How many years is it likely to be before father’s rights are recognized as equal to mother’s rights in child custody cases?

Not many. In fact, in many jurisdictions this has already occurred (many states have, in the past few years, passed laws that presume joint equal custody is in the child’s best interest).[1] In other jurisdictions it’s just around the corner. So legislation is changed or changing fast.

In Utah (where I practice divorce and family law), there have been two developments that illustrate this point. Utah Code § 30-3-10 provides:

“(3)There is a rebuttable presumption that joint legal custody, as defined in Section 30-3-10.1, is in the best interest of the child[.]”


“(8) This section establishes neither a preference nor a presumption for or against joint physical custody or sole physical custody, but allows the court and the family the widest discretion to choose a parenting plan that is in the best interest of the child.”

Section 30-3-35.1 of the Utah Code provides for an “optional schedule” for parent-time for children 5 to 18 years of age that exceeds the long, long-standing “minimum parent-time” schedule of every other weekend and three hours mid-week with this possibility:

“(1) The optional parent-time schedule in this section applies to a child 5 to 18 years of age. This schedule is 145 overnights.”

Some old judges don’t enforce these new(er) laws because they still subscribe to the sexist idea that men can’t be as good a parent as a woman. But as these older judges retire, the new judges who replace them are often children of divorce who resented the destruction of their father-child relationship being damaged or destroyed by sexist courts and by vengeful ex-wives who restricted and marginalized contact with their fathers.

If you are a fit parent (meaning you are not abusing or neglecting your children) who wants joint custody and who has a work schedule conducive to spending equal or near-equal time with your children, don’t give up on the prospect of a joint legal and joint physical custody award. It’s easier to get than ever before.

Utah Family Law, LC | | 801-466-9277


[1] Several U.S. jurisdictions have (depending upon how they are construed and followed) laws that are joint custody-friendly (whether that be joint legal and/or joint physical custody), including: Alaska, Florida, District of Columbia, Idaho, Illinois, Iowa, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Mexico, North Dakota, South Dakota, Texas, Utah

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