Stephen J. Buhler, Attorney at Law

How much visitation is a parent entitled to with a young child?

Many Utah residents do their best to spend time with their children whenever possible. When a divorce occurs, the separation of the spouses can be seen as a threat to each spouse's relationship with the children.

This is particularly true when it comes to younger children, such as those under the age of five. These years of a child's life are often said to be among the most important for bonding time with the parents, and this bonding time can seem jeopardized when one parent does not have primary custody over the child.

This does not need to be the case, however. Utah law allows the non-custodial parent to have a certain amount of visitation time with the children. The law varies, however, based on the age of the child.

Different statutes apply to visitation in Utah depending on the child's age. When a child is under five years old, one statute sets forth a schedule for visitation between the parent and child. This statute may apply where the parents cannot agree on a schedule themselves, as it sets forth a minimum amount of time the noncustodial parent is entitled to with the child.

The statute further breaks down minimum parent-time for children who are under five months of age, children between five and nine months of age, children between nine and twelve months of age, children twelve to eighteen months of age, children eighteen months to three years of age and children three years to five years of age. Not only does the amount of hours vary depending on the child's age, but the types of communication as well, as older children are able to have telephonic or other types of communication with the parent.

While the statute provides a minimum schedule of parent-time, parents often want more than the bare minimum. Accordingly, parents need to know how to negotiate with the other parent for a greater share of parenting time, and to make forceful arguments to the court when a visitation schedule is set.

Source: Utah State Legislature, "Minimum schedule for parent-time for children under five years of age," accessed on Aug. 15, 2015

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