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Attorney & Mediator
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in the state of utah, at what age can a minor decide they ...

Resolved Question:

in the state of utah, at what age can a minor decide they want to live with their parent?
Submitted: 9 years ago.
Category: Family Law
Expert:  Attorney & Mediator replied 9 years ago.
In Utah a child does not have the legal capacity to make the absolute decision as to a parenting arrangement. The law only allows the child to state a preference to the court when the child is of sufficient age (teenager) and capable of articulating their preference. The judge is the one to make the final decision and will take the child's preference into consideration along with the following factors. The decision made will be based on the totality of the factors and circumstances to the particular case:


Child Custody Guidelines.
Utah laws allow the court to make an order for the future care and custody of the parties' minor children as it considers appropriate. The court shall consider the best interests of the child and, among other factors the court finds relevant, the following:

(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 kidnapping;

(j) the past conduct and demonstrated moral standards of each of the parties;

(k) 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; and

(l) any other factors the court finds relevant.

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. When deciding whether to award joint custody, the court will consider the same factors as above.

The court may take into consideration the children's desires for custody, 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.

-From 3-3-10 of the Utah Statutes.


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Legal Disclaimer: The information given by me is for informational/research use only and you are paying me only for such information. The information contained herewith is not legal advice and by rendering such information there is no formation of an attorney-client relationship. I also do not claim to be licensed to practice in the state where this information is being provided. I strive to provide quality information, but I make no claims, promises or guarantees about the accuracy, completeness, or adequacy of the information contained in or linked herein and it’s associated sites. As law is always changing, you are advised to speak with the appropriate legal counsel for accurate information. Thank you.
Customer: replied 9 years ago.
Reply to LawNinvest's Post: what does this mean if the parents currently have joint custody but the one who has primary is the one in which the chuld is requesting to leave? if the terms were decided in GA and the husband still lives in Ga but the ex-wife now lives in UT which state governs decision?
Expert:  Attorney & Mediator replied 9 years ago.
1) If the parents currently have joint custody but the one who has primary is the one in which the chuld is requesting to leave?

Where is this language from? What you posted does not make sense? Could you please clarify.

2) The state that issued the custody order controls the custody issue not the new state you moved into. Was this GA?


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Legal Disclaimer: The information given by me is for informational/research use only and you are paying me only for such information. The information contained herewith is not legal advice and by rendering such information there is no formation of an attorney-client relationship. I also do not claim to be licensed to practice in the state where this information is being provided. I strive to provide quality information, but I make no claims, promises or guarantees about the accuracy, completeness, or adequacy of the information contained in or linked herein and it’s associated sites. As law is always changing, you are advised to speak with the appropriate legal counsel for accurate information. Thank you.
Customer: replied 9 years ago.
situation is this: Chris and Suasn filed for divorce and custody in the state of GA. They have joint custody but Susan has primary. She now lives in Utah. Chris's 14 yr old (who lives with susan/mom) wants to move in with Chris and myself. We live in GEORGIA and have been married for 4 yrs. Susan is remarried as well and lives in Utah with the 3 kids (7 yr old, 11, yr old, 14 yr old)
Expert:  Attorney & Mediator replied 9 years ago.
Thank you for the clarification.

It does not matter who has primary custody or not. What matters is whether there are changes in circumstances to warrant a change in the current custody arrangements. As the original order was granted in Georgia, that is the state where the modification review hearing will be heard. In Georgia the law is similar to that of Utah but emphasizes that a child who is 14 years of age and older can state a preference that the court will take in greater consideration along with the other factors. So it can be enough for the child stating that they no longer want to be with mom to be enough to file for a change in custody. The court will look at the basis or family dynamics with the mother to see why the child no longer wants to be placed with her.

Below is the GA code on this:

The court will award custody by using the "best interest" of the child standard. Under this standard, the courts will consider several factors, including:

  1. The wishes of the parents, which should be given special weight (assuming the parents are determined to be fit);
  2. the wishes of the child (in Georgia, a child who is 14 years old or older generally has the right to select the parent with whom he desires to live subject only to a determination that the parent is fit) (as of July 1, 2000, the Court must also consider the wishes of a child between the ages of 11 and 14 as to which parent they wish to live with, although this is not binding on the court and other considerations could override the child's wishes).
  3. the interaction of the child with parents and siblings;
  4. the child's adjustment in the home, school and community; and
  5. the mental and physical health and stability of the individuals involved.

In determining the "best interest" of the child, the court will sometimes appoint a Guardian Ad Litem to investigate the child's situation and make a recommendation to the Court. The Guardian Ad Litem has a duty to act on behalf of the child, advocating the child's preference if the child is old enough to express a preference. The Guardian Ad Litem's recommendation is not binding on the court, but the court will usually take the recommendation into consideration.



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Please accept my answer for the work I have provided you and to close this window. Thank you for using Just Answer.

Legal Disclaimer: The information given by me is for informational/research use only and you are paying me only for such information. The information contained herewith is not legal advice and by rendering such information there is no formation of an attorney-client relationship. I also do not claim to be licensed to practice in the state where this information is being provided. I strive to provide quality information, but I make no claims, promises or guarantees about the accuracy, completeness, or adequacy of the information contained in or linked herein and it’s associated sites. As law is always changing, you are advised to speak with the appropriate legal counsel for accurate information. Thank you.
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