Court orders in Utah divorce child custody disputes must satisfy the “best interest of the child” standard. It’s not what you think.
Applying “the best interest” of the child” as the standard a court’s child custody orders must meet necessarily means that the order “best” meets or—at least attempts to meet—the interest of a child as best the court can. This thus requires the court to consider all possible orders it has the authority to impose and determine which order(s) “best” serve(s) the interest of a child.
This also necessarily means that the “best interest” standard is at least a “rational person” standard, if not an objective standard.
Ruling according to the best interest of the children means that a court is clearly prohibited from issuing a child custody order that serves the “sufficient,” “adequate,” minimal, or even “worst interest” of a child.
Holding the court to a standard by which its orders must meet the “best” interest of the child means that the court must—following studious, sincere analysis of all material, relevant evidence presented– issue an order it truly concludes serves best the interests of the child. It means that the court cannot merely issue an order that is “good enough,” that “can’t hurt,” i.e., that adequately serves the best interest of the child, yet that is precisely what most court orders pertaining to child custody are, and they are unapologetically so. Courts get complacent, believing all divorces are so similar that a one size fits all presumption is just being efficient. Lazy courts shamelessly justify this lax approach to the best interest analysis by calling such path-of-least-resistance decisions “efficient” and “guided by experience.”