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Types of Child Custody in Utah

Custody disputes can be contentious and emotionally fueled; you are fighting for custody of your child, after all. But there are several different types of child custody. So before you sign anything or make any agreements about a custody arrangement, be sure to educate yourself in the different types of child custody in Utah.

Types of Child Custody in Utah


There are two main types of child custody, legal and physical. The ideal situation for your child will depend on many factors and variables. The child’s age should be taken into account as well as their relationship with both parents.

Legal custody gives the parent the right and responsibility to make any decision about the way the child is raised. This includes decisions like schooling options, medical and healthcare decisions, and even the child’s religious upbringing.

Physical custody, on the other hand, determines where the child will reside. Often times, the child will have a lot of say in which parent they live with since the decision directly affects their daily life.

While legal and joint custody can be difficult decisions, there are ways to make them easier. For example, there are a few different ways legal and physical custody can be shared between parents.


Both physical and legal custody arrangements can be difficult on either parent, however, there are ways to make this easier on everyone. Legal and physical custody can be shared between parents in two different ways: joint custody and split custody.

Joint custody is an agreement where both parents have say in their child’s future. Joint legal custody grants both parents a say in decisions like the child’s schooling, religious upbringing, and any healthcare or medical needs. This can often become contentious, however, usually in the case of the child’s religious upbringing. This is especially prevalent in Utah.

Joint physical custody allows both parents to spend equal time with their child. In this circumstance, the child will split his or her time between both parents’ residences. This arrangement requires a good relationship between both parents in order to work well.

Split custody is only applicable if there is more than one child. One child will spend the majority of their time with one parent and the other child will primarily reside with the other. This, however, is often difficult on the children since they spend far less time with their siblings than they would otherwise.

Sole custody, on the other hand, grants only one parent the custody rights. The other parent usually receives visitation rights, unless there is a circumstance where this is not ideal.

Salt Lake City Lawyer: A Life Estate Can Prevent Your New Spouse and Adult Kids from Fighting Over Your House When You’re Gone

A common concern for those who have remarried is that they still want to leave the bulk of their estate to their adult children without abandoning their current spouse. The solution? Create a life estate. A life estate is a tenancy that allows a person to use a property for the rest of their natural life, but not own the property.

For example, Larry in Utah lives with his second wife, Jane, and stepchildren on the ancestral farm he inherited after both his parents died. Larry wants the house to go to his children, but he’s afraid that if he wills the house to them and he dies first, they’ll make Jane leave. If he leaves it to his wife, the house goes to his stepchildren when she dies. However, Larry could plan his estate by giving Jane a life estate, with the farm reverting to his heirs when she dies.

Quick facts about life estates:

A life estate doesn’t:

Give the possessor ownership. Those who have life estates don’t own the property. They’re tenants for the rest of their lives, and unless there are other rules restricting the use of the property, they can use the properties as they wish. For example, if Larry gives Jane a life estate, she can’t turn around and sell the property.

Give the possessor the right to sell or significantly change the property. Likewise, since Jane doesn’t own the property, she can’t make significant changes to it. She can’t take the house down and put up a motel, pave the cornfields, or even put an attached garage on the land. This is called waste.

Give anyone else the power to dispossess whoever has the life estate. As long as Jane isn’t causing waste to the farm, then her stepchildren, Larry’s adult children from a previous marriage, may not remove her from the property. Since she’s also a life tenant, they have to respect her tenancy. This means they can’t intrude, trespass, or disrupt her ability to live peacefully on the property. For example, the children can’t decide to rent the fields to another farmer.

A life estate does:

Allow the possessor to rent the property. Jane can rent out the farm for as long as she has the life estate. For example, if Jane moves away but decides to rent the farm to her brother, she can rent it to him for as long as she lives. He’s still bound by the same rules as she to not change or destroy the property.

Allow the possessor to sell their interest ONLY. Jane can even sell her life estate if she wishes. She can’t sell the property, however, since she doesn’t own it. So long as the buyer knows they’re not buying the property but the life estate, then the sale is legal.

If you’re in a similar situation, contact a Salt Lake City will lawyer to consider setting up a life estate so you can best take care of everyone whom you consider family.

Free Consultation with Child Custody Lawyer

If you have a question about child custody question or if you need help with child support, 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