How Long Do I Have to Live in Utah Before I Can File for Custody?

Say you just got to Utah and you want to file for custody. How long do you have to wait until you can actually file?

This is a great question and it has to do with something called jurisdiction and another thing called venue.

Jurisdiction

Jurisdiction is the idea a particular place can make judicial decisions only when it has proper authority over a person or thing. In child custody cases, a state has to have jurisdiction over the child to make determinations regarding custody and parent-time.

In Utah, we have a specific law (the Utah Uniform Child Custody and Enforcement Act (UCCJEA)) that answers this “how long” question.

And the answer is six months.

So, under almost all non-emergency circumstances, the UCCJEA says a child has to live in Utah for at least six monthsbefore you can file for custody. (In case you wondered the exact number of days before you can file, I’ve always seen judges accept 180).

Venue

Venue is the idea that a particular county within a jurisdiction can hear a case.

What this means is if you live in Salt Lake County, you have to file in Salt Lake County because you are a resident of Salt Lake County. You can’t file in Juab Count unless you live there for a period of time before filing.

To get venue in a Utah county, you have to live there for at least three months (90 days) before you file your custody case.

Recap

So, for Utah to have jurisdiction over your child, he or she needs to have lived in Utah for at least 6 months before filing a child custody case. For proper venue, you have to live in a Utah county for at least three months before filing.

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