Stephen J. Buhler, Attorney at Law

Child custody modification and the child's best interests

In Utah, when a couple shares a child and has an agreement for child custody, there are times when one or both parents would like to make changes. With agreement modification, there are numerous issues that are taken into consideration. The best interests of the child are paramount. Those seeking a modification need to know these when the case begins.

With a child custody dispute in which one parent is resisting the changes, the following are considered: the moral standards and the conduct of the parents; which parent will be viewed by the court as more likely to behave in the best interests of the child; which parent is going to allow the child to have contact with the other parent; and the relationship of the parent and the child.

There are also special factors that will be taken into account, if there is a change requested for child custody. They are: if custody -- joint legal or joint physical -- will benefit the child as he or she develops; if the parents have the ability to make the child the main priority and work together toward that end; if the parents are able to encourage a relationship between the other parent and the child; if both parents were involved with the child's development prior to the divorce; what the child prefers; how mature the parents are and if they can shield the child from conflict; if the parents can communicate and come to an agreement on decisions; if there is a history of abuse or kidnapping; and other factors that the court deems important.

There are numerous circumstances under which there is a desire on the part of one parent or both parents to have an agreement modification. Having a grasp on the best interests of the child and the various considerations that are part of that must be understood. It is also imperative that parents have help from an attorney experienced in custody issues when moving forward with a case.

Source:, "Best Interests of the Child," accessed on May 30, 2016

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