Talk to an attorney
Parenting plans can be complicated. Consider talking to an attorney to go over your options. One way to talk to an attorney is to visit a free legal clinic. Clinics provide general legal information and give brief legal advice. Some lawyers will help draft a parenting plan even though they are not handling your whole case. For more information, see our webpage on Limited Legal Help. Some mediators will assist in developing a parenting plan.
What is a parenting plan?
A parenting plan outlines how the parents will raise their children. It encourages you to think in advance about how you will make decisions and resolve disagreements. The result will be more predictability and stability for your children and less stress and anxiety. A parenting plan is required for shared parenting (custody) arrangements and is permitted in other parenting arrangements.
When is a parenting plan required?
The parties must file a parenting plan whenever a party asks the court to create or change a shared parenting arrangement. Any arrangement other than full legal and physical custody held by one parent is a shared parenting arrangement. Be aware that a joint physical custody arrangement may result in denial of cash assistance under the Employment Support Act, Title 35A, Chapter 3, of the Utah Code. For more information about cash assistance eligibility, contact your local office of the Utah Department of Workforce Services.
What is in a parenting plan?
A parenting plan may include any topic that you want and must include the following.
- The methods you will use to reach a decision when you disagree, such as counseling, mediation or arbitration. A parent who uses a dispute resolution method in bad faith may be required to pay penalties and attorney fees to the other parent.
- A residential schedule that shows where the child will sleep on certain days including holidays, birthdays, vacations and other special events.
- A statement whether one parent, the other, or both is responsible for making decisions about education, healthcare and religious upbringing. Other areas, such as after-school activities or clothing purchases, may be included. There are some limits to what the parenting plan can determine. The law prohibits the parenting plan from changing two principles: (1) each parent will make day-to-day decisions while the child is living with that parent; and (2), either parent may make emergency decisions for the child's health or safety.
- A plan in case one parent wants to relocate. The plan must state the amount of notice that the relocating parent will give and the changes in parent-time, such as who will pay for the child's travel and how the parent-time schedule might change.
When do I file my parenting plan?
The petitioner must file a parenting plan with the petition. The respondent must file a parenting plan with the answer. It is very important to file a plan. If you fail to file a parenting plan, the court may accept the other parent's plan by default. Parents may jointly prepare and file a parenting plan. Sometimes the court may order the parents to prepare and file a parenting plan.
What happens if I or the other party does not follow the parenting plan?
After the court approves a parenting plan, if you don't follow it, the court may find you in contempt. If the other party does not follow the plan, you may file for an order to show cause, but you must follow the plan even if the other party does not.
You may use the following parenting plan or create your own. You can also search the internet to find sample parenting plans. If you use Online Court Assistance Program (OCAP) to create a divorce or a parentage petition, you will complete a parenting plan along with your other papers.
- Checklist for Parenting Plan - PDF | Word
- Parenting Plan - PDF | Word
- Pointers for Parents and Parenting Plans - PDF | Word
- Child Custody
- Child Support
- Employment Support Act - Utah Code, Title 35A, Chapter 3
- Finding an Attorney
- Free Legal Clinics
- Limited Legal Help
- Co-parenting Mediators
- Non-public Information
- Online Court Assistance Program (OCAP)
- Parent Coordinator
- Parenting Plan Statutes - Utah Code Sections 30-3-10.7 to 30-3-10.10
- Relocation Statute - Utah Code Section 30-3-37
- Serving Papers
- Temporary Orders
- Utah Department of Workforce Services (jobs.utah.gov)