One of the touchiest subjects in a divorce case is child custody. Both parents may want the kids to live with them, or at the very least have a say in their lives. There are two broad types of custody: physical and legal. Within these two categories are sole and joint custody.
Physical custody dictates where the children live on a normal basis. This can be either joint or sole custody. Most often, the children will live with one parent for the majority of the time (at least 225 nights a year), only seeing the other parent for a few hours or days occasionally. This situation is classified as sole physical custody. If the parents live relatively close to each other, joint physical custody may be granted. In Utah, this means the children will spend at least 111 nights a year at each parent’s home.
The other kind of custody is legal custody. The parent who is given this right is able to decide what school the kids will go to, who their doctor will be, their religion and other factors in their upbringing. In a relatively amicable divorce in which both parents are of sound mind, a joint legal custody arrangement is often preferred.
There is a third scenario, though it is much rarer. In a split custody case, at least two children are involved and each parent is granted sole physical custody of at least one of them.
No matter what, Utah considers the best interests of the child to be top priority. If you and your spouse are considering divorce, speaking to an attorney or mediator early on can help you work through the issue of child custody.