Helping You With Child Custody
Helgesen, Houtz & Jones has represented thousands of Utahns with legal matters involving custody and child support. We know that your children are the single most important aspect of your life. We have established a reputation we are proud of and know how to help you. Our Ogden attorneys Keith M. Backman and Scott P. Nickle, and Layton/Clearfield attorneys Craig P. Helgesen and Kurt M. Helgesen are ready to help you.
What You Should Know About Child Custody:
Types of Custody:
1. Physical Custody – If you are awarded physical custody, this means you have the right to have your child live with you. Parents can be awarded sole physical custody or joint physical custody.
2. Legal Custody – If you are awarded legal custody, this means you have the right and obligation to make decisions about your child’s upbringing. For example, a parent with legal custody can make decisions about schooling, religion, and medical care. Parents can be awarded sole legal custody or joint legal custody.
QUESTION: How do I get custody of my child?
In determining any form of custody, Utah courts must determine the best interests of the child. Courts will award custody based on this determination. To help courts understand what the best interests of a child are, Utah courts rely heavily on several factors, including:
- the extent of the parties’ involvement in raising the child;
- the past conduct and demonstrated moral standards of each of the parties;
- which party is most likely to act in the best interest of the child, including allowing the child frequent and continuing contact with the other parent;
- the extent of bonding between the party and child, meaning the depth, quality, and nature of the parent-child relationship;
ANSWER: Take and maintain an active role in raising your child. Live well and be a good example to him or her. Always act in the best interests of your child. Realize that while you are separated and/or divorcing the child’s other parent, it is extremely important that both of you are in the child’s life.
Parent Time and Visitation:
Utah courts encourage parents to work with one other to agree on an appropriate parent time and visitation schedule. An appropriate schedule provides structure and stability to the child’s life, but is flexible enough to accommodate the parties’ work schedules and conflicts. Most importantly, it should reflect what is best for the child while furthering the parent-child relationship of both parties.
In Utah when parties cannot agree on a parent time schedule, every parent is entitled to what the court has considered minimum parent time. A parent’s minimum parent time is determined by the age of the child, and without evidence proving otherwise, a Utah court will not permit either parent to be awarded less.
QUESTION: Do I need a custody evaluation?
If the parties cannot agree on custody and parent time, the court may order a custody evaluation. This evaluation is usually performed by a licensed psychologist or social worker, sometimes called a parenting coordinator or parenting evaluator. This is done to assist the court in evaluating and comparing the parents’ ability to parent, and to assess the developmental, emotional, and physical needs of the child. This evaluation will contain a recommendation for custody and parent time, and be submitted to the court. The parties generally share the costs of the custody evaluation, which can be several thousands of dollars.
ANSWER: If you cannot agree on custody and/or parent time with the other party, the Judge is likely to order that a custody evaluation be performed before your case can be heard at trial.
Please call us today to talk with an attorney or schedule your FREE CONSULTATION to learn what we can do for you and how we can help with your divorce or child custody matter.