Child Custody and Visitation Rights
The end of a relationship is often emotionally complex. Divorces and separations are even more complicated when children are involved. Children of unwed, separated, or divorced parents often want and deserve a relationship with both parents. Child custody lawyers at Froerer & Miles, who serve the Ogden, UT, and Layton, UT, areas, work with clients to consider child custody and visitation rights and create an agreement that is in the best interest of the child.
Utah allows parents to create a child custody arrangement themselves or go through family court to have a judge decide the case. When creating custody arrangements, it is necessary to address physical and legal custody. Physical custody dictates where the child lives. Legal custody specifies a parent’s right to make significant life decisions on the child’s behalf, such as choices regarding education, health care, culture, and religion.
There are four primary types of child custody in Utah:
- Sole legal/physical custody - The child lives with one parent, and that parent has control over child-rearing decisions. In sole legal/physical custody cases, the other parent may still retain visitation rights.
- Joint legal/physical custody - The child lives with both parents for varying lengths throughout the year, and the parents make child-rearing decisions together. In cases of joint physical custody, both parents spend substantial time with the child but time is not necessarily split equally.
- Joint legal/sole physical custody - Both parents make decisions for the child, but the child lives full-time with one parent. The other parent has visitation rights.
- Split custody - Parents are granted sole legal and physical custody of different children.
How Is Custody Determined?
Utah parents have the option to determine their child custody arrangement. If parents cannot reach an agreement, one is ordered by the court. When determining child custody, the court often considers the following factors:
- The child’s age and development needs
- The child’s personal preference (depending on their age and maturity level)
- The child’s relationship with each parent
- Each parent’s physical and mental health, as well as any history of abuse, domestic violence, or other incidents
- The distance between the parents’ homes
Utah custody laws state that each custody arrangement must outline a visitation schedule. The visitation schedule must address weekly, monthly, holiday, and summer visits. In most cases, both parents are entitled to spend time with their child, even if one parent is granted sole physical custody. Minimum visitation rights for a noncustodial parent often equate to one weeknight visit per week and overnight visits every other weekend.
When a child’s safety or well-being is a concern, the court may still grant visitation to the non-custodial parent. To protect the child, the court may order supervised visits. Supervised visits take place at an agency or other designated location.
Parents often struggle to reach child custody and visitation agreements without conflict or emotional stress. Child custody lawyers at Froerer & Miles understand state custody laws and are prepared to work toward an agreement in the child’s best interest. To find out how our lawyers can assist you in protecting child custody and visitation rights, request a consultation at our Ogden law firm.