Pearson Butler

Is it harder for a father to win a Utah child custody case?

We are often asked if it is more difficult for a father to win a Utah child custody case. Last week, KSL specifically addressed this question. See “Are fathers getting the short end of the stick in Utah custody cases?” on

At the law offices of Pearson Butler, our Utah divorce attorney team has represented both mothers and fathers in child custody matters. Divorce can be very stressful, and adding what appears to be a bias for mothers having child custody in Utah can add emotional and financial pressure on fathers who are going through a divorce. Child custody procedures can also be very confusing. On the official Utah State Courts website, the court concedes that you “are not required to hire an attorney, but custody and parent time can be complicated. Consider talking to an attorney to go over your problems.” See Utah State Courts – Child Custody.


Utah child custody cases include 2 types of custody, physical custody (where the child lives) and legal custody (in which the parent has the legal right to make important decisions about the children). Unless there are some extenuating circumstances such as domestic violence or a child with special needs, Utah child custody cases presume that joint legal custody is in the best interest of the child.


Parent time, often referred to as “visitation”, is the time that the non-custodial parent gets to spend with a child. Utah child custody attorneys typically encourage the divorcing father and mother to agree on a parent-time schedule. If an agreement cannot be reached, the Utah Code has different options for Children under age 5 and Children ages 5 to 18.

  • Children 5-18 (Utah Code Section 30-3-35)
  • Children under 5 (Utah Code Section 30-3-35.5)

That being said, the family court judge may order a schedule that the judge deems appropriate for the parents and child, always considering the child’s best interests.


Here arises the issue. The KSL article quotes Commissioner Thomas Arnett Jr., who has dealt with quarreling parents for the past 22 years. The commissioner stated that parent time is one of his biggest issues and says he tries to be parent-neutral. The courts throw out most custodial interference cases. According to court records, 63 percent were against mothers while 37 percent were against fathers. In Utah child custody cases, it can take quite a while to get parent time back if the law is broken. A typical Utah custodial interference case can take 232 days to get from filing to judgment.

Contact one of our Utah Child Custody Attorneys at Pearson Butler at (800) 265-2314. We offer free initial consultations.