Family Law Divorce Lawyer Salt Lake City Utah
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Utah Family Law - Child Custody and Visitation

Does a person other than a parent have visitation or child custody rights?

Utah family law creates a strong preference for parents as custodians and caregivers for their children. It can be difficult for a non-parent to obtain a court order for custody or visitation. But it is possible under some circumstances.

Whether you are a parent trying to protect your rights, or a non-parent seeking court-ordered custody or visitation, it is important to have the advice and assistance of an experienced family law attorney. Contact us today to see how we can help you.

Utah law contains many provisions that can play a significant role in determining questions involving child custody and visitation rights of non-parents. Three of the most significant acts in the Utah Code are: the Utah Guardianship Act; the Utah Termination of Parental Rights Act; and the Utah Custody and Visitation for Persons Other than Parents Act.

Utah Custody and Visitation for Persons Other than Parents Act

Legal Presumption in Favor of Parents

By statute, the Utah legislature has created a public policy and presumption that parents are in the best position to exercise primary control over the upbringing, care, supervision, and education of their children. But this presumption is rebuttable, meaning that if certain conditions are met, someone other than a parent may be placed in the role of guardian over the child. The Utah Custody and Visitation for Persons Other than Parents Act sets out the conditions and requirements that must be met in order to rebut this statutory presumption.

Relationship with the Child by Blood or Marriage

The first most fundamental requirement involves the relationship between the child and the person seeking custody or visitation. The Utah Custody and Visitation for Person Other than Parents Act requires that the person seeking visitation or custody must be related to the child either by blood or as a step-relative. The Act specifically defines the term "person other than a parent" as including siblings, uncles, aunts, and grandparents. But these relationships can be established either by blood, by marriage, as a step-relationship, or as a former step-relationship even following divorce.

Specific Factors that Must Be Proven

While satisfying the relationship element is necessary to pursue custody or visitation by a non-parent, the relationship element is not sufficient by itself to allow a court to consider custody or visitation. The non-parent seeking custody or visitation must establish the following factors:

  • the non-parent has intentionally assumed the roles and obligations normally associated with a parent;
  • a parent-child type relationship has formed between the non-parent and the child;
  • the non-parent has contributed either financially or emotionally to the child's well being;
  • the non-parent's assumption of the parental role did not result from a financially compensated surrogate care arrangement;
  • the continued relationship between non-parent and child is in the best interests of the child;
  • termination or loss of that relationship would be detrimental to the child; and
  • the parent is either found by a court to have neglected or abused the child, or the parent is simply absent from the child's life.

Bear in mind that the above-listed factors must ALL be proven. And the burden of proof in this type of action rests with the non-parent. Further, the above-listed factors must be proven by clear and convincing evidence - the second highest standard of proof that can be required by courts

Finding a Family Law Attorney in Utah

Family law, divorce, and child custody cases can involve the most important and personal of all legal issues. Legal fights over custody and visitation cases can be particularly intense. Having the right family law attorney on your side is important to protecting your rights and the rights of those you love. Contact us today to see how we can help you.

  • Family Law Attorney
  • Adoptions
  • Paternity
  • Guardianships
  • Conservatorships
  • Parental Rights Termination
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by Stephen W. Howard, P.C.

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