What to know about child custody orders

Getting divorced can be a stressful and life altering path for the adults involved, but what if there are children to consider? Custody arrangements are a large part of family law, and a very important consideration for anyone getting divorced. If you are getting divorced in the state of Utah, here are a few things you should be aware of when getting divorced.

What is custody?

For a minor child, custody is a legal status which is issued by the courts determining who has the legal responsibility for the care and maintenance of a child, as well as who has the legal authority to make important decisions for that child.

There are actually two types of custody to consider: physical custody and legal custody. Physical custody determines with whom the child lives, and legal custody determines who gets to make important decisions for the child. Generally, there will be only two types of both: sole and joint. Sole custody means that just one parent has the custody, and joint means it is shared equally.

This can work out in a number of ways. Sole legal and physical custody means that a child lives with one parent who makes all of the important decisions for that child. This does not mean that the other parent looses all visitation rights, and if both parties involved cannot agree the courts can set a schedule for parental visits.

Joint legal and physical custody means that the child spends half their time living with one parent, and then the other. Both parents in this case would be able to make important decisions for the child. This type of custody works best when there is open and free communication between the adults involved. Sharing joint custody is an important obligation which will require the parents involve to be able to work together for the good of the child.

It is also possible for one parent to have sole physical custody of the child, who lives with them 225 days out of the year, but legal custody is still shared by both parents jointly.

Finally, there is a type of custody referred to as split custody, which can happen if there are multiple children. In this case, each parent receives sole custody of a different child.

What do the courts consider?

The primary concern when determining custody is the health, safety, and well-being of the child involved. As such, many different things may be taken into consideration, including:

  • The conduct of the parents
  • Which parent is most likely to act in the child's best interest
  • Which parent is likely to allow the child visitation and contact with the other parent
  • The relationship between the parent and child

Every case is different and several factors are considered before a custody arrangement is finalized. Consult a family law lawyer to understand your case and what options are available.

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