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Utah Family Law on Domestic Violence

In Utah, domestic violence means any criminal offense involving physical harm (or the threat of physical harm), or any attempt, conspiracy, or solicitation to commit a criminal offense involving violence or physical harm, when committed by one cohabitant against another. A cohabitant can only be someone who is at least 16 years old (or is emancipated) who:

  • Is or was a spouse of the other party
  • Is or was living as if a spouse of the other party
  • Is related by blood or marriage to the other party
  • Has or had one or more children in common with the other party
  • Is the biological parent of the other party's unborn child, or
  • Resides or has resided in the same residence as the other party

However, cohabitants don't include parents and their children, or siblings who are less than 18 years old.

Child Custody and Domestic Violence

When parents decide to get a divorce, the custody arrangement for their children can either be determined mutually by the parents or, if the parents can't reach an agreement, by the court. When determining the future care and custody of a child the court considers the best interests of the child.

Custody matters can become complicated when one parent alleges that the other has committed domestic violence in the past. In ordinary cases there is a rebuttable presumption that joint legal custody is in the best interest of the child, however, this presumption is overcome if there is domestic violence in the home or in the presence of the child. The following chart outlines how a family law court designs parenting plans in Utah when domestic violence has been committed within the family.

Code Section

Utah Code section 30-3-10.10: Parenting Plan – Domestic Violence

What's A Parenting Plan?


A parenting plan is a plan for parenting a child, including the allocation of parenting functions. A parenting plan is incorporated into any final decree in an action for dissolution of marriage, annulment, legal separation, or paternity.

How Domestic Violence Affects a Parenting Plan

  • When determining a parenting plan, the court considers any evidence of domestic violence
  • If there is a protective order in place, or if the court finds that a parent has committed domestic violence, then the court will consider the impact of domestic violence in awarding parent-time, and
  • If a court orders parent-time and there is a protective order in place, the court will consider whether parent-time pick-ups and transfers should be conducted through a third party

Additional Resources

State laws change frequently. For case specific information about Utah's family law on domestic violence contact a local family law lawyer or criminal defense attorney.

If you or someone you know has been the victim of domestic violence there is help available to you. During an emergency call 911 and when you're safe contact an organization like the Utah Domestic Violence Coalition for help.

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