Bill giving 14-year-olds a say in custody fights heads to governor

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Fourteen-year-olds in the midst of parental custody battles could begin having a say in which parent they stay with under a bill headed to Gov. Gary Herbert's desk.

Currently, judges in divorce proceedings can only consider the parental preference of a child age 16 or over. The House unanimously passed SB18 Thursday, which would lower that age to 14.

"This just gives the court added flexibility to take it on a case-by-case basis," said Rep. LaVar Christensen, R-Draper. "In a custody situation, when the court is continually updating its review on what the best interest of that child is, it gives the court [the option] to consider a mature voice, if it's appropriate."

The measure met some opposition in the Senate, where conservative lawmakers questioned whether children could be coerced or bribed into picking one parent over the other, or the child could use the decision-making ability as leverage over the parent.

Robert Gehrke