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How to Get Custody of Your Child in Utah

Anyone seeking child custody in Utah needs to understand the local laws and courts. An attorney based in Salt Lake City understands child custody laws and can help you find the best situation for your situation. This page is meant to be a child custody primer. If you have any further questions, do not hesitate to call us.

How to Get Custody of Your Child in Utah

Custody usually specifies who has authority to make decisions for the child or where the child calls home if the parents live in separate houses. There are two different types of custody.

  1. Physical Custody: This decides where the child lives.
  2. Legal Custody: The parent with legal custody makes important decisions for the child.

These two types of custodies can be shared in three different ways.

  • Sole Custody: Custody may be granted tone one parent, with visitation rights given to the other parent.
  • Joint Custody: This arrangement involves both parents. For example, both parent have the right to make decisions for their children. Joint custody requires a good working relationship between the parents. Joint physical custody is a situation where the child lives in both homes for some amount of time decided by a judge or both parents.
  • Split Custody: Split custody is when there is more than one child. For example, one child may live with the mother while the other child lives with the father.


The process starts after either parent files a motion for custody of a child or children. The motion can be the result of divorce, in which case the motion is filed in an Utah juvenile court. If the parents are on the same page, they may file a motion together. After the court reviews the motion, he or she will decide if it is in the best interest of the child. If the parents do not agree on the conditions of custody, each parent will submit their own plan. The court will look them both over and decide which is in the best interest of the child.


How does the court decide what is the best interest of the child? The court will generally conduct relevant research, which could include:

  • Medical, psychiatric and psychological evaluations of the parents and children
  • Finances of both parents
  • Family relations
  • Character
  • Past conduct


In the case of divorce, who gets to claim the child on their income tax forms? The parent who lives with the child in a sole custody arrangement gets to claim the child for income tax purposes. Of course, there are situations where a judge may issue an order stating otherwise. The tax arrangement could be modified for your specific situations, with options such as alternating years or creating a buyout clause, allowing one parent to reimburse to the other parent the amount that they would receive if they were the parent taking the deduction.

Salt Lake City Estate Planning and Probate Lawyers

Estate Planning is an essential part of making sure that you avoid probate, which is the process of administering and dividing a person’s estate through the courts. Although administering an estate through the probate process is common, it is often a time-consuming, contentious and expensive circumstance that can be avoided through careful estate planning.

Perhaps the most forgotten or underused aspect of trust planning is the ability of a good trust plan to manage your potential incapacity. We have encountered numerous instances where a will and a power of attorney were insufficient to protect a person when they lost the ability to manage their own affairs and costly judicial processes were necessary to provide for the person. A quality trust plan will virtually eliminate this possibility and provides the best mechanism for you to direct how your estate should be managed and how you should be cared for in the event you can’t manage it on your own.

What You Can Expect

Another purpose of estate planning is to help a person ensure that their assets and property are distributed according to their wishes after they pass away. The goal of proper estate planning is to eliminate any uncertainties and to provide the client with peace of mind. Proper estate planning can also reduce taxes and other expenses by ensuring that the estate is distributed according to your wishes.

Most importantly, however, quality estate planning will hopefully reduce the risk that family relationships will be destroyed by contention over your estate. We believe that these relationships and your values are often far more important than the physical assets. That is why our motto is: Estate planning is not about what you own, it’s about what you value!

Our firm handles a variety of issues involved in estate planning, such as:

  • Wills
  • Trust Planning
  • Asset Protection
  • Charitable Planning
  • Special Needs Planning
  • Probate

Probate is the judicial process of administering a decedent’s estate. Someone is appointed by the court to pay the final bills and taxes (if any) and distribute the remainder to those persons named in a will or to the nearest living relatives if no will exists. If you have gone through proper estate planning, this process may be avoided, saving your loved ones time and money by avoiding court.

Free Consultation with Child Custody Lawyer

When you need legal help with child custody, please call Ascent Law at (801) 676-5506. We will help you.

Michael R. Anderson, JD

Ascent Law LLC
8833 S. Redwood Road, Suite C
West Jordan, Utah
84088 United States

Telephone: (801) 676-5506