Legal Updates on Child Custody Laws in Utah

Legal Updates on Child Custody Laws in Utah

Child Custody Laws in Utah Have Recently Changed

The Utah legislature has changed the Utah Statutes regarding child custody laws in Utah, creating a presumption of joint legal custody. Joint legal custody means the “sharing of the rights, privileges, duties, and powers of a parent by both parents.” Utah Code Ann § 30-3-10.1.

The Child Custody Laws in Utah Will Affect Parental Rights

The recent statutory changes should positively affect legal custody for many divorced parents by ensuring that they may participate more in important decisions made for their children.  The statutory presumption of joint legal custody will help parents struggling through the divorce process since sharing decisions helps reduce the manipulation that one spouse may use over the other spouse which is often seen in sole legal custody situations.  The changed child custody laws in Utah emphasize the need to create parenting plan as part of the custody case.  Such parenting plans are required for any case involving shared joint legal and physical custody.

Contact a Child Custody Lawyer for More Info

With some of these recent changes, if you have any questions, contact Stevens & Gailey, P.C. for more information.

Self Defense in Utah Domestic Violence Cases

Self Defense in Utah Domestic Violence Cases

Under certain conditions, Utah allows a person charged with a crime, such as domestic violence, to claim self-defense. Self-defense is an affirmative defense to prosecution for any offense based on the conduct of the accused.1 Self-defense can be claimed by a person accused of a crime to justify their use or threatened use of force against another.2 If a person charged with crime, such as domestic violence was justified in their use or threatened use of force, they are entitled to a “not-guilty” verdict.3 Wherefore, a person charged with a crime, such as domestic violence, should consider using self-defense as justification for their conduct.

The amount of force a person is justified in using to defend themselves or another depends on the following conditions: The person’s reasonable belief in the perceived threat to themselves or another4; Whether the person created the circumstance in which force or threatened use of force was used to defend themselves or another5; and Whether the person was lawfully in the place were force or threatened use of force was used to defend themselves or another6.

In determining a person’s reasonable belief in the perceived threat, the judge or jury may consider, but is not limited to, any of the following: the nature of the danger; the immediacy of the danger; the probability that the unlawful force would result in death or serious bodily injury; the other person’s prior violent acts or violent propensities; and any patterns of abuse or violence in the parties’ relationship7.

As long as the person was lawfully in the place where force or threat of force was used to defend themselves or another, they do not have a duty to retreat. However, if the person was not lawfully in the place where they defended themselves or another, they must retreat from the encounter and effectively communicate to the other person their intent to do so, in order to claim self-defense.

1Utah Code Ann. §76-2-401(1) 2Utah Code Ann. §76-2-402(1) 3State v. Wilson, 565 P.2d 695 (Utah 1977)4Utah Code Ann. §76-2-402(1)(a) and §76-2-402(1)(b) 5Utah Code Ann. §76-2-402(2) 6Utah Code Ann. §76-2-402(3) 7Utah Code Ann. §76-2-402(5)