I have previously posted on Utah’s presumed summer parent-time schedule for non-custodial parents. I have also posted on the parent time advisory guidelines, which supplement the statutory parent-time schedule.
It is important to keep in mind that Utah’s statutory parent-time schedule, found at Utah Code Sections 30-3-35 and 30-3-35.5, is presumed to be the minimum time to which a non-custodial parent is entitled. Parents who intend to sincerely work together in co-parenting their children should remember that parent time schedules worked out by the parties themselves are generally preferable to court imposed schedules. The minimum statutory schedule, in my opinion, acts as a safeguard to ensure that both parents have frequent and meaningful access to and contact with their children.
This minimum statutory schedule, in broad terms, grants the non-custodial parent a minimum of one day during the week (or one afternoon or evening, depending upon school and work schedules), every other weekend, an even splitting of major holidays, and extended summer time with the child(ren).
Utah Code Section 30-3-34 provides that, absent a contrary showing by a preponderance of the evidence, there is a presumption that the advisory guidelines of Section 30-3-33 and the parent time schedule of Section 30-3-35 or 30-3-35.5 is in the children’s best interests. The statutory schedule is to be considered a minimum, not a maximum.
In my opinion this is a wise presumption. It provides a measure of predictability for the parties and ensures that in the typical case both parents will have frequent and meaningful contact with the children. Of course, there are a wide variety of circumstances in which more than the statutory minimum of parent time will be appropriate for a non-custodial parent. In many cases, joint physical custody may be appropriate. I posted on joint physical custody on July 14, 2014 and April 24, 2014. Presumably, however, there are only limited circumstances in which less parent-time would be appropriate. Some of these circumstances are spelled out in Section 30-3-34.
This material should not be construed as legal advice for any particular fact situation, but is intended for general informational purposes only. For advice specific to any individual situation, an experienced attorney should be contacted.