When you are in the midst of a divorce or custody dispute, navigating your parent time and your children’s schedules can be difficult. It takes time for parents and children to accustom themselves to a new parenting time schedule that involves two homes and split holidays. For help, look to Utah’s holiday code. Utah Code Ann. Section 30-3-35 (holiday code) provides guidance as to what Utah Courts will impose as a schedule for divorced parent.
Remember, however, that you and your ex-spouse can always agree on something different than what is the law’s “one size fits all” approach to holiday parent time. Try to keep open communication with one another and, when possible, work on a plan that is not only convenient for you, but also fair to your ex and good for your kids. Above all, do not put your children in the middle of any conflict.
With this in mind, here are some tips that should help you through your children’s transition from one to two homes during the school year:
Remember how embarrassing it was when you were a kid and your mom or dad came to school, still in their slippers, bringing your lunch that you left on the counter? Well, imagine how your child will feel if you and your spouse have a fight in front of the school about parent time, pick up or volunteering. Keep in mind that your kids will remember their parents arguing and their humiliation a lot longer than an extra fifteen minutes of parent time or who brought snacks to school on their birthday.
Create a shared Google Calendar (or similar program) with your ex that includes holidays, parent time exchanges, extra-curricular activities, school programs, medical appointments, and other important events. Although this seems inconvenient, it will save you oodles of time and a great deal of bickering. It will also provide evidence of your willingness to co-parent — a requirement of Utah law whether you are a sole or joint custodian of your children.
Be proactive and sign in to your school’s online calendars. Be sure to know what is going on with your children’s grades, their school events and your parent teacher conferences.
Only on rare occasions should you take your child out of school for parent time. Do so only with notice to your ex and, with hope, their blessing.
Salt Lake City family law attorneys Ashley Wood and Kara Lee Barton advise and represent clients in all aspects of Utah family law. BartonWood welcomes inquiries about our legal services — contact us to schedule a consultation.