Family Law Attorney in Utah
Child Custody Specialized Representation Tailored to Your Goals

Salt Lake County Child Custody Attorney

Draper-Based Lawyers Also Serving Utah

Parent with custody of childChildren are affected in many different ways by the divorce or separation of their parents and the breakup of their family. Kids often feel like their whole world has been turned upside down. It is important to be patient and reassure them that they are loved as you navigate through your divorce and put solid child custody and child support arrangements in place. Because both legal and physical custody should be addressed, you need an experienced child custody attorney in Salt Lake County Utah to help you establish effective child custody and parent time agreement.

If you are facing child custody issues, it is important to have a skilled attorney who understands the ins and outs of Utah’s family laws on your side. Eric M. Swinyard & Associates, PLLC, understands Utah’s child custody "best interests" standards and how they can affect your case. Get experienced legal advice in Salt Lake County and Utah County from our Draper-based firm.

Call today for your 30-minute consultation: (801) 515-4133.

Types of Child Custody in Utah

Child custody issues in the Beehive State will fall under the broad categories of physical custody and legal custody. The secondary category determines if one or both parents have custody designation. Listed below are Utah’s five child custody types:

Sole Legal Custody

Gives one designated parent the authority to make important decisions, including:

  • Religion
  • School
  • Health Care
  • Child Care
  • Travel
  • Sports Participation
  • Extracurricular Activities

While the other parent or non-custodial parent does not have decision making power, he or she has the right to be informed of these important decisions.

Sole Physical Custody

Sole or primary custody means the child lives with the designated parent and the other parent may be granted child visitation also known as parent time. The standard Salt Lake County child visitation schedule states that the non-custodial parent is allowed minimum visitation (approximately 86 overnight visits per year), including:

  • Every Other Weekend
  • One Weekday Evening Each Week
  • Two Holidays Per Year
  • Four Weeks During Summer Break

Joint Legal Custody

Allows both parents to make decisions about major issues for their child by working together. A joint or shared legal custody agreement must always include a parenting plan in the divorce decree. If the parents were not married, the parenting plan might be included in a judicial paternity order. The degree must also include a provision describing the process for dispute resolution.

  • Joint Physical Custody means the child lives with both parents for an equal number of days per year. While the number of days is not specified in Utah, child support begins to be calculated for anything over 111 overnights per year on the required joint custody worksheet.
  • Split Physical Custody arrangements can be outlined for parents with more than one child if the court determines it is in the best interest of children to live in separate households. Each parent is awarded sole custody or joint legal custody of each of the children.

Once again, consider that family courts in Utah set terms that they believe are in the child’s best interests for all custody determinations.

Many factors can go into these determinations, including parental wellness, a child’s daily routine, health, and the environment in each home. Learn more information in two sections below.

So whether you are arranging initial custody arrangements or seeking to modify the terms of an existing child custody order, our lawyers can highlight what’s most important to your child.

What Age Can a Child Decide Which Parent to Live With in Utah?

A child's preference can sometimes assist the Court in making custody determinations. The Court has wide discretion in whether to consider the child's preference. The child has to be of sufficient age and maturity for the Court to consider their opinion. There is no set age when a child can definitively weigh in on this topic. A child's best interests are best determined by relying on a guardian ad litem or custody evaluator.

Family law attorney Eric Swinyard and his legal team always work with clients to educate them about the law and expectations. These conflicts over custody and visitation rights are consistently best settled out of family court since judges will assess a custody order that may not please either person. At this point, you and your child’s future will rest in the hands of outsiders.

How Child Custody is Determined in Salt Lake County

After separation or divorce, both parents are still legally responsible for the care of their children in the state of Utah. A parenting plan within the divorce decree will outline the role of each parent. Utah law considers a number of factors that help determine child custody by following guidelines for the best interest of the child, including:

  • Parent/Child Bonding
  • A Child’s Emotional, Physical & Psychological Needs
  • Parental Stability
  • Each Parents Past & Present Ability to Agree on Shared Decisions
  • The Willingness of Each Parent to Encourage Visitation
  • The Level of Participation in Raising the Child Before the Divorce
  • Each Parent’s Geographic Location
  • Parental Criminal History
  • The Child’s Preference (Based on Age and Maturity Level)
  • Other Factors Relating to the Best Interest of the Child

Choose an Experienced Child Custody Attorney in Salt Lake County

Our Draper child custody lawyer is a compassionate family attorney who understands that while parents know that divorce is the best thing for everyone involved, the kids need a sense of securing during this difficult time. When a child custody agreement is in place, parents find that their kids are resilient and will quickly adjust to the new arrangements.

Contact our child custody lawyer in Draper UT to schedule your confidential 30-minute consultation and learn about your legal options to protect your child’s best interests and your rights as a parent.


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    If it wasn't for Eric and Preston, I wouldn't have gotten custody of my 2 children.

Meet Our Team

Professional. Confident. Approachable.
  • Eric M. Swinyard Photo
    Eric M. Swinyard

    Founding Attorney

    Eric M. Swinyard is a divorce and family law attorney who serves clients throughout the State of Utah. Eric’s practice is primarily focused on providing personalized, high-quality legal services to individuals involved in divorces, paternity actions, adoptions, estate planning, and other family law matters. It’s incredibly easy to be taken advantage of during litigation, especially if you are unrepresented by legal counsel. Protect Your Rights You don’t want to be in a situation where you need ...
  • Ryan  Ficklin Photo
    Ryan Ficklin


    Ryan Ficklin is an associate attorney at Eric M. Swinyard & Associates, PLLC. Prior to practicing law in Utah, Ryan practiced family law in Southern California. In 2017, Ryan relocated back to his home state of Utah to focus on serving the people of Utah who need legal representation, particularly in the family law realm. Ryan graduated with honors from California’s Whittier Law School in May of 2015. While in law school, Ryan was a staff member for The Journal of Child and Family Advocacy. Ryan ...
  • Keith L. Johnson Photo
    Keith L. Johnson


    Keith joined Eric M. Swinyard & Associates in Fall 2020, bringing more than a decade of experience as a trial attorney in various types of legal cases. He has successfully guided hundreds of individuals through Utah’s court system. Keith previously worked at an established civil litigation firm in Salt Lake as well as a mid-sized regional law firm. He has substantive experience in a variety of practice areas and is now primarily devoted to serving individuals involved in family law cases. Keith ...
  • Mark  Hales Photo
    Mark Hales


    Mark Hales has over 17 years of legal experience in the areas of family, criminal, and civil law. He handles all types of domestic matters, including custody, divorce, child support, alimony, annulment, termination of parental rights, paternity, modifications, and adoptions. In addition, he defends clients charged with domestic violence and abuse, stalking, violations of protective orders, and other and criminal charges. Mark is a certified mediator for all legal matters and is also a certified ...
  • Justin  Stringfellow Photo
    Justin Stringfellow


    Justin Stringfellow has practiced family law in Utah for 20 years, bringing a wealth of experience to Eric Swinyard & Associates in areas such as divorce, custody, paternity, modifications, child support, and adoption proceedings. In the early years of his career, Justin appeared on an estimated 1,500 Protective Order matters. He is an expert in dealing with abuse and domestic violence components in family law matters. As such, he was distinguished by Utah's Domestic Violence Coalition. Justin ...
  • Eliza  Crespo Photo
    Eliza Crespo


    Eliza Crespo is an associate attorney at Eric Swinyard & Associates. Prior to joining the firm, Eliza practiced estate planning in Utah. Eliza offers a fresh set of eyes to difficult situations and is passionate about providing excellent and compassionate legal services to her clients. Through personal experience, she appreciates the impact of a listening ear and an effective advocate, especially during times of challenge or transition. Eliza obtained her bachelor’s degree and law degree from ...

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