Child Custody Decisions in Utah

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 What Does Utah Law Encourage in Child Custody Disputes?

According to Utah law, parents are encouraged to resolve custody disputes out of court. If the parties are unable to reach an agreement, the courts decide who gets custody based on what is best for the child.

What is a Parenting Plan?

A parenting plan is a thorough, written agreement that specifies how divorcing parents will divide custody of their children, both legally and physically.

Before a divorce may be finalized in Utah, the parents must submit a parenting plan to the court. Parents must submit separate, suggested parenting plans if they are unable to come to an agreement.

What Factors Does the Court Consider When Deciding on Custody?

Utah courts weigh several different considerations when assessing what is in a child’s best interest. These variables include the child’s primary caregiver, the depth and quality of the bond between parents and children, the parent’s and child’s mental and physical wellbeing, the separation between the parent’s homes, the moral character and behavior of the parents, evidence of marital or child abuse, the child’s age, and the parents’ preferences.

The gender of a parent is not taken into account. Additionally, the court cannot decide on custody based simply on a parent’s impairment (unless the parent is unable to care for their child).

A guardian ad litem may be appointed in a custody battle to speak up for the child and determine what is in their best interests. The guardian ad litem will present their parenting suggestions if the parents cannot agree on a parenting plan. Utah likewise has statewide parenting and visitation rules. These rules aid in establishing parental time and visitation privileges.

How Can I Obtain Visitation and Custody Rights for My Child?

Couples with children must make numerous crucial decisions throughout a divorce or separation process, including who will get custody of the kids, what kind of custody rights each parent will keep, and, depending on the circumstances, the visitation schedule for the kids.

Child custody generally refers to the legal rights and obligations that a parent has for the care, management, and raising of a child. The various arrangements for dividing custody rights are covered in more depth below.

Contrarily, child visitation refers to the legal privileges granted to a non-custodial parent. In other words, a parent will typically be given visitation rights if they are not allowed any form of actual custody over their child. There are a few different types of visitation rights, which are also covered in more detail below.

There are two primary methods by that a party to a divorce or separation proceeding might start the process, regardless of whether you are requesting custodial or visitation rights over a child:

  • By consensus: By agreement is the first and preferred way. Without the assistance of attorneys or the court, the parents should discuss the terms of child custody and visitation if they are both prepared to work together. They can negotiate a deal on their terms in this fashion. If this is feasible, the parents should create a written custody agreement outlining the custody terms and a basic visitation schedule.
  • By judicial order, a court will have to step in and make decisions regarding the arrangements if the parents cannot agree on their own or if one or both of the parties’ actions endanger the child’s welfare: The parents will normally be given a chance to submit their case at a hearing when the court is tasked with making such a decision.
  • The ultimate child custody arrangement or visitation schedule must be approved by the court, regardless of the approach chosen: This is one last point to make regarding the aforementioned possibilities. The main difference is that if the parties can agree independently, they will have more power over timetables and arrangements.

The “Child’s Best Interests” Standard: What is it?

The court will typically use the child’s best interest standard when making judgments involving children in family law proceedings. When deciding on a child custody or visitation arrangement, this standard will be used, and it will take precedence over the majority of state child custody rules.

The child’s best interest criterion basically serves as a mechanism for the law to make sure that a vulnerable group of people—children—are given the highest level of safeguards. Therefore, in accordance with this requirement, a person assuming custody of a kid must be able to maintain a stable home environment and protect the child’s safety and well-being.

The court will take into account several elements, including the parent’s capacity to care for the child, their relationship with the child, and which home would be best suited for the child’s adjustment or needs, to decide whether a parent meets the requirements for custody under this standard.

What Kinds of Custody Arrangements Are There?

There are many different kinds of custody agreements, as was already mentioned. These include sole, joint, legal, physical, and bird’s nest custody. All different types of custody refer to the rights a parent has over a kid.

Legal Custody
Legal custody refers to the authority to make choices that will significantly impact a child’s upbringing, such as the child’s choice of school, religion, and medical treatment. Legal custody of a child may be given to one or both parents; joint custody is favored if both parents are cooperative.

The parent who currently has primary physical custody of their child’s location will temporarily retain more legal custody rights until the other parent can be reached, or if the issue is a minor one, in situations where shared custody is awarded or in the event of an emergency (e.g., punishing the child for not doing their homework).

Physical Custody
The right to have a child physically reside with a parent is known as physical custody. Since they will be here most of the time, this location will typically be considered the child’s home.

Physical custody, however, may be given to both parents. In such situations, the child will either live equally between the homes of both parents, or the parents will devise a schedule that will allow the child to spend alternating periods of time with each parent (for example, spending the summers at one parent’s home and the school year living with the other parent).

Sole Custody
When only one parent is given both legal and physical custody of the kid, this is referred to as sole custody. It also means that the child will live with them physically and that the parent will be entitled to make legal choices on the child’s behalf.

In situations where the non-custodial parent poses a substantial threat to the child’s welfare (for example, when that parent is violent or abusive toward the kid) or is no longer present, sole custody is typically granted (e.g., incapacitated, deceased, etc.).

The non-custodial parent will not be allowed any visitation privileges under sole custody, which is a crucial point to remember.

What Takes Place After a Court Decision?

The divorce decree and parenting plan are submitted to the court clerk after approval. The court must accept any changes to the plan before it may be modified, and the authorized custody order then binds both parents.

Should I Speak with a Utah Attorney About My Custody Issues?

Child custody fights can be very passionate and require a thorough knowledge of the law. Talking with an experienced lawyer if you have questions about child custody and visitation is crucial.

A Utah child custody attorney will fight for you and your child’s rights and work to get your family the finest parenting plan possible.


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