teen daughter hugging her mom

Do My Children Have a Say On Child Custody?

When creating your child custody agreement, you may want to consider what your child’s wishes are. Your custody arrangement will affect your child the most, after all.

While your child’s wishes may not formally be considered by the court, they can be factored in the final determination of custody after a certain age. Our child custody attorneys at Carr | Woodall share how your child can have a say on their custody arrangement.

Age of Preference

In Utah, children can express their wishes regarding their custody arrangements to the court starting at the age of 14. Until then, the courts will base their decision on what would be considered the “best interests of the child.”

If your child does express their wishes to the court regarding their custody agreement, their wishes will not be the only factor the courts consider when approving custody agreements. The courts will weight the child’s wishes, but still also consider what is in the child’s best interests.

What The Courts Consider

When determining if a custody arrangement is suitable for the children, the courts consider what would be in their best interests.

Common court considerations include:

  • Their current and past relationships with each parent,
  • Each parent’s home environment,
  • Each parent’s ability to physically care for the children,
  • Any mental or physical illnesses that would make the parent unable to care for the children,
  • Any substance abuse issues,
  • Past domestic violence or restraining orders issued against either of the parents,
  • The parents’ ability to co-parent,
  • Educational or extracurricular opportunities for the children,
  • Any medical needs the child may have, and
  • At the age of 14, the child’s preference.

This list is not comprehensive; however, it does include some of the most prominent factors courts consider when determining if a custody plan is suitable for the children involved. If the child is aged 14 or older, their preference will be considered, but the courts will continue to also factor in the environment around them and their best interests.

If You Are Unhappy With Your Current Custody Plan

If you or your children are unhappy with your current custody arrangement or believe the arrangement is no longer in your best interests, you can file a child custody modification with the guidance of your trusted child custody attorney. When filing your modification, you must demonstrate proof that the modification would be in the best interests of the child and why the proof displays the modification should be granted.

If your child is under the age of 14 and turns 14, your attorney can include your child’s preference in a modification filing so their voice can be heard and wishes considered. Up until your child’s 14th birthday, their wishes cannot be expressed to the court, even if the family is pursuing a custody modification.

South Jordan Custody Attorneys

At Carr | Woodall, our child custody attorneys understand the importance of ensuring your child’s wishes are heard. If your child is 14 or older, we can help them express their wishes to the court for consideration in their initial child custody agreement or child custody modification to ensure that the court does factor in their desires. Our South Jordan family law attorneys will do all we can to advocate for your family’s best interests in your custody agreement and other related matters.

Are you filing for custody and have a child over the age of 14? Schedule a consultation with our team today by calling (801) 988-9400 or contacting us online to learn more about how your child’s wishes can be heard by the courts.

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