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Senate passes bill to allow children at 14 to state custody preferences in divorce

SALT LAKE CITY — After intense debate earlier in the week, the Utah Senate passed a bill that would allow children 14 years and older to tell a judge their preference in child custody decisions in cases of divorce.

SB18, sponsored by Sen. Luz Robles, D-Salt Lake City, was amended on the Senate floor Thursday to address concerns of critics who said the bill could create unreasonable expectations for children.

While a child's position could be given "weight," it would not be the "single controlling factor," according to the amendment.

Robles said she believes society asks a lot of 14-year-olds. They are exposed to a lot of information and likely far more mature than children of past generations.

Robles said she consented to the amendments because she wanted to find a way to give 14-year-olds a voice in the matter without it being an overriding factor in a judge's decision.