Utah Child Custody And Support Laws: The Basics
In Utah, child custody can be broken down into two distinct parts: legal custody and physical custody. Essentially, legal custody delineates which parent has the right to make important decisions regarding a child, while physical custody simply indicates where a child actually lives.
With either legal or physical custody, a court can order sole custody to one parent or joint custody to both parents. For instance, a court may award two parents with joint legal and joint physical custody, in which case both parents will be allowed to make important decisions related to the child and the child will live with both of them. Any time parents have a shared parenting arrangement, such as when joint custody is ordered, a parenting plan outlining how the parents will raise the child must be created.
However, the most important thing to remember when it comes to a child custody dispute in Utah is that a court’s decision will be guided by the child’s best interests. Even if the parents are able to agree upon a custody arrangement during divorce proceedings, the arrangement must still be in the best interests of the child for the court to order it. It many cases, the process of determining the best interests of a child will involve a multifactor analysis.
Understanding Child Support
Child support is different from child custody in that it is primarily determined by the state’s child support guidelines, which consist of three elements: base child support, medical care and child care costs. There typically isn’t much room for analysis when it comes to child support, unlike child custody. In most situations, you merely enter your numbers into a formula, and it tells you how much support is required.
Deviation from the state guidelines is only permitted in some situations. However, like child custody, child support can be modified under certain circumstances.
Always Seek Legal Representation
It is crucial to keep in mind, though, that the information referenced above is merely a basic outline of child custody and support laws in Utah. Indeed, oftentimes disputes can be significantly more complex, particularly when they involve an interstate child custody battle.
If you have questions regarding child custody or child support in Utah, contact The Law Office of Eric P. Paulson to speak to an experienced and compassionate lawyer. You can email us online or call us at 801-210-8313. We even offer FREE initial consultations. While our office is located in American Fork, attorney Eric Paulson assists clients throughout Utah County, including those in Provo and Orem.