When married parents with minor children divorce in Utah, they will have to reach a settlement regarding custody or have a judge decide how to split up parental responsibilities.
Whether you want to negotiate with your spouse in a mediation session or believe that litigation is necessary, it is important that you understand the terms used to discuss custody in Utah. What are the various kinds of custody that you need to know before your divorce?
Legal and physical custody
When parents talk about having time with their children, that is physical custody. The parent with physical custody needs to be present with the children and provide for their needs. The parent with physical custody while the children are in school will usually have an obligation to leave their work and pick the child up if they fall ill during the school day or get sent home due to bad behavior.
Many parents focus so much on physical custody that they don’t stop to consider the value of legal custody. Legal custody gives the parent the right to make decisions for their children. Legal custody is what gives you the authority to enroll your child in a religious education program, to transfer them to a new school or to approve medical care when they are sick.
Shared and sole custody
When the courts decide how to divide those parental rights and responsibilities between divorcing parents, they have to focus on what is best for the children.
Most of the time, judges agree that joint or shared custody will be best for the whole family. Children require a strong support network, especially after a trauma like the divorce of their parents. Having a strong relationship with both parents through a shared or joint custody arrangement can make it easier for them to adjust to the changes in the family.
However, sometimes, judges decide that one parent should have full or sole custody. This is a rare occurrence that usually only happens when one parent doesn’t want parenting time or there are issues like abuse or addiction affecting one parent.
Knowing these terms and concepts will make it easier for you to negotiate for an appropriate custody order in your divorce.