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Modifying parenting time for parents who have had past problems

On Behalf of | Jun 30, 2021 | Family Law

In Utah family law with child custody and parenting time concerns, the sole objective is to ensure that the child’s best interests are served. It is preferable that the child have an ongoing relationship with both parents and spend sufficient time with each to forge a positive relationship. However, not every case is clear-cut and there is nuance that must be considered. If, for example, a parent has had problems in the past and the child custody and parenting time agreement was crafted to reflect that, a parent who has made positive changes to his or her life might want to modify that agreement. Knowing how this can be done is a critical aspect of a case.

The basics of child custody and parenting time

There is a seemingly endless litany of factors that the court will assess with child custody and parenting time. If a parent has had issues such as criminal activity, incarceration, drug or alcohol problems or domestic violence accusations, it will heavily factor in with the child custody determination. The other parent could be granted sole custody with the troubled parent granted limited – if any – parenting time.

The court considers how the parents have conducted themselves, the prior relationship with the child, if they want to have a relationship with the child, and if it is possible to build a relationship with the parents effectively communicating without dispute when it comes to the child’s needs. The child may also have a say in the relationship if he or she is able to express it maturely. It generally only weighs statements from children 14 and older. When there is already an order in place and it reflects the non-custodial parent’s past issues, then it will need to be modified. The parent asking for the modification must show that there was a substantial change in circumstances to warrant the modification. In this situation, it might include having completed a program to address personal problems, completed a criminal sentence or taken part in counseling.

Supervised parenting time might provide benefit

If a parent has had personal problems, the child has had limited contact with a parent and the relationship is still forming, supervised visitation could be beneficial. This will not just give the non-custodial parent a chance to spend time with the child, but it can provide the custodial parent with peace of mind knowing there will be a trusted person present. According to state law, the policy is for the parents to both have access to the child without supervision. Protecting the child from danger takes precedence. If there is evidence that the child’s safety might be in jeopardy, then there can be supervised parenting time.

The parties involved can suggest people to serve as supervisors. It can include relatives. If there is no person who the sides can find or agree on, then the non-custodial parent will be asked to have a professional agency or person to serve as the supervisor. Costs and if it is needed for a specific time-period will also be considered. The non-custodial parent will be given certain benchmarks to achieve before they can have unsupervised parenting time. Once those goals have been met, then there can be a request to modify the agreement to give that parent more freedom.

Professional guidance for complex family law concerns

With child custody and parenting time, simply because a parent has had previous problems does not mean they no longer have the right to see their child and create a lasting bond. The custodial parent could have objections or fears. These cases might be negotiable or it could be necessary to go to court. Regardless, both parent should be aware of the law and their rights. From the beginning, it is useful to have experienced advice to know the necessary steps with complicated family law cases.