Stephen J. Buhler, Attorney at Law

New school year brings new child custody challenges

It is that time of the year again for Salt Lake City families to start another school year. The start of the school year is often a time of excitement, as well as anxiety. This is due not only to the beginning of classes, but the additional issues that go along with it.

This is especially true for families dealing with child custody issues. The school year can present additional challenges, such as disputes over pickup and drop off exchanges with the children and difficulties in arranging a visitation schedule in light of the busy school and after-school activities.

There can also be disputes, prompted by school issues, about how to raise the child. For instance, under Utah law, kids who are going into kindergarten or middle school are required to receive certain vaccinations. However, parents can obtain an exemption from the law for medical, religious or personal reasons.

About 4.6 percent of students in Utah did not get vaccinated last school year, with 95 percent of those being for personal reasons. In the past, Utah has ranked in the top 10 in the country for personal exemptions.

While decisions involving vaccinations and similar issues involve medical and other considerations, this issue exemplifies the type of dispute that can arise between parents in raising their children. One parent might not want a child vaccinated, while the other parent believes it is in the best interests of the child.

The resolution of these kinds of disputes will turn on multiple factors, including whether the arrangement is by sole custody or joint custody. One parent might be given authority to make these decision cases, while both parents have a say in other cases. Ultimately, these are the kinds of issues that should be considered when deciding custody and when deciding how disputes such as these will be resolved when they are raised.

Source: Fox 13, "Nearly 5% of Utah students opted out of vaccination; both sides of debate tout education," Kiersten Nunez, Aug. 25, 2016

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