People commonly believe that the issue of child custody of the minor children in a divorce case will always go in favor of the Mother unless she is shown to be “unfit.” Our child custody lawyers in Utah know that this just isn’t true.
Unfitness is what the state must prove (and by clear and convincing evidence) before it can take children away from their parents permanently, or what Grandparents must prove if they want to try to get custody instead of one or both parents. That process usually plays itself out in the context of a child welfare proceeding in the Juvenile Court where both parents have been accused of abuse or neglect of the minor children.
How Courts Determine Custody After Divorce
In the divorce context, where the decision is almost always between the Father and the Mother, both of whom are probably good parents, the question becomes what would be in the children’s “best interest,” i.e., who is likely to be the better parent for these children going forward.
There is no 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 is more compatible with the children. The bottom line is that child custody 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.
The attorneys at J.D. Milliner and Associates have the expertise and years of experience as Utah child custody lawyers to help you and your children find and implement the best solution for your unique family dynamic.
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A Good Divorce Attorney Can Help You Maximize Your Custody of Your Children
Custody is not necessarily an “all or nothing” proposition, with one parent being awarded physical custody and the other parent getting visitation rights to see the children “one evening a week and every other weekend.” Various forms of joint custody rights 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 primary custody of the rest. Split custody is not frequently ordered because keeping the children together is usually seen as being in their best interests.
Experienced Utah Family Law Attorneys
As Utah Child Custody Attorneys in Salt Lake City, at J.D. Milliner & Associates we will fight to help you make sure your children get the custody arrangement that is best for them. We are experienced in family law, and are here to help with evaluating your case, filing a divorce petition, division of property, divorce modification, and fighting to achieve a result that works well for you and your children via an appropriate combination of mediation and litigation. Our attorneys are up to date on the alimony and child support laws.
Contact Us at 801-505-5600 for your Free Consultation Today!
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Child Custody FAQs
Can Child Custody Matters Be Resolved Outside of Court?
Parents can pretty much agree to whatever they want to agree to when it comes to raising their children. However, in the context of a divorce or other split up there are certain limitations that the court will set, especially when it comes to child support issues. Provided the parties can reach an agreement, such as during mediation, that’s within the bounds of what the court will accept, the court will approve their written agreement based on a motion without the parties’ having to appear in court. There is not, however, any way to get a child custody order without involving a court.
How Do Utah Courts Determine Child Custody?
Custody and visitation arrangements are based upon the best interests of the child. Joint legal custody (decision making) is typically awarded unless certain exceptional circumstances are shown. An award of physical custody, however, depends on the weighing of many factors that are used to determine what is going to be best for the child(ren).
Will Moving Out Affect Your Child Custody Arrangement?
Voluntarily moving out of the marital home can have a significant impact on the outcome of your custody case. If you take the child(ren) with you, the court may view you as willingly disrupting their routine to serve your own purposes. If you don’t take the child(ren) with you, the court may decide that you aren’t all that committed to your child(ren) and don’t have a problem seeing them less often. Before making any decision about moving out, consult with an experienced family law attorney to explore your options, and get guidance on how to proceed.
How Do You Prepare for Your First Child Custody Lawyer Meeting?
The most important way to prepare for your first meeting is to be willing to discuss all the issues with your attorney – the good, the bad, and the ugly. Your attorney can’t do their best job advising and representing you if they don’t know all the facts. A good custody lawyer will already know the important questions to ask you. Don’t hold back on your answers. Also, feel free to ask them any questions you have about the process and the probable outcome(s).
At J.D. Milliner & Associates, we have many years of experience dealing with child custody cases and issues. Please call us at 801-949-5905 for a free initial consultation.