How Many Overnights Does the Parent Who Exercises Parent-time Under Utah Code § 30-3-37 Get?
When divorced parents reside 150 miles or more from each other, they often follow the parent-time schedule found in Utah Code § 30-3-37. They are not required to follow this schedule, but most do because it’s a good schedule, and the courts are familiar with it and how it functions.
One question that keeps coming up is, how many overnights does the parent-time who exercises parent-time § 30-3-37 get?
Here is the answer, with explanations. If you are following the schedule in § 30-3-37, without making any modifications to that schedule, here is how § 30-3-37 applies each year:
In years ending in an odd number:
Thanksgiving holiday beginning Wednesday until Sunday. NUMBER OF OVERNIGHTS = 4.
(Note: because parent-time ends Sunday night, and although § 30-3-37 does not state when parent-time ends on Sunday night, it’s a safe bet that the court would conclude parent-time ends at 7:00 p.m. because that is when almost parent-time ends under the provisions of Utah Code § 30-3-35, which provides that parent-time ends at 7:00 p.m.); and
Spring break, if applicable, beginning the last day of school before the holiday until the day before school resumes;
Salt Lake School District’s spring break usually includes 6 overnights (ending on a Sunday, typically). Likewise with Jordan School District, Canyons School District, Davis School District, and Provo School District. To know the exact number of overnights you will need to consult the calendar for your children’s school(s), but for the purposes of this article, spring break NUMBER OF OVERNIGHTS = 6 (average).
In years ending in an even number:
The entire winter school break period.
(Note: the reason the code uses the phrase “the entire winter school break period” is because under the provisions of a different code section’s parent-time schedule (i.e., § 30-3-35), winter break is divided equally between the parents, and so § 30-3-37 makes clear that for parents residing 150 miles or more apart, the parent exercising parent-time over the winter school break gets the entire winter school break period)
Winter break periods can fluctuate significantly depending upon where your children attend school. Some winter breaks can be as many as 15 days in length, others as few as 12. Again, to know the exact number of overnights you will need to consult the calendar for your children’s school(s), but for the purposes of this article, winter break NUMBER OF OVERNIGHTS = 13 (rounding down, average).
Note: it appears to me that monthly weekend parent-time and winter break parent-time for the custodial parent can conflict; if so, I read the code to give the noncustodial parent the send to last weekend in a month, regardless of whether that weekend conflicts with the custodial parent’s winter break parent-time. This makes sense because this way the noncustodial parent can spend at least a weekend with the child(ren) over the winter break when many families celebrate Christmas. But this is just my interpretation of the Code, not an interpretation with which everyone may agree.
Fall school break beginning the last day of school before the holiday until the day before school resumes
So remember: the noncustodial parent does not get the Thanksgiving holiday, spring break, winter school break, and fall break every year. It’s Thanksgiving and spring break in odd-numbered years, winter and fall break in even-numbered years.
extended parent-time equal to 1/2 of the summer or off-track time for consecutive weeks, not including the seven days before school begins because that seven days still gets counted when determining the amount of parent-time to be divided between the parents for the summer or off-track period. TRANSLATION: the noncustodial parent gets half the summer, minus 7 days.
Summer vacation for a traditional school schedule is usually between 11 to 12 weeks, which means the noncustodial parent gets, on average NUMBER OF OVERNIGHTS = 31 (rounding down). Here’s the math:
11 weeks + 12 weeks = 23 weeks ÷ 2 = 11.5 weeks (average)
11.5 weeks × 7 days = 80.5 days
80.5 ÷ 2 = 40.25
40.25 – 7 = 33.25
30-3-37(11) provides that upon the motion of any party, the court may order uninterrupted parent-time with the noncustodial parent for a minimum of 30 days during extended parent-time, unless the court finds it is not in the best interests of the child. So it is possible for the noncustodial parent to receive less than 33-34 days during extended summer vacation.
one weekend per month, at the option and expense of the noncustodial parent.
The noncustodial parent’s monthly weekend entitlement is subject to the following restrictions.
If the noncustodial parent has not designated a specific weekend for parent-time, the noncustodial parent shall receive the last weekend of each month unless a holiday assigned to the custodial parent falls on that particular weekend.
If a holiday assigned to the custodial parent falls on the last weekend of the month, the noncustodial parent shall be entitled to the next to the last weekend of the month.
If a noncustodial parent’s extended parent-time or parent-time over a holiday extends into or through the first weekend of the next month, that weekend shall be considered the noncustodial parent’s monthly weekend entitlement for that month. So how do weekend parent-time periods factor in? Let’s use 2017 and see (remember, holidays are not fixed and unchanging every year, and they depend upon the schedule the kids’ school district sets, so this is an illustration, not a “standard” calendar for every year):
2017 is an odd-numbered year, so we will use the odd-numbered year holidays to illustrate the overnights in the year:
Monthly Weekend NUMBER OF OVERNIGHTS = 23 (on average)
Note also: If a child is out of school for teacher development days or snow days after the children begin the school year, or other days not included in the list of holidays in Subsection 30-3-37(6) and those days are contiguous with the noncustodial parent’s monthly weekend parent-time, those days shall be included in the weekend parent-time.
Bottom line: By my calculations each year (whether an odd-numbered year or an even-numbered year), the noncustodial parent has approximately 63 overnights with the child(ren).