Salt Lake City Child Custody Attorney
Child Custody Lawyers Serving Cottonwood Heights & throughout Utah
Child custody disputes are difficult cases that involve charged discussions about where a child will live and how much time they will spend with a parent. In addition to determining who the child spends their time with, there is also the issue of financial child support.
At Lokken & Putnam, P.C., we help our clients maintain their parental rights while balancing the best interests of their children. Our Salt Lake City child custody lawyers have over 25 years of combined legal experience and a commitment to helping clients throughout Utah create fair and effective child custody agreements.
Types of Child Custody
Child custody is divided in two primary ways:
- Physical custody: Which parent the child will primarily or always live with
- Legal custody: Which parent will have the right to make major decisions about a child's life, including education, medical care, and religious upbringing
Joint physical custody means that a child will spend at least 111 overnights a year at each parent's home. Joint custody parents often contribute to the expenses of their child's care on top of child support.
How Is Child Custody Determined in Utah?
The courts determine child custody based on many factors that boil down to what is in a child's best interest. These determining factors are relatively subjective and include who will best focus on their child's well-being. For an unmarried father to claim child custody, he must also prove legal parentage (paternity).
The courts use several factors to decide child custody in Utah, including:
- Which parent will let their child continue contact with the other parent
- The quality and depth of the relationship between a parent and child
- If a parent can encourage a positive relationship between the child and the other parent
- If both parents participated in raising the child before divorce
- The child's preference (if a child is old enough to participate)
Relocation & Child Custody in Utah
If either parent decides to move out of Utah or over 150 miles from the court-specified home, the parent must give notice of the relocation to the court and the other parent. The court or parent may then ask to schedule a hearing to review the custody agreement and ask for modifications.
What Does the Court Consider During a Relocation Hearing?
The factors used in a relocation modification can include:
- The relationship between the parent and child
- The reason behind a parent's need to move
- The added costs and difficulty of exercising parent-time after a move
- The monetary considerations of both parents
Depending on the hearing's outcome the court may order the parent who wants to move to pay for the cost of transportation, extra visits, vacation travel, and other charges.
At What Age Can a Child Make Custody Decision in Utah?
Generally, the court will not consider the preference of a child younger than 14 in a custody case in Utah.
However, the court may consider the choice of a child who is 14 years old or older, but the option is not controlling. When deciding custody, the judge will consider all relevant factors, including the child's age and maturity, the child's relationship with each parent, and the child's best interests.
Here are some factors that the Utah court may consider when making a custody decision:
- The child's age and maturity
- The child's relationship with each parent
- The parent's ability to provide for the child's physical and emotional needs
- The parent's willingness to cooperate in raising the children
- The child's selection, if old enough to express one
If you are going through a custody war, it is crucial to speak with our attorney to discuss your options for custody. Our family law attorney in Salt Lake City can help you understand your legal rights and choices and represent you in Utah court if necessary.
Child Custody Motions to Modify
While child custody modifications are possible, courts often want to keep things as they are – changes are a difficult proposition. To propose a child custody modification, a parent must prove that there are substantial reasons for change that are in a child's best interests. These reasons can include if a parent violated a court order or if there were significant changes to a parent's circumstances
Utah Has Strict Child Custody Guidelines – Seek Guidance
An order can prevent heated disputes and make co-parenting easier for everyone involved. Our Salt Lake City child custody attorneys can help you understand the process and take proper legal action.
Call (801) 829-9783 to schedule a consultation. You may also fill out our online contact form.
“She knows how things are going to play out ahead of time.”- Former Client
“She is very knowledgeable, down to earth, and honest”- Former Client