When a couple with children divorces, there needs to be an agreement or order regarding child custody. Some parents are under the impression that the child is the one to make this decision. Others believe that the parents are in charge of determining the custody agreement. There is some truth to all of this, but the real decision is made by the family law judge. Learn how the wishes of each of these parties plays into the judge's final order.
Factoring In the Child's Wishes
One of the underlying factors in a child custody case concerns the child's best interests. Note, however, that this is just one of many factors. Every jurisdiction uses a number of different considerations to determine the best interests of the child. Utah courts proceed under Code Section 30-3-10 which lists the following factors:
- The parents' moral conduct.
- The financial situation of parents.
- The parents' relationship with the child.
- The ability to allow for consistent contact with both parents.
- The child's relationship with other family members.
In addition to the above, the court will also take into consideration whether there is a history of domestic abuse in the home. Furthermore, the court has the authority to consider any other factor it thinks is relevant to the determination.
As you can see, the child's desire to stay with one parent is not controlling. However, the expressed desires of an older child, such as a teenager, may be given a little more weight by the judge. All in all, a family law court will take a holistic approach when making a custody decision.
A custody determination by a judge only comes into play if the parents cannot agree on a parenting plan. Thus, the best solution is to work with your ex-spouse to come up with a fair agreement for child custody. You can use a parenting plan to create the most stable, reliable arrangement that can reflect your child's wishes as well. A custody attorney can help you draft and negotiate this type of agreement.
A Final Word of Advice
Good communication is key when trying to set up a parenting schedule for your children. It's also helpful to focus on the goal at hand instead of the problems in the relationship. Divorce is already hard enough on everyone. You don't need to complicate it with bickering or an unwillingness to compromise.
For more information about family law or child custody matters, visit us at TR Spencer Law Office by calling 801-566-1884.