For custody, the court has only one concern, what is going to be in the best interests of the child or children. That is the only question the court is entitled to answer in justifying its award of custody. Under the Utah divorce code, there are about 25 factors that the court is explicitly empowered to consider as it weighs questions of custody. Some of them are obvious, like whether either parent abused the children or is unfit to be a parent because of excessive alcohol use or incarceration. Some are much more specific and hotly contested, like who participated more in raising the children during the divorce, the relative depth and desire for custody of each parent, and the type of bond that the children have with each parent. Some of them are practical concerns, like the proximity of the parents to each other, the ability to keep siblings together, and the ability of a parent to provide personal rather than surrogate care.
The court has to take evidence and determine what is in the best interest of the child. As a litigant seeking custody, you need to familiarize yourself with the factors to figure out which ones favor you and focus on those ones. It is crucial to determine which ones don’t favor you and try and make changes if possible. One of the factors is “any other factor the court finds relevant.” That opens the door to being as creative as you want to be to try to convince the court that it is in the best interests of the children for the court to order the custody arrangement that you have requested.
Is There An Age Where A Child Can Decide Who He Or She Will Live With In Utah?
In Utah, the court is empowered to consider the children’s desires, as long as the child is old enough to form an opinion and express it coherently and reliably. After the age of 14, the court heavily considers the desire of the child but the law is explicit in saying that the court is not bound by that desire, and it is not the only factor that the court considers.
Who Will Be Responsible For Child Support When Parents Are Divorced Or Separated?
Both parents have a clear and unambiguous statutory duty to provide support for their children. If a parent does not have a lot of education or work experience, they are likely to be imputed an income of a minimum wage worker working 40 hours a week. Beyond that, the court doesn’t have to consider what you earn in determining your child support requirement; it considers your ability to earn.
A person cannot suddenly quit their high paying job in order to avoid their upcoming child support obligation. This is where a vocational expert is often brought in to make sure that income isn’t being hidden or that someone isn’t voluntarily underemployed. Once income is established, the process is fairly straightforward. There is a formula in the Utah Child Support Act. For inputs, the formula requires the income of both parties, the number of children, and the number of overnights the children will be spending at their respective parents’ houses. With that information, the formula calculates the child support obligation and assigns it to one of the parties.
For more information on Child Custody & Child Support Issues In Utah, an initial consultation is your next best step. Get the information and legal answers you are seeking by calling (801) 923-6565 today.