Utah Custody Proceedings: Can Children Decide Who They Live With?

Sharing custody is hard for parents but being shared can be even more difficult for kids. Children of separated or divorced parents often walk away feeling like they have no say in where they live and who they live with. In Utah, the preference of the child is taken into consideration in cases where it is left up to a judge to decide on custody—but only once they reach a certain level of maturity.

To say that there are a lot of big emotions swirling around any custody proceeding is an understatement. If you are dealing with separation or divorce, our Salt Lake City child custody attorney can help. Contact us right away to discuss your particular situation.

Factors Affecting Child Custody in Utah

When parents cannot come to an amicable decision regarding child custody, it is up to the courts in Utah to decide for them. When making this decision, judges take into consideration several different factors. Among them are:

  • The relationship that the child has with each parent.
  • The moral standards and previous conduct of each parent.
  • The likelihood that each parent will act in the child’s best interest.
  • Any special needs the child has, and which parent is better equipped to deal with those needs.
  • Any history of domestic violence among other parents.
  • The physical distance between the two homes of the parents.

Child’s Preference in Utah Custody Cases

The state of Utah does not specify a particular age when a child’s preference for custody can be taken into consideration. In determining if the child is old enough to speak for him or herself, judges mainly look at the child’s maturity and age. In most courts, more heft is given to children who are 14 years of age are older. Ordinarily, the opinion of children less than 10 years is disregarded altogether. There is a gray area between ages 10 and 14 where the judge uses a lot of subjectivity in determining whether to honor a child’s wishes for custody on an individual case by case basis. Again, maturity plays a big role.

A judge will look at the different reasons a child might prefer one parent over the other regarding who he or she will live with. Nonetheless, even when a child has a very strong preference for who should have custody, this does not necessarily mean that that child’s wishes will be granted. A judge always has the option to overrule the preference of the child based solely on what he or she believes is in the child’s best interests.

Child Custody Issues in Utah?

Salt Lake City child custody LawyerEmy A. Cordano knows how volatile child custody can become. That’s why it is important to be represented in court by a caring, compassionate and seasoned attorney when you are facing divorce and child custody issues. Give our team a call at (801) 901-8159 now to discuss your options or schedule a consultation with our office.

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