The standards to change parent time are distinct and different from the standard to change custody.

September 27, 2018

Several years after a divorce, a father filed a petition to modify requesting a change of custody. The court found that there was not a change of circumstances to reopen custody, but did modify parent time.

¶16 “The change in circumstances required to justify a modification of a divorce decree varies with the type of modification sought.” Haslam v. Haslam, 657 P.2d 757, 758 (Utah 1982). Therefore, “a specific change in circumstances may justify reconsideration of one provision of a divorce decree while not justifying reconsideration of another provision.” Becker v. Becker, 694 P.2d 608, 611 (Utah 1984). A material change of circumstances with respect to parent-time is thus “a different inquiry from whether there was a material change with respect to custody.” Jones v. Jones, 2016 UT App 94, ¶ 10, 374 P.3d 45. When modifying parent-time, the petitioner is required to make only “some showing of a change in circumstances,” which “does not rise to the same level as the substantial and material showing required when a district court alters custody.” Id. A court may therefore determine that a change in circumstances warrants modification of parent-time while simultaneously determining there is no substantial and material change in circumstances to justify a modification of custody. In other words, it is not necessarily erroneous for a court to determine that a particular change in circumstances is sufficient enough to warrant a change in a parent-time schedule, but not significant enough to warrant a modification of custody.

Erickson v. Erickson, 2018 App 184 (Filed September 27, 2018)

Read entire case HERE.


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