Optional Minimum Parent-Time Plan

Typically, when the court awards one parent sole custody of a child, they award the other parent minimum parent-time. Utah Code § 30-3- 35 contains the standard minimum parent-time schedule. In Utah, minimum parent-time, or visitation, entails alternating weekends, one evening per week, and some holidays.

In 2015, the Utah Legislature passed Utah Code § 30-3- 35.1, which provides an optional minimum parent-time schedule. This optional minimum parent-time schedule provides more time for the noncustodial parent than the standard minimum parent-time schedule.

In some cases, the parents may agree that the optional minimum schedule is appropriate. In those cases, the parents can rely on that schedule as a good template. Attorneys or mediators can help those parents incorporate the schedule into a custody order or divorce decree.

In other cases, the custodial parent may prefer the standard minimum schedule instead of the optional minimum schedule. When that happens, the noncustodial parent’s only chance for the court to order the optional minimum is proving certain facts. In such situations, the attorneys at Christensen Law can assist in preparing the case and taking it to trial.

What does the optional minimum schedule entail?

Under the optional minimum schedule, the child stays with the noncustodial parent for one overnight per week. Then, every other weekend, the child stays with the noncustodial parent from Friday evening to Monday morning. Holidays are also divided between the parents.

What must the custodial parent prove for the optional schedule to apply?

First, the noncustodial parent must establish that he or she has been involved in the child’s life. Second, he or she must show an ability to communicate with the other parent regarding the child Third, that the noncustodial parent must be able to accommodate the extra time. Fourth, the noncustodial parent must show that the extra time would be in the child’s best interest. Finally, the noncustodial parent can raise any other good reasons.

Parents will want to show that they have had responsibility for the child in the past. Also, document any homework or extracurricular activity involvement. Meals, bath time, and bedtime are key activities, as are bonding and other similar activities.