Every Utah parenting plan must contain the following minimum provisions:
Provisions for resolution of future disputes between the parents. This means:
- A process for resolving disputes, unless precluded or limited by statute.
- A dispute resolution process may include:
- mediation or arbitration by a specified individual or agency; or
- court action.
- In the dispute resolution process:
- preference shall be given to the provisions in the parenting plan;
- parents shall use the designated process to resolve disputes relating to implementation of the plan, except those related to financial support, unless an emergency exists;
- a written record shall be prepared of any agreement reached in counseling or mediation and provided to each party;
- if arbitration becomes necessary, a written record shall be prepared and a copy of the arbitration award shall be provided to each party
- if the court finds that a parent has used or frustrated the dispute resolution process without good reason, the court may award attorney’s fees and financial sanctions to the prevailing parent; and
- the district court shall have the right of review from the dispute resolution process.
Allocation of decision-making authority. This means:
- the parenting plan must allocate decision-making authority to one or both parties regarding the children’s education, health care, and religious upbringing.
- the parties may incorporate an agreement related to the care and growth of the children in these specified areas or in other areas into their plan, consistent with the criteria outlined in Utah Code § 30-3-10.7(2) and Utah Code § 30-3-10.9(1). Utah Code § 30-3-10.9(1) provides that the objectives of a parenting plan are to:
- provide for the child’s physical care;
- maintain the child’s emotional stability;
- provide for the child’s changing needs as the child grows and matures in a way that minimizes the need for future modifications to the parenting plan;
- set forth the authority and responsibilities of each parent with respect to the child consistent with the definitions outlined in this chapter;
- minimize the child’s exposure to harmful parental conflict;
- encourage the parents, where appropriate, to meet the responsibilities to their minor children through agreements in the parenting plan rather than relying on judicial intervention; and
- protect the best interests of the child.
- regardless of the allocation of decision-making in the parenting plan, either parent may make emergency decisions affecting the health or safety of the child.
Residential provisions for the child. This means:
- a residential schedule which designates in which parent’s home each minor child shall reside on given days of the year, including provisions for holidays, birthdays of family members, vacations, and other special occasions.
Provisions addressing notice and parent-time responsibilities in the event of the relocation of either party
A parenting plan may contain other provisions, but only the foregoing four provisions are required (See Utah Code § 30-3-10.9).
In any proceeding regarding a parenting plan, the court shall consider evidence of domestic violence, if presented. If there is a protective order, civil stalking injunction, or the court finds that a parent has committed domestic violence, the court must consider the impact of domestic violence in awarding parent-time, and make specific findings regarding the award of parent-time. If the court orders parent-time and a protective order or civil stalking injunction is still in place, it must consider whether to order the parents to conduct parent-time pick-up and transfer through a third party. The parent who is the stated victim in the order or injunction may submit to the court, and the court shall consider, the name of a person considered suitable to act as the third party. If the court orders the parents to conduct parent-time through a third party, the parenting plan must specify the time, day, place, manner, and the third party to be used to implement the exchange. (See Utah Code § 30-3-10.10)
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