Utah Child Custody Guide

Daughter hugging dad

One difficult outcome of divorcing is agreeing about the custody of your child. When custody becomes a centerpiece of discussion, things can get stressful for both parties, including your children.

Defining the Different Types of Custody

Before filing for custody, determine the type of custody you’re asking the court to grant. There are two different types of custody defined under Utah law.

After, there are different categories that fall under the two main types and involve only one parent making decisions or both parents making decisions for their child. All of the different types of custody and their categories are listed below.

Legal Custody vs. Physical

Legal custody is whoever has the right to make important decisions about your children, which can include healthcare, religious upbringing, and education.

Physical custody means who will decide where the children will live as well as day-to-day responsibilities.

Once you’ve weighed your options between legal custody and physical custody, you should have the important conversation with your ex about sharing custody. You may be familiar with the term “joint custody,” which means you and your ex can make decisions about your children together. Courts recognize that children do best when both parents remain in their lives, which is why joint custody is the preferred custody arrangement. However, that may not always be in the child’s best interest.

Sole Legal and Sole Physical

The courts decide who gets awarded sole custody of your children. Sole legal custody means your children can live with you (or one parent), and you would make all of the decisions about their lives. You can make your case and present an argument for why you are more equipped to take on your kid’s responsibilities alone.

Joint Legal and Joint Physical

If you and your ex decide you both want to co-parent and take on the responsibilities of your children together, you have the option to seek joint legal custody from the court. Joint legal custody is an arrangement where children have the option to live with both parents, both parents make decisions that affect the children, and both parents split the amount of time between their kids equally if they want. With this type of arrangement, your children will live with you at least 111 nights in a year.

Also, if you both live in the same city or near the same general area, this arrangement may make sense for you.

Joint Legal and Sole Physical

Although joint legal custody is a good option if you want to make equal decisions about your child’s wellbeing, you should know this type of custody arrangement grants more time with your children for one parent over the other. Parents who have this agreement can expect for only one parent to be granted at least 225 nights per year with your child.

Split Custody

When there is more than one child involved, you can request split custody from the court. This means the judge will award sole physical custody of one of your kids. The court will decide if legal custody of the children who are not with the non-custodial parent may or may not be shared.

How Courts Decide on Custody

The courts will make decisions in your custody case based on the best interests of the children. They will consider things you may ask for, such as child support, which parent your kids want to live with, and rights to visitation with other family members.

You can expect to be evaluated on your physical ability to care for your child, financial stance, your extended family relationships, the history of your relationship with your child, if your child wants to live with you or the other parent (if they are at least 14 years old), history with your spouse (like domestic issues or child neglect), etc.

Contact Carr | Woodall for Your Child Custody Consultation

Do you have unanswered questions about which type of custody would be best for you? Our attorneys are ready to help you start, complete, and implement the best plan for gaining custody of your child.

To arrange a consultation with one of our South Jordan attorneys, contact us online or at (801) 988-9400.

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