An important point for fathers to consider is that once a custody order is awarded by the court, any attempt to change it requires going back to court. Hence, it is important that you go for whatever custody arrangement you want the first time you go to court rather than assume that you can easily change it later. Doing so may be very difficult, sometimes impossible, and always expensive. Hire an experienced Tooele Utah family lawyer to represent you in your child custody lawsuit.
How much time divorced fathers want to be with their children is often dependent on their opinion of their former wife as a mother. Those who regard their ex-wives as irresponsible, alcoholic, worthless mothers believe it is their mission to rescue their children. Under no conditions do they want their ex to have custody. Others consider their former wives to be great mothers and that their children are best served by being with them.
Regardless of the reason, mothers end up with primary custody considerably more often than fathers.
Fathers who can’t imagine not being able to see their children on a daily basis and who are adamant about being actively involved with their children will want to go for either full or joint custody. Giving custody to the mother will simply not do, as the father will be relegated to the role of “visitor” for his children. But, as we have seen, the father must be interested and willing to make the necessary sacrifices in terms of his work, personal life, and sleep. Yes, parenting is exhausting.
A number of other factors influence how involved divorced fathers want to be in their children’s lives. Fathers who resolved their differences with their former spouses through mediation are much more likely to want to see their children than are fathers who fought with their former wives in court. The bitter experience of litigation sometimes makes the fathers so angry that they avoid seeing their ex-wives and kids altogether. Also, in litigated custody cases, the mother is usually also angry at the father and may try to get back at him by turning the children against him. When he picks up the kids, he feels their coolness, which dampens his interest in being with them the next time.
Divorced fathers are rarely granted primary physical custody (1 chance in 10) and the newly separated father should not assume that he will be the lucky one. Unless he can demonstrate that he has been the primary nurturing parent for the children since birth, most attorneys will advise that he is wasting time and money to pursue primary custody.
In addition to being aware that your chance of being granted primary custody is low, you should keep three other factors in mind. First, if you lose your bid for primary custody, you are likely to end up in a worse situation in terms of visitation, child support, and property settlement than if you had sought joint custody or allowed your former spouse to have primary custody. This is because her lawyer will use all of the legal weight against you to crush you and back you off. If the judge decides against you, he or she could order limited visitation, high child support, alimony, and a biased property settlement.
Second, a court trial over custody is likely to end any possibility of an amicable relationship with your former spouse forever. Once you turn lawyers loose on each other, the emotional trauma stays with you forever, and you blame it on each other.
Third, your children may be brought into court to testify. This will also be a traumatizing event for them as both lawyers will try to confuse them and twist their testimony on the stand against the other parent. Your children can blame you for putting them through this ordeal so keep this in mind.
Finally, your experienced Tooele Utah family lawyer emphasize the theme that the most important custody issue in the trial is the psychological need of the child to live with the father. The mother’s need for the child is an irrelevant legal issue. Your Tooele Utah family lawyer will convince the judge or jury that you are the primary psychological parent of the child and that it is in the child’s best interest to live with you.
Joint legal custody means that both parents have equal legal authority and control over the educational, medical, and psychological decisions that affect their children. Joint physical custody refers to where the children live and means that each parent has the children half of the time.
Fathers who go for joint custody have several motives for doing so. Not all of them are good ones. In deciding whether you want joint custody, it is important to look at your motives.
Good Motives for Wanting Joint Custody
There are at least four good motives for wanting joint custody.
Love and Desire to Be with Your Children
Probably the best motive for wanting joint custody of your children is your love and desire to be with your children and your insistence that you will be an active and equal participant in your children’s lives. Such an interest suggests that you have had this role throughout their lives. If you have not been in the active role of coparent and suddenly decide that you do want that, your motives are suspect.
Feeling that Your Children Will Benefit from Time with You
Other fathers seek joint custody because they regard themselves to be wonderful parents whose children benefit from being with them. They feel that the more exposure their children have to them, the better. These fathers do not seek sole custody, as they also regard their ex-wife as a good parent around whom children also benefit. In effect, they believe that their children are fortunate to have two loving parents and want them to benefit from each.
Protection from Inept Mother
Other fathers may seek joint custody believing that the less time the children live with their mother, the better. In effect, they are attempting to rescue the children from their former spouse, whom they view as a negative influence on the children. The father may also believe that he can’t win sole custody so his next best option is joint custody. Such fathers usually view mothers as having any of several liabilities: They are preoccupied with their career and neglect their children, they abuse alcohol or other substances around the children, or they have very poor judgment. An example of the latter is the mother who left her 3-year-old locked in the house while she went to the grocery store.
Questionable Motives for Wanting Joint Custody
There is also a dark side to the motives of some fathers who seek joint custody. If you are the mother in a child custody lawsuit, speak to an experienced Tooele Utah family lawyer before agreeing to joint custody.
Better Division of Property
Among the suspect motives is using the threat of joint custody to get a more favorable division of property settlement. Judges who give mothers custody of the children also tend to give them the house. Fathers who convince judges that they deserve joint custody end up getting a better division of property as the housing and standard of living of the father must also be considered.
Lower Child Support
Some fathers use joint custody to pay less child support. If their former spouse is awarded primary physical custody, the judge will require the father to pay heavy child support because the law assumes that she will bear the expense of taking care of the children. But with a joint custody arrangement, the expenses are shared and the justification for the former spouse getting a big child support award vanishes. The problem with this motive is that everyone may lose. The father really does not want to take care of his children, the mother has more limited resources to do so, and the children end up living with an irritated father and an impoverished mother.
A less deceitful but still suspect motive for wanting joint custody is feeling guilty for ending the marriage and leaving the children in the lurch. Fathers sometimes feel that having joint custody will show the children that they still love them. The problem with this course is that if the father wins, he is often unprepared for the role of an active father. He may have been the traditional father who let his wife do most of the parenting work, which means that he has no skills in terms of how to take care of children. If he is awarded joint custody, the children may lose in living with a father who doesn’t know how to take care of them and who is frustrated by their interference in his work/career.
Get Back at the Former Spouse
Finally, some fathers use joint custody to get back at their ex-wife. The father may have no real interest in having the children with him half of the time except that he is keeping them away from (and thereby hurting) his former wife. In effect, he is using joint custody to punish her. Don’t let this happen to you. Seek the assistance of an experienced Tooele Utah family lawyer before agreeing to joint custody. The lawyer will review you case and advise you on whether joint custody is in your interest or not. Sometimes it makes sense to fight for sole custody of the children especially if your spouse is planning to use the joint custody arrangement to get back at you.
Benefits of Joint Custody
Children want their parents to stay married because it maintains ready access to each parent. Children of married parents go to bed and wake up with their parents in the house. When divorce occurs and one parent is awarded custody, the other parent (usually the father) is no longer in the house and the children may be uncertain when they will see him again. Although joint custody still means that the child wakes up in the house with only one parent, there is equal time between parents. Just as soon as the children tire of being with one parent, it is time to go and stay with the other parent. Psychologically, the children remain connected to both parents.
The ability to see each parent as much as they choose is a big advantage for kids whose parents divorce, and perhaps the primary benefit of a joint custody arrangement.
Other positives derive from joint custody. Fathers who see their children regularly are happier about their relationships with their children and this translates into paying child support more regularly. Another positive consequence of joint custody is that fathers have more input into the decisions that affect their children. In sole-custody situations, the mother can effectively cut out the father from medical, educational, and religious decisions concerning the child. For example, as a joint- custody parent, you have the legal right to be involved in your child’s educational and medical decisions. As a noncustodial father, you have no legal rights and your former spouse can schedule surgery for your children if she wants to without consulting you. One father said that his ex- wife wanted to put their son under the knife for a knee problem. The father had joint custody and insisted on another opinion. The son did not have the operation and was fine.
Joint custody gives the father not only more physical presence in his children’s lives, but also more involvement in their development. For example, the mother may disregard the value of karate or scuba diving as activities that would be beneficial to the children’s development. Fathers, on the other hand, may hold very strongly that the confidence-building and risk-taking aspects of the various activities are valuable and that such exposure would be important to the children. Both parents bring to the child more than either could alone. An experienced Tooele Utah family lawyer can help you get joint custody of your children.
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8833 S. Redwood Road, Suite C
West Jordan, Utah
84088 United States
Telephone: (801) 676-5506