Parent-Time Enforcement

When married parents get divorced, parent-time is a crucial way for non-custodial parents to retain a connection with their children. Unfortunately, things happen, and parents don’t always abide by the schedule. If parent-time agreements become an issue, it’s best to consult with an experienced family lawyer who can help ensure that you receive your entitled rights.

What Is Parent-Time Enforcement?

Parent-time refers to the time that a non-custodial parent spends with their children. Both parents must agree upon the schedule in a courtroom or mediation environment to ensure that the children will receive enough quality time with their secondary caregiver. Courts will try to create a plan that still provides stability and continuity as life was before the divorce.

When parent-time orders are made, both parties must comply with the schedule. However, there are special occasions that the court will allow for flexibility if they coincide with one parent’s time, such as:

  • Weddings
  • Funerals
  • Religious holidays
  • Family reunions
  • Other major events

More specifically, parent-time enforcement in Utah is the implementation of the schedule in which the non-custodial parent spends time with their children. This order is crucial to a child’s wellbeing since the time spent together is essential for maintaining bonds. Studies have also shown that children are overall healthier and happier when they’re able to spend time with both of their parents, which is why the court will try to enforce parent-time when possible.

How Are Parent-Time Enforcement Orders Decided?

Parent-time orders are decided around the same time child support and custody matters are being discussed. As always, the children’s best interests will be put first—but before any parent-time orders are made, there are many factors that go into play, including the parents’: 

  • History and relationship with their children
  • Ability to care for the children
  • Readiness to allow their children to have frequent contact with the other parent

But before enforcing parent-time orders, the details of child custody need to be decided. Often, the court will suggest joint legal custody, which is a type of custody where both parents have the legal authority to make major decisions for the child. Legal custody is separate from physical custody, although most divorced parents also agree to joint physical custody. Joint physical custody is when the children will primarily live with one parent and spend every other weekend or a few days a week with the other parent—which is also referred to as parent-time. 

Learn more about how child custody decisions are made. 

What Are Your Legal Rights?

When it comes to parent-time agreements, it’s easy to feel powerless. It can feel like an uphill battle if one parent isn’t complying with the arrangements. So when you enter an agreement for parent-time enforcement, make sure that you know your legal rights, such as: 

  • Parent-time can’t be withheld due to lack of compliance with the schedule
  • Notifications must be given within 24 hours of prominent academic, athletic, community, or social events in which the participating
  • All reports from school must be shared
  • The other parent must be notified immediately of any medical emergencies
  • Virtual communication with the child via email, telephone, instant messaging, video chats, etc. must be available
  • Notification of a change in address must be given within 24 hours
  • There will be an equal division of participation for religious holidays
  • Detailed information must be shared whenever the children are traveling with one of the parents
  • There must be a gradual reintroduction to a parent after a lengthy separation or lack of parent-time to facilitate bonding 

Schmidt Law has seen plenty of cases where the primary caregiver withholds parent-time from the non-custodial parent, which is why it’s important to contact a family law attorney right away. Additionally, primary caregivers can file a motion to ask the court to enforce or change the agreement if your child’s other parent doesn’t comply. Schmidt Law can help you file a motion if you are experiencing trouble with your arrangements. 

Enforcing Parent-Time Orders

Since parent-time orders are agreed upon in court, it is a necessity for both parties to comply with them. If you were denied parenting time or you believe the other parent violated terms of the order, then you can file a complaint. First, the court will ask that the parents try to solve the dispute. If that’s not possible, then the court will try to do one of the following: 

  • Order make-up visitation for lost time
  • Request an order for a hearing
  • File a motion to adjust the existing schedule

If you decide to file a motion to modify the parenting schedule, then it’s best to consult with a family law attorney who can walk you through the lengthy process. 

Adjusting Parent-Time Enforcement

Before modifying parent-time enforcement in Utah, the state court must have jurisdiction. Jurisdiction is the authority given by law to a court to rule over legal matters within a particular state. That means that adjusting parent-time can be a challenge if the controlling order was entered in another state, or if the child resides in another state. If this is the case, the first thing you should do is double-check which state has jurisdiction and call Schmidt Law to help you navigate the modification process.

Once you’re prepared to file a petition for parent-time adjustment, be aware that this can be a very lengthy process that will require lots of paperwork on behalf of both parties:

  • A petition
  • A summons
  • An information form
  • A parenting plan
  • Financial declaration
  • And many more forms

Since paperwork is required from both parties to be approved by the court, the parents must agree on the modifications. But almost always, parent-time changes will only be made if it’s also in the best interest of the child. That means that if one parent is unable or willing to take care of the children, the court may side with the other parent for sole custody.

Parent-time adjustments can also be made if one parent fails to appear after being served with the petition, which calls for something called a default judgment. In cases where they don’t appear in court, that parent will give up their parent-time rights.

Contact Schmidt Law Firm Today

If you feel like your parent-time rights are not being met, or your child’s parent is violating the agreement, then Schmidt Law can help your family. Our team of passionate attorneys will utilize specialized resources to help you through the critical issues that come with parent-time enforcement in the Salt Lake City area to protect your rights. Contact us today for a 30-minute consultation.

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