Utah Child Custody Guidlines and Links

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Factors Considered When Determining the Best Interest of the Child for Child Custody in Utah

(1) If a husband and wife having minor children are separated, or their marriage is declared void or dissolved, the court shall make an order for the future care and custody of the minor children as it considers appropriate.

(a) In determining any form of custody, the court shall consider the best interests of the child and, among other factors the court finds relevant, the following:
(i) the past conduct and demonstrated moral standards of each of the parties;
(ii) which parent is most likely to act in the best interest of the child, including allowing the child frequent and continuing contact with the noncustodial parent;
(iii) the extent of bonding between the parent and child, meaning the depth, quality, and nature of the relationship between a parent and child; and
(iv) those factors outlined in Section 30-3-10.2.
(b) The court shall, in every case, consider joint custody but may award any form of custody which is determined to be in the best interest of the child.
(c) The children may not be required by either party to testify unless the trier of fact determines that extenuating circumstances exist that would necessitate the testimony of the children be heard and there is no other reasonable method to present their testimony.
(d) 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 16 years of age or older shall be given added weight, but is not the single controlling factor.
(e) If interviews with the children are conducted by the court pursuant to Subsection (1)(d), they shall be conducted by the judge in camera. The prior consent of the parties may be obtained but is not necessary if the court finds that an interview with the children is the only method to ascertain the child’s desires regarding custody.
(2) In awarding custody, the court shall consider, among other factors the court finds relevant, which parent is most likely to act in the best interests of the child, including allowing the child frequent and continuing contact with the noncustodial parent as the court finds appropriate.
(3) If the court finds that one parent does not desire custody of the child, or has attempted to permanently relinquish custody to a third party, it shall take that evidence into consideration in determining whether to award custody to the other parent.
(4) (a) Except as provided in Subsection (4)(b), a court may not discriminate against a parent due to a disability, as defined in Section 57-21-2, in awarding custody or determining whether a substantial change has occurred for the purpose of modifying an award of custody.
(b) If a court takes a parent’s disability into account in awarding custody or determining whether a substantial change has occurred for the purpose of modifying an award of custody, the parent with a disability may rebut any evidence, presumption, or inference arising from the disability by showing that:
(i) the disability does not significantly or substantially inhibit the parent’s ability to provide for the physical and emotional needs of the child at issue; or
(ii) the parent with a disability has sufficient human, monetary, or other resources available to supplement the parent’s ability to provide for the physical and emotional needs of the child at issue.
(c) Nothing in this section may be construed to apply to adoption proceedings under Title 78B, Chapter 6, Part 1, Utah Adoption Act.
(5) This section establishes neither a preference nor a presumption for or against joint legal custody, joint physical custody or sole custody, but allows the court and the family the widest discretion to choose a parenting plan that is in the best interest of the child.

From 30-3-10 Custody of children in case of separation or divorce — Custody consideration. Utah Code

Relevant Sections of the Utah Code Regarding Child Custody

Best interests — Rebuttable presumption:
(1) If the parties are unable to agree on a parent-time schedule, the court may establish a parent-time schedule consistent with the best interests of the child.
(2) The advisory guidelines as provided in Section 30-3-33 and the parent-time schedule as provided in Sections 30-3-35 and 30-3-35.5 shall be presumed to be in the best interests of the child. The parent-time schedule shall be considered the minimum parent-time to which the noncustodial parent and the child shall be entitled unless a parent can establish otherwise by a preponderance of the evidence that more or less parent-time should be awarded based upon any of the following criteria:
(a) parent-time would endanger the child’s physical health or significantly impair the child’s emotional development;
(b) the distance between the residency of the child and the noncustodial parent;
(c) a substantiated or unfounded allegation of child abuse has been made;
(d) the lack of demonstrated parenting skills without safeguards to ensure the child’s well-being during parent-time;
(e) the financial inability of the noncustodial parent to provide adequate food and shelter for the child during periods of parent-time;
(f) the preference of the child if the court determines the child to be of sufficient maturity;
(g) the incarceration of the noncustodial parent in a county jail, secure youth corrections facility, or an adult corrections facility;
(h) shared interests between the child and the noncustodial parent;
(i) the involvement or lack of involvement of the noncustodial parent in the school, community, religious, or other related activities of the child;
(j) the availability of the noncustodial parent to care for the child when the custodial parent is unavailable to do so because of work or other circumstances;
(k) a substantial and chronic pattern of missing, canceling, or denying regularly scheduled parent-time;
(l) the minimal duration of and lack of significant bonding in the parents’ relationship prior to the conception of the child;
(m) the parent-time schedule of siblings;
(n) the lack of reasonable alternatives to the needs of a nursing child; and
(o) any other criteria the court determines relevant to the best interests of the child.
(3) The court shall enter the reasons underlying its order for parent-time that:
(a) incorporates a parent-time schedule provided in Section 30-3-35 or 30-3-35.5; or
(b) provides more or less parent-time than a parent-time schedule provided in Section 30-3-35 or 30-3-35.5.
(4) Once the parent-time schedule has been established, the parties may not alter the schedule except by mutual consent of the parties or a court order.

From 30-3-34Best Interests: Rebuttable Presumption Utah Code.

Joint custody order — Factors for court determination — Public assistance.

(1) The court may order joint legal custody or joint physical custody or both if one or both parents have filed a parenting plan in accordance with Section 30-3-10.8 and it determines that joint legal custody or joint physical custody or both is in the best interest of the child.
(2) In determining whether the best interest of a child will be served by ordering joint legal or physical custody, the court shall consider the following factors:
(a) whether the physical, psychological, and emotional needs and development of the child will benefit from joint legal or physical custody;
(b) the ability of the parents to give first priority to the welfare of the child and reach shared decisions in the child’s best interest;
(c) whether each parent is capable of encouraging and accepting a positive relationship between the child and the other parent, including the sharing of love, affection, and contact between the child and the other parent;
(d) whether both parents participated in raising the child before the divorce;
(e) the geographical proximity of the homes of the parents;
(f) the preference of the child if the child is of sufficient age and capacity to reason so as to form an intelligent preference as to joint legal or physical custody;
(g) the maturity of the parents and their willingness and ability to protect the child from conflict that may arise between the parents;
(h) the past and present ability of the parents to cooperate with each other and make decisions jointly;
(i) any history of, or potential for, child abuse, spouse abuse, or kidnaping; and
(j) any other factors the court finds relevant.
(3) The determination of the best interest of the child shall be by a preponderance of the evidence.
(4) The court shall inform both parties that an order for joint physical custody may preclude eligibility for cash assistance provided under Title 35A, Chapter 3, Employment Support Act.
(5) The court may order that where possible the parties attempt to settle future disputes by a dispute resolution method before seeking enforcement or modification of the terms and conditions of the order of joint legal custody or joint physical custody through litigation, except in emergency situations requiring ex parte orders to protect the child.

From 30-3-10.2 , Joint custody order — Factors for court determination — Public assistance. Utah Code.

30-3-10.2.   Joint custody order — Factors for court determination — Public assistance.

30-3-10.1.   Definitions — Joint legal custody — Joint physical custody.

30-3-10.3.   Terms of joint legal or physical custody order.

30-3-10.4.   Modification or termination of order.

30-3-10.5.   Payments of support, maintenance, and alimony.

30-3-10.7.   Parenting plan — Definitions.

30-3-10.8.   Parenting plan — Filing — Modifications.

30-3-10.9.   Parenting plan — Objectives — Required provisions — Dispute resolution.

30-3-10.10.   Parenting plan — Domestic violence.

30-3-11.2.   Appointment of counsel for child.

30-3-33.   Advisory guidelines.

30-3-35.   Minimum schedule for parent-time for children 5 to 18 years of age.

30-3-35.5.   Minimum schedule for parent-time for children under five years of age.

30-3-36.   Special circumstances.

30-3-37.   Relocation.

30-3-38.   Expedited Parent-time Enforcement Program.

30-3-40.   Custody and parent-time when one parent is a service member.

Links and Information on Child Custody in Utah

Child Custody – Utah State Courts

Handbook On Utah Domestic Law – Utah Legal Services

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