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How Have Child Custody Laws in Utah Changed?

how have child custody laws in utah changed

Recent changes in the Utah Statutes affecting custody in Utah have created a presumption of joint legal custody.  Joint legal custody means the “sharing of the rights, privileges, duties, and powers of a parent by both parents.”  Utah Code Ann § 30-3-10.1.

The presumption of joint legal custody is outlined in Utah Code Ann § 30-3-10:

“There shall be a rebuttable presumption that joint legal custody, as defined in Section 30-3-10.1 is in the best interest of the child, except in cases where there is:

  • Domestic violence in the home or in the presence of the child;
  • Special physical or mental needs of a parent or child, making joint legal custody unreasonable;
  • Physical distance between the residences of the parents, making joint decision making impractical in certain circumstances; or
  • Any other factor the court considers relevant including those listed in this section and Section 30-3-10.2.”

How Do the Child Custody Laws in Utah Affect Parental Rights?

The statutory changes in the state of Utah for legal custody have helped many divorced parents ensure that they will have a contributing voice in the important decisions made for their children. The statutory presumption of joint legal custody has been beneficial for many people going through the difficult process of divorce.  Shared decision can many times help in reducing the manipulation that one spouse uses over the other spouse in some sole legal custody situations.

It is important for parents to create parenting plan as part of the custody case.  A parenting plan is required for any case that has shared joint custody, be it legal or physical.  In order to establish ground rules, and a game plan for helping the children receive care and consistency, and in an effort to encourage parents to work together, a parenting plan is drafted, and then implemented in custody cases.

How is Utah Alimony Awarded?

A spouse may be entitled to Utah alimony.  Utah Code Ann. § 30-3-5(8) states that the court is to consider the following factors in awarding alimony:

(i) the financial condition and needs of the recipient spouse;
(ii) the recipient’s earning capacity or ability to produce income;
(iii) the ability of the payor spouse to provide support;
(iv) the length of the marriage;
(v) whether the recipient spouse has custody of minor children requiring support;
(vi) whether the recipient spouse worked in a business owned or operated by the payor spouse; and
(vii) whether the recipient spouse directly contributed to any increase in the payor spouse’s skill by paying for education received by the payor spouse or allowing the payor spouse to attend school during the marriage.

The statute goes on to say in subsection 8(h):

Alimony may not be ordered for a duration longer than the number of years that the marriage existed unless, at any time prior to termination of alimony, the court finds extenuating circumstances that justify the payment of alimony for a longer period of time.

Can Alimony be Terminated?

Utah alimony can be terminated early due to the remarriage or cohabitation of the party receiving alimony. While remarriage is easy to show, cohabitation proves to be more difficult. Cohabitation includes “participation in a relatively permanent sexual relationship akin to that generally existing between husband and wife, and the sharing of the financial obligations surrounding the maintenance of a household” Myers v. Myers, 266 P.3d 806, at 809 (2011). Cohabitation means more than just living together for a brief period of time, must include a sexual relationship, and sharing expenses.

Free Consultation with Child Custody Lawyer

If you have a question about child custody question or if you need to collect back child support, please call Ascent Law at (801) 676-5506. We will aggressively fight for you.

Michael R. Anderson, JD

Ascent Law LLC
8833 S. Redwood Road, Suite C
West Jordan, Utah
84088 United States

Telephone: (801) 676-5506