This entry provides the status of family-law-related bills presented in the Utah Spring Legislative Session.

Thanks very much to Stewart Ralphs , Director of Legal Aid Society, and to the Utah Bar Family Law Section Executive Committe for their efforts in coordinating, organizing, summarizing, and disseminating this information.

Below is a summary of the bills and status. Here is a link to the Utah government site with all the content and status of all of this session’s bills.

House Bills

Expedited Parent-Time Enforcement
HB 22
Passes
Purpose: Expand pilot program in Third District to go state-wide when parents file motion to enforce parent-time, case is referred to court-annexed mediation prior to hearing.

Child and Family Protection
HB 23
Passed
Purpose: Includes child abandonment as a type of abuse punishable as third degree felony.

Child and Family Protection
HB 23
Passed
Purpose: Includes child abandonment as a type of abuse punishable as third degree felony.

Parent-Time Amendments
HB 71
Passed
Purpose: Makes changes in holidays, eliminates Columbus and Veteran’s Day, split Christmas holiday in two parts, allows for entire mid-week day if school is not in session, and includes snow days, teachers’ development and other days when school is not in session in the definition in holidays.

Protective Order Amendments
HB 149

Passed

Purpose: Gives court authority to appoint Guardian ad Litem, prohibits extension of ex parte protective order without Respondent’s consent, gives factors to dismiss protective order after two years.

Custody Evaluation and Parent Coordination
HB 169
Not Passed
Purpose: Sets standards for evaluator training, court to maintain list of evaluators, can apportion evaluation costs between parties. Sets standards for coordinator responsibility, time periods, and division of costs.

Domestic Violence and Dating Violence Amendments
HB 247
Not passed
Purpose: Include dating relationships for protective orders, 16 and older, protective order for 180 days.

Adoption Amendments
HB 318
Not passed
Purpose: Deletes the prohibition of adoption by cohabitants, but makes a finding that it is in the best interests of children to be adopted by a married couple.

Custodial Interference Amendments
HB 358
Not
passed

Purpose: Provides criminal penalties for anyone who interferes with the custodial rights of another.

Joint Custody Modification
HB 415
Not passed
Purpose: 1st Substitute deleted the presumption of joint legal custody. Bill sets forth criteria to modify a joint custody order, petition requires admissible evidence of material and substantial change in circumstances to modify. Requires parties to file parenting plan and use ADR. Court to give substantial weight to existing joint custody order, find that modification in best interest of child, consider reasonable alternatives to preserve order.

Stalking Amendments
HB 493
Passed
Purpose: Amends definition of course of conduct to two or more acts to include when actor (i) follows, monitors, observe, photograph, surveils, threatens, communicates to or about a person, or interferes with person’s property or (ii) approaches or confronts, appears at workplace and confronts co-workers, appears at residence or enters property, sends material by any means to or to about information about person or family members, places object on property. Uses electronic means to do any act. Defines “emotional stress,” “reasonable person,” and “text messaging.” Adds guilt factor that actor knew or should have known acts cause fear for person’s safety or third person. Not a defense that actor was not given actual notice that act was unwanted or did not intend victim fear or emotional distress. Jurisdiction where act committed or effect on victim.

Senate Bills

Retirement Death Benefits and Divorce Revisions
SB 24
Passed
Purpose: Defines benefits subject to a domestic relations order to include group insurance policy.

Protective Order- Crime of Inducing Breach
SB 154
Not
passed
Purpose: Makes inducing violation of protective order Class A misdemeanor.

Custody and Parent-time for Non-parents
SB 186
PassedPurpose: Provides for custody and parent-time for non-parents who are related by blood or marriage or stepparent relationship.

Child Support Technical Amendments
SB 198
Passed
Purpose: Clarify that new final orders after January 1, 2008 use new child support guidelines

Appropriations

 

Legal Protection of Families and ChildrenPassed
Purpose: Increase civil legal aid for family law and domestic violence services statewide from $100,000 to $200,000 on-going.

Utah Family Law Blog