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How is joint custody defined under Utah law?

Utah law provides for two different types of "joint" custody: joint legal custody; and joint physical custody. The ultimate decision by a court as to a custody determination must be based on the "best interests" of the child or children involved. There are advantages and disadvantages to each potential custoday arrangement. To fully understand your options, and to give yourself the best chance of achieving the outcome that will work best for you and your children, it is important to have the assistance of an experienced divorce and family law attorney. Contact us today to schedule an initial consultation.

Generally speaking, legal custody refers to the legal rights, powers, and duties of a parent, including the authority to make decisions on behalf of a child. Physical custody involves questions of where the child will reside, how much time the child will spend with each parent, and how and when each parent will have access to the child. Judicial determinations of both legal custody and physical custody are to be based on what is in the best interests of the child. But in making that determination, a court may still award legal custody to one parent and physical custody to the other.

The Utah legislature has defined the terms "joint legal custody" and "joint physical custody" as set forth below.

Joint Legal Custody in Utah

Utah Code section 30-3-10.1 states that "joint legal custody":

a) means the sharing of the rights, privileges, duties, and powers of a parent by both parents, where specified;

b) may include an award of exclusive authority by the court to one parent to make specific decisions;

c) does not affect the physical custody of the child except as specified in the order of joint legal custody;

d) is not based on awarding equal or nearly equal periods of physical custody of and access to the child to each of the parents, as the best interest of the child often requires that a primary physical residence for the child be designated; and

e) does not prohibit the court from specifying one parent as the primary caretaker and one home as the primary residence of the child.

Joint Physical Custody in Utah

Utah Code section 30-3-10.1 states that "joint physical custody":

(a) means the child stays with each parent overnight for more than 30% of the year, and both parents contribute to the expenses of the child in addition to paying child support;

(b) can mean equal or nearly equal periods of physical custody of and access to the child by each of the parents, as required to meet the best interest of the child;

(c) may require that a primary physical residence for the child be designated; and

(d) does not prohibit the court from specifying one parent as the primary caretaker and one home as the primary residence of the child.

Finding a Utah Divorce Attorney in Salt Lake City

The laws governing divorce in Utah are complex. Confronting the legal system on your own is difficult. Whether you are involved in a complex court fight, or are seeking an amicable resolution with an uncontested divorce, we are prepared to help you achieve the results you need.

Based in Salt Lake City, we serve clients throughout Utah. Contact us today to see how an experienced Utah divorce attorney can help you.


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