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Utah Custody (Parenting) Plan

Utah Custody (Parenting) Plan

Updated September 22, 2023

A Utah custody (parenting) plan is a legally required document when opening a case for a shared custody arrangement between the parents of a minor child. It allows the parents to outline their plan of action for continuing to provide childcare and share parenting time after separation or divorce. Once approved by the court, it becomes legally binding until the child turns 18, unless court-approved modifications are made to the custody order.

Child Custody Factors

In determining a custody order that’s in the child’s best interest, Utah courts will consider the following factors:

  • Evidence of domestic violence, neglect, or abuse involving the child, parent, or a family member
  • The parent’s demonstrated understanding and ability to meet the child’s developmental needs, including physical, emotional, educational, medical, or any special needs
  • The parent’s capacity and willingness to parent the child and co-parent effectively
  • Willingness to allow frequent contact between the child and the other parent
  • The parent’s past conduct and demonstrated moral character, including their emotional stability and addictions
  • The parent’s religious compatibility with the child
  • The parent’s financial responsibility
  • The child’s existing relationships with step-parents and extended family members
  • The child’s existing bond with each parent
  • The child’s stated wishes and concerns
  • The relative benefit of keeping siblings together
  • Previous parenting arrangements that kept the child happy and well-adjusted
  • And any other factors the court finds relevant

Table of Contents

How to File for Custody in Utah

1. Agree on a Parenting Plan

In Utah, a parenting plan is required if the parents want a shared custody arrangement. It is recommended that the parents agree on the terms of the parenting plan, which outlines a course of action with regard to scheduling, communication, parental rights and responsibilities, and more.

If parents are unable to reach an agreement, they may each file a proposed parenting plan separately.

2. Calculate Child Support

Use the Texas Child Support Calculator to estimate how much child support may be ordered by the court. Under the Utah Child Support Guidelines, child support obligations are determined using the parent’s combined monthly gross income and the number of overnights the child spends in each household.[1]

3. Complete and File Required Forms

To file for custody, use the state court system’s Online Court Assistance Program (OCAP) to fill out the petition and other required documents. Select the option titled “Custody, Support, or Paternity.”

File the completed forms with the appropriate district court in person, by mail, or via email.[2] A filing fee must be paid for the documents to be processed, but the petitioner may apply for a fee waiver.[3]

4. Serve and Answer

Within 120 days from when the petition is filed, the petitioner must serve the respondent and provide proof of service to the court.[4]

If both parties agree to the terms of the custody decree, they can prepare the appropriate documents on OCAP.

If the respondent does not file an answer within the timeframe listed in the summons, the petitioner may ask the court for a default judgment, which bypasses the respondent and gives the petitioner what they asked for.[5]

5. Attend Case Management Conference

If the respondent files an answer that does not agree with the custody decree, the court will schedule a case management conference, which is a hearing to schedule important dates in the custody case. This may include dates for exchanging financial declarations, mediation, or trial.

Custody Laws

  • Child’s preference: The court may consider the child’s wishes with regard to custody, especially if the child is 14 years or older.[6]
  • Custody and visitation for non-parents: § 30-5a-103
  • Grandparents’ visitation rights: § 30-5-2
  • Mandatory parent education: § 30-3-11.3
  • Parenting plan: § 30-3-10.9
  • Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act: § 78B-13
  • Visitation (parent-time): § 30-3-33

Related Forms

Marital Settlement Agreement

Download: PDF, MS Word, ODT




Separation Agreement

Download: PDF, MS Word, ODT





  1. Utah State Courts: Child Support
  2. Utah State Courts: Filing Documents by Email
  3. Utah State Courts: Fees and Fee Waiver
  4. Utah State Courts: Serving Papers (Service of Process)
  5. Utah State Courts: Default Judgment
  6. Utah Code § 30-3-10(5)(ii)
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