In Utah, family law prioritizes the interests of the child over the preferences of divorcing couples. One of the most important things to do when going through the divorce process is work with your spouse to come up with a parenting agreement that works for your family.
As such, divorcing couples in Utah are required to make parenting plans for their minor children. A parenting plan is a legal document outlining how you plan to take care of your children after the divorce. The written agreement lays out the responsibilities of each parent to lessen conflicts that may arise after the separation.
Both parents have to work together to come up with your own parenting plan, except in cases where only one parent has sole custody of the child. Speak to a local family law attorney if you’re unsure where to start on your parenting plan.
What should be included in the parenting plan?
There are mandatory provisions that should be included in any parenting plan submitted to Utah family courts. These provisions include details regarding the following.
- Child custody arrangements. Your parenting plan should state which parent has legal custody and physical custody of your children.
- Child support. Children are entitled to financial support from their parents regardless of custody arrangements, so you should include details about who pays and how much it is.
- Visitation schedule. If one parent has sole physical custody, then you’ll need to create a schedule of visitation for the noncustodial parent. Typically, noncustodial parents visit their child on the weekends, but this can be changed depending on your circumstances. Note that you’ll need to include visitation arrangements during the holidays.
- Transportation during visitations. Aside from the visitations schedule, the visitation agreement should also indicate details regarding pick-up and drop-off transportation for the visits. This helps set expectations and clarify the responsibilities for parenting time.
- Educational requirements, medical care, and religious upbringing. If the parents have joint legal custody of the child, then you should also have an agreement on major decisions in your child’s life. Often, this includes decisions regarding your child’s education, upbringing, and medical care.
- Plans in case of disagreements on parenting decisions. It’s also good to have a measure in place in case you and your ex-spouse disagree on major life decisions for your child.
If you have a concern regarding the custody and visitation arrangements, discuss your situation with an experienced child custody attorney to determine your next best step.
What if we can’t come to an agreement?
If you and your spouse are unable to come to an agreement that works for both parties, you should hire an attorney or seek out mediation services before going to family court and having a judge settle your disputes.
An attorney can negotiate on your behalf as well as review the terms of your parental agreement before you sign. On the other hand, mediation can help you resolve conflicts in a confidential environment with the help of a neutral third party.
If you still can’t resolve some issues after your mediation sessions, then you may bring it to court and let a family law judge settle it. However, note that the court’s decision may not necessarily be what you want.
Hire Experienced Family Law Attorneys
Creating a detailed parenting plan allows your children to have a regular and continuous relationship with both parents even after the divorce is finalized.
At Wᴀʟᴅʀᴏɴ Lᴀᴡ Gʀᴏᴜᴘ, we can help you create an effective parenting plan that has your children’s best interests in mind. Call us today to schedule a consultation with our experienced family law attorney!