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October 11, 2021

What are Fathers’ Rights for Child Visitation in Utah?

In Utah, fathers have rights and privileges, which include being able to spend time with their children through visitation. Husbands are presumed to be the father of any children born to their wives during the marriage. During a divorce, it is necessary for fathers to invoke their rights to enjoy child visitation benefits. Under Utah law, fathers have the exact same rights to child custody and visitation as mothers do. When determining a parenting plan, judges must consider multiple factors and decide what type of plan is in the children’s best interest. 


Protecting Your Right to Child Visitation as a Father

If you are a father going through a divorce, it is important that you discuss your case with an experienced Salt Lake City divorce lawyer. Depending on your case, you may need to fight diligently for child custody or visitation rights if you are undergoing a divorce. At Read Law, we understand how important it is for fathers to enjoy visitation rights with their children and be involved in their lives. One of our skilled divorce lawyers will work diligently to protect your rights as a father. 


What is Visitation?

Visitation simply means parenting time. Visitation refers to the time that the non-custodial parent spends with the child. Utah provides a statutory time frame when parents are divorced and cannot agree on the parenting time schedule. These laws state the minimum time each parent should have based on the child’s age. Courts have the discretion to order any schedule appropriate for the parents and the child. These factors include which parent spends the most time with the children, the parents’ financial assets and resources, the parents’ ability to work with the other parent, etc.

Remember that parents have the right to negotiate a custody and visitation plan that works for them. If they can agree to the plan out of court, the court will typically enforce the plan. In many cases, child custody and visitation issues are some of the most contentious in a divorce. For many parents, agreeing is simply not possible. In these cases, the parents need to petition the court, present evidence, and wait for the court to decide on child custody and visitation.


Understanding Utah Paternity Rights

In order to understand the child visitation rights of fathers in Utah, we must first understand the process of establishing paternity. Under Utah law, married fathers automatically have parental rights when their children are born to their wives. The only exception to this general rule is when a court has decided otherwise. If your children were born to your wife during your marriage, you already have paternity over your children and the associated rights.

However, if you were not married to your child’s mother when your child was born, you may need to go through the process of proving your paternity. Without having paternity status, you will not have a right to ask the court to grant you visitation rights with your child or children. When the children’s mother agrees, she and the father can sign a declaration of paternity voluntarily. However, suppose the mother does not agree to sign the declaration or allow the father to see the child. In that case, the father must ask the Utah courts to intervene and help him establish paternity so he can visit with his children.


At What Age Can a Child Decide Which Parent to Live with in Utah?

The court will consider the child’s wishes to the extent that they are sufficiently mature to express reasoned and independent preferences regarding the parenting time schedule. Typically, the court will not consider the child’s preference until the child is at least 14 years old.


Custody and Visitation Rights for Fathers

In Utah, there is a difference between legal and physical child custody. Legal custody allows a parent to make important decisions about their children’s lives. Physical custody relates to where the children will physically live. One parent can have physical and legal custody. In most cases, judges try to divide the legal and physical custody between the parents so each parent can be involved in the child’s life. 

Utah courts can award sole custody to a single parent, and they also have the power to create a parenting plan in which both parents share physical and legal custody of the child. Judges are required to render custody orders based on the child’s best interest, not necessarily on the parents’ preferences. If the court grants physical custody to the mother, the father is considered a non-custodial parent. 

Non-custodial parents are entitled to parenting time with the child, called visitation. In some cases, the mother will try to limit the father’s ability to visit with a child by spending time with them. In that case, the mother needs to get a court order showing the potential harm to the child by spending time with the father, such as neglect or abuse.


Petitioning the Court for Custody Orders

During the divorce process, married parents can ask the court to issue a custody order. If you are an unmarried father, you will need to take action to prove parentage before you can assert your right to visitation with your child. You will be able to present evidence in your favor to the court, and the court will weigh the evidence and consider the child’s best interest when making a decision. After the court issues an order regarding child custody and proposed visitation, both parents are legally bound to comply with the terms in the order.


Discuss Your Case With a Utah Child Visitation Lawyer Today

At Read Law, we firmly believe that fathers have a right to be actively involved in their children’s lives through custody and visitation. Our family law firm offers potential clients a free 30-minute consultation so they can discuss your case with us and learn more about our excellent legal services. If you are concerned about a child visitation or custody matter, it is advantageous to speak to a lawyer as soon as possible. Contact our Salt Lake City law firm today to schedule your initial consultation. 

In Utah, fathers have rights and privileges, which include being able to spend time with their children through visitation. Husbands


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