Stephen J. Buhler, Attorney at Law

Key points to remember about parenting time

After a Utah couple has chosen to end their relationship and move on, children can be a major concern. Sharing a child is a difficult situation when the parents are no longer together and the best interests of the child are paramount. There are certain points that the parents must bear in mind as the process moves forward.

The parenting plan will dictate the custodial parent and parenting time for the noncustodial parent as well as other factors. The parents are encouraged to consider how any decision will affect the child. This is beneficial as it gives the child a strong foundation and will mitigate any lingering concerns about the new situation. The parents must have a parenting plan for shared parenting and it is allowed for other agreements the parents formulate. There does not need to be a parenting plan if one parent is granted full legal and physical custody.

The parenting plan can include how disagreements will be settled; what the living arrangements will be; where the child will stay on birthdays, holidays and other special events; a statement of whether one parent, the other parent or both parents will jointly make the decisions on the child's religious affiliation, schooling and healthcare treatment; an agreement of which parent will make daily decisions and emergency decisions; and a plan if relocation is an issue.

The parenting plan must be filed when the petition is filed. The respondent will file a parenting plan along with the response. The plan is essential. Failing to file one can lead to the other parent's plan automatically being put into effect. The parents can also work together to craft a parenting plan. If a parent does not follow the parenting plan, the court can rule that he or she is in contempt.

If both parents are competent and capable of providing care and a nurturing environment for the child, it is beneficial that each has parenting time. Part of that is coming up with a comprehensive and workable plan to achieve what is best for the child. Having legal advice from an experienced attorney who is well-versed in visitation and parenting situations is key.

Source:, "Parenting Plans," accessed on July 13, 2017

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