The following is a summary of Utah child custody laws, and is by no means intended to be an all-inclusive description of what to expect in your particular case. In some cases, the exact text of the statute may have been simplified and/or modified to provide for easier understanding. For a more specific understanding of the laws, you should consult the full Utah Code and/or consult with an attorney about how the law might apply to your particular situation.

Child Custody Guidelines.

Utah laws allow the court to make an order for the future care and custody of the parties’ minor children as it considers appropriate. The court shall consider the best interests of the child and, among other factors the court finds relevant, the following:

  1. Whether the physical, psychological, and emotional needs and development of the child will benefit from joint legal or physical custody;
  2. The ability of the parents to give first priority to the welfare of the child and reach shared decisions in the child’s best interest;
  3. Whether each parent is capable of encouraging and accepting a positive relationship between the child and the other parent, including the sharing of love, affection, and contact between the child and the other parent;
  4. Whether both parents participated in raising the child before the divorce;
  5. The geographical proximity of the homes of the parents;
  6. The preference of the child if the child is of sufficient age and capacity to reason so as to form an intelligent preference as to joint legal or physical custody;
  7. The maturity of the parents and their willingness and ability to protect the child from conflict that may arise between the parents;
  8. The past and present ability of the parents to cooperate with each other and make decisions jointly;
  9. Any history of, or potential for, child abuse, spouse abuse, or kidnapping;
  10. The past conduct and demonstrated moral standards of each of the parties;
  11. Which parent is most likely to act in the best interest of the child, including allowing the child frequent and continuing contact with the noncustodial parent; and
  12. Any other factors the court finds relevant.

The court shall, in every case, consider joint custody but may award any form of custody which is determined to be in the best interest of the child. When deciding whether to award joint custody, the court will consider the same factors as above.

The court may take into consideration the children’s desires for custody, 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 16 years of age or older shall be given added weight, but is not the single controlling factor.

-From 3-3-10 of the Utah Statutes.


Joint legal custody” means the sharing of the rights, privileges, duties, and powers of a parent by both parents, where specified, and may include an award of exclusive authority by the court to one parent to make specific decisions. The court can award joint legal custody and still award sole physical custody to one parent.

Joint physical custody” means the child stays with each parent overnight for more than 30% of the year, and both parents contribute to the expenses of the child in addition to paying child support. A court may still designate one parent as the primary caretaker and one home as the primary residence of the child.

-From 30-3-10.1 & 10.2 of the Utah Statutes.

Moving with the Child.

When either parent decides to move out of state, or at least 150 miles from their current residence, that parent shall provide 60 days advance written notice of the intended relocation to the other parent, if possible. The court has a specific minimum visitation schedule that must be followed even when the parent relocates, unless the court orders otherwise.

The court may, upon motion of any party or upon the court’s own motion, schedule a hearing to review the notice of relocation and parent-time schedule, and to make appropriate orders regarding the parent-time and costs for parent-time transportation.

In determining the parent-time schedule and allocating the transportation costs, the court shall consider:

  1. The reason for the parent’s relocation;
  2. The additional costs or difficulty to both parents in exercising parent-time;
  3. The economic resources of both parents; and
  4. Other factors the court considers necessary and relevant.

Upon the motion of any party, the court may order the parent intending to move to pay the costs of transportation for at least one visit per year with the other parent, and any number of additional visits as determined equitable by the court.

-From 30-3-37 of the Utah Statutes.


This information has been summarized from the Utah statutes. You can find the full-text version of these and other Utah divorce statutes online here: Utah Divorce Laws.




IMPORTANT: Help Yourself Divorce is a paralegal service, not a law firm. Please don’t rely on this information for legal advice. Seek help from an attorney if you need legal advice.


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