For divorced parents: why isn’t your custody award 50/50?
Concisely (and in no particular order):
- sometimes a parent’s job, physical or mental/emotional disabilities, misconduct (like domestic violence, child abuse, or substance abuse), poverty, or distance from the other parent’s residence prevents him or her from exercising joint equal (50/50) custody, even though the parent is otherwise a loving, caring, and fit parent.
- sometimes a child is nursing and thus the exercise of joint equal custody is a practicable impossibility.
- sometimes a parent who could exercise 50/50 custody may not want to exercise joint equal (50/50) custody. It’s rare, but it happens.
- sometimes a parent could exercise 50/50 custody, but the children vehemently and rebelliously oppose it. It’s rare, but it happens.
- sometimes, even though the parent wants it and is worthy of 50/50 custody, the other spouse and co-parent is evil and does everything in his or her power to depict that parent as unworthy of joint equal (50/50) custody in a campaign to ensure that 50/50 custody is not awarded. This doesn’t happen all the time, but happens quite frequently (more than most people would imagine).
- sometimes, when a parent is dealing with a malicious parent, even 50/50 custody could be awarded, the innocent parent agrees to less than 50/50 to spare the children and/or the innocent future haranguing over and sabotage of the custody award. Some parents make it abundantly clear that if 50/50 custody is awarded that he/she will make everyone from the parent to the children to the court regret it.
- sadly, some courts believe that 50/50 cannot work, that 50/50 causes or exacerbates inter-parental disputes to the detriment of the children, and so the court awards less than 50/50 custody believing (too often falsely believing) that less than 50/50 is for the benefit of the children. Actually, the science shows just the opposite to be true, that 50/50 custody has the effect of reducing the amount and severity of inter-parental conflict.
- sometimes, even though a father wants and is worthy of 50/50 custody, the judge has a bias against awarding it. For some judges it’s a belief that men simply should not or cannot be entrusted with 50/50 custody, that “the only reason the father wants 50/50 custody is because it reduces his child support obligation,” that women are “born nurturers,” or that the children, though not infants, are still too young to spend time equally in the care and custody of both parents. Some judges take the position that if the mother has been, up to the point of separation and divorce, the children’s “primary caregiver” that she must remain their primary caregiver, even though the divorce will necessitate that she get a job and no longer function as primary caregiver.
- Although men/fathers are being treated better when they seek 50/50 custody than ever before, there is still obvious discrimination generally against fathers who can clearly exercise and who and want and who seek 50/50 custody.
Utah Family Law, LC | divorceutah.com | 801-466-9277