Stephen J. Buhler, Attorney at Law

Child custody and the best interests of Utah children

Children are the most important aspect of many Utah parent's lives. For parents, their children are not only the ultimate expression of their love for their mate, but also the embodiment of their hopes and dreams for the future. Without this new generation to take over and continue the work of the previous one, society and the United States as we know it would fail.

Because of this, the United States recognizes the importance of the youth and their well-being. Legally, this resulted in many laws being past involving everything from when a child to work to when it is appropriate for them to become sexually active or stop attending school. A common tread ties together may of the rules governing the behavior of children and the adults who care for them, the best interest of the child.

As a practical matter, courts will usually only engage in a determination of what is in the best interest of the child, if the child's parents are unable to make a decision between themselves. The exact legal definition of the best interest of the child differs from state to state.

In Utah, courts use a series of factors to determine what is in the best interest of the child. In child custody situations, the court will first examine general factors, such as a parent's conduct and moral standards. The court will then go on to look at factors such as the relationship between the parent and the child, if the parent is likely to infringe on the relationship of the other parent with the child and if the parent is likely to act in the best interest of the child.

Utah courts can examine an almost endless list of factors, from postings on Facebook to current romantic relationships, when determining what in the best interest of the child. Interestingly enough, children, while able to voice their opinion have little legal say in determining what is best for themselves.

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