People commonly believe that the mother is always going to be awarded custody of the minor children in a divorce unless she is shown to be “unfit.” This just isn’t true. Unfitness is what the state must prove before it can take children away from their parents permanently. In the divorce context, where the decision is between two parents, both of whom may very well be good parents, the question becomes what would be in the children's “best interest,” i.e., who is likely to be the better parent going forward. There is no per se legal presumption that this will be the mother. This “best interest” standard takes into account a myriad of factors, from who has been the children’s primary care provider in the past, to who the children are more compatible with. The bottom line is that custody of minor children is generally awarded to the parent who appears best able to provide the stability, nurturing and training that the children need to help them grow up to be happy, well-adjusted adults and contributing members of society.
Custody is not necessarily an “all or nothing” proposition, with one parent being awarded custody and the other parent getting to see the children “one evening a week and every other weekend.” Various forms of joint custody are also available, where the children spend more-or-less equal amounts of time with both parents, and the parents share decision-making authority with each other. The Utah legislature recently enacted a statute that creates a rebuttable presumption that joint legal custody (i.e., joint decision making by the divorced parents) is in children's best interest. Thus, the current trend seems to be toward joint custody. Less frequent is the "split" custody situation where one parent has primary custody of one or more of the children and the other parent has custody of the rest. Split custody is not frequently ordered because keeping the children together is usually seen as being in their best interests.
As Child Custody Lawyers in Salt Lake City and Orem, Utah, at J.D. Milliner & Associates we will fight to make sure your children get the custody arrangement that is best for them.
Copyright 2011 J.D.Milliner, PLLC: Utah Divorce Attorney. All Rights Reserved.
1240 East 2100 South, Suite 100, Salt Lake City, UT 84106
Utah Divorce Attorneys | Child Custody Lawyers
J.D. MILLINER & ASSOCIATES, P.C.
Attorneys & Counselors at Law
100 Redman Building
1240 East 2100 South
Salt Lake City, UT 84106