Utah uses several criteria to determine child custody laws. Primarily, the state of Utah determines custody based on the best interests of the child. Parents who wish to file for child custody in Utah should first become familiar with the custody statutes in this state.
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Best Interests of Child
Utah considers the best interests of the child when making a child custody determination. Factors included in best interests of the child determination are:
- Which parent is most likely to encourage frequent and continuous contact between the child and the child's other parent
- Past conduct and moral standards of the involved parties
- The child's relationship with the parents
- Such other factors deemed relevant
Joint Child Custody in Utah
A court in Utah will always consider joint physical or legal custody if both parties have completed a parenting plan and if joint custody serves the best interests of the child. In reaching a determination for joint custody, the court will consider the following factors:
- The geographical proximity between the parents
- Each parent's ability to place the needs of the child first in reaching appropriate decisions
- Whether both parents have always participated in the child's upbringing
- The child's wishes, if the child is of an age to express a reasonable preference (generally age 12 or older)
- Any history of child abuse, spousal abuse or kidnapping
- Each parent's maturity and ability to avoid conflict for the sake of the child
- The parents' ability to cooperate with one another
- Any other factors deemed relevant by the court
Modification of Child Custody in Utah
Upon request by one parent, a Utah family court may modify or terminate a custody arrangement if:
- A modification will positively affect the best interests of the child
- There has been a material and substantial change of circumstances in the child or one of the parents' lives
- Both parents have complied with the dispute resolution process, prior to taking the case to a court hearing
For more information about child custody in Utah, speak with a qualified attorney in Utah or refer to the Utah Code.