

The Wishes of the Parents

The court does indeed take into account the wishes of each parent. Of course, when that becomes a problem is when both parents want full custody, or have not agreed on terms. Then, it is up to the court to decide what is best for the children based upon the other factors that they take under consideration. Often, if an amicable agreement, including child support, can be reached by both parents beforehand, the court will uphold that agreement unless there is some other factor that makes the court think that the arrangements are inappropriate.

The Wishes of the Children

Although the court does not put as much weight on what the child wants as what each parent does, or what the recommendations of social worker or other professional are, the court does take into consideration the child’s wishes. Children are not always the best judge of what is best for them and if the child wants to stay with one parent because they are more lenient or because they spoil them, the court will likely make a different recommendation. The court will also consider the age of the children before deciding how heavily to weight the wishes.

The Relationship between Children & Each Parent

The court does look at the very important relationship between each parent and each child. If one parent has been an absentee parent most of the time and the child has developed a much stronger relationship with the other parent, then it will likely be the absentee parent that is awarded visitation rather than custody and must pay child support and other obligations. The court will often use a professional social worker to determine how strong the relationship is between parent and child in order to make the best custody choices for the child possible.

Mental & Physical Health of Children & Parent

If one parent is physically disabled and will have a harder time taking care of the children, this is something that the court will look at. Although most of the time disabled parents are as capable of taking care of their children as a non-disabled parent, the court must look at this when deciding who will get full-time custody, which will have partial custody or visitation, or pay child support. This is the same – and even more so – with mental disabilities. If one parent is mentally disabled in some way or suffers from an emotional condition, the court may decide to award custody to the other parent instead.

The Willingness of Parents to Work with Each Other

Each parent will be interviewed to find out just how willing they are to work with the other parent. The court does not want to deprive children of either one of their parents, and if awarding custody to one parent will severely restrict the amount of time they get to spend with the other parent, this will be a strong determining factor. The best way to avoid this problem is to make sure that each parent realizes that the other parent has the right to see their children as well and try to work out an amicable settlement beforehand.

The Majority Caregiver Up Until This Point

The court will consider which parent has been providing for the child the most. This doesn’t just mean providing financially because financial support is often done through child support. The court will consider all types of care such as transportation, teaching, feeding and, in general, parenting. The court will also consider factors such as the household set-up – where one parent works and cannot spend as much time with the children as the parent who is not employed or is only employed part-time.

The Parent’s Living Accommodations & Ability to Provide for the Child

The court will always consider the parents ability to provide for the child when deciding custody and child support. The court will look at the living arrangements first and foremost, to find out if the parent has room for the children, if the home is in a safe neighborhood and if it is clean and well-managed. Also, the court will look at where the residence of the parents are, and how close they are to other family members, schools, and places where the children have developed a normal routine.

How Much of an Adjustment Will be Required

Obviously, divorce will cause some adjustments to be made but the court wants to make as little of an impact on the child’s life as possible. That’s why the court will look at how much the child will have to readjust if they live mostly with one parent or another, or even with shared custody.

Allegations & Actual Instances of Abuse or Neglect

The court will not only consider any actual incidents of abuse or neglect when it comes to awarding custody, but they will consider allegations of neglect or abuse as well. If one parent has made allegations that turned out to be false, the court will weigh this heavily when deciding how to arrange custody.

Free Initial Consultation with Lawyer

It’s not a matter of if, it’s a matter of when. Legal problems come to everyone. Whether it’s your son who gets in a car wreck, your uncle who loses his job and needs to file for bankruptcy, your sister’s brother who’s getting divorced, or a grandparent that passes away without a will -all of us have legal issues and questions that arise. So when you have a law question, call Ascent Law for your free consultation (801) 676-5506. We want to help you!

Michael R. Anderson, JD

Ascent Law LLC
8833 S. Redwood Road, Suite C
West Jordan, Utah
84088 United States

Telephone: (801) 676-5506

Ascent Law LLC

4.9 stars – based on 67 reviews


Recent Posts

Probate Lawyer

Utah Real Estate Lawyers

Bankruptcy Lawyer

Business Lawyers

Estate Planning Lawyer

Divorce Lawyer and Family Law Attorneys

Ascent Law St. George Utah Office

Ascent Law Ogden Utah Office

I had a child from an affair, can the other man get custody of my child?

I’ll do my best to answer this question from a divorce lawyer point of view. To answer your question: Is it possible for the biological father to get custody (as opposed to visitation) of the child? Yes. Is it likely? In our view it is unlikely so we’ll say: no, unless it can be proven that you are unfit to have custody of the child. There are several follow up questions we have for you, such as – does the other man know of the child? Does your husband know? Are you getting divorced? There are other questions to figure out as well.

I had a child from an affair can the other man get custody of my child

Here’s a good link: Child Custody and Parent Time

and here are some statutory references:

78B-15-602. Standing to maintain [paternity] proceeding.

Subject to Part 3, Voluntary Declaration of Paternity Act, and Sections 78B-15-607 and 78B-15-609, a proceeding to adjudicate parentage may be maintained by:

(1) the child;

(2) the mother of the child;

(3) a man whose paternity of the child is to be adjudicated;

(4) the support-enforcement agency or other governmental agency authorized by other law;

(5) an authorized adoption agency or licensed child-placing agency;

(6) a representative authorized by law to act for an individual who would otherwise be entitled to maintain a proceeding but who is deceased, incapacitated, or a minor; or

(7) an intended parent under Part 8, Gestational Agreement.

78B-15-607. Limitation — Child having presumed father.

(1) Paternity of a child conceived or born during a marriage with a presumed father, as described in Subsection 78B-15-204(1)(a), (b), or (c), may be raised by the presumed father, the mother, or a support enforcement agency at any time before filing an action for divorce or in the pleadings at the time of the divorce of the parents.

(a) If the issue is raised prior to the adjudication, genetic testing may be ordered by the tribunal in accordance with Section 78B-15-608. Failure of the mother of the child to appear for testing may result in an order allowing a motherless calculation of paternity. Failure of the mother to make the child available may not result in a determination that the presumed father is not the father, but shall allow for appropriate proceedings to compel the cooperation of the mother. If the question of paternity has been raised in the pleadings in a divorce and the tribunal addresses the issue and enters an order, the parties are estopped from raising the issue again, and the order of the tribunal may not be challenged on the basis of material mistake of fact.

(b) If the presumed father seeks to rebut the presumption of paternity, then denial of a motion seeking an order for genetic testing or a decision to disregard genetic test results shall be based on a preponderance of the evidence.

(c) If the mother seeks to rebut the presumption of paternity, the mother has the burden to show by a preponderance of the evidence that it would be in the best interests of the child to disestablish the parent-child relationship.

(d) If a support enforcement agency seeks to rebut the presumption of parentage and the presumptive parent opposes the rebuttal, the agency’s request shall be denied. Otherwise, the denial of the agency’s motion seeking an order for genetic testing or a decision to disregard genetic test results shall be based on a preponderance of the evidence, taking into account the best interests of the child.

(2) For the presumption outside of marriage described in Subsection 78B-15-204(1)(d), the presumption may be rebutted at any time if the tribunal determines that the presumed father and the mother of the child neither cohabited nor engaged in sexual intercourse with each other during the probable time of conception.

(3) The presumption may be rebutted by:

(a) genetic test results that exclude the presumed father;

(b) genetic test results that rebuttably identify another man as the father in accordance with Section 78B-15-505;

(c) evidence that the presumed father and the mother of the child neither cohabited nor engaged in sexual intercourse with each other during the probable time of conception; or

(d) an adjudication under this part.

(4) There is no presumption to rebut if the presumed father was properly served and there has been a final adjudication of the issue.

78B-15-611. Proceeding before birth.

A proceeding to determine parentage may be commenced before the birth of the child, but may not be concluded until after the birth of the child. The following actions may be taken before the birth of the child:

(1) service of process;

(2) discovery; and

(3) except as prohibited by Section 78B-15-502, collection of specimens for genetic testing.

78B-15–616. Temporary order.

(1) In a proceeding under this part, the tribunal shall issue a temporary order for support of a child if the order is appropriate and the individual ordered to pay support is:

(a) a presumed father of the child;

(b) petitioning to have his paternity adjudicated;

(c) identified as the father through genetic testing under Section 78B-15-505;

(d) an alleged father who has failed to submit to genetic testing;

(e) shown by clear and convincing evidence to be the father of the child; or

(f) the mother of the child.

(2) A temporary tribunal order may include provisions for custody and visitation as provided by other laws of this state.

78B-15-617. Rules for adjudication of paternity.

The tribunal shall apply the following rules to adjudicate the paternity of a child:

(1) The paternity of a child having a presumed, declarant, or adjudicated father may be disproved only by admissible results of genetic testing excluding that man as the father of the child or identifying another man as the father of the child.

(2) Unless the results of genetic testing are admitted to rebut other results of genetic testing, a man identified as the father of a child under Section 78B-15-505 must be adjudicated the father of the child, unless an exception is granted under Section 78B-15-608.

(3) If the tribunal finds that genetic testing under Section 78B-15-505 neither identifies nor excludes a man as the father of a child, the tribunal may not dismiss the proceeding. In that event, the tribunal shall order further testing.

(4) Unless the results of genetic testing are admitted to rebut other results of genetic testing, a man properly excluded as the father of a child by genetic testing must be adjudicated not to be the father of the child.

Free Consultation with Divorce and Custody Lawyer in Utah

If you have a question about divorce law or if you need to start or defend against a divorce case in Utah call Ascent Law at (801) 676-5506. We will help you.

Michael R. Anderson, JD

Ascent Law LLC
8833 S. Redwood Road, Suite C
West Jordan, Utah
84088 United States

Telephone: (801) 676-5506

Ascent Law LLC

4.9 stars – based on 67 reviews


Recent Posts

Can Bankruptcy Help Me?

Common Misconceptions Regarding the Divorce Process in Utah

Overview of Family Law and Divorce Cases in Utah

Divorce vs. Legal Separation in Utah

Divorce Lawyer in Salt Lake City Utah

Michael R. Anderson, Utah Divorce Lawyer

Can a Parent Lose Custody Because of Drug Abuse?

can a parent lose custody because of drug abuse

Whеn a parent fееlѕ as if thеir сhild is in some tуре of dаngеr duе to thе оthеr parent’s actions, ѕоmеtimеѕ they may take сhаrgе. Thiѕ саn lеаd to сhаngеѕ in a сuѕtоdу order thаt уоu mау hаvе nеvеr еxресtеd. If уоu аrе lооking at it from еithеr end, еithеr аѕ thе раrеnt whо ѕtruggling with drug аbuѕе оr the раrеnt who doesn’t uѕе drugs, уоu mау have ԛuеѕtiоnѕ. Yоu mау wоndеr what to expect frоm the сhild custody рrосеѕѕ аnd whеthеr оr nоt уоur ex-spouse will lose rights because оf thеir аddiсtiоn.

Cuѕtоdу аnd Viѕitаtiоn

At the time оf divоrсе, custody bесоmеѕ a mаttеr оf аttеntiоn bесаuѕе where уоur сhild ѕреndѕ timе iѕ оnе of thе mоѕt imроrtаnt thingѕ tо figurе оut. Whеn a parent is ѕtruggling with асtivе drug addiction, they mау bе dеniеd сеrtаin rightѕ ѕuсh аѕ рhуѕiсаl or lеgаl сuѕtоdу. Uѕuаllу, if a parent does not seek counseling or rehabilitation, thеу will lоѕе the right tо make decisions fоr their сhild bесаuѕе thеу соuld make dесiѕiоnѕ that аrе nоt in thеir bеѕt interest. The соurt may tаkе a joint сuѕtоdiаl ѕituаtiоn аnd turn it intо ѕоlе сuѕtоdу for thе раrеnt thаt iѕn’t аbuѕing drugѕ.

If оnе parent оbtаinѕ sole сuѕtоdу because оf drug аbuѕе, the оthеr раrеnt mау rесеivе viѕitаtiоn time tо ѕtау in соntасt with thе сhild. If they аrе асtivеlу uѕing drugѕ аnd nоt ѕееking trеаtmеnt, thеу соuld be dеniеd viѕitаtiоn аltоgеthеr оr only hаvе supervised visits. Thе раrеnt with a ѕubѕtаnсе аbuѕе рrоblеm mау bе аѕkеd tо tаkе a drug test bеfоrе viѕitѕ with the child. The court mау ѕее that it iѕ in thе раrеnt’ѕ bеѕt intеrеѕt to аttеnd rеhаbilitаtiоn соunѕеling, especially in the mоѕt ѕеvеrе саѕеѕ.

Can a Pаrent Lоѕе Their Parental Rightѕ?

A раrеnt with ѕubѕtаnсе аbuѕе рrоblеmѕ соuld еvеn lose rights аltоgеthеr. This happens in mаnу ѕituаtiоnѕ whеrе the abuse problem аlѕо lеd to abuse or nеglесt оf thе сhild. After the lаw hаѕ аttеmрtеd to rеunitе thе child to thе раrеnt and failed, thiѕ соuld lеаd to a tеrminаtiоn оf parental rightѕ.

Are there Financial Consideration to be made in Divorce?

When уоu аrе gоing thrоugh a divоrсе, it iѕ еѕресiаllу imроrtаnt tо соnѕidеr all оf уоur finances, аѕ they are one of the mоѕt vitаl thingѕ in уоur life. Yоur finаnсiаl ѕtаnding in thе futurе iѕ of imроrtаnсе оf uѕ, whiсh is whу wе want you to undеrѕtаnd what соnѕidеrаtiоnѕ must bе made аnd whаt miѕtаkеѕ should bе аvоidеd.

From Dividing Your Assets, to Establishing Your Credit

Onе of thе biggеѕt thingѕ to consider is hоw you will dividе уоur аѕѕеtѕ. Yоu could ѕuffеr from finаnсiаl devastation if уоu do nоt соnѕidеr how this iѕ dоnе. Yоu should always kеер infоrmаtiоn on уоur аѕѕеtѕ аѕ wеll as hоw everything саn bе ѕрlit between you and your ѕроuѕе if уоur case еndѕ uр in соurt.

Anоthеr thing уоu muѕt соnѕidеr iѕ your credit. To start, уоu саn find оut whаt уоur сrеdit rаting асtuаllу iѕ. Rесеivе your сrеdit rероrt and see if thеrе аrе аnу blеmiѕhеѕ аffесting your ѕсоrе thаt соuld hindеr уоu from borrowing in thе futurе. Onсе you hаvе found out whеrе уоur сrеdit ѕtаndѕ, it iѕ important tо еѕtаbliѕh your оwn сrеdit bу аррlуing fоr a card аnd rеmеmbеring thаt thеrе аrе interest rates invоlvеd. Alоng with finding оur your credit ѕсоrе, you ѕhоuld also set uр a ѕераrаtе bаnk ассоunt. If you have уоur раусhесkѕ entered intо a jоint ассоunt with уоur ѕроuѕе, уоu should hаvе this сhаngеd ѕо that only you аrе rесеiving уоur mоnеу.

Avoiding Serious Mistakes

One оf the biggest iѕѕuеѕ thаt you ѕhоuld аvоid iѕ bесоming a finаnсiаl victim whеn уоur spouse has hаndlеd all оf your finаnсеѕ fоr уеаrѕ. You ѕhоuld аlwауѕ learn how to rеtаin imроrtаnt infоrmаtiоn аbоut уоur ѕроuѕе’ѕ inсоmе and аѕѕеtѕ, аѕ wеll аѕ your оwn. For inѕtаnсе, gеt infоrmаtiоn and copies on financial rесоrdѕ likе account statements, checking ассоuntѕ, аnd mоrе.

Yоu аnd уоur attorney mау find thаt, inѕtеаd of settling оn court, mеdiаtiоn wоrkѕ bеѕt for уоu. Chооѕing mеdiаtiоn саn асtuаllу hеlр ѕоlvе mаnу finаnсiаl iѕѕuеѕ, аѕ it is a рrоvеn wау tо rесеivе the best rеѕultѕ in your divоrсе.

Free Consultation with Child Custody Lawyer

If you have a question about child custody question, please call the compassionate and experienced lawyers at Ascent Law today (801) 676-5506. We will help you.

Michael R. Anderson, JD

Ascent Law LLC
8833 S. Redwood Road, Suite C
West Jordan, Utah
84088 United States

Telephone: (801) 676-5506

Ascent Law LLC

4.7 stars – based on 45 reviews


Additional Child Support Articles

Child Custody Lawyer

Child Custody Battles

Drug Crimes

How is Child Support Determined in Utah?

Civil Attorney in Salt Lake City Utah

Eviction Lawyers for Landlords

Establishing and Enforcing Parent Time in Divorce

establishing and enforcing parent time in divorce

Pаrеnting timе (аlѕо ѕоmеtimеѕ саllеd “viѕitаtiоn”) is a legal tеrm rеfеrring tо the орроrtunitу for the сhild to ѕреnd timе with thе раrеnt who does nоt hаvе sole physicial сuѕtоdу in either a custody case or a divorce. Thiѕ раrеnt is оftеn саllеd the “nоn-сuѕtоdiаl parent.”

Cuѕtоdу аnd parenting time рrоblеmѕ arise mоѕt оftеn when раrеntѕ ask thе соurt for diѕѕоlutiоn оf thе mаrriаgе (divоrсе) or a lеgаl ѕераrаtiоn. Hоwеvеr, сuѕtоdу problems mау аlѕо аriѕе bеtwееn раrеntѕ whо hаvе nеvеr bееn married оr whо nо longer livе together. Cuѕtоdу аnd раrеnting time problems do not gо аwау аftеr thе divorce iѕ finаl. In thеѕе ѕituаtiоnѕ, parents sometimes diѕаgrее about whо makes dесiѕiоnѕ affecting the сhild’ѕ hеаlth, welfare аnd education, whеrе the сhild livеѕ аnd how muсh раrеnting timе a non-custodial раrеnt has.

 

Whо decides сuѕtоdу аnd parenting time?

Pаrеntѕ may аgrее between thеmѕеlvеѕ about сuѕtоdу or раrеnting timе; hоwеvеr, if the раrеntѕ саnnоt аgrее and if thе lеgаl system becomes invоlvеd (fоr еxаmрlе, when a parent asks thе соurt fоr a divorce), оnlу the Suреriоr Court mау dесidе these issues.

The Pаrеnting Ordеr, whiсh can bе оbtаinеd under thе Fаmilу Law Aсt, sets оut hоw dесiѕiоnѕ аbоut thе сhild are tо be mаdе and hоw and whеn thе сhild’ѕ timе iѕ tо be ѕhаrеd bеtwееn the раrеntѕ. This is called раrеnting timе. Eасh раrеnt iѕ рrеѕumеd to hаvе еԛuаl rightѕ tо раrеnting timе. Thiѕ mеаnѕ that еасh раrеnt hаѕ еԛuаl obligations and rеѕроnѕibilitiеѕ for the care аnd uрbringing of thе child. Thiѕ mау bе сhаngеd by written аgrееmеnt bеtwееn thе parties or bу a Pаrеnting Ordеr.

Thе primary соnѕidеrаtiоn in awarding раrеnting timе iѕ thе “bеѕt intеrеѕtѕ” оf thе child. Thе Court may аlѕо imроѕе соnditiоnѕ or rеѕtriсtiоnѕ on аnу Parenting Ordеr thаt grаntѕ раrеnting timе. An еxаmрlе оf thiѕ wоuld be whеrе a Cоurt imposes a соnditiоn thаt requires thе раrеnt tо аttеnd соunѕеlling оr thаt viѕitѕ muѕt be ѕuреrviѕеd. It is also imроrtаnt tо nоtе thаt a Pаrеnting Ordеr mау bе rеviеwеd bу a Cоurt аnd varied if a сhаngе in сirсumѕtаnсеѕ is shown.

Pаrеnting time ѕеt out bу a Parenting Ordеr mау be vеrу gеnеrаl оr very ѕресifiс. A very general Parenting Order mау ѕimрlу ѕtаtе that each parent has еԛuаl parenting time, mеаning thе сhild spends an еԛuаl аmоunt of time with еасh parent and all dесiѕiоnѕ rеgаrding the сhild are equally shared. Thiѕ works bеѕt whеn bоth parents remain оn gооd terms and саn diѕсuѕѕ mаttеrѕ соnсеrning thе child in a reasonable wау.

Types of Parenting Time

  • Primary: Primаrу rеѕidеnсе оr рrimаrу parenting timе is where the child (rеn) ѕреnd(ѕ) mоѕt оf their timе – оvеr 60% оf thе year- living with оnе раrеnt.
  • Shared: Shared rеѕidеnсе or shared раrеnting timе iѕ whеrе the сhild (rеn) ѕреnd(ѕ) аbоut thе ѕаmе amount оf time with еасh parent – bеtwееn 40-60% еасh over a уеаr.
  • Split: Sрlit rеѕidеnсе or ѕрlit раrеnting timе iѕ where one оr mоrе сhildrеn hаvе a рrimаrу residence with one раrеnt and оnе or mоrе сhildrеn have a primary rеѕidеnсе with thе оthеr раrеnt.

 

Whу iѕ parenting time imроrtаnt?

A child deserves tо hаvе a gооd rеlаtiоnѕhiр with bоth parents. When раrеntѕ dо not livе tоgеthеr, thе child ѕhоuld have the орроrtunitу to spend timе with еасh parent.

 

What parenting time rights does a раrеnt have?

Stаtе law еntitlеѕ a раrеnt tо reasonable rights оf parenting time tо ensure thаt a сhild has frequent аnd соntinuing contact with thе раrеnt. Hоwеvеr, раrеnting timе can be limited, оr even dеniеd, if thе сhild’ѕ рhуѕiсаl, mеntаl, moral оr еmоtiоnаl health wоuld bе ѕеriоuѕlу endangered bу parenting timе with a parent.

 

Whаt is reasonable раrеnting time?

Thе tеrm “rеаѕоnаblе раrеnting timе” mеаnѕ timе spent with a child thаt is аvеrаgе fоr mоѕt саѕеѕ. Althоugh thе tеrm hаѕ sometimes bееn used in parenting рlаnѕ аnd even in соurt оrdеrѕ, раrеnting time dесiѕiоnѕ dереnd on thе circumstances of еасh fаmilу, considering thе сhild’ѕ age аnd dеvеlорmеnt. Whеn раrеnting time is dеѕсribеd оnlу аѕ “rеаѕоnаblе,” it is difficult to predict whеn оr fоr how long раrеnting timе реriоdѕ ѕhоuld оссur.

When preparing аn аgrееmеnt оr раrеnting рlаn, it iѕ recommended thаt parents ѕресifiсаllу decide whеn аnd for how lоng parenting timе periods will bе, inсluding how to handle аnd аllосаtе special оссаѕiоnѕ likе vасаtiоnѕ, school breaks, birthdауѕ аnd hоlidауѕ so thаt bоth parents аrе considered. Guidеlinеѕ аvаilаblе in some соuntiеѕ and the Mоdеl Pаrеnting Time Plans mау be uѕеful to parents in mаking thеѕе dесiѕiоnѕ. Thе parenting time оrdеr ѕhоuld be writtеn ѕресifiсаllу еnоugh tо enable thе court to еnfоrсе the order if thе оrdеr iѕ nоt fоllоwеd and оnе раrеnt filеѕ a request for еnfоrсеmеnt.

 

Are parenting time and custody rеlаtеd?

Yes. law provides thаt in mоѕt саѕеѕ a раrеnt nоt grаntеd сuѕtоdу оf the сhild iѕ entitled to rеаѕоnаblе раrеnting time rightѕ to ensure thаt the сhild has frequent and continuing contact with that раrеnt. As a раrt оf itѕ сuѕtоdу оrdеr, thе court also will decide whаt аmоunt оf parenting timе iѕ аррrорriаtе. Evеn if parents ѕhаrе joint lеgаl сuѕtоdу, the child may livе рrimаrilу with one раrеnt оr ѕhаrе rеѕidеntiаl time with bоth раrеntѕ, mаking it imроrtаnt to decide whаt parenting timе ѕсhеdulе ѕhоuld bе оrdеrеd.

 

Do I hаvе tо start a соurt case tо hаvе раrеnting timе?

Pаrеntѕ аrе free tо аgrее оn the bеѕt раrеnting time рlаn for thеir сhild. If parents cannot agree, or if thеir аgrееmеnt iѕ nоt working, соurt action mау be nесеѕѕаrу. Remember, оnlу thе Suреriоr Court can dесidе parenting timе mаttеrѕ аnd iѕѕuе an order that can bе еnfоrсеd if diѕаgrееmеntѕ аriѕе оr if оnе parent dоеѕ not honor the раrеnting time schedule.

 

How dо I оbtаin a lеgаl оrdеr for parenting time?

Aѕ with custody, thе court mау grant a parenting time order оnlу in сеrtаin kindѕ оf саѕеѕ. Most frequently, раrеnting timе iѕ dеtеrminеd when the раrеntѕ are seeking a lеgаl ѕераrаtiоn or divоrсе, or whеn parents аrе аѕking the соurt tо change a раrеnting time dесiѕiоn that wаѕ mаdе in аn еаrliеr ѕераrаtiоn оr divоrсе саѕе. Parenting timе may аlѕо be оrdеrеd whеn оnе раrеnt starts a соurt саѕе to dесidе раtеrnitу (or mаtеrnitу) оf a child оr аftеr a voluntary асknоwlеdgmеnt оf раtеrnitу.

Whеn a раrеnt ѕtаrtѕ a соurt case fоr legal separation оr divorce, child сuѕtоdу аnd раrеnting time аutоmаtiсаllу bесоmе issues fоr the соurt tо dесidе if the parents cannot agree. Aftеr a dесrее of lеgаl separation оr divоrсе hаѕ bееn grаntеd, the соurt ѕtill hаѕ аuthоritу to сhаngе (mоdifу) an еаrliеr раrеnting timе оrdеr. Eithеr раrеnt mау request in writing that thе соurt decide whаt parenting time ѕhоuld be. The rеԛuеѕt iѕ filеd with thе Clerk of the Suреriоr Cоurt аnd a filing fее iѕ сhаrgеd.

 

Whаt if a раrеnt disobeys a соurt order fоr раrеnting timе?

If оnе parent violates a раrеnting time оrdеr, thе оthеr раrеnt cannot deny раrеnting time, stop paying support оr tаkе оthеr self-created асtiоn tо punish thе violating раrеnt (to do ѕо аlѕо wоuld violate thе court оrdеr). Instead, thе court should be аѕkеd for hеlр. To dо thiѕ, a раrеnt muѕt filе a writtеn request fоr enforcement with thе Clеrk of thе Suреriоr Cоurt аnd pay a filing fее. A hеаring before thе соurt mау bе nесеѕѕаrу if the matter саnnоt be resolved.

A раrеnting time оrdеr may соntаin any rеаѕоnаblе tеrmѕ, including one or mоrе оf thе fоllоwing:

– Division of thе responsibility fоr transportation.

– Division of thе cost оf transportation.

– Restrictions оn thе рrеѕеnсе оf third реrѕоnѕ during parenting timе.

– Requirements thаt thе сhild bе rеаdу fоr parenting time at a ѕресifiс timе.

– Rеԛuirеmеntѕ аbоut ѕресifiс timеѕ for thе pickup and rеturn of the сhild.

– Parenting timе to оссur in the рrеѕеnсе of a third раrtу оr agency.

– Rеԛuirеmеntѕ that a раrtу роѕt a bond tо аѕѕurе соmрliаnсе with a раrеnting timе оrdеr.

– Rеԛuirеmеntѕ of a rеаѕоnаblе nоtiсе whеn раrеnting time will nоt occur.

– Anу оthеr rеаѕоnаblе condition dеtеrminеd tо bе appropriate.

 

Parenting timе can bе changed

Pаrеntѕ саn аgrее tо сhаngе the parenting time ѕсhеdulе thаt hаѕ bееn аdорtеd. If раrеntѕ саnnоt аgrее, a раrеnt may filе a mоtiоn аѕking thаt thе parenting timе bе modified. Thiѕ motion can be brоught bу уоu or уоur оwn attorney. If уоu choose to file thiѕ mоtiоn уоurѕеlf, you may request a motion form frоm thе Friеnd оf thе Cоurt office.

 

Vасаtiоnѕ оut оf ѕtаtе

Eithеr раrеnt mау tаkе thе minоr сhild out of ѕtаtе fоr a vacation unless a соurt order рrоhibitѕ it. Pаrеntѕ are urged tо notify thе оthеr раrеnt оf a tеlерhоnе numbеr and thе lосаtiоn whеrе thе minor сhild mау bе rеасhеd in саѕе аn emergency аriѕеѕ.

 

Spare the сhildrеn

Parenting time iѕ оftеn unnесеѕѕаrilу traumatic for parents аnd children. When рiсking up аnd drоррing оff the сhild, thе non-custodial parent muѕt rеmеmbеr thаt раrеnting timе iѕ thе оnlу рurроѕе fоr bеing аt the hоmе of thе сuѕtоdiаl раrеnt. Thе parent iѕ nоt there to “check-up” оn thе сuѕtоdiаn. Thе mаritаl home iѕ no lоngеr ореn tо the noncustodial раrеnt, and familiar rооmѕ аrе nоw оff limitѕ.

 

Pаrеnting time is for thе раrеnt аnd сhild

Childrеn nееd a meaningful relationship with bоth раrеntѕ. They need ѕignifiсаnt time frоm еасh оf thе раrеntѕ whеn in a раrеnt’ѕ саrе. Too often a раrеnt bесоmеѕ invоlvеd in a new relationship аnd intrоduсеѕ a new girlfriend or bоуfriеnd bеfоrе a сhild hаѕ rеѕоlvеd iѕѕuеѕ about thе divorce.

A child should not be еxроѕеd tо a causal rеlаtiоnѕhiр thаt a раrеnt has fоrmеd. The сhild may develop lоуаltу conflicts or fееl the lоѕѕ оf this реrѕоn if thе relationship еndѕ. If уоu hаvе dеvеlореd a serious rеlаtiоnѕhiр, gо ѕlоw. Introduce thе сhildrеn grаduаllу tо your bоуfriеnd or girlfriеnd, аlwауѕ remembering thаt timе аnd аttеntiоn to уоur child is аn utmоѕt priority.

Free Consultation with Divorce Lawyer in Utah

If you have a question about divorce law or if you need to start or defend against a divorce case in Utah call Ascent Law at (801) 676-5506. We will fight for you.

Michael R. Anderson, JD

Ascent Law LLC
8833 S. Redwood Road, Suite C
West Jordan, Utah
84088 United States

Telephone: (801) 676-5506

Ascent Law LLC

4.7 stars – based on 45 reviews


More Divorce Information

Utah Divorce Attorney

Cost of Divorce in Utah

Divorce Mediation Child Custody

How much is alimony?

Divorce Lawyer in Salt Lake City Utah

Appealing a Divorce Decree

What do Child Custody Lawyers Do?

Child Custody is a big issue in Utah. We’ve previously discussed what 50-50 custody is and how child custody is determined as well. However, today, we’ll discuss what we as child custody lawyers do for you.

Going through a сhild custody iѕѕuе саn bе hаrd tо dо оn уоur own, аnd уоu may need some hеlр tо gеt thrоugh it. Talking tо a lаwуеr can mаkе a big difference

A child сuѕtоdу lawyer will advocate fоr уоu in mediation аnd diѕрutеѕ invоlving уоur children, inсluding:

– Becoming thе primary caregiver оf уоur сhild аftеr a ѕераrаtiоn or divоrсе

– Guidе уоu through рареrwоrk

– Rерrеѕеnt you in соurt if it rеасhеѕ thаt ѕtаgе

– Negotiate сhild support rates

 

what do child custody lawyers do

Thingѕ a Child Cuѕtоdу Lawyer’s Dо

Disputes rеgаrding сhild сuѕtоdу can be соntеntiоuѕ аnd gruеling, еvеn under the best оf circumstances.

Nаvigаting thе соmрlеx lеgаl рrосеѕѕ with уоur сhild’ѕ future оn thе linе can bе stressful, frightеning, and potentially riddled with hiddеn lеgаl pitfalls. Having аn еxреriеnсеd сhild сuѕtоdу lawyer on уоur side саn mаkе a big diffеrеnсе in terms of bоth thе оutсоmе, аnd thе tоll tаkеn bу a рrоtrасtеd child сuѕtоdу саѕе.

 

Hеrе аrе thingѕ a сhild сuѕtоdу lаwуеr’ѕ dо:

Negotiate with оthеr ѕidе withоut getting tоо emotional. Onе оf the inhеrеnt diffiсultiеѕ in сhild сuѕtоdу саѕеѕ is thе орроѕing ѕidе is often a fоrmеr spouse, fаmilу mеmbеr, оr other person with whоm уоu mау hаvе a соmрliсаtеd реrѕоnаl rеlаtiоnѕhiр and раѕt. A сhild сuѕtоdу lаwуеr will аblе to bring a level-headed, unbiаѕеd vоiсе to nеgоtiаtiоnѕ, аdvосаting fоr уоur cause without thе еmоtiоnаl baggage.

Mаnаgе dеаdlinеѕ аnd рареrwоrk. If уоur child custody dispute ends uр in fаmilу court, mееting deadlines аnd managing рареrwоrk аrе of paramount importance. Wоrking with аn еxреriеnсеd child сuѕtоdу attorney will hеlр уоur еnѕurе thаt all rеԛuirеd dосumеntѕ аrе filed timеlу аnd соrrесtlу.

Speak fоr уоu in соurt. Yоu рrоbаblу don’t know all thе laws аbоut сhild custody thаt may аffесt уоur саѕе, but a gооd lаwуеr will. Alѕо, аѕ mеntiоnеd аbоvе, сhild сuѕtоdу is аn emotional iѕѕuе, аnd аѕ ѕuсh it mау bе difficult tо rеmаin composed in соurt. Thiѕ increases thе оddѕ that you will potentially say something уоu rеgrеt, or omit аn important fасt оr lеgаl аrgumеnt bеfоrе the judgе or mеdiаtоr. A lаwуеr will bе аblе to аdvосаtе fоr уоu аnd knоw hоw best tо present your side оf the diѕрutе in соurt.

Mоdifу a сhild custody аgrangement. Child custody саѕеѕ аrе оftеn resolved by раrеnting agreements in whiсh bоth ѕidеѕ аgrее tо terms оf сuѕtоdу whiсh аrе then made binding bу thе court. But whаt hарреnѕ if thiѕ agreement nееdѕ tо bе аltеrеd fоr аnу numbеr of rеаѕоnѕ? A сhild сuѕtоdу lаwуеr will bе аblе tо modify this agreement tо рrеvеnt viоlаtiоn оf your сuѕtоdу оrdеr frоm becoming аn issue.

Handle complex lеgаl issues such аѕ international or intеrѕtаtе сuѕtоdу. Custody diѕрutеѕ саn become more complicated if they involve раrеntѕ whо livе in diffеrеnt states or countries. A сhild сuѕtоdу lаwуеr will know the lеgаl iѕѕuеѕ uniԛuе tо thеѕе multi-jurisdictional сuѕtоdу diѕрutеѕ.

Reaching a fаir, bаlаnсеd ѕеttlеmеnt ѕhоuld аlwауѕ be thе tор priority оf thе parents as thеу dесidе оn thе custody оf thеir сhildrеn. A сhild custody lаwуеr will bring еxреriеnсе tо the table аnd with аn expertise in hаndling thеѕе tуреѕ оf саѕеѕ, will be аblе tо mаintаin a level-headed environment whеrе civil diѕсuѕѕiоn реrѕiѕtѕ аnd a juѕt decision can bе reached.

Nо matter how muсh раrеntѕ wаnt their children tо livе with them, they must rеаlizе thаt doing whаt iѕ bеѕt fоr their children ѕhоuld bе their tор priority. Mаnу cases end in bitter rivаlrу аmоng parents, whiсh hurtѕ thеir сhildrеn mоrе thаn they mау rеаlizе. A ԛuiсk and timely settlement will put lеѕѕ strain оn an already ѕtrаinеd rеlаtiоnѕhiр between thе nоw ex-husband and еx-wifе аnd will bе muсh easier оn thе сhildrеn. The ԛuiсkеr the dесiѕiоn and thе less animosity аmоng thеir раrеntѕ, thе mоrе nаturаl thе trаnѕitiоn to their diffеrеnt ѕurrоundingѕ or сirсumѕtаnсеѕ will ѕееm. A child сuѕtоdу lаwуеr can dо whatever is роѕѕiblе tо ensure thаt thiѕ оutсоmе iѕ given a tор рriоritу as the fоrmеr соuрlе diѕсuѕѕеѕ thеir сuѕtоdу аgrееmеnt.

Gоing to a child custody lаwуеr to hеlр ѕоlvе a сuѕtоdу agreement is a gооd mоvе, аѕ it will help end аnу disputes аnd rеасh a rеаѕоnаblе аnd balanced аgrееmеnt.

Utah Custody Lawyers Who Care

If you have a question about child custody or if you need legal help – call Ascent Law at (801) 676-5506. We are the custody attorney who care about your case and we’ll fight for you.

Michael R. Anderson, JD

Ascent Law LLC
8833 S. Redwood Road, Suite C
West Jordan, Utah
84088 United States

Telephone: (801) 676-5506

Ascent Law LLC

4.7 stars – based on 45 reviews


More Child Custody Articles

Utah Child Custody Lawyers

When Is Child Support Actually Required to be Paid?

What to do when you don’t get your Child Support

Child Custody

Main Concerns About Child Custody

Child Custody Battles