Both mothers and fathers play important roles in their children’s lives. In most cases, an ongoing, close relationship with both parents is beneficial for the child. Fathers have the same rights as mothers, even if they are divorced or never married the mother. However, some fathers are required to hire Utah child custody lawyer to help them protect their parental rights.
Facts About Father’s Rights in Utah
• Fathers can petition for custody of their child with a divorce proceeding or as a stand-alone action. Neither parent receives preferential treatment during a custody case. The court does not automatically favor one parent over the other.
• Without a court order determining custody, both parents have an equal right to keep the child with him or her. However, if the parents do not agree on where the child should live, the court will decide custody based on the child’s best interest.
• Utah cannot decide custody matters unless the court has jurisdiction over the matter. For the court to have jurisdiction, the child may have lived in Utah for the six months before the custody action is filed or must have been born in Utah, if the child is under six months old. There are a few very limited exceptions for extenuating circumstances.
• A child’s preference for which parent he or she desires to live with can be considered by the court. However, the court is not required to give the child’s preference weight based on a certain age. The court continues to make custody decisions based on the child’s best interest,
• A father can petition to the court to change custody if a significant change of circumstances occurs that can impact the child’s best interest. For example, a mother moves in with another person who has been arrested for and convicted of domestic violence. The court might consider this factor as a substantial change to revisit custody.
• Fathers do not have automatic custody or visitation rights. If the parents were not married at the time the child was born, or they signed an Acknowledgment of Paternity, the father would need to file a petition requesting that the court order paternity tests to determine if the father has legal standing to file a custody and visitation case.
Frequent visitation is encouraged so that parents have a meaningful and ongoing relationship with their child, including fathers.
Mothers cannot refuse to allow court-ordered visitation with the child, even though a father may be behind on his child support payments.
If the father has a court order granting him custody of the child, the mother cannot take the child or refuse to return the child after visitation. A mother who does this can be charged with kidnapping and other charges.
Fathers who have shared legal custody of their child are entitled to participate in legal decisions regarding their child. Examples of areas that a father has a voice regarding his child include education, medical care, religious upbringing, and extracurricular activities. If a mother attempts to make unilateral decisions for the child that the father opposes, the father may have legal standing to petition the court for assistance.
PREPARING FOR DIVORCE AS A DAD
Steps to Take as You Get Ready to End Your Marriage – If your relationship is on the rocks, and it looks like divorce is in your future, you’re probably pretty overwhelmed by the prospect of separating from your spouse and legally ending your marriage. The stress that comes with the breakdown of your marriage is bad enough on its own, but when you add in uncertainty about your finances, your living situation, and your relationship with your children, it can all seem like too much to bear. However, with the proper preparation, you can be ready for the challenges that may arise during the divorce process, and you can make sure that your rights will be protected as you work to dissolve your marriage.
Divorce Preparation: Financial, Legal, and Practical Issues
Whether you’re certain your marriage has broken down beyond repair, or you hope you and your wife can work things out, you’ll want to be ready for a potential divorce. By proceeding as if your marriage will be ending, you can make sure your rights will be protected throughout the divorce process. Some steps you can take to prepare for divorce include:
• Understand your family’s finances – You’ll want to gather as much financial information as possible about the income you and your spouse earn, the assets you own, and the debts you owe. Relevant information may include joint bank accounts and credit cards, funds saved in retirement accounts, stocks or other investments, mortgage information for your marital home, any outstanding vehicle loans, tax returns for the past several years, life insurance policies, and appraisal information for any significant assets you own, such as jewelry or artwork. You may also want to obtain a credit report, which can help identify any unknown debts or liabilities. Gathering this information can help you get ready for the property division process, and it can help you understand how your and your spouse’s incomes will affect decisions about spousal support or child support.
• Establish independent ways to meet your needs – You’ll want to make sure you have the means to support yourself as you separate from your spouse. Opening your own bank accounts or credit cards can help you establish independence, and you may also want to get a P.O. box that will allow you to receive personal mail that you do not want to share with your spouse.
• Create a budget – As you get ready for the end of your marriage, you should document your income and ongoing expenses. This will make sure you will be able to provide for yourself and your children both during the divorce process and after your divorce has been completed.
• Maintain relevant information about your children – During your divorce, you’ll need to determine how you and your ex will divide parental responsibilities and parenting time. To show that you are fully involved in raising your kids, you’ll want to make sure you know the names of their teachers and doctors, when they get dropped off at school and picked up at the end of the day, the activities they participate in, and any other relevant information about their daily lives. You may also want to keep a log of your parenting activities that will demonstrate the close and continuing role you play as a parent.
Why Do Fathers Give Up After Divorce?
According to The Good Men Project, “Dads often give up because it feels like the deck is stacked against them.” This is true in many instances, but it doesn’t have to be. If you can hire a good attorney, you can turn things around in your favor. Here are 10 tips to follow before, during and after the divorce process. This way, you can avoid the common pitfalls of being the dad in a divorce.
Don’t Move Out of the Family Home If you move out of the house, leaving your children with your wife, you’re sending a powerful message to the family court: “My wife is perfectly suited to care for our children.” You see, the courts don’t like to interrupt the status quo, especially if it’s working. If you cannot stand living under the same roof as your wife, don’t move until after you get a court order addressing temporary child custody. If you intend on seeking primary physical custody of the children, don’t think of moving out until you’ve obtained advice from a divorce attorney.
Keep Detailed Records Keep detailed records of when you see the children, what you buy them (save the receipts), and the interactions between you and their mother. If she blasts you on Facebook, record it. If she posts pics of a new flame while you’re still married, save the post. If she insults you, or doesn’t let you see the kids, record it. Essentially, document everything, especially if you anticipate a child custody battle.
Take the High Road One of the best ways to have a smooth divorce is to take the high road. This means keeping the dirty details of your divorce to yourself, with the exception of a few close friends and family members. For example, there’s no reason to send a group text to the moms and dads on the soccer team that your wife is cheating on you with your eight-year-old’s coach. If you’re able to act like a mature adult, it will help calm things down.
Be on Your Best Behavior Amid divorce, be on your best behavior. This means limit public drinking, avoid jumping into a new relationship while you’re still married, keep quiet on social media, and spare the insults directed toward your wife. Otherwise, irresponsible behavior can backfire and affect the outcome of your divorce.
Find Experienced and Competent Legal Counsel This one is a no-brainer, but it’s surprising how many fathers (and mothers) act before speaking to an attorney. For instance, a concerned father may whisk his kids away from his mentally unstable wife without realizing the legal consequences. Or, he may move in with his new girlfriend, only to lose all chances of getting physical custody.
See Your Children Often One of the best ways to make yourself bulletproof during and after a divorce is to remain INVOLVED in your children’s lives. This means seeing them frequently, volunteering in their class, taking them to extracurricular activities or showing up to all of these events, and helping out wherever you can as far as your kids are concerned. Do whatever your schedule permits!
Look for Emotional Outlets Let’s face it, divorce is stressful, especially if you’re going to be paying spousal support, child support, and health insurance. That said, you have to take care of you. Whether that means seeing a therapist, speaking with a priest, rabbi, pastor, or bishop at your church, or taking a long camping trip. Look for support that will help you deal with your emotions.
Take Care of Yourself Stress can wreak havoc on our bodies, and divorce can definitely affect one physically. Now is a great time to hit the gym, take up running or bicycling, get into boxing, or find another sport like rugby that can help you keep your mind and body busy. As a plus, you can get into the best shape of your life. Don’t forget to eat right, get sufficient rest, and avoid overdoing it on the junk food and alcohol.
Expect the Unexpected You just never know how you, your children, and your wife are going to deal with the divorce. If you find yourself going through analysis paralysis, you can reach out to a professional therapist or counselor, or read books on divorce or children and divorce. If you’re internalizing too much, it’s best to look for outside advice and support.
HOW CAN FATHERS PROTECT THEIR RIGHTS IN DIVORCE AND CUSTODY MATTERS?
What Are The Best/worst Ways A Father Can Protect His Rights? One of the best things a father can do to protect his rights is to try to be reasonable with the other parent. If she cheated on him and he is upset over that, and rightfully so, he nevertheless should not let those emotions affect how he interacts with the child’s mother to discuss a parenting plan. If he gets verbally aggressive with her, she can accuse him of harassing her. She could also ratchet up her language and they could end up having countless, unproductive arguments that will only decrease their mutual desire to co-parent the child or children they have in common.
When insulted by a cheating spouse, it is hard to bite one’s tongue. But it must be done. People are advised to keep their eye on the “long game” in such situations. They need to keep in mind that they will have to deal with this person for many years to come, because they are both parents of the same child.
Then there are some women who are so difficult to deal with that the father will never have any success in dealing with her even if he always caves in and gives her what she wants. With these mothers who have borderline personality disorder, or are narcissistic or psychopathic, the only thing they understand is power. That means forcing them in front of a judge and getting court orders that hold them accountable for their bad behavior and refusal to cooperate. Toughness is the only language they understand.
These types of cases are dealt with all the time. A good attorney will know how to get inside their heads and how to expose their true behavior to the judges. These devious or cantankerous types, especially if they are of higher than average intelligence, will know how to falsely portray themselves as innocent little flowers or victims when in fact they are evil, dangerous women who enjoy drama, causing pain, and being difficult. An experienced and good attorney like Ronald Thomas has dealt a number of such cases and he genuinely enjoys exposing them in the courtroom.
Another way a father can best protect his rights is to file a paternity or custody case to have an actual, enforceable court document. Without that, he is at the mercy of the child’s mother. There are many other things a father can do to protect his rights, which a good attorney can help you with.
One of the worst things a father can do when trying to protect his rights is to engage in loud arguments, name-calling, threats, and other behavior that could look very bad if exposed in the courtroom. Fathers need to be aware that the other parent may be recording them if they use profanity, threats, or other behaviors to try to get their way.
A person is permitted to record conversations as long as they are participating in those conversations. However, there are exceptions so it is important to get legal advice before you begin recording anyone. Sometimes, fathers are advised to record conversations by their attorney. One thing that a person can do if he suspects the other parent is going to try the despicable tactic of falsely accusing him of abuse is to record all conversations that he participates in with that other parent. Of course, he should first obtain legal advice to make sure that he should be doing this in his particular situation.
There are exceptions to every rule. There are some situations where the client is advised NOT to record the other parent. Another thing this person should do is verbally deny any false allegation. For example, if the other parent sends him a text accusing him of abuse, he should text her back something stating that no such abuse ever occurred.
Free Initial Consultation with Lawyer
It’s not a matter of if, it’s a matter of when. Legal problems come to everyone. Whether it’s your son who gets in a car wreck, your uncle who loses his job and needs to file for bankruptcy, your sister’s brother who’s getting divorced, or a grandparent that passes away without a will -all of us have legal issues and questions that arise. So when you have a law question, call Ascent Law for your free consultation (801) 676-5506. We want to help you!
8833 S. Redwood Road, Suite C
West Jordan, Utah
84088 United States
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