The custodial parent is the one who primarily cares for the child, in the case of sole physical custody or, a majority of the time, in the case of primary physical custody. The other parent is the non-custodial parent.
There is a difference between physical and legal custody. Physical custody is about where the child lives. Legal custody determines how parents are allowed to make significant decisions about the child’s life, including education and medical decisions.
While the law outlines the basics of all parents’ rights, it is somewhat general. How the court applies that law to your relationship with your child depends on many factors. That’s one reason it is vital to work with a custody attorney in Salt Lake or your part of Utah.
Having someone who understands the law and will fight diligently for your rights can mean the difference between rarely seeing your child and having no say in significant decisions about their life and playing an active, meaningful role.
The custody agreement is crucial in three ways: 1. It outlines the specifics of what the non-custodian parent can do together with the child, as well as when and where. 2. It outlines what can or cannot be used to withold visitation rights from the non-cutodian parent. 3. Once it is formalized, it can be difficult to change the terms.
The best time to fight for the conditions that will allow you to foster a meaningful, healthy relationship with your child is before a custody agreement is issued. It must be demonstrated to the court what is in the best interests of both yourself and your child so they can consider that when ruling on your case.
If you feel you are likely to end up as a non-custodial parent, that doesn’t mean you have to accept the terms offered by your co-parent. There are many ways for a non-custodial parent to maintain a strong relationship with their child. Your lawyer can help you understand your options and rights.
Utah law states a minimum time each parent should be granted with the child, based on the child’s age. When parents can not agree on a schedule, the court will decide, keeping these legal minimums in mind.
The judge will consider factors like who already plays the more significant daily role in the child’s life, schedules, availability, both parents’ ability to co-parent peacefully, and even the child’s preferences.
One thing that can not be used to make the decision is gender. Utah law explicitly forbids making custody arrangements based on the parents’ genders. Being the mother or father will not give you a legal advantage or make you less likely to spend significant time with your child.