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Can You Modify a Child Custody Order in Utah?

On behalf of Gregory W. Stevens, Attorney at Law on Wednesday, August 15, 2018.

The end of divorce often comes with great relief, as the worst part is over. However, post-divorce life is not smooth sailing from here. Everyone must make major adjustments and deal with the emotional aftermath. The regular challenges of life continue to happen, as well, and new obstacles arise.

When your circumstances change again, you may find that your current custody arrangement is no longer working for you, your ex or the children. You may wonder if there is anything you can do about it or if you are stuck with the custody terms of the divorce order. If your situation meets certain requirements, then you can seek a modification. Note that modifying your custody arrangement will also affect child support and parenting time.

Determine the Approach

If you and your ex can agree on your own through mediation or another form of alternative dispute resolution, you can skip the court system and its qualifications. Check your divorce agreement to see if it includes terms on how to address modification or other disputes. Try this route first for a quicker, cheaper process. If it does not work, or your ex is not cooperative, then you will have to request the modification through the court. If your divorce occurred in another state, then you must first register the order in Utah before the state can have jurisdiction over your case.

Prove Eligibility to Modify Custody

Going to court requires proving your case. First, you must show that your situation has undergone a "material and substantial" alteration. For example, you or your ex may have remarried or moved. Health problems may also be a valid reason, as well as children's specific needs, such as education.

If you are successful in showing the significant change, then the judge will decide if creating a new custody agreement will be in the best interest of your children. They are always the primary focus of divorce issues. The judge will consider the cooperation, maturity, morality and selflessness of each parent, among other qualities.