Skip to main content

Child Custody in Utah

We have helped clients with their child custody needs. This is something that is very important, this defines your schedule with your children moving forward.

There are two types of custody in Utah

  1. Physical Custody – This can be joint or sole. There may also be “primary physical" custody in a joint custody scenario. What this means is that the person with the primary physical custody will have the kids go to schools, etc based on their address.
  2. Legal Custody – This can also be joint or sole. The important factor here is that you at least want joint in this category. The reason for this is you want to be able to be part of your child’s life when it comes to decision making. The important decision making process is for religion, medical, school, etc. You cannot miss this custody.


Loss of custody is less drastic than the permanent termination of parental rights. The custody determination is not permanent, since it expires automatically when the child comes of age, and it is reversible prior to that time. Most importantly, loss of custody does not deprive the noncustodial parent of all rights in relation to the child. See U.C.A., 1953, s 78-3a-2(10); In re J. P., supra, n. 1. For these reasons, a parent may be deprived of custody on a less compelling showing than is required for termination of all parental rights. Hutchison v. Hutchison, 649 P.2d 38, 40 (Utah 1982) disapproved of by Watkins v. Nelson, 163 N.J. 235, 748 A.2d 558 (2000) In theory or in practice, some decisions of this Court seem to have ignored this two-step or bifurcated approach to the modification of custody awards. In these cases, it is unclear whether a showing of changed circumstances is a threshold requirement for the court's reconsideration of a custody award or whether the changed circumstances are merely one part of the evidence relevant to the court's consideration of the welfare or best interests of the child. Thus, some cases appear to ignore the initial question of changed circumstances and address themselves immediately to determining the best interests of the child. Bingham v. Bingham, Utah, 575 P.2d 703 (1978); Plumb v. Plumb, Utah, 555 P.2d 1205 (1976); Finnegan v. Finnegan, Utah, 535 P.2d 1159 (1975); Smith v. Smith, 1 Utah 2d 75, 262 P.2d 283 (1953). Hogge v. Hogge, 649 P.2d 51, 53 (Utah 1982)

Both of these custody considerations affect parent time, and child support. You need to fight for want you want. These are your kids and you should get the time you want. Give us a call today for a free consultation (801) 475-0123.

Additional resources provided by the author

Rate this guide

Avvo child custody email series

Sign up to receive a 5-part series of useful information and advice about child custody law.

Recommended articles about Child custody

Can’t find what you’re looking for?

Post a free question on our public forum.

Ask a Question

- or -

Search for lawyers by reviews and ratings.

Find a Lawyer