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, and 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.
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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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.
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.
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