How to File for Full Custody in Utah

How to File for Full Custody in Utah

When it comes to child custody cases, the well-being and best interests of the child are always the top priority. In Utah, like in most states, the court encourages parents to work together and create a parenting plan that reflects the child’s needs and promotes a healthy relationship with both parents. However, in certain situations, filing for full custody may be necessary. Here is a step-by-step guide on how to file for full custody in Utah:

1. Understand the types of custody: In Utah, custody is categorized into legal custody (decision-making authority) and physical custody (where the child lives). Full custody refers to having both legal and physical custody.

2. Gather evidence: To successfully obtain full custody, you need to prove that it is in the child’s best interests. Collect any evidence that supports your claim, such as records of abuse, neglect, or substance abuse, and document any instances where the other parent’s behavior may be detrimental to the child’s well-being.

3. Attend mediation: Utah law requires parents to attend mediation before going to court. Mediation helps parents work out a parenting plan and resolve any disputes. If mediation fails to reach an agreement, you can proceed to file for full custody.

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4. File a petition: Obtain the necessary forms from your local district court or their website. Fill out the petition for custody, including all relevant information about you, the child, and the other parent. Be clear and concise in stating the reasons why you are seeking full custody.

5. Serve the other parent: After filing the petition, you must serve the other parent with a copy of the documents. This can be done by a sheriff, a process server, or through certified mail with return receipt requested.

6. Attend court hearings: Once the other parent is served, the court will schedule a hearing. Both parents will have the opportunity to present their cases, and the judge will make a decision based on the child’s best interests.

7. Provide evidence and witnesses: During the hearing, present your evidence and any witnesses who can support your claim for full custody. It is essential to have credible witnesses who can provide firsthand knowledge of the child’s well-being and the other parent’s behavior.

8. Follow court orders: If the court grants you full custody, it is crucial to comply with all court orders. Failure to do so can result in penalties and may adversely affect your custody rights in the future.

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9. Modify custody orders if necessary: Custody arrangements are not set in stone and can be modified if circumstances change. If you believe that the child’s well-being is at risk or that the other parent is not fulfilling their obligations, you can file a request for modification of custody.


1. Can I file for full custody if the other parent is unfit?
Yes, if you can provide evidence of the other parent’s unfitness, such as neglect or abuse, you may have a strong case for full custody.

2. How long does the process take?
The duration varies, but it can take several months to resolve a custody case in Utah.

3. Can grandparents file for full custody?
Under certain circumstances, grandparents can file for custody if it is in the child’s best interests. However, they must meet specific legal requirements.

4. Will the child’s preferences be considered?
The court may consider the child’s preferences, especially if they are mature enough to express them. However, the final decision will always be based on the child’s best interests.

5. Can I file for full custody without an attorney?
While it is possible to file for custody without an attorney, it is recommended to seek legal advice, especially if the case is complex or contentious.

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6. How is child support determined in full custody cases?
Child support is determined based on various factors, including each parent’s income, the child’s needs, and the custody arrangement. The court will calculate child support according to the Utah Child Support Guidelines.

7. Can I get full custody if the other parent has visitation rights?
Yes, it is possible to have full custody while allowing the other parent visitation rights. The court will determine the custody arrangement based on the child’s best interests.

8. What if the other parent refuses to comply with court orders?
If the other parent refuses to comply with court orders, you can file a motion for contempt, which can result in penalties or even a change in custody.

9. Can I represent myself in court?
While it is your right to represent yourself, it is highly recommended to have legal representation to navigate the complexities of the legal system and increase your chances of success.

Filing for full custody in Utah can be a complex and emotionally challenging process. It is crucial to gather evidence, understand the legal requirements, and seek legal advice to ensure the best possible outcome for your child’s well-being.