Basics of Child Custody

Basics of Child Custody

Few divorce decisions are as emotionally fraught as those involving custody of minor children. Divorcing spouses who agree on other issues can quickly reach an impasse where children are involved.

Too often, protracted custody battles are thinly disguised attempts to manipulate support obligations , deny equal parental rights, or alienate a child from a non-custodial parent.

While you and your spouse can make custody agreements and visitation arrangements on your own, litigated custody disputes turn those decisions over to a judge who does not know your family. As one of the best family law firm in Utah, our practice daily handles tough custody cases for clients from all walks of life. These parents retain us to fight for the best interests of their children—and for their future. You should make sure you get a child custody lawyer to help you whenever you have an issue like this come up.

Two questions to be addressed concern legal and physical custody, defined as follows:

  • Legal custody is the right to make or be involved in major decisions concerning your child on matters of health, education, and welfare
  • Physical custody is the right for a child to reside with you and receive your physical care

Along with recommendations from the law guardian for your child, a judge will review best interest factors to make a physical custody decision that may look like one of the following:

  • Sole custody with one custodial parent, and one parent receiving visitation rights
  • Joint physical custody where a child resides with both parents—not necessarily for equal periods of time

Childhood is brief, but its scars can last a lifetime. If you have custody issues, retain a skilled attorney and fight for your child while you can still make a difference.

How Does Remarriage Affect Older Children?

Many people expect there to be some growing pains when getting remarried with minor children in the picture. However, many of these same transitional and emotional issues can also be a factor if you or your spouse have any older children.

While older children are going to be better able to emotionally process the transition, they are still human and still could very well have complicated feelings about the marriage. You should be prepared to notice and address any of the following issues:

  • Strong loyalty to their “original” family: Your adult children will want to maintain a strong family identity. This means it can be difficult to immediately accept a new stepparent and everything that comes with it, including uprooting long-established family traditions, celebrations and holidays.
  • Feelings of homesickness: While your adult children no longer live at home with you, there is still something that might be lost to them in the transition, beyond your relationship. To them, going home might no longer feel like they’re actually at home, and that can be difficult to process at first. They will miss the feelings of the home they knew as children, with both of their parents living in it together.
  • Difficulty managing time with grandchildren: You might find that your children harbor some feelings of resentment that their children, your grandchildren, will suddenly have to welcome a new face into their life, or that time has to be split even more broadly among grandparents.
  • Jealousy: Even adult children are susceptible to feeling jealous, or as though they’ve been “replaced” by a new spouse. Suddenly a new stepparent comes in and has captured your heart and energy — it’s natural for them to feel jealous.

Free Consultation with Child Custody Lawyer

If you have a question about child custody question or if you need to collect back child support, please call Ascent Law at (801) 676-5506. We will help you.

Michael R. Anderson, JD

Ascent Law LLC
8833 S. Redwood Road, Suite C
West Jordan, Utah
84088 United States

Telephone: (801) 676-5506

Ascent Law LLC

4.9 stars – based on 67 reviews


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Does a 14 Year-Old Child’s Opinion Matter in a Custody Battle?

The Supreme Court, District Courts as well as the Family Courts in the State of Utah give some deference and weight to the opinion of children.  This is an important part of child custody in Utah. This doesn’t guarantee that a 14 year old will get what he or she wants. As the children age, their opinion is given more weight. Most often any child over the age of 5 is given an attorney by the Court (Attorney for the Child “AFC”). That person will be telling the Judge and anyone who will listen the wishes of the child. If the child is over the age of 14, those wishes will most likely carry great weight in any custody battle.

The result is as follows: children are driving the bus. Children playing one parent against another. Children are empowered to make decisions that, most likely should have been left to adults. Nevertheless, two adults cannot make a decision as to which of them is a better parent or custodial parent, the child will most likely make that decision for them If the child is over the age of 14. Our firm handles almost 1,000 cases a year and only handles divorce and Family Law cases. We know how to support the child’s wishes and we have also successfully won cases by challenging both the child’s preference and the arguments of the AFC or Forensic.

When Pet Custody is an Issue

Many couples and families own beloved pets. The ties that bind humans to animals sometimes outlast those of human relationships. When that happens, sparks fly when one spouse decides Fido is leaving with him or her.

In a recent survey, the American Association of Matrimonial Lawyers (AAML), reported more than a quarter of its members noted an uptick in divorce actions involving pets. The survey revealed trends that include:

  • Top dogs: With 88 percent of disputes devoted to canine companions, dogs take the top spot in disputed pets, followed by cats, horses and, in one case, a 130-pound turtle.
  • Under consideration: Approximately 22 percent of respondents reported courts are increasingly allowing pet custody cases.
  • Heart to heart: Using pet ownership as a legal strategy during divorce heightens conflict and can extend the acrimony and expense of divorce.

Thoughts to consider when the ownership of your pet is pending during divorce include:

  • Is the animal a family pet?  Where can the children best enjoy the animal?
  • Can you share ownership of the animal?  If you share ownership, how are animal expenses to be paid?  Make decisions at the outset about significant medical expenses the animal may incur.
  • What type of ownership is really best for the animal?

In Utah, animal companions are considered property of the marital estate. While a decision in the best interests of the animal makes sense, it is not the legal standard at play when pet ownership is disputed.

Mother Fails to Provide Evidence of Enhancement in Relocation Case

A recent bid before the Appellate Division, Second District failed when a mother was unable to provide important information to support her desired relocation after a divorce.

In Christy v. Christy, appellant Lisa Christy sought relief from a family court decision that prohibited her from carrying out a proposed relocation with the children of her previous marriage.

In Utah, the court maintains authority over the residential location of minor children. Even if two parents agree on relocation, the action must be approved by the court. When relocation is contested, the court must decide the issue in the best interest of the children involved.

In this case, Ms. Christy and her former husband, Brian Christy, have three children. Since the entry of their Judgment of Divorce in June 2012, Ms. Christy has remarried and currently lives with her second husband and his three children. The children of Mr. Christy visit him three weekends per month.

Ms. Christy, an unemployed teacher, sought to relocate to Arizona to pursue a job offer. The job offer to Ms. Christy requires her to recertify as an educator in Arizona. The second husband of Ms. Christy is currently employed in Utah and does not have a job offer in Arizona.

In the earlier family court action, Mr. Christy succeeded in his argument to dismiss the petition of Ms. Christy to relocate. The appellate court agreed with him in January of this year for the following reasons:

  • No evidence of a potential salary was offered by Ms. Christy.
  • No evidence was offered concerning the wishes of the children.
  • No evidence was offered to indicate the lives of the children would be economically or emotionally enhanced in Arizona.
  • The relationship between the noncustodial parent and the children would be affected.

Free Consultation with Child Custody Lawyer

If you have a question about child custody question or if you need to collect back child support, please call Ascent Law at (801) 676-5506. We will help you.

Michael R. Anderson, JD

Ascent Law LLC
8833 S. Redwood Road, Suite C
West Jordan, Utah
84088 United States

Telephone: (801) 676-5506

Ascent Law LLC

4.9 stars – based on 67 reviews


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