Utah has Moved to More Liberal Parent Time
This year the Utah Legislature has moved toward a more liberal minimum parent time. This is a huge victory for noncustodial parents. What is the change? Previously in Utah, the minimum joint physical custody statutory parent time gave the noncustodial parent 111 nights. The Utah State Legislature has increased that amount from 111 to 145 overnights.
Typically the father is the noncustodial parent in Utah divorce cases, so this change in the law will affect fathers most. Utah has been traditionally been known as a state not terribly friendly to fathers in divorce actions but over the last 35 years Utah has made some real headway toward more equal rights. The perception remains, however, not because there is any inherent bias in Utah divorce courts but because of the culture of Utah. Specifically, Utah has a lot of stay at home mothers. This is important because the most important factor in Utah custody for determining who should be the custodial parent is who has traditionally been the primary care provider of the child. More often than not that is the mother in most Utah families.
Because it is typically the mother who is the custodial parent, fathers are relegated to minimum parent time in a lot of cases. As more and more studies come out discussing the significance of a father’s influence on his children, especially during the teenage years, Utah has decided to alter the law in a positive way to support that scientific research.
The Negative for Moms
With the increase in overnights for the noncustodial parent, there comes a decrease in the amount of child support paid by the noncustodial parent. The child support calculator is directly tied to the number of overnights that each parent has, so the more overnights the noncustodial parent has the less in child support he will pay to the custodial parent. Moms, therefore, are going to be getting less money in child support each month, but since there is a corresponding decrease in parent time for moms, it should all even out.