Maybe you’re going through a divorce right now.
Maybe your divorce was finalized years ago.
In either case, you now have a fourteen-year-old daughter, and she knows who she wants to live with.
How do courts handle situations like this? Fourteen seems old enough that your daughter should have a say about which parent she lives with.
Let’s see what Utah law has to say about the situation.
There’s specific language in Utah law regarding fourteen-year-olds and how much weight the court should give their opinion about where to live.
The language is found in Utah Code, section 30-3-10(1)(e):
“The court may inquire of the children and take into consideration the children’s desires regarding future custody or parent-time schedules, but the expressed desires are not controlling and the court may determine the children’s custody or parent-time otherwise. The desires of a child 14 years of age or older shall be given added weight, but is not the single controlling factor.”
So, if a judge takes in to account your daughter’s opinion about where to live, the judge will give her opinion added weight added weight. But it will never be the single controlling factor in the judge’s decision.
Of course, a judge may not even considers your daughter’s opinion. Like it says in the law, “[t]he court may inquire,” which means it doesn’t have to inquire.
Bottom line: at fourteen, your daughter probably won’t be able to decide which parent she wants to live with.
The Practical Side of Things
What I’m about to tell you is not found in a book or a law, but it’s how things work in real life Utah divorce situations.
When a kid turns sixteen, he or she pretty much chooses where to live.
When your daughter turns sixteen, she’ll have a car, she’ll have friends she likes being with all the time, and she won’t like being told what to do or where to stay.
All of that adds up to a lot of freedom, and with that freedom comes the ability for your daughter to choose which parent she wants to live with.
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