What Age Can a Child Decide a Custodial Parent?
A child’s preference is one of the factors the court will consider when awarding custody. It is important to note that this is not the only factor, and the court wants to do what is in line with the child’s best interest. Therefore, if a child wishes to live with a parent that abuses alcohol, the court may not agree with the child’s preferences. While there is not a set age for when a child can determine a custodial parent, the court will consider the child’s preferences if they are over the age of 14.
Legal Custody Versus Physical Custody
There are two types of custody available: legal custody and physical custody. Legal custody refers to which parent will be responsible for making decisions for the child and taking care of his/her wellbeing. Legal custody consists of determining where the child will go to school, what kind of medical care the child will receive, what religion the child will practice, and more. It is common for both parents to share legal custody.
Physical custody refers to where the child will live. The parent the child will spend most of their time with is the custodial parent, whereas the parent the child spends less time with is called the noncustodial parent.
If you and your spouse cannot determine how to share custody, the court will do so on your behalf.
Here are some factors the court may consider when making a custody determination:
- Relationship between each parent and the child
- Parents’ ability to cooperate and co-parent together
- Child’s preferences (when appropriate)
- Each parent’s participation in raising and caring for the child before the divorce
- Child’s physical, emotional, and psychological needs
- The overall health of each parent
- History of alcohol and/or substance abuse
- Any instances of domestic violence
- Additional factors the court deems would be in the child’s best interests
There are two ways to ask the court to change child support: a Motion to Adjust and a Petition to Modify. Under Utah family law, for the court to grant a change of custody, you must present enough evidence to show that a material and substantial change of circumstances has occurred and that a change in custody would be in the best interests of the child.
At Preston Day, PLLC, our Utah County child custody lawyer understands the importance of securing a custody order that puts your child’s interests first. We have the experience, knowledge, and skills to help you determine what choices will protect you and your family and help everyone involved move forward with their lives in as amicable a way as possible.
Call (801) 335-6261 to schedule an appointment with our attorney or complete our contact us form onlineto get started.
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