Utah Child Custody Laws

Dad speaking to child outside courthouse

Custody laws are continually changing and updating to find the most effective laws and practices regarding child custody. These laws and practices may vary slightly in different states across the country. It is important for co-parents to get to know the current Utah child custody laws so that they can get a better idea of what to expect in their own custody case.

What types of custody do the Utah child custody laws allow?

The types of custody that the Utah child custody laws and courts typically grant are common with those of most other states across the country. Legal custody refers to the important decision-making rights and responsibilities for the child. This includes but is not limited to decisions regarding education, religion, and health issues. Physical custody refers to the primary caretaking rights and responsibilities for the child including providing the child with food, clothing, and shelter. Both of these types of custody must be defined in a parenting plan.

The general consensus in family court systems around the country is that frequent and continuing contact between both co-parents and the child after a divorce is in the child’s best interest. This may not be appropriate for all situations, especially if the frequent contact with both co-parents will put the child in any kind of physical or emotional danger. Utah child custody laws define joint legal custody as the sharing of rights, privileges, duties, and powers regarding the child between both co-parents. The court may still specify certain responsibilities to be held by one co-parent. Joint physical custody is defined as both co-parents contributing to the caretaking of the child. Each co-parent must have at least 30% of overnight stays with the child throughout the year. Although both co-parents are caring for the child, the court may still designate one co-parent as the primary caretaker of the child. Typically, if joint custody is not awarded, visitation rights will be given to the non-custodial co-parent.

How will the Utah child custody laws determine your custody case?

Utah child custody laws may choose to award custody based on an agreement of joint custody made between the co-parents outside of court if it is appropriate. Utah child custody laws and courts always determine an appropriate custody arrangement based on the best interest of the child. Only after determining the best interest of the child will the Utah courts be able to appropriately make a decision on a custody arrangement. Utah child custody laws will consider the following in order to help them determine the best interest of the child.

  • Which type of custody will best meet the physical and emotional needs of the child.
  • Whether both co-parents are willing to facilitate and encourage a positive relationship between the child and the other co-parent.
  • The geographical location of both co-parents and how that might affect physical visitation or custody.
  • The maturity of both co-parents and their willingness to protect the child from any exposure to conflict between them.
  • Who was the primary caretaker of the child before the divorce.

This information is not to be used as legal advice. For additional aide and legal information please consult with a Utah family law professional regarding Utah child custody laws. For a list of resources in Utah visit our Helpful Links – Utah page. The OurFamilyWizard website® is dedicated to providing co-parents with the tools and resources they need to easily manage their custody agreements.


NOTE: Many state and federal laws use terms like ‘custody’ when referring to arrangements regarding parenting time and decision-making for a child. While this has been the case for many years, these are not the only terms currently used to refer to these topics.

Today, many family law practitioners and even laws within certain states use terms such as ‘parenting arrangements’ or ‘parenting responsibility,’ among others, when referring to matters surrounding legal and physical child custody. You will find these terms as well as custody used on the OurFamilyWizard website.