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How Is Child Custody Determined in Utah?

child custody lawyer in utah

How Is Child Custody Determined in Utah?

Some of the biggest concerns for people filing for divorce have to do with custody of the children. This can get messy when each parent has a different desire for what happens to the children. However, the court’s priority when determining custody is what is best for the child, regardless of whatever else happens in the divorce proceedings. I’ve previously discussed this here.

What goes into consideration when deciding custody?

A family court judge or court commissioner will hear the case as each side presents evidence to their case for being the best suited caretaker for the child.

Since the court decides custody based on what is best for the child, factors like who filed first will not affect the court’s decision on who gets custody. However, the Utah Courts have published information and case law and statutes in Utah tell us what will affect the court’s decision:

“General factors for determining the best interests of a child if the parents dispute custody:

– the parents’ conduct and moral standards;
– which parent is more likely to act in the child’s best interest;
– which parent is more likely to allow the child frequent and continuing contact with the other parent;
– the depth, quality, and nature of the relationship between a parent and child.

The judge may ask a child who the child wants to live with, but the desires of a child—regardless of age—are not controlling, and the court may determine custody contrary to the child’s desires.
In determining whether the best interest of a child will be served by ordering joint legal or physical custody, the court may consider the following factors:

– whether joint legal custody or joint physical custody will benefit the child’s physical, psychological, and emotional needs or the child’s development;
– the parents’ ability to give first priority to the child’s welfare and reach shared decisions in the child’s best interest;
– 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;
– whether both parents participated in raising the child before the divorce;
– the distance between the parents’ homes;
– the child’s preference (if the child can form a preference about joint legal or physical custody);
– the parents’ maturity and their willingness and ability to protect the child from conflict that may arise between the parents;
– the parents’ ability to cooperate with each other and make decisions jointly;
– any history of, or potential for, child abuse, spouse abuse, or kidnapping; and
– any other factors the court finds relevant.”

I’ve also outlined an overview of family law and divorce in an interview that you should find helpful.

What happens after custody is determined?

According to law, the parents must abide by the court’s decision, whatever it may be. Parent time and child support may not be withheld if the court has demanded it be given. Violation of the court orders can result in judgement, fines, and even jail time.

Custody orders may be modified, but only through petitioning the court, and only if there have been significant changes in the circumstances that change what the best interests of the child would be.

For more information on child custody and divorce law, a free initial consultation is your next best step. Get the information and legal answers you’re seeking by calling (801) 676-5506 today.

Michael R. Anderson, JD

Ascent Law LLC
8833 S. Redwood Road, Suite C
West Jordan, Utah
84088 United States
Telephone: (801) 676-5506