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Joint vs. Sole Custody

Joint vs. Sole Custody


During the divorce process, many Utah parents wonder how their decision to end their marriage will impact the relationships they have with their children. In order to protect their children’s well-being, parents will either be awarded joint or sole custody once their divorce is finalized. As a Divorce and Custody Lawyer, I’ve seen it all, but I want to help you through this process.


In sole custody arrangements, according to the American Bar Association, one parent is responsible for taking care of his or her children the majority of the time. This parent is also responsible for making major decisions about his or her children. However, when sole custody is awarded, the noncustodial parent is almost always given visitation rights. When this occurs, this parent may be able to care for his or her children on overnight visits or during vacation periods.


When a joint custody arrangement is awarded, parents may either be given joint legal custody of their children, joint physical custody of their children or both. According to the Utah Courts, parents who have joint legal custody of their children have the authority to make major decisions about them. For example, in these situations, both parents have the right to determine what religion, if any, their children will participate in, where they will go to school and what type of medical care they will receive.

Comparatively, joint physical custody means that the children spend at least 111 nights in the homes of each of their parents every year, states the Utah Courts. In these situations, it is usually best if the divorced parents are able to live near each other.


If parents devise a custody agreement with their ex-spouse and the court determines that it reflects the children’s best interests, this arrangement will be legally granted. However, if parents cannot come to an agreement, the decision of what type of custody will be awarded is left up to the court, states the Utah Courts. When determining what the children’s best interests are, the court will consider a number of different factors. These include some of the following:

  • Which type of custody will benefit the children’s different emotional, physical and psychological needs
  • Whether or not both parents participated in raising their children before ending their marriage
  • The parents ability to work together and make joint decisions about their children

When a child custody determination is left up to the court, parents in Utah may have concerns about how these factors and others will affect their ability to acquire sole or joint custody. If you and your spouse have decided to end your marriage, speak with an attorney to receive legal guidance during this difficult time.


They have been poked fun on the Maury Povich Show and on Internet memes. But paternity tests are no laughing matter. There are currently countless children and grown adults throughout Utah who do not know the identity of their fathers. It is one of the most serious and common matters in Salt Lake City family law. The consequences can be emotionally and financially severe for everyone involved. Paternity tests not only determine the identity of the father, they can also provide insight into family medical history. By correctly identifying the father, mothers can begin the process of receiving child support and other benefits.


During pregnancy, most states require an Acknowledgment of Paternity form to be completed at the hospital. Once the document is signed, the couple has a limited amount of time to complete a DNA paternity test to amend the AOP. If time has expired and the couple has not completed the test, then the person listed on the AOP is legally responsible for the child. Even if the person listed on the AOP is later tested and not found to be the biological father, they are still legally responsible for the child. Many states require unmarried couples to take paternity tests to list a father’s name on a birth certificate.

There are three different types of paternity tests. Each one is to be performed during pregnancy. Testing can be done as soon as the end of the first trimester. The results are kept confidential. Each test poses no health risks to the mother or the developing baby. Depending on the procedure, prices can range from $400 to $2,000.

  • Amniocentesis:In addition to verifying the father, it is also one of the most effective tests to determine whether the child will be born with downs syndrome. Taken during the second trimester, amniocentesis involves the use of a long needle into the uterus and through the abdomen. The needle is used to remove amniotic fluid, which is to be tested. A doctor’s consent is required to complete the procedure.
  • Non-Evasive Prenatal Paternity (NIPP):Of all the paternity test, NIPP is considered the most accurate and utilizes state-of-the-art technology of analyzing a baby’s DNA found in the mother’s bloodstream. The test simply requires blood samples from the alleged father and mother. NIPP can be performed at any time after the eighth week of pregnancy.
  • Chronic Villus Sampling (CVS):One of the advantages of CVS is it can be completed relatively early in the pregnancy. (10-13 weeks) It consists of using long needle or tube to be inserted from the vagina into the cervix. The needle is guided through ultrasound to collect chorionic villi. These pieces of tissue contain the same genetic makeup as the fertilized egg of the fetus.

If you are a single mother, it is extremely important to identify the father of your baby. To learn more on how test results can be used in court, contact a Salt Lake City family law attorney today.

Free Consultation with Child Custody Lawyer

If you have a question about child custody question or if you need help in a divorce, 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