Sunday, May 30, 2010

Child Custody and the Best Interests of the Family

There is an entrenched, but (in my opinion) illogical and myopic convention in Utah regarding child custody awards. While many appellate cases address the matter, my comments are based upon two cases that concisely summarize what is unfortunately considered the received wisdom on the subject of child custody awards: Pusey v. Pusey, 728 P.2d 117 (Utah 1986) and Tucker v. Tucker, 910 P.2d 1209 (Utah 1996). I hope I can refute this convention with the following comments.
Pusey v. Pusey, 728 P.2d 117 (Utah 1986) provides:
We believe that the choice in competing child custody claims should instead be based on function-related factors. Prominent among these, though not exclusive, is the identity of the primary caretaker during the marriage. Other factors should include the identity of the parent with greater flexibility to provide personal care for the child and the identity of the parent with whom the child has spent most of his or her time pending custody determination if that period has been lengthy. Another important factor should be the stability of the environment provided by each parent.