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Child Custody Frequently Asked Questions

How does family court decide custody?

The Utah Family Court decides custody according to the child’s best interest. That fact remains whether parents agree or disagree on custody arrangements. Joint custody is typically decided unless the child has special needs, the parents reside in separate states or live far apart, there is a history of domestic violence or abuse whether emotional or physical or evidence of neglect. The court determines the best interest of a child based on factors found in the Utah Code Section 30-3-10. Some of these factors include: financial conduct, nature of parent-child relationship, willingness to allow frequent contact with the other parent if the court finds no other circumstances, ability and desire to care for the child, relationships with other family members who are significant in the child’s life, history of violence, abuse or neglect, siblings, and the child’s own wishes.

Who will get custody of our Child?

The court will decide joint or sole custody based on several factors. The ability of the parent to make the child’s welfare his/her priority, whether joint decisions could still be reached, the ability to co-parent and communicate and encourage love and affection for the child, and the parent’s maturity and ability to provide for and protect the child should conflict arise

Can a parent refuse to allow visitation if child support is not paid?

The law in Utah is clear on whether contact between a parent and child can be withheld because of a parent’s refusal or inability to pay child support. Parent time with a child because of non-payment of child support cannot be withheld by the custodial parent.

What is joint custody? What is sole custody?

Joint custody is an arrangement whereby the child lives with both parents for a specified amount of time. Both parents are involved in making important decisions relating to the child and the good communication lines are open. Joint physical custody stipulates the child live at least 111 days in the home of each parent, each year and works best when parents live in proximity to each other. Sole physical custody stipulates that the child lives with one parent at least 225 days each year. Both parents continue to make decisions based on what is best for the child.

Do grandparents have custody and visitation rights?

Grandparents do not have legal visitation rights. They could have visitation rights but only if there is an independent cause of action in the court to preserve those rights. If the child has been removed from both parents, grandparents could have legal rights, but they must be pursued through the court.

What is a parenting plan, and do I need one?

If there is a joint or physical custody granted to both parents, a parenting plan must be submitted to the court that will prove that parenting time will be allocated to the child. It is a consideration allowed to both parents and is convenient in setting schedules and planning holidays.

How long after a case is opened will i receive child support

Once a court has decided custody and child support has been set, the parent ordered to pay child support must register information with the court and payments are set to begin, usually within 30 days. If a parent does not pay child support as ordered, the custodial parent can go through the court to collect money owed to the child. Once a case is opened, a case record is established within 20 days and action on the case begins. The length of time depends on the circumstances.

When and how do i modify or change a child custody order?

A parent must show how circumstances have changed in order to have a custody agreement modified. The ability to take care of a child, the loss of health or a job would qualify as circumstances that could be granted a modification. The parent seeking the modification must also show how it is in the best interest of the child to change a custody agreement. If the parent can prove a present danger to the child’s health or well-being, a court could grant an immediate custody change.

How can i increase my chances at getting a larger custody agreement?

Several factors will determine a larger custody agreement. The court will always take into consideration what is best for the child before making any decisions on a requested larger agreement.

What are the different types of custody arrangements?

Part-time custody means that one parent has visitation rights and is referred to as the non-custodial parent. The court can order joint custody when the parents are agreeable. The time between them is split each year and this type of agreement is known as joint physical or joint legal.

If my ex stopped paying child support, do they still get visitation?

According to Utah law, a parent continues to receive visitation rights if they don’t pay child support.

What is child custody mediation?

Mediation is arranged when neither can agree and a third party helps mediate the conversation and agreement between the two. It does not involve the court, is private and professional, and allows parents to reach a custody and support agreement.

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Meet Our Team

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  • Eric M. Swinyard Photo
    Eric M. Swinyard

    Founding Attorney

    Eric M. Swinyard is a litigation and small business attorney who serves clients throughout Utah and across the country. He has offices in both Salt Lake County and Utah County. Eric’s practice is focused on providing personalized, high-quality legal services to both individuals and businesses. He regularly assists clients in various practice areas , including divorce , parentage ( paternity ), adoption , debt collection, estate planning , business advice, asset protection, litigation (civil, ...
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    Ryan Ficklin

    Attorney

    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 ...
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    Preston Day

    Attorney

    Preston Day is an associate attorney at Eric M. Swinyard & Associates, PLLC. Before assuming his position as an associate attorney, Preston spent over two years working as a prosecuting attorney for Salt Lake City and Salt Lake County. During his time as a prosecutor, he managed several hundred cases and took over 100 cases to trial. In his current role, Preston manages primarily divorce , family , and criminal cases . Preston began his legal career working as a law clerk for Judge Richard ...
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