Utah Child Custody Laws: A Guide

Custody issues can be emotionally difficult and legally complex. When Utah parents are faced with this daunting task, a solid understanding of state law is crucial.

The purpose of this guide is to provide parents with important information about guardianship laws in Utah.

Types of Child Custody in Utah

State law suggests these options:

  • Physical: Refers to where the child will reside primarily. In Utah, it can be assigned as sole custody of one parent or a joint option where the kid spends significant time with both parents;
  • Legal: Involves the right to make decisions about the kid’s well-being, education, health care, and other important aspects of his or her life. 

Like the physical type, the legal type can be awarded solely or jointly.

parents holding the child's hands

Determining in Utah

Utah courts prioritize the best interests of the child when deciding such issues. Courts consider a variety of factors, including:

  • Preference: Depending on the age and maturity of the kid, the child’s preference may be taken into consideration. Ultimately, however, the court determines whether the preference is in his or her best interest;
  • Parent-kid relationship: The court evaluates the relationship between each parent and child, considering factors such as emotional connection, stability, and involvement in the child’s life;
  • Parents’ ability: Evaluates whether each parent is capable of meeting their physical, emotional, and educational needs. Factors such as job stability, mental health, history of domestic violence or substance abuse are considered;
  • Readiness for co-parenting: Utah courts encourage co-parenting. The court evaluates the parent’s willingness to promote a positive and healthy relationship between the kid and the other parent.

The court looks at children’s adjustment to their current environment, including school, community and social connections. Consideration is given to the stability and continuity of the kid’s life


The orders are not necessarily permanent. If there is a material change in circumstances, either parent may request that the agreement be modified. Examples of a material change could be a parent moving, a parent remarrying, or a change in the children’s needs or preferences.


In summary, navigating child guardianship laws in Utah requires a deep understanding of the legal framework and a commitment to prioritizing the best interests of the kids involved. By adhering to the “best interest of the child” standard, considering various factors, and seeking appropriate legal guidance, parents can strive to create custody arrangements that foster a safe, stable, and nurturing environment for their kids. It is essential to approach guardianship disputes with open communication, flexibility, and a focus on cooperative co-parenting to ensure the well-being and happiness of the lids are upheld.


What is the new child custody law in Utah? 

The most recent custody law enacted in Utah is S.B. 122. This law simplifies the procedure for filing a lawsuit to award joint equal physical guardianship of children.

How is child custody determined in Utah?

The court will consider several factors, including the primary caregiver, the child’s preferences (if the kid is old enough to express them), the relationship with each parent, each parent’s ability to care for the kid, the parents’ work schedule and availability, and any history of domestic violence or substance abuse.

Ultimately, the decision will be made based on what is in his or her best interest.

 What custody rights does a father have in Utah?

In Utah, the father has the right to guardianship and visitation and to make decisions concerning his welfare if he is legally recognized as the father as a result of paternity. However, if the child is born to unmarried parents, the mother may obtain natural or primary custody.

 Is Utah a 50-50 state for child custody? 

Beginning in March 2021, Utah enacted a new law (S.B. 122) that makes it easier to consider a joint equal physical custody award. While this law provides for more equal treatment, it does not necessarily mean that Utah is a 50/50 custody state.