Understanding the Different Types of Child Custody in Utah
There are several types of custody in Utah. Deciding which type of custody best fits your needs may seem overwhelming. When determining which type of custody to seek it may be tempting to seek full custody simply to punish your ex, however, it’s important to keep the best interest of your children in mind.
There are two types of custody that need to be established in a divorce or paternity case:
- Physical Custody: Where the child primarily resides.
- Legal Custody: Who makes major decisions for the child.
Sole Physical: If sole physical custody is awarded, generally a non-custodial parent is awarded “parent time” with the children. Utah has a standard schedule of parent time, which allows weekly contact, alternating holidays, alternating weekends, and overnights. This schedule may vary for children under the age of 5.
Parties can vary by agreement the standard schedule and create any schedule of parent time that is appropriate for them and the child.
Joint Physical: Joint physical custody means that the parties share physical time with the children, who reside in both homes. Joint physical custody normally requires that the parents live in the same town or general area. In order for joint physical custody to be allowed, children must spend over 110 nights a year in the home of each parent.
Sometimes, parents will agree to a joint custody arrangement that designates one parent as the primary or residential parent. A parenting plan will need to be crafted by the parties to outline how they will jointly parent.
Sole Legal: Sole legal custody means one parent will make all important decisions for the child. 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.
Sole legal custody may be applicable if there has been domestic violence in the home or in the presence of the child; special physical or mental needs of a parent or child makes joint legal custody unreasonable; physical distance between the residences of the parents makes decision making impractical in certain circumstances; or other factors under the law.
Joint Legal: Joint physical custody means both parents will make decisions for the child. A parenting plan will need to be created to outline how the parties will jointly parent. If decisions cannot be reached- alternate resolution methods such as mediation will need to be utilized. Typically a final decision maker will need to be determined.
Custody Arrangements Can Be Complex
Legal matters involving the custody of minor children can often be complex and confusing. Without competent legal counsel a parent, despite having good intentions, can unknowingly make mistakes and harm their legal rights and end up with a custodial arrangement that is not in the child’s best interests. A properly handled custody case will allow a parent to maximize their role in the life of their children.
At Burton Law Firm, we understand the types of custody and can help you determine which type of custody is a good fit for you. Contact us today to set up a consultation to discuss your custody case with one of our attorneys.
He chose to practice in the family law arena because of the positive and direct impact for good he saw in the lives of his clients.
Having twice been named one of Utah’s Legal Elite by Utah Business Magazine, Ken has a solid reputation as an effective advocate for his clients. He is actively involved in local and state bar associations, serves on various boards of directors and with volunteer organizations, and as a mentor for newly admitted attorneys.
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