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Determining child custody arrangements during a Utah divorce

Determining child custody can be one of the most difficult and upsetting aspects of a divorce for parents in Salt Lake County, Utah
 
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    January 10, 2014 /24-7PressRelease/ -- Determining child custody arrangements during a Utah divorce

Article provided by Law Office of Darin B. Goff, PC
Visit us at http://www.dbgofflaw.com

Determining child custody can be one of the most difficult and upsetting aspects of a divorce for parents in Salt Lake County, Utah. Besides the preferences and ability of each parent, custody and visitation arrangements must truly account for the best interests of the children. A basic understanding of the custody arrangements that are available and the way that they are determined can benefit any Utah parents who are considering divorcing.

Basic custody options

There are four primary ways that child custody can be divided between two parents:
-Sole legal and physical custody, in which one parent lives with the children and makes legal decisions, while the other parent has visitationrights.
-Joint legal and physical custody, in which children live with each parent for at least 111 nights a year and both parents make legal decisions.
-Joint legal and sole physical custody, in which children live with one parent for more than 225 nights per year and both parents make legal decisions.
-Split custody, in which each parent is awarded sole custody of at least one child.

Custody arrangements are evaluated case-by-case, but joint custody generally is considered to be in the best interests of the children. Earlier this year, a Utah House bill sought to add an optional visitation schedule to the current law, according to the Deseret News. The schedule would have included 145 nights and a holiday spent with the non-custodial parent, promoting a joint physical custody arrangement. The bill did not pass, but it reflects the growing interest in joint custody arrangements at the state level.

Of course, there is no default custody arrangement that will be best for every family. Even families with similar custody agreements may still have day-to-day schedules and arrangements that look remarkably different.

Finding the best arrangement

Several factors are evaluated when custody is determined. These include the conduct of each parent, the strength of the relationship between the child and parent, the ability of both parents to cooperate and the risk of abuse or other dangerous situations. These factors may influence the court to decide that a sole legal or physical custody arrangement is in the best interests of the child.

If joint custody is approved, the parents must file a parenting plan for the court to approve. The parenting plan must address all of the following issues:
-Where the child will spend holidays, birthdays and other special occasions.
-How the parenting plan would change if one parent decided to relocate.
-How disputes between the parents will be resolved.
-Whether one or both parents will make decisions regarding fundamental issues like healthcare, education and religion.

It is often in the best interest of parents to work with an attorney when creating a parenting plan or otherwise trying to settle on a child custody arrangement. It can be easier for parents to arrive at an outcome that they both approve of outside of a court setting, but this is less likely without the help of an experienced professional.

If you are preparing for a divorce in Utah, you should speak with an attorney to make sure that your rights as a parent are protected throughout the process.



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