Although parents sometimes choose to legally separate, every parent wishes to protect their child from the negative consequences of divorce . However, it is often difficult for spouses to agree upon what is the best child custody arrangement after the divorce.
I can help you ensure that your children and you are protected and that a child custody arrangement is sought that is in the best interest of your children and gives you adequate parental control and involvement with your children.
Child Custody Orders
Each child custody order consists of two parts, legal custody and physical custody. Legal custody affects the manner in which parents can make decisions for the child and physical custody affects the living arrangements of the child, that is, which parent they live with and when.
The decision made by the court over child custody affects many other areas of the divorce such as child support, spousal support and the equitable distribution of property. Thus this is always an important issue in any divorce and should not be taken lightly.
Types of Child Custody
There are four main types of custody each with their own specific rules, guidelines and limits.
The first type is sole legal and sole physical custody awarded to one parent. Such an arrangement gives that parent the only power to make decisions for the child and although the other parent has parent time and visitation rights the bulk of time the child stays with the custodial parent.
Secondly, the court could decide upon joint legal and joint physical custody. In this case parents are both responsible for the decision making for the child and the child will split time living with both parents.
Third, there is joint legal and sole physical custody, in which case the parents both have decision making power, but one parent provides the living space for the child.
Finally, there is split custody. In such an arrangement the parents assume sole legal and sole physical custody of different children.
Standard visitation is actually the minimum amount of time a parent will get to spend with his or her children without evidence that spending time with the parent will endanger the children. Standard parent time is 1) every other weekend from Friday afternoon until Sunday evening, 2) one weeknight per week from 5:00 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.–if the parties cannot agree on which night this will occur, it occurs on Wednesday night, 3) four weeks during the summer, and 4) half of the holidays each year.
If the parents cannot agree…
Utah courts encourage parents to agree on a parent-time schedule. Standard parent time is the minimum the courts will allow either parent to receive without evidence that spending time with a parent will be dangerous for the children. If the parents agree to more parent time than standard parent time, the court will usually approve the schedule unless the court finds it is not in the best interests of the children. If the parties cannot agree on a parent-time schedule, the court will usually order them to obtain a custody evaluation. This evaluation is performed by a psychologist or social worker and contains the evaluator’s recommendation for a parent-time schedule. The parties generally share the costs of the custody evaluation.
Utah Child Custody
There are several considerations concerning child custody in a Utah Divorce. Most likely your divorce involving child custody will involve a child custody evaluator. In most instances divorce judges in Utah believe that a child custody evaluator or Guardian Ad Litem (GAL) are important people in deciding the child custody in your case. When you hire a child custody evaluator there are certain factors they will consider in your divorce. You will also need a divorce lawyer that understands child custody evaluations and how they function in a Utah Divorce. For a list of considerations, click here.
Contact me to start discussing how to best meet your child custody needs.