When it comes to Utah child custody laws, there are two different types: physical custody and legal custody.

Following you’ll find a breakdown of these two laws that will help you to better understand the complex issues of both physical and legal child custody in Utah and what they mean for you and any child involved in your custody case.


Legal custody refers to which party will make important or legal decisions for the minor child or children.


Joint Legal Custody

Joint legal custody means both parents will make decisions for the child or children. In a joint legal custody arrangement, a parenting plan will need to be created by the parties to outline how they will jointly parent and make decisions. If decisions cannot be reached between the parties, the parenting plan will need to have a dispute resolution provision to provide the parties with a process whereby they can work through their differences.

Sole Legal Custody

Sole legal custody means one parent will make all important decisions for the child or children. There is a rebuttable presumption under Utah law that in most cases, it is in the best interest of the child for parents to share legal custody. However, sole legal custody may be appropriate if there has been domestic violence in the home or in the presence of the child or children, special physical or mental needs of a parent or child makes joint custody unreasonable, or other factors under the law.

Physical Custody

Physical custody generally refers to with whom the minor child or children will reside. There are many factors that have to be taken into account by the court when it comes to determining which party is best suited to have physical custody of the children.

Some of the factors include:

  • The strength of the child’s bond with either of the parents as well as with his or her siblings.
  • The benefit of maintaining previously instated arrangements for the benefit of the child.
  • The character, status, or capacity of either parent to function as an appropriate caretaker for the child. Factors such as their emotional and financial stability, religious compatibility, history of alcohol or drug abuse, and signs of abuse to the child, another child, or spouse are all taken into account.
  • For other factors, please see Utah Code Ann. § 30-3-10 and Rules of Judicial Administration § 4-903.

Joint Legal Custody

Joint physical custody means that the parties share physical time with the children who live in both homes part-time. Joint physical custody will generally require that the parents live in the same town or general area.

Joint physical custody does not mean the parties share the child on a 50/50 time-sharing schedule. Rather, it generally means the child or children stay with each parent overnight for more than 30% of the year, and both parents contribute to the expenses of the child in addition to the payment of child support. Sometimes, parents agree to a joint custody arrangement that designates one parent as the “primary” or residential parent.

In a joint physical custody arrangement, a parenting plan will need to be created by the parties to outline how they will jointly parent.

Sole Legal Custody

If sole physical custody is awarded, the non-custodial parent is awarded “parent-time” (visitation) with the minor child or children.

Utah has a standard schedule of parent-time which is found in Utah Code Ann. § 30-3-35, § 30-3-35.1, and § 30-3-35.5. The standard parent-time schedule may vary depending on various circumstances including the age of the child.


Going through a divorce is difficult for everyone involved. Our goal is to help our clients navigate their divorce case with knowledge and compassion so they can focus on their family.

We have assisted and successfully represented numerous clients dealing with paternity issues. Because of our experience dealing with a wide range of paternity-related cases, we can assist clients whether or not they claim to be the father of the child.

Whether you have a custody battle resulting from an ongoing divorce, or if you’re an unmarried parent fighting for custody of a child, the attorneys at Burton Attorneys at Law have the experience to handle your case.

In Utah, by law, every child is entitled to the support of both parents, whether the parents are married or not. Although Utah law provides child support guidelines used by the courts to calculate a parent’s base child support obligation.

Simply stated, mediation is a non-binding forum for a divorcing couple to work out the terms of their divorce with the help of a trained mediation specialist. The only requirement of mediation is that a party attend and make a good faith effort at resolution.

We recommend attending mediation with the help of a legal professional. Mediators are neutral parties who cannot give legal advice. Mediation will involve the discussion relating to all your divorce issues including real estate and personal property issues, division of financial assets (401k, stocks, bonds, etc.)

Step-parents often develop a strong bond of love and affection with a stepchild. As a loving figure in a step child’s life, it may be in everyone’s best interests for a step parent to seek an adoption and make the relationship legal.

When a family member, friend or loved one passes away, his or her estate may have to go through a court process referred to as probate. This is the process whereby the Court appoints an individual, or sometimes multiple individuals, to gather, manage, and ultimately distribute the assets of the one who passed away.

There is no set formula to determine when, or if, a party should receive alimony (spousal support) from a divorcing spouse. In determining alimony the courts will consider the needs of the party requesting alimony, the ability of that party to provide for his or her own needs, and the ability of the other divorcing party to pay alimony.

At Burton Law Firm, our family law attorneys have extensive experience assisting clients through all areas of family law. By leveraging the combination of skill with years of experience, our attorneys will do everything in their power to achieve the outcome desired by their clients.

When a Court grants a decree of divorce, it will also address the parties’ rights with respect to the assets they acquired during their marriage. This includes retirement assets, such as 401(k) accounts, IRAs, and pensions.

A guardian helps an individual care for their physical well-being while a conservator helps an individual handle their financial affairs. By appointing a guardian and/or conservator, you are providing your loved one with the assistance of someone who cares in order to help them handle day to day matters and to make important legal decisions.


Contact us today for a consultation with an attorney. During the meeting, you will be advised of your options as well as the cost of pursuing each option that you have. To more efficiently serve you, we encourage you to organize pertinent documents before your initial consultation if possible.

3785 Harrison Boulevard #1
Ogden, Utah 84403

(877) 447-9997 (Toll Free)
(801) 393-1106


To discuss your case with an attorney, call local (801) 393-1106 toll free (877) 447-9997 or fill out the contact form below. Our office is conveniently located in Ogden, Utah and we serve the entire Wasatch Front. Hablamos español.