Child Custody in Utah: What You Need to Know Before Filing for Divorce

Jeremy AtwoodDivorce, Family Law

Picture of blocks spelling out child Custody

Nobody wants their marriage to end in a divorce. Sometimes, however, things don’t work out as hoped. Unfortunately, when a marriage ends in divorce, one of the emotionally demanding aspects is determining child custody. With an increasing number of couples getting divorced, it’s no wonder there are about 12.9 million custodial parents in the US.

Utah child custody laws outline different factors when making custody arrangements. Parents settle 90% of child custody disputes without a judge’s ruling, and 40% of US states aim to give equal custody time to both parents. Still, you can’t navigate the complex legal system without understanding Utah child custody. And it is something you should do as soon as you decide to consult a child custody attorney in Utah.

Let’s look closely at Utah child custody laws, the legal proceedings, and how you can navigate them, among other things.

Understanding Different Types of Utah Child Custody

Usually, there are two parts to custody – legal custody and physical custody. Legal custody refers to who makes important decisions about the children, such as education, daily care, and upbringing. On the other hand, physical custody spells out where the children will live.

Typically, there are four types of Utah child custody arrangements. They are: 

1. Sole Legal and Sole Physical Custody

In this Utah child custody, one parent will have legal and physical custody of the children. This means the children will live with one parent, and that parent will have complete control over decision-making. In most cases, the non-custodial parent will have visitation time with the children. Sometimes, however, the court may not award visitation time to the non-custodial parent.

2. Joint Legal and Joint Physical Custody

In this type of Utah child custody, both parents can make important decisions about their children. And the children can live with both parents. According to Utah child custody laws, children can live at least 111 nights a year with each parent. 

But as you can imagine, this custody works only when both parents can proactively communicate even after the divorce or separation. Plus, there are several complications involved in this type of custody. You should consult a child custody attorney in Utah to understand how your joint custody arrangement will work.

3. Joint Legal and Sole Physical Custody

In this arrangement, both parents will make important decisions about their children. However, children live with the custodial parent. The non-custodial parent will have visitation rights. It is the most common type of Utah child custody. It is usually in the best interest of children if both parents work and the children have a schedule to keep.

4. Split Custody

Split custody is a unique arrangement. It is designed for parents with more than one child, and they want custody of an individual child. The court may order this custody arrangement if it believes splitting the children between different households is the best option. If so, each parent may get sole custody of a child with full decision-making power.

Utah child custody may be a separate filing or a part of your divorce proceedings. Your case could be a lot more complicated than you realize. It’s best to consult a child custody attorney in Utah. 

How Utah Child Custody Decisions Are Made

Making child custody decisions is often daunting with all the emotions involved in getting divorced. Usually, the court will consider the older child’s preference in most Utah child custody cases. And that’s how it should be since the children are the most significant concern for everyone, including the parents and the court. 

The court will generally consider the following points when making custody decisions.

The child’s: 

  • Physical and emotional needs
  • Relationship with each parent
  • Ties to the community, sibling relationships, and relationships with extended family members
  • Preference if they are of sufficient age and maturity

The parent’s:

  • physical and mental health
  • willingness to encourage a relationship between the child and the other parent
  • history of domestic violence and substance abuse 
  • history of criminal record 
  • financial status and living arrangement
  • place of residence and its distance from the other parent’s home

In addition, the court may consider any other factor deemed relevant to the custody arrangement. You should speak with your child custody attorney in Utah to understand the outcome of your custody arrangement. 

Get Legal Help as Soon as Possible

Most Utah child custody cases are straightforward, but not all. Things can, sometimes, be a lot more complicated than you realize. So, you must talk to a child custody attorney in Utah as soon as possible. 

Your lawyer can help you with the following:

  • Assess your child custody case in detail.
  • Explain your potential Utah child custody options.
  • Help you to participate in child custody mediation.
  • Prepare your legal paperwork and file a petition to review or modify your current custody arrangements.
  • Negotiate custody arrangements on your behalf while keeping the best interests of the child in mind.
  • Help you with all court-related preparations.
  • Help grandparents get legal custody if required. 
  • Negotiate your visitation schedule and petition the court to revise it if necessary. 
  • Help you seek modification to your parenting schedule. 

It’s never a good idea to figure out child custody issues on your own. It is best to retain a lawyer even if you are getting an amicable divorce. You would want to spell out every detail of this custody arrangement carefully. So, talk to a top-notch family lawyer as soon as you can.

In Conclusion

Probably the most challenging aspect of getting divorced is making custody arrangements. Utah child custody laws keep the best interest of the children in mind. Understanding how these laws work, your custody options, and the factors the court will consider can help you prepare for this legal battle. Yes, you will also need to seek legal help immediately. 

That’s where Jeremy Atwood Law can help. We are experts in family law. Call (801) 682-5234 or fill out our contact form to schedule a free 15-minute consultation.