What Is a Parenting Plan and How Can I Make Mine Rock?! (Part 1 of 4)

Utah Law requires that all joint legal and/or joint physical custody arrangements have a “parenting plan”.

“Parenting plan”.  It has a nice ring to it, doesn’t it? I mean who would dare to criticize planning or having a plan in our contemporary culture?

People with plans are people who’ve got it together.  People with plans are people who stick to plans, people who implement plans.  Without a plan, they say, you’re just adrift, with no aim in life.  Fail to plan, and you plan to . . . .  I get it.

Indeed, it was this same faith in planning that the Utah legislature had in mind when it passed a series of laws requiring every divorce decree in which joint legal and/or joint physical custody is awarded to include a parenting plan.

Although this may not be the first thing you’d like to read, it would help you to know my opinions on parenting plans before you read the rest of this blog, so that you have context:  parenting plans are, by and large, silly and a waste of time.[1]  They also happen to be required by Utah law as part of every divorce in which joint legal and/or joint physical custody is awarded.

In any divorce action, action for paternity, modification of custody provisions, or modification of a parenting plan, any party requesting joint custody, joint legal or physical custody, or any other type of shared parenting arrangement, must file and serve a proposed parenting plan at the time of the filing of the original petition or at the time of filing their answer or counterclaim (See Utah Code § 30-3-10.8).

So like it or not, you need to know what the law governing parenting plans is and how best to implement it.  That’s what this 4-part collection of blog posts will do for you, so after you read this (the first one), please read the remaining 3 to get a complete picture.

The Utah Code defines “parenting plan” means a plan for parenting[2] a child, including allocation of parenting functions, which is incorporated in any final decree or decree of modification including an action for dissolution of marriage, annulment, legal separation, or paternity (See Utah Code § 30-3-10.7(2)).

“Parenting functions” means those aspects of the parent-child relationship in which the parent makes decisions and performs functions necessary for the care and growth of the child. Parenting functions include:

(a) maintaining a loving, stable, consistent, and nurturing relationship with the child;

(b) attending to the daily needs of the child, such as feeding, clothing, physical care, grooming, supervision, health care, day care, and engaging in other activities which are appropriate to the developmental level of the child and that are within the social and economic circumstances of the particular family;

(c) attending to adequate education for the child, including remedial or other education essential to the best interest of the child;

(d) assisting the child in developing and maintaining appropriate interpersonal relationships;

(e) exercising appropriate judgment regarding the child’s welfare, consistent with the child’s developmental level and family social and economic circumstances; and

(f) providing for the financial support of the child.

(See Utah Code § 30-3-10.7(3))

[1] And is it any wonder?  Any plan that involves two or more people requires buy-in from both people.  Given that a divorcing couple couldn’t even agree to stay married, what possessed the legislature to believe that they would want to agree on and plan for anything?  “Ah,” you might say, “although they are no longer spouses, they nevertheless remain parents, and that common love they share for their children will surely unite them in a shared commitment to their children’s well-being.  Nope.  Yes, sometimes divorcing spouses can set aside their personal differences for the sake of the kids, but not that often, frankly.  The legislature should have known this and taken it into account when contemplating the passage of parenting plan laws, but was blinded by its own self-important idealism, and passed the parenting plan laws were leaving the power of aspiration would overcome free will.

[2] The Utah Code does not define “parenting,” and just assumes you know what that means while at the same time presuming that you can’t do it without a plan.

If you need assistance with your child custody case or would like help with creating your parenting plan, please schedule an appointment today.


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