Stephen J. Buhler, Attorney at Law

Grandparents may have custody rights in Utah

One point of contention among many families is deciding on who is most qualified to care for children when their parents split up. In a large number of Utah cases, the child's mother or father will be awarded physical custody of the child while the other parent will be awarded visitation. Both parents may be involved in making major decisions regarding the best interest of the child.

However, in cases where neither parent is qualified or capable of raising the children, the children's grandparents may have the right to custody of the children. Utah courts, and courts all across America, are always focused on doing what is in the best interest of the child and will consider various factors when making this crucial child custody decision.

First, they will consider the child's physical, mental and financial needs, and determine whether the parents or grandparents are capable of meeting those needs. If the child is old enough, the courts will also consider their opinion on the matter. Courts will also consider the wishes of both the parents and the grandparents and look for any negatives that may make either of them a bad choice for custody, such as evidence of substance abuse, abuse or neglect of the child.

Lastly, courts will consider the relationship between the children and their parents and grandparents and the child's adjustment to their surroundings. Courts are unlikely to move a child to a different environment unless they are having a negative experience in their current one. Generally, if a grandparent can prove that the parent has abused or neglected a child and that they would be a better fit, the courts may grant them custody. As for visitation, courts may encourage grandparent visitation during the tumultuous divorce period as it may strongly benefit the children.

Source: FindLaw, "Factors Considered for Grandparent Custody," accessed on May 16, 2017

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