In a majority of divorce cases, the parents, aided by their custody attorneys, agree to “visitation,” which means the time a noncustodial spouse gets to spend with the child. This visitation is also referred to as the parent-time schedule or a visitation schedule.
However, in some high-conflict cases, the parents may not agree to a visitation schedule. For such parents, state laws usually provide for a minimum visitation schedule. Each state has its laws, and by and large, the visitation schedule depends on the age of the child.
For example, Utah has created minimum parent-time schedules for children below 5 years and children between 5 and 18 years. So, if the parents of a child 5-18 cannot decide on a visitation schedule, they have to follow the schedule prescribed by the state.
According to Utah Code Section 30-3-35, if the child is aged between 5 and 18, the following visitation schedule is considered as the bare minimum parent-time for the noncustodial parent, who in this case, we are assuming to be the father.
Utah’s Parent-Time Schedule for Children 5-18
- He is entitled to visit the child and spend one evening on any weekday of his or the court’s choice, between 5:30 p.m. and 8:30 p.m. If the weekday is not specified by the father or the court, Wednesday is assumed to be the father’s choice by default.
- In addition, the father gets one weekday to spend with the child that can be of his choice. If the father elects, this day begins at the time the child’s school ends, and lasts up to 8.30 p.m. Or, if the school is not in session, the father can be with the child between 9 a.m. and 8.30 p.m. If the father cannot be with the child at the end of the child’s school day, visitation will usually begin at 5.30 p.m. and last until 8.30 p.m.
- The child visits the father on alternating weekends beginning at 6 p.m. on Friday and ending on Sunday at 7 p.m.
- The courts also grant visitation time to the father on holidays specified in Utah Code Section 30-3-35, subsection (13).
- The father is also entitled to extended parent-time during the school summer break. This extended parent-time can stretch for as long as 4 weeks, of which 2 weeks can be consecutive. Each parent is required to notify the other parent about his/her plans for exercising the extended parent-time.
Utah has also framed parent-time schedules for parents with children under 5 (Code Section 30-3-35.5), an optional schedule for children 5–18 (Code Section 30-3-35.1), and an equal parent-time schedule, also for children 5–18 (Utah Code Section 30-3-35.2). The court may order an equal parent-time schedule if it considers that the schedule is in the child’s best interests since each parent was actively involved in the child’s life and that both parents are agreeable to and can comply with the equal visitation schedule.
This was just one example culled from Utah’s parent-time laws for children 5–18. Likewise, every state specifies parent-time (or visitation) schedules for children in different age groups when the parents cannot agree on a visitation schedule. Please check with your family law attorney for the schedules applicable in your state.
Important Note: If the courts discover that the father has abused the child, used substances, indulged in domestic violence, or performed acts that are not in the best interests of the child, they can take away his visitation rights, severely restrict his parent-time, or allow only supervised visitations.