When children are born to married or un-married parents, custody and parent-time must be determined in all Divorce and Paternity actions. The standard used by the courts in determining these issues is what is in “the best interests of the children.” This is usually where the fight begins. Dads do not believe that they are any less qualified to provide for the custody, care, nurturing and the necessaries of life for their children. Moms believe that they are more qualified. And, the courts often rely on simple and inaccurate standards such as “who has been the primary care giver” or “with which parent has the child resided most.”
“Legal Custody” and “Physical Custody” must be determined by the court. “Legal Custody” gives one the ability to participate in decisions concerning important aspects of the children’s lives, such as medical, religious and educational decisions. “Physical Custody” implies the physical care and control of the child’s day-to-day activities. Custodial relations are Sole, Joint or Split.
Split Custody situations are somewhat rare, as this means that the parents actually split the children up, with some children living with one parent while the others live with the other parent.
Joint Legal Custody means the sharing of the rights, privileges, duties, and powers of a parent by both parents. Joint Legal Custody is also important because it allows either parent to access school, medical and other records concerning their children without the consent of the other parent.
Sole Legal Custody means the opposite, where one parent has the absolute right and authority to make decisions concerning the welfare of the children. This power is abused on a frequent basis by the sole custodial parent and important decisions are made without consulting the other parent.
Joint Physical Custody does not actually mean a 50/50 split in parent-time, but means that the child stays with each parent overnight for more than 30% of the year, and both parents contribute to the expenses of the child in addition to paying child support. Joint Physical Custody is available even though the court may designate one home over the other as being the primary home for the child/ren. A parent is awarded the Sole Physical Custody of the minor children when the other parent is awarded 110 nights or less each year.
When one parent has Sole Physical Custody, usually mom, and is unwilling to grant the other parent more time with the children, the Law Firm of Jolley & Jolley considers this to be a form of child abuse.
Children are more secure and better off with frequent, meaningful and continuing access to each parent and when one parent deprives the other of parent-time consistent with the foregoing policy considerations, a detriment occurs to the child. When one willfully hurts a child that person is engaging in a form of child abuse; especially when the detriment may result in life-long consequences. Even the guidelines of the law in Utah dictate the foregoing standards and assumptions. Utah Code 30-3-33(2)(b) states in relevant part:
(I) it is in the best interests of the child of divorcing, divorced, or adjudicated parents to have frequent, meaningful, and continuing access to each parent following separation or divorce;
(ii) each divorcing, separating, or adjudicated parent is entitled to and responsible for frequent, meaningful, and continuing access with his child consistent with the child's best interests; and
(iii) it is in the best interests of the child to have both parents actively involved in parenting the child. [Emphasis added]
The Law Offices of Jolley & Jolley will make every effort possible to effectuate the above policy considerations as we work to get all dads the most time possible with their children. Why? Because it is about the children! Parents divorce or terminate relationships, but children do not terminate their relationship with, or love for, either parent; and, children should not be placed in situations where they must choose between parents, or where they are prevented from exercising their rights to be raised by both parents. Children need BOTH parents in their lives. Why is this concept so difficult for the custodial parent to understand?