Families are so much a part of life in Orem that the town has been dubbed Family City USA. Even after divorce, family bonds continue to matter, and your relationship with your children remains one of the most important aspects of your life. That’s why it’s so important, during and after a divorce, to have reliable, highly professional counsel for child custody. Skabelund Wirig & Loos is determined to help you protect what matters: your right to maintain a loving relationship with your children.
Under Utah law, either parent can request custody of the children from the marriage, and either natural parent can request custody when the parents were never married. Utah recognizes two types of child custody:
Each form of custody can be:
State courts favor joint physical custody in situations where each parent is capable of providing a suitable residence and acting as a primary caregiver. In cases of sole physical custody, the court generally awards the noncustodial parent generous parenting time. If a noncustodial parent is judged unfit, the court can limit parenting time to supervised visits, deny parenting time, or, in extreme cases, terminate parental rights. When parents are capable of cooperating, state courts favor joint legal custody as well. However, there are situations where sole legal custody is appropriate:
Finally, if a custodial parent has attempted to undermine the child’s relationship with the other parent, the court can award sole physical and legal custody to the other parent.
There is no one-size-fits-all child custody solution. Your parenting plan must be based on the specific circumstances of all the stakeholders: you, the other parent, and each of your children. Our family lawyers in Orem help you negotiate a parenting plan that protects your parental rights and advances the best interests of your children. When negotiations stall, we can assist with mediation. As a last resort, we can take the issue to trial, but we don’t recommend going to trial to win slight concessions. A negotiated or mediated solution is usually best, because you avoid the risk of an adverse decision by a judge who does not know you or your children. If you get an adverse ruling, there is rarely a chance to do better on appeal, because judges have great discretion in this area. Getting a modification of the order later on is generally easier, but you must wait a considerable amount of time or show evidence that you have experienced a substantial change in circumstances.
A noncustodial parent generally has an obligation to pay child support to the custodial parent. However, parents whose rights are terminated are relieved from the obligation of support.
Under the law, child custody and child support are separate issues, and parents make a big mistake in combining the two. If, for example, you decide to withhold child support payments because your ex is interfering with your parenting time, you will accomplish nothing other than getting yourself in trouble with the court. The correct course of action is to contact a child custody attorney immediately and go to court to enforce the provisions of your parenting plan. If your ex is truly undermining your relationship with your child, the court can modify the custody order, awarding you joint or sole physical custody. But to get this kind of relief, you must approach the court with clean hands, not as someone who is deliberately violating a support order.
At Skabelund Wirig & Loos, our lawyers protect what’s yours: your property, your income, and your relationship with your children. To speak with a dedicated family law attorney, call 801-788-4447 or contact our Orem office online to schedule a free consultation.