Child Custody & Visitation


Child Custody & Visitation

Although Utah has detailed parent-time guidelines drawn out to help divorced or separated parents with visitation, the courts always encourage the parents to plan a parent-time schedule together that will better suit the specific needs of their child(ren).  Schedules should be very specific and include things such as where the child(ren) will live, how many nights the child(ren) will have with each parent, the transportation of the child(ren) and include days such as weekends and holidays. If parents are in agreement they may also even decide together how to split expenses such as medical, school, and extracurricular activities. Utah Custody & Visitation Guidelines

If the unfortunate event occurs that the parents are unable to agree on their own on a parent-time schedule the courts will have to order one that they believe will cover the best interests and well-being for the child(ren). Many factors will be looked at to determine the best course of action for the child(ren)’s health and safety. Generally, the court will start with the state’s standard parent visitation time and then modify the schedule with more or less time depending all the factors and circumstances of the specific case.

Utah Standard Parenting Time

There are many events that help a judge decide what the best custody arrangement for the child(ren) may be.  Some of the factors may include:

  • The child(ren)’s school
  • Community
  • Religion
  • Extracurricular activities
  • The availability of both parents to care for the child(ren)
  • The developmental needs of the child(ren)
  • The child(ren)’s emotional bond with each parent
  • Each parent’s parenting skills
  • Shared interests between parent and child(ren)
  • Distance between parent’s home
  • The preference of who the child(ren) would like to live with
  • The age of the child(ren); a child that is still nursing may have a different schedule than the others
  • Ability to financially provide for the child(ren)
  • Each parents amount of involvement in the child(ren)’s lives.
  • The emotional and physical health of each parent

On occasions it is possible to file for a modification to the child custody and visitation. With Utah law you are allowed to request a modification if:

  • It’s been more than three years since the last order was put into place
  • There’s a substantial change in circumstances for the child(ren) and/or parent
  • A modification and change would best serve the child(ren)’s welfare and interests

All the things the court took into consideration for the original custody and visitation will be looked into again for the modification. The courts will always focus on what they believe to be in the child(ren)’s best interest for their health, safety, and wellbeing – sometimes despite what the parent’s wants and wishes are.



What is the difference between joint and sole custody?

  • In Utah there are two types of custody- physical and legal. Physical is determined by where the child(ren) sleeps at night. Legal gives the parent the power to make decisions and determine what is best for the child(ren) on matters such as medical, religion, and school.
  • Joint custody is when parents share all decision-making power, with one of the parent having the power of final-say if the parents cannot agree.

How does child support work?

  • Child support is not always determined by who has custody of the child(ren), but also by gross monthly income and monthly expenses. Child support also never affects the parent’s visitation rights. If the other parent is months behind in payments they are still allowed their full visitation time without question.

Are parenting plans required even if we do standard visitation?

A Child Guide To Utah DivorceCan the child(ren) decide on their own which parent to live with?

  • In Utah the court will generally not consider the child(ren)’s wishes unless they are at least 14. They court will consider and listen to the child(ren)’s wants on which parent to live with and on the parent-time schedule if the child is adequately mature and independent enough to express a true preference.

Do grandparents have any visitation rights?

  • Unfortunately, generally, no. It usually takes an independent action through the court to grant any third parties any rights to the child(ren). A bill recently passed in March 2011 did give grandparents visitation if the child(ren) have been removed from the parents.


Child custody and visitation is a serious matter and requires strong and focused representation to ensure that the rights and best interests of you and your children are well protected. Here at Stevens & Gailey we will work endlessly and tirelessly to protect your future!