Child Custody and Parent Time Laws In Hurricane Utah
In Utah, custody may be a separate case or part of a case for divorce. Depending on the type of case, a custody order can come from a district court or a juvenile court.
Utah’s divorce laws control how custody works, even if the parties were never married. Most orders award custody to one or both parents of the minor child. However, a custody order may award custody to another adult, like a grandparent.
Types of child custody
There are two parts to custody: legal custody and physical custody.
- Legal custody is about who has the right to make important decisions about the children.
- Physical custody is about where the children live.
Utah recognizes several custody arrangements for minor children. These include:
Sole legal and sole physical
Either parent can be awarded sole custody of the children. This means the children live with one parent and that parent makes major decisions about the children’s lives.
The non-custodial parent will usually have parent-time with the children. For more information, see the section on parent time.
Parent-time, also known as “visitation,” means the time the non-custodial parent spends with a child. When parents cannot agree on a parent-time schedule, state law provides for a minimum parent-time schedule:
- Children 5-18 (Utah Code Section 30-3-35)
- Children under 5 (Utah Code Section 30-3-35.5)
- Children 5-18 (optional schedule) (Utah Code Section 30-3-35.1)
The court can order any schedule that is appropriate for the children and the parents and in the children’s best interests using the factors in Utah Code Section 30-3-34 and any other factors the court finds relevant.
If the parents agree to any form of joint legal custody or joint physical custody, they must file a parenting plan. The court will have to determine that the joint custody arrangement is in the children’s best interests. See the Parenting Plans web page for more information.
The parties may request a custody evaluation prepared by a professional evaluator. The judge can order a custody evaluation even without a motion from a party. A custody evaluation may be expensive and the cost is often split between the parties. For more information, see Rule 4-903 and our pages on Custody Evaluation and Child Custody and Parent-Time.
Modifying a custody or parent-time order
Either party may petition the court to modify a custody order or a parent-time order. They must show there are substantial material changes in circumstances since the order was issued and if the modification would be in the best interests of the children.
Contact Ruesch and Reeve to learn more about your Custody rights in Southern Utah.
FAQs About Utah Child Custody Laws
Who will Get Custody of Our Children?
There are not set rules on who will automatically get custody of the children. There are factors that the court must consider in awarding any decision regarding minor children.
If Both Parents Share Custody, Who Pays Child Support?
Child support is determined based on monthly income and other expenses. Who has the majority of time with the child, while a factor, is not determinative of the support obligation.
Can a parent refuse to allow visitation if child support is not paid?
When can my child(ren) decide which parent to live with?
Usually the court will not consider child’s preference unless the child is at least 14 years old.
Do courts favor the mother over the father?
The courts are not allowed to be biased for one parent due to gender.