What is the “child’s best interests”?

In Utah, the most important factor when establishing child custody after a divorce is the best interests of the child. This covers the child’s emotion, physical and financial wellbeing, as well as their overall happiness. In order to achieve this, different legal and physical custody arrangements, as well as visitation rights, may be established.

There are quite a few factors that could go into determining the best interests of the child. Perhaps the most straightforward is the child’s wishes. If they wish to live with one parent over the other, they may be able to. But if their choice has mental or physical issues or a history of domestic violence, that parent may not be granted custody. In addition, if the parent cannot financially take care of the child, custody may go to the other parent.

It is also important to consider stability. If mom or dad are staying in the home in which the child has grown up, they may be given preference. This is also important when thinking about the religion or culture the child is accustomed to, and any other siblings in the mix.  

Finally, if a parent has a history of drug use, child abuse or other habits that are detrimental to the child, they will likely not be granted any form of custody. In fact, such acts could prevent visitations rights.

Often, child support cases are taken care of outside the court. But if parents cannot come to an agreement, the Utah courts may make the decision for them. A divorce attorney may be able to help fight for your custody rights in court.

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