Stephen J. Buhler, Attorney at Law

Getting a divorce, can I get shared custody of my kids?

You and your spouse are ready to call it quits. Your spouse has been a stay-at-home parent ever since your first child was born, and you have been the primary breadwinner. He or she wants full custody so that the kids are not bouncing around from house to house. You want shared custody. Is that possible in the state of Utah?

Current state custody laws

The state of Utah offers two types of physical custody: shared and sole. Sole custody is something typically awarded when one parent is deemed unfit or unable to have the children living with him or her, or if the court believes that it simply serves a child's best interests. In such cases, the non-custodial may receive visitation time.

Joint or shared custody is when both parents get just about equal time with their children. It may not be a perfect 50/50 split, but it should be pretty close.

Determining how custody will work

If parents are unable to come to agreeable terms on child custody on their own, a judge will decide the matter. The judge will look at a number of factors in order to determine if sole or joint custody is best. Some of these factors include:

  • Parent conduct
  • Parent/child bond
  • Needs of the child
  • Child's preference -- when he or she reaches a certain age or level of maturity
  • Parental history of abuse or addiction
  • Living arrangements

At the end of the day, it all comes down to what the judge believes will serve the best interests of the affected children. Many studies have shown that shared custody can have a positive impact on a child's mental and emotional well-being. So, yes, it is possible to achieve a shared custody arrangement -- under the right circumstances.

You can fight for what you think is best

You are a good parent who wants to be actively involved in the lives of your children. Whether you are a dad or mom, you can take steps to fight for the child custody arrangement that you think will best serve your kids. An experienced family law attorney can help you as you work to make sure your children end up in the best possible situation.

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