UtahChild Custody Law
Utah Child Custody Guide :: Table of Contents
Child custody is defined as the guardianship over a child, which covers both physical custody and legal custody. In a child custody dispute the court may award joint custody to both parents or sole custody to a single parent.
Child custody cases in Utah can be either contested and resolved by court order, or noncontested and defined in a child custody agreement between the parents. A custody agreement or order will legally determine, at minimum, the following things:
- Where the child lives (physical custody)
- Who is involved in making parenting decisions (legal custody)
- How the visitation schedule with non-custodial parents or relatives is arranged
This page describes how a contested child custody case is handled in the Utah court system, and what factors are used to determine which parent gets custody.
This is the default dialog which is useful for displaying information. The dialog window can be moved, resized and closed with the 'x' icon.
After a breakup or divorce in Utah, couples with children must come to a child custody agreement that describes which parent the children will live with, how visitation will be scheduled, and how the non-custodial parent will pay child support.
Some of the factors considered by Utah in child custody cases include the child's wishes, willingness of the parent to cooperate with their partner and any history of domestic violence.
In determining any form of custody, the court will consider the best interests of the child without preference for either parent, and factors the court finds relevant, including the following:
- the past moral standards demonstrated by each party
- which parent is most likely to act in the best interest of the child, including allowing frequent contact with the other parent
- the relationship between the parent and child
- whether the parent has intentionally exposed the child to pornography or other material harmful to a minor
There is a rebuttable presumption that joint legal custody is in the best interest of the child, except in cases where there is:
- domestic violence in the home or in the presence of the child
- special physical or mental needs of a parent or child that would make joint legal custody unreasonable
- physical distance between the residences of the parents that would make joint decisions impractical
- any other factor the court finds relevant
The person desiring joint legal custody will file a proposed parenting plan. Joint legal custody can be rebutted by showing evidence that it is not in the best interest of the child.
To determine whether or not the best interest of a child is ordering joint custody, the court will consider the following factors:
- whether or not the welfare of the child will benefit from joint custody
- the ability of the parents to make the child's welfare a priority and make shared decisions in the benefit of the child.
- whether each parent is capable of encouraging a positive relationship between the child and the other parent
- The ability of the parent to share contact between the child and other parent
- The amount of both parents participation in raising the child before the divorce
- the distance between the homes of the parents
- the preference of the child, if the child is of an appropriate age to make a reasonable decision
- the maturity of the parents and their ability to keep the child away from conflict between the parents
- the overall ability of the parents to cooperate and make decisions jointly
- any history, or potential of child/spouse abuse or kidnaping
- any other factors the court delegates to be relevant.
The court may not consider the disability of a parent as a factor in awarding custody or modifying an award of custody based on a determination of a substantial change in circumstances, unless the court finds that:
- the disability significantly inhibits the parent's ability to provide for the welfare of the child
- the parent with a disability lacks the resources to supplement the ability to provide for the needs of the child
If the parents are on amicable terms they may agree to custody terms in a parenting agreement between themselves, or via a mediator. If child custody is disputed, however, they will have to receive a child custody order from a Utah judge, who will attempt to make a custody decision that is in the "best interests of the child".
In the state of Utah, a number of factors are taken into account by the courts when determining who gets child custody. This section describes Utah's custody factors, considerations, and presumptions when evaluating a custody order.
Is there a set list of statutory factors for calculating child custody in the state of Utah?
Utah has a list of statutory factors that are considered by the court when determining a custody order. This list may include factors such as the child's age, the living situation of each parent, any history of abuse or neglect from either parent, etc. Although there is a statutory list of factors, consider other factors at its discretion depending on the particular circumstances of the case.
Do judges in the state of Utah favor joint custody?
Judges in Utah are authorized to order either joint or single-parent custody of a child subject to a custody dispute.
Courts in Utah do not have a presumption in favor joint custody orders when evaluating child custody. The judge will evaluate the specifics of the custody dispute to determine what custody arrangement is in the best interests of the child.
Do Utah courts encourage parents to cooperate together to raise the child?
Utah courts favor awarding custody to a cooperative parent who is willing to work together with the other parent regarding child visitation, scheduling, child support, and other co-parenting matters. Utah law favors co-parenting as being in the best interests of the child, and the courts will favor a parent willing to cooperate over a parent who attempts to alienate their child from the other parent.
Are the child's wishes considered when determining custody in the state of Utah?
In Utah, the court does consider the child's reasonable wishes when determining which parent wins custody. The judge may take the child's age, maturity, and judgement into consideration when considering the child's custody preference.
Do Utah courts consider domestic violence when determining custody?
Utah has laws that explicitly permit the consideration of domestic violence in conjunction with child custody. This may mean that domestic violence is a statutory factor in custody determinations, that the court has a presumption against custody for abusers, or that special procedural considerations are imposed in cases involving domestic violence.
Do the courts in the state of Utah have the right to hire an attorney or Guardian Ad Litem to represent the child?
Utah has statutory authority for appointment of a guardian ad litem or attorney specifically to represent the child in a custody case. This person advocates for the best interest of the child, and is tasked with investigating the family situation and advising the court what custody situation would be in the best interests of the child.