How to Get Custody of a Child

Making a child custody agreement can be challenging and emotional for both parents. It can also take a big toll emotionally on the children involved. Whether you are fighting for primary or joint custody, there is no doubt that the well-being of your child is at stake.

Parents must work together to determine the arrangement best for their kids. Each situation is unique and must be evaluated on its own merits. The advice of a qualified attorney is always recommended in these cases.

At Brown Family Law, we understand how much you love and want the best for your children. With empathy and patience, our attorneys have helped many parents obtain the custody arrangement they desire. 

We aim to maximize the time you spend with your kids while reducing the stress and fear you may feel during this process. Both you and your spouse are invited to contact us at 801-685-9999 for a divorce consultation to learn how we can assist you.

Types of Custody

Many different types of child custody arrangements can be made between parents. Child custody can be awarded to one parent, both parents, or another family member or guardian. 

The best interests of the child are always the top priority when determining child custody arrangements.

Custody arrangements can be made through either a formal court process or informal negotiations between the parents. If the parents cannot agree on a child custody arrangement, the court will decide what is best for the children.

Legal custody vs. physical custody

Legal custody refers to the right to make decisions about the child’s upbringing, including education, health care, and religious training. A parent with legal custody can make these decisions without consulting the other parent.

Physical custody determines where the child resides. It is important to remember that physical custody is different from legal custody. Parents with physical custody have the right to have their child live with them.

Sole custody 

There are a few different types of child custody, but sole legal custody is when one parent has complete control over the child’s upbringing.

This means that the other parent will not have any say in decisions about the child’s education, health, or welfare. The other parent may have visitation rights but does not have any decision-making power when it comes to major decisions in the child’s life. 

If you are seeking sole custody of your child, it is important to understand the process and what you will need to prove to the court. For this, you will benefit from contacting a family law attorney.

Joint custody

In some cases, parents may share joint legal or physical custody of their children. This means that both have a say in making decisions about the child’s life and that the child spends significant time with both parents.

It is important to remember that courts generally presume that it is in a child’s best interests to have frequent contact with both parents. Therefore, if you are seeking sole physical or legal custody, you will need to overcome this presumption by presenting evidence that joint custody is not in the best interests of the child.

Can Single Parents Get Full Custody?

It is possible for either an unmarried single father or mother to get full custody of a child. Neither parent is required to be in a new relationship or marriage to be considered for custody.

The courts generally prefer to award custody to the mother. However, in most cases, the court may prefer that the child have regular contact with both parents.

How Parents Can Build a Custody Case

It is crucial for parents to understand how the court makes custody decisions and what factors the court will consider when making a determination about custody. 

The following are several steps parents can take to build a strong custody case.

Be involved in your children’s lives

One of the most important steps parents can take is to be involved in their kids’ lives. This means being present for key milestones and events, such as:

  • School plays
  • Sporting events
  • Day-to-day activities
  • Schooling and homework
  • Bedtime routines

The more involved a parent is, the more likely it is that he or she will be awarded custody.

Demonstrate that you are a responsible parent

Another important factor the court will consider is whether or not you are a responsible parent. This includes things like paying child support on time, maintaining a stable home environment, and having a steady job.

Parents who can demonstrate that they are responsible parents are more likely to be awarded custody than those who cannot.

Cooperate with the other parent

When parents agree on their children’s care, even if they are not on good terms, the court may decide on a shared custody agreement.

Cooperation includes one or both parents making an effort to exchange information in a timely manner and be respectful of each other’s time and schedules. It also involves settling custody disputes in a civil manner and refraining from bad-mouthing each other in front of the children.

Document your involvement in your children’s life

It is important to document your involvement in your kids’ lives so that the court can see during your child custody hearing that you are an active and engaged parent. 

There are many ways to do this, but some suggestions include the following:

  • Keep a journal of your activities with your kids, including dates, times, and locations
  • Save schoolwork, artwork, or other mementos that your child has made for you
  • Write down any special moments or conversations that you have shared with your children
  • Make sure to keep track of all communication with the other parent, including text messages, emails, and phone calls

Get statements from people who can speak to your character

One way to show that you are a capable and responsible parent is to have witnesses who can attest to your parenting abilities.

These witnesses could be:

  • Family members
  • Friends
  • Professionals such as teachers or childcare providers
  • Social groups, church members, members of community programs, etc.

Your witnesses should be able to truthfully speak to your character and explain why you would make a great parent. 

You should have multiple witnesses who can testify on your behalf. This will help show the court that you have a strong support system and that there are many people who believe in your ability as a parent. This is important if the court orders that your child lives with you.

Prepare for the challenges involved with custody agreements

In many cases, both parents may have different ideas about what is best for their child, and it can be difficult to find a solution that meets everyone’s needs.

You might consider the following obstacles:

  • Ensuring that the child’s needs are adequately addressed in the agreement is difficult. This may involve determining the child’s living arrangements, child support, the parenting schedule, and any other important considerations such as educational and medical needs.
  • Communication can also be a challenge when creating a child custody agreement. Parents may have difficulty effectively communicating with each other, particularly if there is a history of conflict or tension between them.
  • The child custody process itself can be a challenge. It can be time-consuming, costly, and stressful for parents, particularly if they are already dealing with the emotional fallout of a separation or divorce.

Overall, creating a child custody agreement requires empathy, patience, and a commitment to putting the child’s emotional and developmental needs first.

By working together to create a parenting plan and communicating effectively, parents can focus on the best interests of their children. Parents can also address their own needs and concerns.

Factors Considered for Granting Full Custody

Awarding custody is a serious matter in the eyes of the divorce system since any decision can significantly affect a child’s future. Therefore, many factors are considered when determining custody cases. These are considered before the court orders any legal and physical custody arrangement.

Additional factors include:

  • The ability of each parent to provide for the child’s physical, emotional, and developmental needs
  • The child’s preference (if the child is old enough to express a preference)
  • Each parent’s work schedule and ability to provide care for the child
  • The distance between each parent’s home and the child’s school and activities
  • Each parent’s relationship with the child and ability to nurture the child
  • Any history of domestic violence or substance abuse by either parent

Custody arrangements are not permanent and can be modified if there is a change in circumstances. If you need help modifying a child custody arrangement with the non- custodial parent, you should contact an experienced family law attorney.

Who Chooses Custody Arrangements for a Teenager?

The decision of who will have custody of a teenager can be difficult to make. In Utah, courts will give deference to the wishes of a teenage child when it comes to making a custody determination.

However, there are some circumstances in which a court may not give deference to the wishes of a teenage child. For example:

  • One parent is more suitable than the other
  • There are allegations of abuse or neglect

Ultimately, the court decides how much weight to give to the wishes of a teenager when determining parental rights.

Getting Custody of a Child Without Going to Court

There are a few ways to gain custody of a child without going to court. One way is to come to an agreement with the other parent outside of court. This can be done through mediation or negotiation.

Another way to gain custody of a child is through the Child Welfare System. This is usually only an option if the other parent is deemed unfit. This may happen for many reasons, such as:

  • A mental health professional deems the non-custodial parent unsafe
  • He or she lacks stable employment
  • The non-custodial parent has abuse or neglect allegations against him or her

Custody in Cases of Parental Abuse and Neglect

Sadly, it is estimated that between 4 and 7 million children in the United States are abused or neglected each year. Parental abuse and neglect can take many forms, from physical abuse to emotional abuse.

If you suspect the other parent of parental abuse or neglect, your priority is the safety of your child. But you may wonder how to gain custody and ensure the child’s safety.

It is important to speak with an attorney to determine which option is best for you and your child. If you have any questions about parental abuse or neglect, please get in touch with our attorneys at Brown Family Law.

Brown Family Law Can Help Your Child Custody Agreement

A family law attorney can play an essential role in a child custody case by providing guidance throughout the entire process. 

Here are just a few ways that our team can help your family:

  1. Provide divorce advice: A family law attorney can explain the divorce system and the relevant laws to you, helping you understand your legal rights and obligations
  2. Assist with negotiation: Your attorney can help you negotiate with the other parent or his or her attorney to develop a child custody agreement that meets the needs of both you and the other parent
  3. Represent you in court: If negotiations fail, your attorney can represent you in court, presenting your case to the judge and advocating for your rights
  4. File legal documents: Your attorney can assist you in completing and filing all of the necessary legal documents required for your case, ensuring that everything is done correctly and on time

Brown Family Law can help guide you through the process of a custody case. Our attorneys can provide you with the support you need to achieve a successful outcome for you and your child.

If you are a Utah resident and are seeking to establish custody of a child, contact us today. Utah has specific laws regarding child custody, and an experienced attorney can help ensure your rights are protected throughout the process. Complete our online contact form or call us at (801) 685-9999 to schedule a free legal consultation with one of our representatives.

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