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