Planning for Extended Parent-Time
The holidays are finally over, if you are divorced and have children you have likely just gone through difficult period trying to divide parent time during the holidays. Now that it is over, I am sure you would like a nice break, and try to get back in to a set pattern without discussing parent time. I would suggest you take another route.
While summer may seem far away, and all you can think about is how to get the kids homework completed tonight, it is time to start planning your summer vacation and extended parent time for the summer. While your Decree of Divorce may spell out specifically what days you have and don’t have your children, most Decrees and parenting plans leave extended parent time up to Utah Code.
Extended parent time, is defined in two parts depending on whether you are the custodial or non custodial parent.
Utah Code 30-3-35 provides in part:
Extended parent-time with the noncustodial parent may be:
(i) up to four consecutive weeks when school is not in session at the option of the noncustodial parent, including weekends normally exercised by the noncustodial parent, but not holidays;
(ii) two weeks shall be uninterrupted for the noncustodial parent; and
(iii) the remaining two weeks shall be subject to parent-time for the custodial parent for weekday parent-time but not weekends, except for a holiday to be exercised by the other parent.
In layman’s terms, as the non-custodial parent you get a total of 4 weeks of extended time during the summer. The first two week period is a solid, with no interruption (unless you have right of first refusal, but that is not the subject here today) by the other parent. You get the right to this regardless of whether you go out of town, or simply stay at home and spend more time with your children.
The second two week period is interrupted by the other parent, where they can have parent time during the week (usually a midweek visit on Wednesday), but you keep the children for the remainder of the time.
The custodial parent also gets extended time, the code provides: “The custodial parent shall have an identical two-week period of uninterrupted time when school is not in session for purposes of vacation.”
In layman’s terms, the custodial parent is also allowed a two week period of uninterrupted time wherein they could schedule their trips or just spend time with the children without interruption.
The fights usually arise over scheduling. Luckily the code has this figured out. “Both parents shall provide notification of extended parent-time or vacation weeks with the child at least 30 days prior to the end of the child's school year to the other parent and if notification is not provided timely the complying parent may determine the schedule for extended parent-time for the noncomplying parent.”
In layman’s terms, send your notification more than 30 days before the end of the school year, and the sooner the better. If you give notice in January of when you want to take your time, this gives the other parent ample time to plan their summer around your vacations. Additionally, the code clearly states that if notification is not provided 30 days before school gets out by one party then the party who did comply with the 30 day notice gets final say as to what the holidays will be for the other party. This is not the place you want to be in.
In order to get the extended time you want in the summer it will take some planning. Planning a little now will save a ton of stress, anxiety and uncertainty as the summer comes closer. And always remember when dealing with your co-parent to keep an open mind. It’s not about being “right”, it’s about being flexible for your children’s benefit.