Friday, April 20, 2012

Trial Court Can: (1) Appoint Special Master and Require Professional Supervision for Exchanges; (2) Require a 3 Hour Minimum Before ROFR; and (3) Adjust Parent-Time Specific that Do Not Exceed Statutory Minimum Parent-Time

Wight v. Wight., 2011 UT App 424, Utah Court of Appeals December 15, 2011

Husband appeals the Decree of divorce on 12 different grounds.  The Court of appeals found that Husband’s appeal failed procedurally on several issues.

The Court of appeals affirmed the trial court’s order for the third party supervising agency for parent-time exchanges based on “ample and compelling emotional issues between the parties,” and because the agency had been beneficial to the parties by helping them communicate, and limiting potential emotional issues occurring between the parties at the exchange.

The Court further affirmed the appointment of a special master because based on the record, the parties had agreed to the appointment for the resolution of parent-time disputes. The Court found that Special Masters can be appointed under URCP 53 and are permitted to “do or perform particular acts.”  Further, because the appointment did not limit the parties ability to object to the orders of the special master, the appointment was appropriate under URCP 53.

The Court also affirmed the three hour minimum before the noncustodial parent could provide daycare for the minor children.  The Court of Appeals noted that the statute (§30-3-33(15)) does not give a right to provide day care, it simply states that “parental care is preferred to surrogate care.”

Father argued that the Court exceeded its discretion by ordering that pickup time in the summer midweek parent-time would be at 5:30 when U.C.A. §30-3-35 would allow Father to pick-up the children at 9:00 am.  The Court of Appeals affirmed the specific pick-up times were appropriate because the statute is the minimum schedule and the schedule that the Court imposed allowed for two midweeks and thus exceeded the minimum parent-time requirements and as such did not violate the statute.

Full opinion available at

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