How Can I Make Sure That I Am Granted Custody of My Children in Utah?

You’re getting divorced and you have kids. No matter what went wrong in the marriage, your children are probably the first thing on your mind, as you start down the long road of legal proceedings.

After a divorce, one of the most important issues that needs to be resolved is who gets custody of the children.

Fortunately, the law says that custody issues are determined by what is in the best interest of the child. Therefore, earning custody of a child depends on how well a parent can establish that having custody will be beneficial for the child.

You’re sure that having joint or full custody of your child is in his or her best interest. 

How can you make sure the judge or mediator agrees?

Hire a Child Custody Attorney

  • The first step in the process should be to hire a child custody attorney.
  • A child custody attorney will review the case and help a parent take steps to convince a judge that he or she deserves sole custody.
  • If sole custody is not possible, an attorney may be able to convince a judge that a parent should have control over as many decisions as possible as it relates to how the child is raised.

The Law Generally Assumes That Both Parents Get Joint Custody

  • Assuming that neither parent has a record of domestic abuse, drug use or any other criminal past, the law is likely to give custody to both parents.
  • However, if a parent has been convicted of drug use of domestic abuse in the past, it does not necessarily preclude a parent from getting custody of a child.
  • For instance, if a mother or father hasn’t been convicted of a crime in the past five years or a mother or father got counseling for anger issues, custody may be on the table.

Proving Paternity May Be Part of Obtaining Custody

  • One issue that may need to be resolved before custody can be granted is whether or not a man is the father of the child.
  • If a man seeking custody of a child is not the child’s legal father, he may not necessarily be guaranteed custody rights.
  • Typically, paternity is established by a DNA test or a sworn statement from the child’s mother saying that he is the father.
  • In some cases, a man who is not a child’s legal father may be granted custody if he can show that he has taken steps to provide for the child as a father would.

Make Sure to Stay Close to your Child

  • If you are not going to be the custodial parent, it is easier to gain regular custody by staying close to the child.
  • Although a judge may create a visitation schedule for parents who live far from the child’s custodial parent, it can create stress on the child to take him or her away from what he or she is familiar with.
  • After a custody arrangement is approved, both parents need to make sure that the other knows where the child is at all times.
  • Taking a child outside of the state or the country without permission could terminate a parent’s rights to sole or partial custody.

Parents who desire custody of their children need to be able to show why the child should be in their care. Living in an area familiar to the child, proving that the child is safe around you and hiring an attorney to help fight the case in court are all great ways to win a custody battle and possibly sole custody of your child.

Kelly Peterson
About the Author

Experienced Divorce Lawyer Kelly Peterson handles child custody, visitation, paternity, grandparent rights and mediation cases.

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*Child Welfare Law Specialist Nat’l Assoc. of Counsel for Children