Utah Child Custody Lawyer
Protecting Each Client’s Interests Across Utah
We understand that your children are precious to you. Therefore, their well-being will be central to the case strategy we develop with you when you work with our team at Pearson Butler.
Types of Child Custody Arrangements in Utah
In Utah, as in many other states, child custody arrangements are designed to address the physical and legal custody of a child when parents separate or divorce. The primary goal is to ensure the well-being and best interests of the child. Utah recognizes two main types of custody arrangements: legal custody and physical custody.
Legal custody refers to the right and responsibility to make important decisions about a child's life. These decisions typically include matters related to the child's education, healthcare, religious upbringing, and general welfare.
Here are the two types of legal custody:
- Sole Legal Custody: One parent has the exclusive authority to make major decisions for the child.
- Joint Legal Custody: Both parents share the responsibility for making significant decisions regarding the child's upbringing. Even if the child resides primarily with one parent, both parents have an equal say in decisions affecting the child's life. Parents with joint legal custody are expected to communicate and collaborate on important decisions affecting the child.
Physical custody refers to where the child resides and the daily care and supervision provided by each parent. The "custodial parent" is the parent with whom the child primarily resides, while the "noncustodial parent" is the parent who has visitation rights and spends less time with the child.
The following are the two types of physical custody:
- Sole Physical Custody: In this arrangement, the child lives with one parent most of the time, and the other parent typically has visitation rights. The parent with sole physical custody is the custodial parent, and the other is the noncustodial parent.
- Joint Physical Custody: Both parents share significant time with the child. The child may spend close to equal amounts of time with each parent, and joint physical custody requires effective communication and cooperation between the parents.
In cases where one parent has sole physical custody, the noncustodial parent is typically granted visitation or parent-time rights. This outlines when and how the noncustodial parent can spend time with the child.
Primary Factors When Determining Child Custody
In every child custody case, the court must decide what arrangement is in the children's best interest. There are many different factors that the court may take into consideration when awarding custody and a parent-time schedule.
While the specific details may vary, the following are common factors considered in Utah when determining the best interests of the child in custody cases:
- Child's Wishes: Depending on the child's age and maturity, the court may take into account the child's preferences regarding custody arrangements. Older and more mature children may have a greater say in the decision.
- Parent-Child Relationship: The court assesses the emotional and psychological bonds between each parent and the child. A stable and positive relationship is often a crucial factor.
- Parental Adjustment: The ability of each parent to provide a stable and supportive environment for the child is considered. Factors such as the parent's mental and physical health, employment stability, and living situation are taken into account.
- Continuity and Stability: Courts generally aim to maintain consistency in the child's life. Disrupting established routines, schools, and social connections may be considered if it is not in the child's best interests.
- Co-Parenting Ability: The court assesses the willingness and ability of each parent to encourage a positive and ongoing relationship between the child and the other parent. Cooperation and effective communication between parents are important.
- Moral and Physical Fitness of Parents: Courts consider the moral character and behavior of each parent. Any history of substance abuse, domestic violence, or criminal activity may impact the custody decision.
- History of Domestic Violence: Instances of domestic violence, whether against the child or the other parent, are carefully examined. The court prioritizes the safety of the child and the parent.
- Parental Cooperation: The court looks at the ability of parents to cooperate and communicate with each other in matters related to the child. A willingness to work together for the child's benefit is often considered positively.
- Custody Preferences of Parents: The court considers the willingness of each parent to facilitate and encourage the child's relationship with the other parent. A parent who is more likely to support the child's relationship with the other parent may be viewed favorably.
- Financial Stability: The financial stability of each parent is considered, including the ability to provide for the child's basic needs.
The most important thing the court will weigh is each parent’s past participation in the child’s life before the court proceedings. The court may also consider who has more time to spend with the child or whose schedule provides more flexibility.
One critical custody factor the court must consider when determining a custody arrangement is which parent is more likely to promote the other parent’s relationship with the child. There are many additional factors that the court will review, so it’s vital to have a family law attorney knowledgeable about child custody law in Utah.
As a Parent, You Need to Be Sure Your Interests Are Protected in Custody Proceedings. For Experienced Help, Contact the Utah Child Custody Lawyers at Pearson Butler.
Custody Evaluators & Guardian ad Litem
When a case is contested, it becomes necessary to involve professional custody evaluators to make recommendations to the judge about what type of custody and which parent-time schedule will be best for the children. In addition, when there are allegations of abuse or neglect, the court will often appoint an attorney to represent the children in the court case.
A court-appointed attorney for the children is called a Guardian ad Litem. No matter the process you experience in your case, you want to be protected each step of the way so that you don’t do things that unknowingly hurt your custody case.
Do Children Get to Choose Where They Live?
Frequently parents will mistakenly believe that when a child reaches a specific age the child has the ability to choose where he or she lives. A child’s preference is given more weight if the child is over fourteen, but a child never gets to choose a custody arrangement under Utah law.
A child’s preference is just one factor that the court may consider. The court will also consider how integrated the child is into the community at either parent’s home, whether a parent has experienced frequent changes in residence and a parent’s support network.
Get in Touch with Our Child Custody Lawyers in Utah
Our child custody attorneys at Pearson Butler are positioned to serve the entire state of Utah. Schedule a consultation to help you learn more about what to expect in your custody case.