Stephen J. Buhler, Attorney at Law

Legal custody is an important part of supporting one's children

The right to spend time with one's own children is often taken for granted by Salt Lake City parents. It may not be until divorce or separation forces them to establish a new home and share their kids with their former partner that they realize how precious those moments with their children really are. When working through child custody matters parents sometimes fixate on how much time they will actually have with their children under their physical control.

Although physical custody is a vitally important part of parenting plans for Utah families, there is another type of custody that parents should recognize as imperative to the upbringing of their kids: legal custody. Legal custody is the power of a parent to be involved in the decision-making processes of their children's lives and to have their voice heard when matters related to their kids' upbringing is under consideration.

For example, a parent who has legal custody of their child may be able to oppose their former partner's push to have their child change schools or enroll in a religious educational program. A parent with legal custody may be involved in the decision-making process of how and where their child is treated for a medical ailment. Parents who lack legal custody do not have the right to work actively for their children's best interests in these important realms of care.

Spending time with one's children is a joy and a right that many parents enjoy. To this end, physical custody is an important part of a parent's continuing relationship with their child after their relationship with their children's other parent ends. However, legal custody is also a vital part of ensuring that a parent has a voice in ensuring that their kids' best interests are met.

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