If you are currently going through a divorce involving child custody and support issues, you may be confused about what your rights are as a parent – and how your parental rights will change once a Utah family court enforces a child custody order.
We asked our Salt Lake City child support attorney to spell out what your rights are as a parent in each type of custody in Utah.
Child custody in Utah: legal and physical
Generally, there are two types of child custody in Utah: legal and physical. A parent with physical custody gets to spend or live with a child the majority of the time.
Legal custody, meanwhile, determines which parent will have the legal right to make important decisions for the child and his/her upbringing. In most cases, legal custody is split between the two parents, the custodial and non-custodial parent.
Sole or joint: Which type of child custody to choose?
While physical custody is most of the times sole, it can also be joint, allowing both parents to divide and share this type of custody. Sole physical custody refers to when the child lives with one parent at least 225 nights per year, while joint physical custody allows both parents to each spend at least 111 nights with the child per year.
While legal custody can be either sole or joint, there are cases when parents are unable to have a healthy and productive dialogue in order to reach a compromise about certain decisions regarding their children’s upbringing (including but not limited to education, religion, medical treatment, after-school classes, etc.). In such cases, the family court in Utah may decide that legal custody is not the best option, our Salt Lake City child custody lawyer from the Ault Firm explains.
If a divorcing couple shares more than one child, in the vast majority of cases both physical and legal custody is divided between the parents. Therefore, each parent gets to have sole physical custody of at least one of their children.
Parenting time and your parental rights in Utah
In order to understand what your rights are as a parent going through a divorce, it is essential to understand how parenting time is determined in Salt Lake City and other parts of Utah. Our best child support attorneys in Salt Lake City explain that under Utah laws, a non-custodial parent is guaranteed a certain minimum amount of parenting time with their children.
How much time you are entitled to spend with your child if you are the non-custodial parent depends on the age of your child as well as other factors. Generally, the non-custodial parent gets to spend a minimum of six hours with the child under 5 months old each week. On top of that, the non-custodial parent is guaranteed to spend an additional two hours on holidays. The minimum amount of parenting and visitation time increases proportionally with the child’s age.
In order to determine the best child custody option in your particular case, it is highly advised to speak to a Salt Lake City child custody attorney. Learn more about your rights as a parent by getting a free consultation with our lawyers from the Ault Firm.