Who Gets The Kids Over The Summer?
Summer is coming up. Do you know who gets your kids and when?
Under the Utah state default parent-time schedule, if your child is five years or older the noncustodial parent is entitled to up to four consecutive weeks over the summer when school is not in session, including weekends normally exercised by the noncustodial parent, but not holidays. Two of these weeks are “uninterrupted time” meaning the noncustodial parent gets the child all to him/herself during that time (usually so they can take the child on vacation somewhere without having to worry about returning in the middle of the week so the other parent can have a visit). The remaining two weeks are subject to parent-time for the custodial parent for their weekday parent-time but not weekends. However, holidays always trump extended parent-time.
The custodial parent is entitled to select two weeks of uninterrupted parent-time over the summer when school is not in session for vacation purposes as well.
Both parents are expected to provide notification of when they want to exercise their extended parent-time vacation weeks with their child at least 30 days prior to the end of their child’s school year. If notice is not provided in time then the other complying parent may be allowed to determine the extended parent-time schedule for the noncomplying parent. (This does not mean the other parent gets to decide that the noncomplying parent does not get summer extended time; only that they get to pick when it happens). Sometimes court orders will provide a process for determining which parent’s selection is entitled to priority if there is a conflict.
Because 2017 is an odd-numbered year, the default schedule gives the noncustodial parent July 4 (beginning at 6 p.m. the day before the holiday until 11 p.m. or no later than 6 p.m. on the day following the holiday at the option of the noncustodial parent). The custodial parent gets Memorial Day (beginning at 6 p.m. on Friday until Monday at 7 p.m. unless the holiday extends for a lengthier period of time to which the custodial parent is completely entitled) and Utah Pioneer Day (beginning at 6 p.m. on the day before the holiday until 11 p.m. or no later than 6 p.m. on the day following the holiday, at the option of the parent exercising the holiday).
If your child is less than five years old then other special rules may apply. For children older than 3 but less than 5 years old, the noncustodial parent’s 4 weeks of extended parent-time will be broken into two 2-week segments separated by at least four weeks. For children 18 months to less than 3 years old, the noncustodial parent gets two 1-week periods of extended parent-time separated by at least four weeks, one of which is uninterrupted, and the custodial parent gets 1 week of uninterrupted parent-time. There are no extended parent-time rules for children less than 18 months old.
If you are following the Utah out-of-state parent-time schedule then typically the noncustodial parent will receive 1/2 of the summer or off-track time for consecutive weeks. The children need to be returned to the custodial home no less than seven days before school begins but this time is counted in determining the total amount of summer parent-time to be divided between the parents. And typically the cost of transporting the children for summer parent-time is equally shared between the parents.
If your summer plans involve out-of-state travel then you are generally required to let your co-parent know for emergency contact purposes and provide: (a) an itinerary of travel dates, (b) destinations, (c) places where the child or traveling parent can be reached, and (d) the name and telephone number of an available third person who would know where the child is at.
If your decree allows for telephone/Skype/Facetime/or other forms of “virtual” parent-time then normally extended parent-time does not trump those rules. But if you are going to be somewhere with limited telephone/internet access it is a good idea to let your co-parent know and reschedule the calls for a time when you will be back in range of phone service.
Bear in mind this is general advice based on the standard provisions in the Utah Code. If your Utah custody order says something different then you should follow what is in your order.