Do You Lose Parental Rights Automatically When You Get Divorced if You Do Not File for Visitation or Custody?

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If you are a parent of minor children, and you are involved in a divorce action, and you do not petition the court for an award of a child custody and parent time schedule, then at least in the jurisdiction where I practice divorce and family law (Utah), you would not have your parental rights terminated (meaning that you no longer have any legal status, rights, or obligations as a parent). But if your spouse sought an award of custody that resulted in him or her having the children in his slash her care and custody at all times, leaving you with no visitation or parent time periods to spend with the children, then it is possible that a court could make such an award to your spouse. If a parent does not bother to seek shared custody or at least an award of visitation or parent time with his/her children in a divorce or child custody case, A court may reason that this parent does not want shared custody or does not want to exercise any visitation or parent time, in which case the court would not award it.

It is possible, though not likely, in my opinion, that even if a parent did not make a request in his/her divorce or child custody action for shared custody or for a visitation or parent time award, the court might still order a minimal visitation or parent time schedule for that parent to exercise, so that if the parent is so inclined, he or she can do so. Such an award might be grounded in the courts belief that children should have contact with both of their parents, and to order that the parent cannot have any visitation or parent time with his/her children would be contrary to and fail to subserve the best interest of the children. Any parent, however, who counts on a court doing this for him or her, and then not making a request for a specific custody award or parent time award as a result of this expectation, would be taking a needless risk of ending up with nothing.

Utah Family Law, LC | | 801-466-9277

Eric Johnson’s answer to Do you lose parental rights automatically when you get divorced if you do not file for visitation or custody? – Quora

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