30 Years of Experience

Salt Lake City Family Law Attorney

Resolving child custody matters can be challenging, but understanding the legal process and you rights can help you make informed decisions for the well-being of your children. 

Understanding Child Custody Law in Utah: 

In Utah, child custody decisions are made based on what the court believes is in the best interests of the child. The courts prioritize the physical, emotional, and psychological well-being of the children involved when determining custody arrangements. 

Types of Custody: 

  1. Legal Custody: This pertains to the right to make important decisions about the child’s upbringing, such as education, healthcare, and religious upbringing.
  2. Physical Custody: This refers to where the child will physically reside.

Types of Custody Arrangements: 

  • Sole legal and sole physical: either parent is awarded sole custody of the children. 
  • Joint legal and joint physical: the children live with both parents and both parents are involved in important decisions regarding the children. 
  • Joint legal and sole physical: the children live with one parent over 255 nights per year and the other parent has regular parent time, and both parents make important decisions about their children.
  • Sole legal and joint physical: the children live with both parents but only one parent has authority to make important decisions regarding the children
  • Split custody: each parent is awarded sole physical custody of at least one of the children when there is more than one child. Legal custody of the child by the non-custodial parent may or may be shared as ordered by the court.


Typical Child Custody Cases: 

  1. Divorce proceedings 
  2. Legal separation 
  3. Paternity cases 
  4. Modification of existing custody orders 

Negotiating Custody Arrangements: 

For separating couples who share children, custody will be an important matter to negotiate. Parents can either work out a custody arrangement on their own or go to court to have a judge decide the arrangement. In either situation, the custody order will address physical and legal custody of the child, where the primary residence is, where the child lives, and legal custody, which is a parent’s right to make educational, medical, religious, legal, or even cultural decisions for the child.

Factors Considered by the Court:

A family court will evaluate a proposed custody arrangement or determine one for the parents by examining how the arrangement will serve the child’s best interests. Primary factors to be considered include:

  • the child’s physical and emotional needs.
  • the child’s relationship with each parent.
  • the distance between the parents’ residences.
  • each parent’s physical and mental health.
  • the child’s ties to the community, sibling relationships, and relationships with extended family members.
  • each parent’s willingness to encourage a relationship between the child and the other parent.
  • parent’s history of domestic violence.
  • the child’s preference if of sufficient age and maturity; and
  • any other factor the court deems relevant.


Modification of Custody Orders: 

It is possible to modify an existing child custody order if there has been a material change in circumstances affecting the child or parents. When evaluating a modification request, the judge will accept or deny the change based on whether there has been a change and whether the modifications serve the child’s best interests.

Contact Us: 

For personalized legal advice and assistance with child custody matters in Utah, contact our team of experienced attorneys today. We are here to support you through every step of the process and help you achieve the best possible outcome for your family.

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Call Tel:+1 801-303-5800