The goal of custody proceedings is to ensure that the children’s best interests are met in the physical custody arrangement. In determining the children’s best interests , the Court considers the following factors:

(i) the past conduct and demonstrated moral standards of each of the parties;

(ii) which parent is most likely to act in the best interests of the child, including allowing the child frequent and continuing contact with the noncustodial parent;

(iii) the extent of bonding between the parent and child, meaning the depth, quality, and nature of the relationship between a parent and child;

a) whether the physical, psychological, and emotional needs and development of the child will benefit from joint legal or physical custody;

(iv) the ability of the parents to give first priority to the welfare of the child and reach shared decisions in the child's best interest;

(v) whether each parent is capable of encouraging and accepting a positive relationship between the child and the other parent, including the sharing of love, affection, and contact between the child and the other parent;

(vi) whether both parents participated in raising the child before the divorce;


 (vii) the geographical proximity of the homes of the parents;

(viii) the preference of the child if the child is of sufficient age and capacity to reason so as to form an intelligent preference as to joint legal or physical custody;

(ix) the maturity of the parents and their willingness and ability to protect the child from conflict that may arise between the parents;

(x) the past and present ability of the parents to cooperate with each other  and make decisions jointly;

(xi) any history of, or potential for, child abuse, spouse abuse, or kidnaping; and

(xii) any other factors the court finds relevant.

See Utah Code Ann. § 30-3-10; see also Utah Code Ann. § 30-3-10.2.


There are three different physical custody arrangements: sole physical custody; joint physical custody; and split physical custody. Sole physical custody is the traditional custody arrangement whereby one parent is designated as the custodial parent with whom the children reside and the other parent is designated as the noncustodial parent whom the children visit during prescribed dates and times.

Joint physical custody is a custody arrangement whereby the children spend significantly more time with both parents, residing in the home of each parent for overnight stays at least thirty percent (30%) of the year. See Utah Code Ann. § 30-3-10.1.  The joint legal custody arrangement is further described in Utah Code Ann. § 30-3-10.2 and in Utah Code Ann. § 30-3-10.3.

Split custody is a custody arrangement whereby some children reside with one parent while other children reside with the other parent.


Custody arrangements should not be entered into lightly following a separation. Arrangements agreed to even on a short-term basis may seriously affect the rights of the parents during court proceedings. Accordingly, it is highly advisable that you consult a legal professional before making a custody schedule.