PRACTICE AREAS

Parent-Time Enforcement

For divorced Utah parents, visitation or Parent Time is an important opportunity to connect with children. For custodial and noncustodial parents alike, it is critical that either agreed-upon or court-mandated schedules are adhered to. When such schedules are not followed, considerable strain and worry is placed on all parties.

When noncompliance with Parent Time agreements is an issue, you need talented and experienced legal representation to ensure that you receive the rights to which you are entitled.

What is Parent Time?

In Utah, Parent Time is defined as the time a non-custodial parent spends with a child or children. In most cases, it is preferred that divorcing parents mutually agree upon a schedule for Parent Time. In some cases, a court needs to determine the appropriate Parent Time schedule. Courts aim to create a schedule that is in the child’s best interest, provides stability and maximizes continuity.

In general, courts give special consideration to each parent for family events such as weddings, funerals, religious holidays, family reunions, or major events, even if they conflict with the standard Parent Time schedule. These agreements can also, if necessary, determine transportation responsibilities. Requirements are also usually in place determining when children are to be picked up or dropped off and require children to be ready to depart at appointed times.

Legal Rights

Non-custodial parents have a number of rights under Utah law, including:

  • Child support and Family Time, neither of which can be withheld due to lack of compliance with a Family Time schedule
  • Notification within 24 hours of important academic, athletic, community or social events where a child is participating or being honored. Non-custodial parents have the right to attend and fully participate
  • All reports from schools, day-care centers or preschools
  • Immediate notification of a medical emergency and direct access to the child’s medical records
  • Virtual communication with the child via email, telephone, instant messaging, video messaging, or other technologies. These activities are intended to supplement in-person time, not replace it
  • Notification within 24 hours of any change in the custodial parent’s address, email address, telephone number, or virtual connection information
  • A division equally of participation in major religious holidays. A parent who celebrates a religious holiday not celebrated by the other parent has the right to be with the child on said holiday
  • Gradual reintroduction to a parent after a lengthy separation or lack of Parent Time to facilitate appropriate parent-child bonding
  • Detailed information whenever a child is traveling with a parent, including destinations, itinerary, travel dates, locations and contact information

Parent Time Enforcement

Unfortunately, sometimes Parent Time orders are not followed. Parents have several options available to them. Ideally, the lack of compliance was the result of a misunderstanding or unintentional, allowing the parents to rectify the issue on their own. Co-parenting is complicated and sometimes a direct conversation can resolve the issue.

In other situations, a strongly worded letter from a family law attorney can bring a situation into compliance. The letter can express the need to stop the lack of compliance or face a court action. Other times, the police may be brought into the dispute but many departments are reluctant to get involved unless there is a threat or other criminal behavior involved.

Parents can file an enforcement action with the courts if needed. By filing a Motion to Enforce, parents can ask a judge to require compliance with an order. In some cases, the judge may add make-up days to compensate for lost time and order the non-compliant parent to cover attorney and court fees. For successful claims, it’s important to keep accurate records and document noncompliance.

Know Your Rights

If you feel your Parent Time rights are not being met, or you have questions about compliance with a Parent Time order, contact the team at Schmidt Law. With more than 20 years of experience in family law, our experienced attorneys are here to help through the important issues of Family Time and to protect your rights. For a free, 30-minute consultation, contact us today.

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