Stephen J. Buhler, Attorney at Law

Can I modify a child custody order in Utah?

This blog has previously discussed post-divorce modifications to child support. In addition to modifications to child support orders, child custody modifications may also be needed following a divorce as life and circumstances change. Post-divorce modifications of child custody orders may be possible in certain circumstances but to begin with, it is helpful to understand the different types of child custody arrangements in Utah.

There are different types of child custody including sole custody and joint custody. In addition, parents can have physical custody or legal custody of the children which can also be sole or joint. Physical custody refers to which parent the child lives with and legal custody refers to which parent has the right to make important decisions for the child. If one parent receives sole custody, the other parent will receive parenting time. Sole and joint physical and legal custody can be designated in different combinations based on what is considered in the best interests of the child given the circumstances of the child and family.

Modification of a custody order may be possible if there is a significant change in circumstances of the child or parents. As is true of any child custody decision, what is in the best interests of the child will be considered when developing or modifying a child custody order. Either parent can petition the court for a modification of the child custody order. Material and substantial changes that may occasion a change to a child custody order can include if the parent has remarried, if a parent has moved to a new community or if the child needs to change schools.

Life moves on following a divorce and the family law process recognizes that reality. As a result, it provides resources for families when a post-divorce modification to a child custody order is needed to help ensure the child's best interests are being met.

Source: Utah Courts, "Modifying Custody," Accessed Aug. 9, 2017

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