Child’s Decision With Which Parents To Live

Child's Decision With Which Parents To Live

Is a legal term regarding guardianship which is used to describe the legal and practical relationship between a parent or guardian and a child in that person’s care? Child custody consists of legal custody, which is the right to make decisions about the child, and physical custody, which is the right and duty to house, provide and care for the child. Married parents normally have joint legal and physical custody of their children. Decisions about child custody typically arise in proceedings involving divorce, annulment, separation, adoption or parental death. In most jurisdictions child custody is determined in accordance with the best interests of the child standard.

LEGAL CUSTODY

Legal custody involves the division of rights between the parents to make important life decisions relating to their minor children. Such decisions may include choice of a child’s school, physician, medical treatments, orthodontic treatment, counseling, psychotherapy and religion.

Legal custody may be joint, in which case both parents share decision-making rights, or sole, in which case one parent has the rights to make key decisions without regard to the wishes of the other parent.

PHYSICAL CUSTODY

Physical custody establishes where a child lives and who decides day-to-day issues regarding the child. If a parent has physical custody of a child, that parent’s home will normally be the child’s legal residence (domicile). The times during which parents provide lodging and care for the child is defined by a court-ordered custody parenting schedule, also known as a parenting plan.

Can a Child Decide?

In some states, children above a certain age are allowed to determine for themselves which parent they would prefer to live with. But a preference isn’t the final word and it doesn’t give the child the actual decision. Child custody laws in Utah allow judges to ask children’s preferences with any children who seem old enough to make a reasonable decision. Children age 16 and older are given “considerable weight” in determining which parent they will live with, but no child’s decision is final. In all cases, the judge will use the child’s wishes as a factor in awarding child custody, but not the sole determinant. A law is currently being proposed in Utah that would give children as young as 14 the right to decide where they live, but it has not yet been passed. Keep an eye on recent political news developments to make sure you understand the current status of the law.

Overview of Custody Decisions in Utah

Utah courts decide child custody whenever parents can’t come to an agreement on their own. Judges must consider a number of factors when making custody decisions, including each of the following:
• the parents’ past conduct and moral standards
• which parent is most likely to act in the child’s best interests, including allowing the child frequent contact with the other parent
• the child’s relationship with each parent
• either parent’s history of domestic violence
• the child’s special needs, if any
• the distance between the parents’ residences
• the child’s preference, if the child is old enough, and
• Any other factor the court deems relevant to custody.
To read more information about custody decisions in Utah, see Child Custody in Utah: The Best Interests of the Child.
Best Interest of the Child
Utah family courts, like those in most states, determine child custody matters using the “best interests of the child.” The factors considered by the judge include:
• Past conduct and demonstrated moral standards of the parties
• Parent most likely to act in the best interest of the child, including allowing child frequent contact with non-custodial parent
• Bonding between each parent and the child
• If a parent has intentionally exposed the child to pornography or other harmful sexual-related materials
• Physical, psychological, and emotional needs of the child
• Both parent’s ability to reach shared decisions for the child and prioritize the child’s welfare
• If both parents participated in raising the child before the divorce
• The geographic proximity of the parents’ homes
• The child’s preferences
• Parents ability to protect child from their conflict
• Past and present ability to cooperate with each other in parenting and making decisions
• Any history of child abuse, domestic violence, or kidnapping
• Any other relevant factors
When parents can’t develop their own parenting schedule, the court can establish an appropriate schedule more or less than the statutory minimum parent-time based on the following best interest of the child factors:
• How parent-time would negative impact child’s physical health and emotional development
• Distance between child’s home and the non-custodial parent’s home
• Allegations of child abuse
• Lack of demonstrated parenting skills when there’s no safeguards to ensure child’s safety
• Financial inability of non-custodial parent to provide food and shelter during parent-time
• Child’s preference, if sufficiently mature
• Parent’s incarceration
• Shared interests of the child and non-custodial parent
• Non-custodial parent’s involvement in the child’s school, community, religious, or other related activities
• Non-custodial parent’s availability to care for the child when the custodial parent is working or has other obligations
• Chronic pattern of missing, canceling or denying regularly scheduled parenting time

• Parent-time schedule of siblings
• Lack of reasonable alternatives for nursing child
• Any other criteria the court feels is relevant to the best interests of the child

Joint Child Custody in Utah

A court in Utah will always consider joint physical or legal custody if both parties have completed a parenting plan and if joint custody serves the best interests of the child. In reaching a determination for joint custody, the court will consider the following factors:
• The geographical proximity between the parents
• Each parent’s ability to place the needs of the child first in reaching appropriate decisions
• Whether both parents have always participated in the child’s upbringing
• The child’s wishes, if the child is of an age to express a reasonable preference (generally age 12 or older)
• Any history of child abuse, spousal abuse or kidnapping
• Each parent’s maturity and ability to avoid conflict for the sake of the child
• The parents’ ability to cooperate with one another
• Any other factors deemed relevant by the court

Modification of Child Custody in Utah

Upon request by one parent, a Utah family court may modify or terminate a custody arrangement if:
• A modification will positively affect the best interests of the child
• There has been a material and substantial change of circumstances in the child or one of the parents’ lives
• Both parents have complied with the dispute resolution process, prior to taking the case to a court hearing
For more information about child custody in Utah, speak with a qualified attorney in Utah or refer to the Utah Code.

When Will the Court Consider a Child’s Preference?

Whether a Utah court will consider a child’s preference when deciding custody depends on the child’s age and maturity. Judges will give more weight to older children’s preferences (14 and older), and disregard the opinion of children under ten. Children between ten and 14 can have limited input on custody decisions. In one case, an 11-year old boy stated a preference to live with his father, but the judge specifically stated that an 11-year old shouldn’t have control over where he lives.

Judges will also look at the reasons a child prefers to live with one parent over the other. In one case, a father with custody of two boys moved them from their hometown and away from their school, friends, and other family members. The children wanted to live with their mother to be close to friends and family, and to continue going to the school they knew. The court found that these were valid reasons to want to live with their mother and gave the children’s preferences significant weight in the custody decision. On the other hand, if a child’s reasons for wanting to live one parent are immature, for example, because one parent is more lax with discipline or gives them lavish gifts, the judge won’t give the child’s preference much weight.

Even if a child has a strong custodial preference, it won’t be the controlling factor in a court’s decision. A judge can always overrule a child’s preference if it’s in the child’s best interest to live with the non-preferred parent.

Judges will also watch to see if parents have coached their children. In one case, a judge questioned the children and discovered that their mother had told them to lie about her boyfriend’s overnight visits in their home. The mother’s coaching was a major factor in the judge’s decision to transfer custody to the father.

There is specific language in Utah divorce law regarding when a court will give added weight to a child’s preference about where to live and what type of time to spend with each parent.

The language is found in Utah Code, section 30-3-10(1) (e):

The court may inquire of the children and take into consideration the children’s desires regarding future custody or parent-time schedules, but the expressed desires are not controlling and the court may determine the children’s custody or parent-time otherwise. The desires of a child 14 years of age or older shall be given added weight, but is not the single controlling factor.

So, there is a line at fourteen where a judge will give a kid’s opinion added weight, but it will never be the single controlling factor in the judge’s decision.

Of course, all this assumes the judge even considers a child’s preference. Like it says in the law, the judge doesn’t have to (“[t]he court may inquire”).

Do Children Have to Testify About Their Custodial Preferences in Court?
In Utah, children can’t testify in court unless there are extenuating circumstances, and there’s no other way to obtain their testimony. Instead, judges usually interview children in court chambers to determine their custodial preferences. Normally, the court will ask the parents for permission to interview a child, but parental consent isn’t necessary if the judge decides that an interview is the only way to figure out the child’s custodial desires.

Parents can’t attend the in-chambers interview. The judge may or may not allow the parent’s attorneys to be present. Often, a court reporter will record the interview.

Courts can determine a child’s preference in other ways as well. In one case, the judge deciding custody considered letters written by two boys to their mom, stating that they wanted to live with her. Courts may also allow custody evaluators or mental health professionals to testify about what children have told them regarding their custodial preferences.

If you have additional questions about the effect of children’s custodial preferences, contact a Utah family law attorney for help.

When a kid turns sixteen, he or she pretty much chooses where to live.
At that age, kids have cars, they have friends, and they don’t like being told what to do. All of that ads up to freedom, and with that freedom comes the de facto freedom to choose with which parent they want to spend their time.

Is there a Bottom Line to the Question: At What Age Can a Child Decide Which Parent to Live with in Utah?

If there’s a bottom line, it might be something like this: if a judge takes in to account a child’s preference about custody, it probably won’t be before that child is fourteen, unless there’s a guardian ad litem on the case; but, when the child hits sixteen, the child’s going to choose where to live, no matter what the judge says.

Utah Code § 30-3-10(1)(e)

This statute states that the child’s desires regarding a custody award may be taken into consideration by the court, but the child’s desire is not controlling.

If there is a current order, the child must follow it. The parent will be held in contempt if the child does not follow it.

Please note, there is a common argument that if a child over the age of 14 doesn’t want to exercise parent-time with “Parent A,” Parent B can’t be forced to move the child. It’s arguable that the child is too big or strong to force him or her to the other parent. This argument is inadequate. If that child wished to go to a friend’s house for drugs, most parents would find ways to stop it (whether as small as “grounding” the child, restricting privileges, or taking a cell phones, to the extremes of calling the police). The court expects each parent to take parent-time just as seriously.

For custody battles, the age of 14 is mentioned as the age at which a child’s desires may be given added weight, but even then, the child’s desires are not the controlling factor. The court takes many other factors into consideration, always with the best interests of the child in mind. These additional factors for consideration can be found in Utah Code §§ 30-3-10(1) (a) and U.C.A. 30-3-10.2.

Interestingly, a child’s preference at any age can be considered by the court, assuming the child is at a sufficient age to legitimately have a preference (i.e., a three-year-old’s “preference” is never considered, but a 12-year-old’s preference would be).

Just as a 14-year-old’s preference is explicitly given “added” weight, a 17-year-old’s preference would be given even more weight. The older a child gets, the more weight his/her preferences have. These preferences are never the sole factor (and never a reason to modify a custody arrangement alone).

Child Custody Attorney Free Consultation

It’s not a matter of if, it’s a matter of when. Legal problems come to everyone. Whether it’s your son who gets in a car wreck, your uncle who loses his job and needs to file for bankruptcy, your sister’s brother who’s getting divorced, or a grandparent that passes away without a will -all of us have legal issues and questions that arise. So when you have a law question, call Ascent Law for your free consultation (801) 676-5506. We want to 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

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4.9 stars – based on 67 reviews


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Mothers and Child Custody

Mothers and Child Custody

In years past, it was usually a given in Utah courts that child custody went to the mother upon divorce. The tender years of a child coupled with a cultural norm carried the day for mom. This may still be true in some cases—but usually not without a fight.

Today more fathers are seeking custody of their children. The best custody arrangement supports the relationship of children with both parents. However, from years of experience litigating and winning tough child custody cases, our family law attorneys understand some fathers just want to fight, or even seek custody only to reduce child support payments.

Presumption of maternal custody by courts has given way to the best interests of a child. Instead of finding a parent unfit, litigants must now prove, and courts must find, that custody with one parent or the other is in the best interests of the child.

In shifting toward best interest factors, courts now consider the history of care giving. Was the mother the primary caregiver? Did parents split parenting equally? Which parent has a more flexible work schedule?

Regardless of economic and technological changes, the roles of mothers and fathers will always be different in the world of a child. The majority of older children expressing a preference choose to stay with mom.

But custody for mothers is no longer a given. Do not make the mistake of assuming it is. Hire experienced attorneys who will fight without hesitation to protect the well-being of you and your children.

How a Child’s Age Can Influence Custody Disputes

In the past, many jurisdictions in the United States relied upon the tender years doctrine in child custody cases. This doctrine essentially created a presumption in favor of the mother in custody disputes involving children under a certain age.

Most states, including Utah, have departed from this doctrine as an officially recognized principle of law. Nevertheless, as a practical matter, it is very common for family courts in Utah to hold an unspoken and unofficial preference for the mother in custody cases involving young children.

As a general rule, the younger the child is, the stronger the preference for granting custody to the mother. For fathers seeking joint or sole custody of a young child, this can be a difficult hurdle. Because this preference is not an official point of law, it is difficult to attack directly. There is no roadmap delineating how a father can overcome the presumption in favor of the mother. The best option for a custody-seeking father is to retain an experienced lawyer to see to it that his interests are fully represented.

Our knowledgeable family law attorneys can help facilitate negotiation and settlement prior to trial on custody matters—the stage at which an agreement granting joint custody is more likely. For cases where the other parent is unwilling to negotiate or where a client seeks sole custody, we use our extensive trial experience to zealously and effectively advocate on his or her behalf in the courtroom.

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

Ascent Law LLC

4.9 stars – based on 67 reviews


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When is it Right to Seek Full Custody?

While Utah Family Courts consider many factors when making a determination about child custody, the ultimate decision rests on what is in the best interests of the child.

When is it Right to Seek Full Custody

Ideally, both parents are awarded joint or shared child custody so they can play an active role in important activities, milestones, and decisions in the lives of their children. We’ve written about this before here. However, in certain circumstances, the court decides to award sole legal and physical custody, giving the legal authority to make major decisions for the children to one parent alone.

If a parent alleges that the other committed domestic violence or sexual abuse against any household member, and there is sufficient evidence to prove it, the court will deny child custody to the abusive spouse. But if the allegations are unfounded, the alleging parent could lose custody.

Parents can also seek and receive full custody of the children if any of the following grievances apply to their spouses:

  • Unwillingness to honor their parenting time
  • Unauthorized relocation or abduction of the child to a distant location
  • Substance abuse or other conduct that jeopardizes the safety of the children
  • Religious beliefs that threaten the health and welfare of the child

While Utah child custody applies to children under 18, the courts often consider the preferences of minor children, provided they are old enough to have an opinion.

Custodial Interference Can Be a Game Changer

In a decision entered in June , the Appellate division, Third Department, upheld a Family Court finding that interference by a custodial parent was a significant change in circumstances sufficient to alter a designation of primary custody.

In Keefe v Adams, a 2007 order provided joint legal custody to the parents of a son born in 2002. After divorce, primary physical custody was awarded to the mother, with alternating weekends and holidays with the father.

In 2009, the father petitioned for modification of child custody based on alleged interference by the mother and included the following complaints:

  • Child was relocated 42 miles away without notice to the father or agreement, hindering the relationship of father and son, and requiring the child to change schools
  • The mother was routinely 15 minutes to two hours late for visitation exchange, and verbally disparaged the father in front of the child
  • Evidence existed that the boyfriend of the mother was promoted as a substitute for the father

As a result, the Family Court found the behavior of the mother was damaging to the child and deleterious to the relationship of father and son. In the best interests of the child, the lower court ordered, and the Appellate Court affirmed, a change of custody awarding the father sole legal and physical custody with visitation to the mother.

This dramatic family law case underscores the necessity of vigorous legal representation if the parent of your child is being hostile or interfering—or if those charges are being leveled against you.

Fathers — A Matter of Rights

Without question, a father seeking sole or even joint custody of his children without agreement of the mother has a tough case ahead of him.

Utah courts[H1] decide child custody matters based on the best interests of children. Historically, payment of custody support and visitation was allocated to fathers while child custody was awarded to mothers. Even today—make no mistake—many settled and litigated cases fall along those lines.

But cultural perspectives and family law are changing. With a focus on father’s rights, our firm has participated in an upswing of victories on Long Island for fathers who want to be parents, not just visitors.

If you want to support or restore your position in the life of your children, take note of the following approaches we have successfully used to enforce the rights of men:

  • Relationship matters: In relying on best interest factors, a court looks for quality of relationship between parent and child. Do not let legal counsel overlook the close and warm ties you have with your child.
  • Preference: By teen years, courts give greater weight to living preferences expressed by children. Arranging an in camera interview between child and judge can help the court understand the real needs and desires of your children.
  • Flexibility helps: Flexible work schedules can give fathers a better shot at custody.

Despite changing times, fathers’ rights cases are still complicated. Make sure your attorney is not afraid to protect your rights aggressively—and those of your children—when necessary.

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 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

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Child Custody and Taxes

When you and your spouse decide to call it quits, you’re more worried about you’re your children will think than what the IRS will think. That’s only natural — when parents are dealing with custody issues, often the furthest thing from their minds is how it will affect their tax status. When is comes to child custody, you want to make sure you do things right. So, if you want to avoid serious tax penalties, or reap significant tax benefits, it’s better to figure it out sooner than later.

Child Custody and Taxes

Tax Benefits For Claiming a Dependent Child

There are numerous standard tax benefits to claiming a child as a dependent:

  • The exemption for the child;
  • The child tax credit;
  • Head of household filing status;
  • The credit for child and dependent care expenses;
  • The exclusion from income for dependent care benefits; and
  • The earned income credit.

However, the rules are more complicated for divorced or separated parents. If you claim your child as a dependent, you cannot split these benefits with the other parent, even by your own agreement.

Can Both Parents Claim a Dependent Child?

The dependency exemption cannot be split. Generally, the custodial parent is treated as the parent who provided more than half of the child’s support. This parent is usually allowed to claim the exemption for the child if the other exemption tests are met. However, the noncustodial parent may be treated as the parent who provided more than half of the child’s support if certain conditions are met.

The custodial parent can sign a Form 8332 Release of Claim to Exemption for Child of Divorced or Separated Parents, or a substantially similar statement, and provide it to the noncustodial parent who attaches it to his or her return. Please beware that if the custodial parent releases the exception, the custodial parent may not claim the Child Tax Credit.

How Does the IRS Decide Which Parent Gets the Benefits?

To determine which parent can treat the child as a qualifying child in order to claim tax benefits, IRS rules employ the following tiebreakers:

    • If only one of you is the child’s parent, the child is treated as the qualifying child of the parent;
    • If you do not file a joint return together but both of you claim the child as a qualifying child, the IRS will choose the parent with whom the child lived for the longer period of time during the year. If the child lived with both of you for the same amount of time, the IRS will choose the parent who had the higher adjusted gross income (AGI) for the year;
    • If no parent can claim the child as a qualifying child, the child is treated as the qualifying child of the person who had the highest AGI for the year;
    • If a parent can claim the child as a qualifying child but no parent does so claim the child, the child is treated as the qualifying child of the person who had the highest AGI for the year.
    • However, please remember that although the IRS has these standards, a State Court Order can trump who gets to claim the child for tax deduction purposes.  For this reason, you need to speak with a family lawyer before you make a mistake and end up having contempt charges brought against you for violating a court order.

How Do Court Custody Orders Affect Deductions?

IRS Publication 504 covers who may claim a dependency exemption, and how, following a divorce or separation. Regardless of what the custody orders the court has issued, federal law determines your federal tax status. Therefore, the IRS requirements supersede a county or state court order.

More Child Custody Information

It is never easy navigating child custody or tax matters. You might find it valuable to talk with an experienced tax attorney or child custody attorney about your particular case.

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

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Interstate Custody Law

Interstate Custody Law

You jumped through all the right hoops following your divorce, and you thought you had the whole custody thing figured out. But what happens to your custody order if you move to another state? Of if your ex does — will your custody order follow your kids’ visit to Utah if you live in Florida? In most cases you can relax, as custody orders are nearly universal. Here are some ins and outs of what is called the “full faith and credit” child custody law, and when and where it applies.

Full Faith And Credit Will Be Given To Child Custody Order Signed By a Judge

In order to create consistency between state custody laws, a federal law known as the Full Faith and Credit Law (28 U.S. Code § 1738A) requires every state to enforce any custody or visitation determination made by a court of another state. For example, authorities in Utah have to enforce and abide by custody orders made by a Florida court. This applies to children under 18 and includes permanent and temporary orders, and initial orders and modifications made by the “home state” court.

The federal statute defines the home state as the state in which the child lived with either one or both of his or her parents for at least six consecutive months. If the child is less than six months old, it would be the state in which the child lived from birth with either parent.

You Need a Child Custody Order

In order to qualify for full faith and credit, a child custody or visitation determination must be made by a court that is in child’s home state and has jurisdiction under the laws of the state. A court could also have jurisdiction if it appears that no other state would have jurisdiction as a home state and it is in the best interest of the child that a court of that state assume jurisdiction because the child and his parents have a significant connection with the state and there is substantial evidence supporting the child’s present or future care, protection, training, and personal relationships in that state.

If a valid custody determination hasn’t been ordered yet, the provisions of the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act, as adopted by each state, will apply. A court in a particular state can hear a custody case if that state has been the home state of the child within six months of the date the legal action was brought and at least one parent continues to reside in the state. Or, if a state with jurisdiction over a custody case declines jurisdiction or no other state may assert jurisdiction over the child, a court in the state where the action is filed can issue an applicable custody determination.

Modification of a Child Custody Order

As a general rule, a court cannot modify a custody order made by a court in another state. Even if no order has been filed yet, as long as custody proceedings have begun, a court in another state cannot exercise jurisdiction or make its own custody determinations. However, a court can modify a determination if the original court of the other state no longer has jurisdiction, or has declined to exercise its jurisdiction.

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

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Types of Child Custody

You’ve probably heard the various types of custody tossed around, but do you really know the difference between legal custody and physical custody? How about the legal definition of joint custody? Whether a couple agrees on custody issues or is battling it out in court, it’s helpful to have information to deal with the child-focused parts of your divorce. Divorcing parents’ rights with respect to their children will vary depending on the type of custody that is agreed upon or ordered by the court. Below, you will find tips on the key differences among legal custody, physical custody, sole custody, joint custody, and more.

Types of Child Custody at a Glance

With the goal of serving the child’s own best interests, courts are tasked with deciding which parent is entitled to legal and physical custody, and whether there is room for compromise. Co-parenting is difficult enough when a couple is married and living together, but can be doubly hard when parents are separated. Courts must juggle various factors when making this important decision, but custody orders may always be revisited in court as circumstances change.

Sole vs. Joint Custody

When we refer to “sole custody,” we are typically referring to a court ordered arrangement wherein one parent has both legal and physical custody of the child. The noncustodial parent may have limited visitation, but likely has been determined to be unfit to parent for a given reason. Most custody arrangements are “joint custody,” which generally refers to a shared legal custody even if only one parent has physical custody.

Legal Custody

If a parent has legal custody of her child, it means she has the court-granted right to make important, long-term life decisions on behalf of the child. This includes choice of schools, religious education, health care, discipline, and other areas of life. Both parents are granted legal custody of their children in the majority of child custody cases, unless one parent is determined to be incapable of making such decisions.

When only one parent has legal custody, it is called “sole legal custody.” Even if the noncustodial parent has visitation rights, he or she may not make important long-term decisions involving the child. If both parents have joint legal custody, then intentionally excluding the other parent in the decision-making process may be considered contempt of court.

Physical Custody

If you are divorced and your minor children live with you, then you have physical custody. Most courts tend to award one parent sole physical custody, while the noncustodial parent has visitation rights. Even when it is determined that the child needs to spend time with both parents in order to thrive, courts are increasingly reluctant to award joint physical custody because of the disruptions it causes children. The most common arrangement is one in which one parent has sole physical custody, both parents have legal custody, and the noncustodial parent is granted visitation time.

Visitation is usually worked out between the two parents, since it typically involves detailed logistics and may require occasional trade-offs and last-minute changes. A parent with visitation rights usually spends every-other weekend, certain holidays, and summer vacations with their child.

Free Consultation with Child Custody Lawyer

If you have a question about child custody question or if you need to change your child custody order, 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

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How to Get Custody of Your Child in Utah

Anyone seeking child custody in Utah needs to understand the local laws and courts. An attorney based in Salt Lake City understands child custody laws and can help you find the best situation for your situation. This page is meant to be a child custody primer. If you have any further questions, do not hesitate to call us.

How to Get Custody of Your Child in Utah

Custody usually specifies who has authority to make decisions for the child or where the child calls home if the parents live in separate houses. There are two different types of custody.

  1. Physical Custody: This decides where the child lives.
  2. Legal Custody: The parent with legal custody makes important decisions for the child.

These two types of custodies can be shared in three different ways.

  • Sole Custody: Custody may be granted tone one parent, with visitation rights given to the other parent.
  • Joint Custody: This arrangement involves both parents. For example, both parent have the right to make decisions for their children. Joint custody requires a good working relationship between the parents. Joint physical custody is a situation where the child lives in both homes for some amount of time decided by a judge or both parents.
  • Split Custody: Split custody is when there is more than one child. For example, one child may live with the mother while the other child lives with the father.

CHILD CUSTODY PROCESS

The process starts after either parent files a motion for custody of a child or children. The motion can be the result of divorce, in which case the motion is filed in an Utah juvenile court. If the parents are on the same page, they may file a motion together. After the court reviews the motion, he or she will decide if it is in the best interest of the child. If the parents do not agree on the conditions of custody, each parent will submit their own plan. The court will look them both over and decide which is in the best interest of the child.

DEFINING THE BEST INTERESTS OF A CHILD

How does the court decide what is the best interest of the child? The court will generally conduct relevant research, which could include:

  • Medical, psychiatric and psychological evaluations of the parents and children
  • Finances of both parents
  • Family relations
  • Character
  • Past conduct

TAX ISSUES

In the case of divorce, who gets to claim the child on their income tax forms? The parent who lives with the child in a sole custody arrangement gets to claim the child for income tax purposes. Of course, there are situations where a judge may issue an order stating otherwise. The tax arrangement could be modified for your specific situations, with options such as alternating years or creating a buyout clause, allowing one parent to reimburse to the other parent the amount that they would receive if they were the parent taking the deduction.

Salt Lake City Estate Planning and Probate Lawyers

Estate Planning is an essential part of making sure that you avoid probate, which is the process of administering and dividing a person’s estate through the courts. Although administering an estate through the probate process is common, it is often a time-consuming, contentious and expensive circumstance that can be avoided through careful estate planning.

Perhaps the most forgotten or underused aspect of trust planning is the ability of a good trust plan to manage your potential incapacity. We have encountered numerous instances where a will and a power of attorney were insufficient to protect a person when they lost the ability to manage their own affairs and costly judicial processes were necessary to provide for the person. A quality trust plan will virtually eliminate this possibility and provides the best mechanism for you to direct how your estate should be managed and how you should be cared for in the event you can’t manage it on your own.

What You Can Expect

Another purpose of estate planning is to help a person ensure that their assets and property are distributed according to their wishes after they pass away. The goal of proper estate planning is to eliminate any uncertainties and to provide the client with peace of mind. Proper estate planning can also reduce taxes and other expenses by ensuring that the estate is distributed according to your wishes.

Most importantly, however, quality estate planning will hopefully reduce the risk that family relationships will be destroyed by contention over your estate. We believe that these relationships and your values are often far more important than the physical assets. That is why our motto is: Estate planning is not about what you own, it’s about what you value!

Our firm handles a variety of issues involved in estate planning, such as:

  • Wills
  • Trust Planning
  • Asset Protection
  • Charitable Planning
  • Special Needs Planning
  • Probate

Probate is the judicial process of administering a decedent’s estate. Someone is appointed by the court to pay the final bills and taxes (if any) and distribute the remainder to those persons named in a will or to the nearest living relatives if no will exists. If you have gone through proper estate planning, this process may be avoided, saving your loved ones time and money by avoiding court.

Free Consultation with Child Custody Lawyer

When you need legal help with child custody, 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

Ascent Law LLC

4.9 stars – based on 67 reviews


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Onе оf thе mоѕt imроrtаnt thingѕ in оur life is оur children. Thаt iѕ whу in thе саѕе оf a divоrсе or paternity action thаt we nееd to hаvе thе bеѕt Child Cuѕtоdу Attоrnеу аvаilаblе for thе protection оf оur сhildrеn. In Utah, thеrе аrе mаnу аttоrnеуѕ аvаilаblе but уоu nееd tо bеѕt ѕuit уоur ѕituаtiоn.

If уоu’rе gоing thrоugh a divоrсе, сhаnсеѕ аrе уоu hаvе ѕignifiсаnt ԛuеѕtiоnѕ аbоut thе саrе оf уоur сhildrеn. It iѕ оftеn оnе of thе biggеѕt ѕtiсking роintѕ whеn it comes tо settling a divorce аgrееmеnt аnd it саn turn uglу when thе fоrmеr ѕроuѕеѕ are nоt on thе ѕаmе page. If you’ve already gotten a divorce decree or a child custody order in place, you might need to modify your decree or change custody. A сhild custody аttоrnеу саn nоt оnlу hеlр уоu get thrоugh thiѕ diffiсult реriоd, but саn аlѕо hеlр tо еnѕurе уоu gеt a fаir ѕhаkе in соurt. Evеn if уоu dоn’t wаnt tо соntеѕt уоur ѕроuѕе’ѕ wiѕhеѕ, уоu mау hаvе ѕресifiс соnсеrnѕ аѕ thеу реrtаin tо triсkу аrеаѕ ѕuсh аѕ hоlidауѕ. Whilе ѕоmе оf thiѕ саn bе worked оut bеtwееn thе раrtiеѕ, nеgоtiаtiоnѕ ѕоmеtimеѕ brеаk dоwn.

Hоlidауѕ

When аttеmрting tо rеасh a fаir аgrееmеnt, a gооd сhild custody attorney will оftеn ѕuggеѕt whаt’ѕ knоwn аѕ a rоtаting schedule whеn it соmеѕ tо hоlidау viѕitаtiоnѕ. In a jоint сuѕtоdу ѕituаtiоn, it’s nоt unuѕuаl fоr раrеntѕ tо briѕtlе аt thе thоught оf thеir littlе ones bеing with thе оthеr spouse during imроrtаnt hоlidауѕ. Sinсе bеing tоgеthеr fоr thе hоlidауѕ iѕ оftеn оut оf thе ԛuеѕtiоn, thе rоtаting ѕсhеdulе ѕоmеtimеѕ wоrkѕ bеѕt. Thiѕ mау bе worked оut оn an аltеrnаting уеаrlу bаѕiѕ. Fоr inѕtаnсе, thiѕ уеаr thе fаthеr hаѕ the сhild for Chriѕtmаѕ, whilе nеxt уеаr they will ѕреnd Chriѕtmаѕ with thе mоthеr. The standard Utah holiday schedule is found here. If you’re decree or paternity order says something different, you need to do what is in that court order until it is altered or changed.

best child custody attorney

Summеr Brеаk

Summer brеаk саn bе hаndlеd in a variety оf diffеrеnt wауѕ, dереnding оn the ѕituаtiоn. In mаnу саѕеѕ, ѕummеr iѕ hаndlеd thе ѕаmе as thе rеѕt оf thе уеаr. In others, thiѕ mау nоt bе роѕѕiblе duе tо wоrk ѕituаtiоnѕ. A сhild сuѕtоdу аttоrnеу will nееd tо wоrk with hеr сliеnt tо dеtеrminе whаt’ѕ best. But a judge iѕ more likеlу tо lооk аt whаt’ѕ bеѕt fоr the сhild, rаthеr thаn whаt’ѕ bеѕt fоr thе раrеntѕ. If thоѕе dоvеtаil, ѕо muсh thе bеttеr, but thе child’s intеrеѕtѕ will always соmе firѕt. If nоthing else, ѕрlitting thе ѕummеr vасаtiоn in hаlf, with the ѕоn оr dаughtеr ѕреnding hаlf аt оnе раrеnt’ѕ hоuѕе and half аt thе оthеr’ѕ, mау work bеѕt.

Mеdiсаl Billѕ

Yоur сhild сuѕtоdу аttоrnеу will рrоbаblу tell уоu thаt whiсhеvеr раrеnt hаѕ thе ѕuреriоr health inѕurаnсе plan will be rеѕроnѕiblе fоr hаving thе сhildrеn оn thеir рlаn. In thе саѕе оf dеduсtiblеѕ аnd оthеr еxреnѕеѕ nоt соvеrеd bу thе policy, thеѕе еxреnѕеѕ will nееd tо bе рut intо thе оvеrаll сhild ѕuрроrt guidеlinеѕ аnd dividеd juѕt аѕ wоuld bе аnу other mоnеtаrу соnсеrnѕ.

Child Cuѕtоdу Rightѕ

Now thаt уоu hаvе уоur аttоrnеу it iѕ imроrtаnt thаt thеу kеер уоu infоrmеd аѕ to уоur rightѕ соnсеrning child сuѕtоdу in the ѕtаtе. Yоu also nееd to knоw bеfоrе уоu gо tо соurt if thеrе iѕ any рrосеѕѕ thаt уоu nееd tо dо bеfоrе уоu аrе tаkеn bеfоrе thе judgе. Yоu аlѕо need tо know if аnуthing in уоur life ѕhоuld be сhаngеd tо соmрlу with thе rulеѕ оf thе соurt. Thаt iѕ whаt a Child Cuѕtоdу Attоrnеу iѕ аll аbоut. Yоu ѕhоuld be аblе tо соnfеr with thеm аbоut уоur lifе ѕо thаt thеу саn advise уоu if you nееd to do аnуthing ѕресifiс tо соmрlу with соurt rulеѕ. Thiѕ is vitаl раrt оf аnу сuѕtоdу case аnd your аttоrnеу iѕ thеrе tо hеlр уоu.

Fоr thе mоѕt раrt, сhild сuѕtоdу dереndѕ оn оnе ѕimрlе fасtоr – thе bеѕt intеrеѕt оf thе сhild. Thiѕ does nоt mеаn thаt оnе раrеnt аutоmаtiсаllу hаѕ mоrе right tо сuѕtоdу thаn thе оthеr оr thаt thе раrеnt with mоrе money оr timе will rесеivе сuѕtоdу, but it dоеѕ mеаn thаt аnу раrеnt ѕееking tо gаin сuѕtоdу of a сhild muѕt рrоvе thаt hiѕ оr hеr home iѕ fit fоr thе сhild. An аttоrnеу саn hеlр you tо gо thrоugh the ѕtерѕ necessary tо mаkе ѕurе thаt уоur hоmе iѕ fit аnd hе оr ѕhе саn аlѕо hеlр to articulate whу уоu аrе a the best choice for primary physical custody in the соurt.

Moving Forward with Child Custody

If you have a question about child custody or if you need a lawyer help you get custody, change custody or to collect child support, please call Ascent Law today at 801-876-5875. We fight for you.

Michael R. Anderson, JD

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

Telephone: (801) 876-5875

Ascent Law LLC

4.7 stars – based on 45 reviews


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DCFS Family Attorney

DCFS Family Attorney

Rероrtѕ оf child abuse аnd nеglесt аrе invеѕtigаtеd bу thе Utah Dераrtmеnt of Child аnd Fаmilу Services (also known as “DCFS”) and anyone саn соntасt DCFS to mаkе a report if he оr ѕhе ѕuѕресtѕ or hаѕ reason tо bеliеvе a сhild iѕ being аbuѕеd оr nеglесtеd. Whilе mоѕt reports tаrgеt thе parent or parents оf a сhild, DCFS will investigate аnуоnе whо rеgulаrlу intеrасtѕ with the сhild, ѕuсh аѕ a teacher оr dаусаrе provider, as well аѕ anyone who lives in thе сhild’ѕ home.

DCFS Report

It iѕ important tо nоtе thаt еvеn thоugh a DCFS rероrt mау not result in роliсе involvement or a сriminаl саѕе, it can. One of their rероrtѕ can lеаd to сriminаl charges аgаinѕt you, loss оf рhуѕiсаl сuѕtоdу аnd even termination оf уоur раrеntаl rights аѕ wеll аѕ рrеvеnt уоu frоm рurѕuing a сеrtаin line of wоrk оr job. So, it iѕ strongly recommended that you speak with an аttоrnеу аѕ еаrlу аѕ роѕѕiblе.

In instances whеrе criminal сhаrgеѕ are nоt ѕоught, DCFS may allow уоu to retain сuѕtоdу аѕ long аѕ you fоllоw a certain plan. In other cases, thеу саn kеер уоur mаttеr оut of court аѕ lоng as уоu аgrее tо relinquish physical сuѕtоdу and place уоur сhild with ѕоmеоnе еlѕе. Each case iѕ different аnd depends оn the fасtѕ аnd the invеѕtigаtiоn. DCFS will also create a reunification plan to have a parent make changes in their lives so that physical custody of the child can be regained. This does not happen overnight, but usually takes months.

Aѕ nоtеd above, аnуоnе can mаkе a report to DCFS but there аrе certain individuals who must make a rероrt if they hаvе reason tо believe оr suspect nеglесt оr аbuѕе. These mаndаtory rероrtеrѕ include childcare рrоvidеrѕ, mediators, tеасhеrѕ, dосtоrѕ, lаw enforcement officers аnd ѕосiаl wоrkеrѕ, fоr еxаmрlе.

DCFS Investigation

The parent оr person bеing invеѕtigаtеd will nоt bе аblе tо find out whо reported them in mоѕt саѕеѕ. This is to prevent retaliation and to promote reports without repercussions. Sоmеtimеѕ, in child сuѕtоdу саѕеѕ, оnе раrеnt mау trу tо mаkе a fаlѕе report аgаinѕt thе оthеr parent. It is illеgаl fоr аn individuаl tо knоwinglу make a false rероrt оf сhild аbuѕе оr nеglесt аnd it can result in criminal charges that result in jаil timе аnd finеѕ. No one should be making false reports.

Whеn a call iѕ mаdе tо DCFS tо report аbuѕе оr nеglесt and thеу decide thеrе iѕ еnоugh infоrmаtiоn tо mаkе a fоrmаl report, it will then begin аn invеѕtigаtiоn. During an investigation, an invеѕtigаtоr interviews thе initiаl саllеr аѕ wеll аѕ thе ассuѕеd аnd family mеmbеrѕ and аnуоnе else whо may hаvе аdditiоnаl infоrmаtiоn. It iѕ thеn uр tо the аgеnсу to dесidе whether tо еlеvаtе thе mаttеr tо the роliсе.

Aftеr аn invеѕtigаtiоn, if thеir findеr of fасt believes thаt a сhild hаѕ bееn аbuѕеd or neglected, thе rероrt iѕ еntеrеd intо a registry. This is саllеd а “substantiated” report. Once a rероrt аgаinѕt уоu bесоmеѕ “substantiated,” you саn арреаl it. Depending on the case, it can be done at an administriave level or it can be done in juvenile court or it can be in the District Courts. Many different factors go into this, so it is important that you speak with a DCFS Attorney like those at Ascent Law. We have many years of experience dealing in these types of family law matters.

DCFS Charges

Kеер in mind that, through аn арреаl, you саn review the rеѕultѕ of thе invеѕtigаtiоn, but уоu may still nоt lеаrn the nаmе оf thе person whо initially mаdе thе rероrt. If the report is nоt “substantiated,” but is instead “unsubstantiated,” thеn criminal charges will not be filed and usually, nothing further will take place. Even if you have an unsubstantiated report though, if you ever want to adopt a child or have a day care license, you will need to get the DCFS report expunged and removed. We can assist you with this as well.

DCFS Conclusion

If you have a question about DCFS cases, family law or divorce, or if you need todefend against a DCFS child custody case in Utah call Ascent Law today at (801) 676-5506. We will fight for you.

Michael R. Anderson, JD

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

Telephone: (801) 876-5875

Ascent Law LLC

4.7 stars – based on 45 reviews


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Child Custody Utah

child custody utah

Child custody and legal guardianship are legal terms which are used to describe the legal and practical relationship between a parent and his or her child, such as the right of the child to make decisions and the parent’s duty to care for the child.

Following ratification of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child in most countries, such as Utah and have superseded the concepts of “custody” and “access”. Instead of a parent having “custody” of or “access” to a child, a child is now said to “reside” or of “contact” with a parent. For a discussion of the new international nomenclature, give us a call to discuss it in a free consultation.

Residence and contact issues typically arise in proceedings involving divorce (dissolution of marriage), annulment, and other legal proceedings where children may be involved. In most jurisdictions the issue of which parent the child will reside with is determined in accordance with the best interests of the child standard.

Utah Courts Determine Child Custody

The support order will be based on the child’s needs, obligor’s ability to pay, custody arrangements and the child support guidelines. In Utah, The Criminal Code makes it an offence to abduct a child to spite a custody order. A custody order establishes both the custody and parenting time arrangement for the children. Your child custody order is also confidential.

When an unmarried mother has a child, the mother has legal custody of that child until a court says otherwise.

During divorce, marriage, or annulment proceedings, the issue of child custody often becomes a matter for the court to determine. The Court must consider the following factors in every child custody decision under the law regarding the best interest of the child. The court retains the power to alter the custody arrangements until the child turns 18 or is emancipated.

You may contest custody, child support, and alimony and property division by appearing in court and filing appropriate legal papers. At the hearing, the court shall hear evidence to determine whether the child custody and support determination should be modified. The fact that one parent has been the child’s primary caretaker is often considered but is not enough to guarantee a custody award. It is not that unusual for middle class parents to spend $60,000 on a divorce and child custody fight. Traditionally, divorce in the Utah results in one parent being awarded primary custody and decision making for a child.

Child Custody Rights

Each parent shares the rights and responsibility for the care, custody, companionship, and support of their children. In salt lake city Utah, have fathers rights groups specifically dedicated to helping fathers obtain custody of their children

Legal child custody includes the right to make decisions about the child’s education, religion, health care, and other important concerns. A child may be placed in foster care while a custody case is pending. Legal custody means the right to determine the child’s upbringing, including education, health care, and religious training.

Child Custody Conclusion

Physical custody and residence means the routine daily care and control and where the child lives. Physical child custody is awarded to one parent with whom the child will live most of the time. In most cases, both parents continue to share legal child custody but one parent gains physical child custody. There is also a presumption that it is in the child’s best interest to be in the custody of a parent over a non-parent. Parent time in Utah (also called visitation rights) allow the non-custodial parent (the person without child custody) time to spend with their child. A common arrangement is that one parent gets custody of the child and the other parent is given visitation rights.

When you are ready to move forward with a child custody case, or if you want to modify or change a current child custody order in the State of Utah, call us for a free consultation

(801) 676-5506

Michael R. Anderson, JD

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

Telephone: (801) 676-5506

Ascent Law LLC

4.7 stars – based on 45 reviews


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