The custody of the minor children is often the most contested issue in a divorce. Utah Divorce Firm understands how important your children are to you. You only want what is best for your children, and so do we. A child benefits from healthy relationships with both parents. Years of experience has taught that resolving custody disputes in a collaborative manner decreases the stress put on the child and lays the groundwork for parents to work together in the future. At Utah Divorce Firm, we are skilled in the mediation practice, which can be an effective arena for resolving custody disputes.
However, because children are particularly vulnerable, Utah Divorce Firm must act quickly when one parent’s neglect or misconduct puts a child at risk. Utah custody laws are very subjective and place priority on the best interests of the children. Convincing a court where the best interests of a child lie requires a skilled advocate with a mastery of the facts of a case and your position. Ultimately, the court’s version of what is best for the children may be different than what either parent believes is best.
Two Kinds of Child Custody
Legal Custody is the right to make medical, religious, educational, and other decisions like this. Parents can share this right (“Joint Legal Custody”) or this right can be placed with one parent (“Sole Legal Custody”). In most cases, parents have joint legal custody unless there is a compelling reason.
Physical Custody refers to where the children will reside and how much time the children will spend with the other parent.
Sole physical custody or Primary physical custody (most common) means one parent has the child for more than 70% of the overnights with their child, with routine parent-time given to the other parent.
Joint physical custody means that the child stays with each parent overnight for more than 30% of the year.
Split custody (rare) means that there are at least two children at issue, and each parent has primary physical custody of at least one child.
In 2013, the Utah Legislature made clear that the child custody statute establishes no inherent preference for joint physical custody or sole physical custody.
The parent who has the most time with the child will likely receive child support.
Factors Determining Custody
There are a few factors that the court will consider in making a custody determination:
The past conduct and demonstrated moral standards of each of the parents;
Which parent is most likely to act in the best interest of the child going forward (based on the historical patterns of behavior), including allowing the child frequent and continuing contact with the noncustodial parent;
The quality and nature of the relationship between the parent and child;
Each parent’s role in raising the child before the divorce; and
Each parent’s situation and ability to nurture the child going forward;
In Utah, the court may consider the child’s expressed desires concerning custody. As of 2013, the preference of a child 14 years old or older is given greater consideration, but is not the single controlling factor.
Preparing for a Custody Dispute
If you are preparing for a custody battle, become as active as possible in the lives of your children and document your activity and involvement.
Throughout the divorce process, realize that the court will evaluate your behavior in its entirety, both in court and out of court. Irrational or aggressive behavior will negatively affect your case, so be mindful of your actions.
Salt Lake City, Orem, Provo, Ogden, Sandy Custody Attorney
Hiring a family law attorney gives you the best opportunity to convince the court that your proposed custody arrangement is in the best interest of your children. Please call Utah Divorce Firm today at (801) 424-5280 and let us be your advocate through this process so you can protect what is most important to you and avoid the pitfalls that can cause years of pain and regret.