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Utah Child Custody Requires Working Toward the Child’s Best Interests

— April 28, 2022

It is prudent to hire child custody attorneys to iron out issues surrounding the custody of children as they may be sensitive.

In Utah, child custody issues may be addressed in a separate case, or as part of a case for divorce, separate maintenance, temporary separation, annulment, parentage, adoption, neglect and dependency, or termination of parental rights. Depending on the type of case, a custody order can come from a district court, or a juvenile court. It is prudent to hire child custody attorneys to iron out issues surrounding the custody of children as they may be sensitive, and tied to a high degree of emotion, as the outcomes will impact the future relationship with children for each parent, and cause disruptions for the stability of the children regarding their: 

  1. living space(s), 
  2. changes in routine, 
  3. feelings of anxiety, and 
  4. increased situations where they will have variable outcomes, versus the constants that a previous two-parent household may have provided.  

An experienced child custody attorney is an asset in smoothing out many daunting fears for clients, as they struggle through legal custody battles.

Custody vs. Responsibility

A Salt Lake City child custody lawyer can explain state child custody laws to clients, as they pertain to both parents’ legal responsibility to the children. In Utah the laws address physical custody, and legal custody.  Sometimes one parent will be granted sole physical custody of a child meaning that the child lives with one parent who makes major decisions about a child’s life, and the other parent is the non-custodial parent who will usually have parent-time with the child.  

  • Physical custody – custody that is in the best interests of the child, considering a multitude of factors such as age, parental preference, mental and physical health of parents, child’s community, school, and home environment; parental history of violence; relationship with child and moral standing. 
  • Parent-time – a parent not granted custody, or joint custody of a child is entitled to reasonable visitation.  When parents cannot agree on a parent-time schedule, state law provides for a minimum parent-time schedule.
  • Family violence impact – in cases involving a history of family violence, or domestic abuse, including sexual abuse, a court may determine an award of custody, or visitation in accordance with state laws regarding family violence.

Joint legal custody is assumed to be in the best interests of the children, but if the parents live too far apart, or there are other factors that would decrease a child’s stability, the court may decide on sole custody when:

  • one or more of the children have special needs,
  • the parents live far apart,
  • there is domestic violence, neglect, physical abuse, or emotional abuse involving one of the children, a parent, or a household member of the parent, or
  • there is some other factor the court considers relevant.

Parental responsibility

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Photo by Edward Cisneros on Unsplash

Parental responsibility has more to do with decisions that will affect the life and activities of a child.  The responsibility of these decisions may be split evenly despite physical custody of a child.    

Custody modifications

Child custody attorneys are instrumental in child custody modifications when parents disagree on evolving custody issues.  Legal counsel may need to make a court appearance because the custody modification is not legal unless ordered by the presiding judge.


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