How courts address parenting time for service members

Coming up with a practical parenting plan for divorced parents is especially difficult when one or both of the parents are in the military. Military parents face unique challenges, such as temporary duty and deployments. Utah has a statute that specifically addresses parenting time when one of the parents is a service member. If you are a parent and in the military, it is important that you understand the basics of this statute.

Utah Code Section 30-3-40 outlines the various obligations that you and the other parent have if you get deployed, mobilized, and/or ordered to temporary duty at a different location or base.

The first type situation covered by the statute is when you are the custodial parent. When you receive orders for deployment, mobilization, or temporary duty, you must contact the other parent as soon as practicable after you receive the orders. You must notify the other parent of the approximate dates that you will be away, if you know them. In general, the noncustodial parent cannot be denied parenting time during this time period.

Under Utah law, the noncustodial parent can care for the children while you are away, unless that parent’s parenting time is supervised or limited in some way. The noncustodial parent must inform you whether he or she is willing to care for the children at least five days prior to when you leave. If the noncustodial parent is not willing to provide care for the children, you can make other arrangements. You must inform the other parent of those arrangements.

The second type of situation covered by the statute is when you are not the custodial parent. If you get deployed, mobilized or placed on temporary duty, you may have a family member exercise your parenting time rights while you are away. The family member must have a close and substantial relationship with the child. Again, you must provide the other parent of notice in writing of the parenting time arrangements.    

As this post demonstrates, Utah law has protections in place for service members. Your parenting time cannot be taken away if you are unavailable due to military orders. If you believe the other parent is trying to deprive you of your rights, contact an experienced family law attorney for help.

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