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Tag: custody award

Is There Anything I Can Do for Winning Custody After the Gal Report Is Favoring My Ex? Is Paying More to My Attorneys Worth It or No?

After you ask, “Is there anything I can do for winning custody after the GAL report is favoring my ex? Is paying more to my attorneys worth it or no?,” then you need to ask these questions:

Is the GAL’s report favoring my ex accurate? Otherwise stated, “Am I unfit to be awarded custody (whether that be sole custody or joint custody or equal custody?” If you are unfit to be awarded the custody you want or any kind of custody, you may have different and bigger obstacles than the GAL’s report standing in your way.

If the GAL’s report favoring you ex is inaccurate and/or biased, are the inaccuracies and biases significant and relevant?

If so, can you prove it? Otherwise stated, do you have admissible evidence that conclusively establishes the the GAL’s report is inaccurate and/or biased? If you have evidence of some minor or irrelevant inaccuracies, that likely won’t be enough to persuade the court to disregard the report and recommendations of the GAL. If, however, you can show the GAL is incompetent, did shoddy work, and/or indulged personal biases irrespective of the facts, that might (might) be enough to get the report thrown out or at least to get the court to give the report less credence.

So, in response to the question of whether it is worth it to pay your attorneys more money in an effort to discredit the GAL’s reports and recommendations, if you conclude (honestly) that 1) you are fit to be awarded the custody award you seek AND you can prove it; 2) the GAL’s report and recommendations are significantly inaccurate and/or biased AND you can prove it; 3) you have the money and a good attorney necessary to make a winning presentation to the court; AND 4) you conclude it’s worth risking the money and effort to make the attempt, then the answer is yes.

Utah Family Law, LC | divorceutah.com | 801-466-9277

https://www.quora.com/Is-there-anything-I-can-do-for-winning-custody-after-the-GAL-report-is-favoring-my-ex-Is-paying-more-to-my-attorneys-worth-it-or-no/answer/Eric-Johnson-311

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If each parent is fully capable, will the court still give full custody to mom?

If both parents are wonderful, will the court still lean towards full custody to the mother?

[Note: I am a divorce lawyer of 25 years. I am not bitter about “what happened to me in my divorce” as I am not divorced. I have no axe to grind with women or mothers (I love my mother, sisters, wife, and daughters dearly and without reservation). With these facts in mind, I answer your question as follows below.] 

Not exactly. But close. 

While the courts are finally starting to confront and slowly abolish discrimination against fathers when it comes to making the child custody and parent-time awards, the odds are still ludicrously in the mother’s favor when both parents are fit and loving parents. 

No question about it. The exceptions prove the rule. 

“All things being equal,” the mother is favored (yes, I know that’s illogical, but the courts find ways to justify or to appear to justify illogical thinking, especially in making child custody and parent-time awards). 

It’s grossly unfair to children and to fit, loving fathers alike, but it’s what courts frequently (more often than not) do. 

Now clearly there are times when, even though Dad’s a wonderful parent, circumstances (such as the parents living too far apart or having an unorthodox/inflexible work schedule) may render impractical or impracticable the exercise of joint equal physical custody and/or result in joint equal custody arrangements doing the children more harm than good. But far, far too often fit, loving fathers are denied joint equal custody by virtue of plain old sexual discrimination. 

What does “favoring the mother” (prejudicing the father) look like nowadays? Here are few of the most common situations: 

  • Rather than awarding joint equal physical custody to both parents, awarding “just a little more time” to Mom than to Dad. Case in point: I worked a case where both Mom and Dad had full-time jobs, but the court awarded Mom more time with the children than with Dad anyway (8 out of every 14 days on a 14-day repeating schedule—the trial court even stated that denying the kids and dad that one day every two weeks would enable dad to have more time to get his work done). This was the case where I reached my breaking point (about three years ago). To his credit, my client agreed to appeal (and pay tens of thousands of dollars for the privilege), and he won, with the appellate court ordering the trial court to award equal child custody and parent time. If you believe that happens in every case like his, you would be mistaken. 
  • Finding that, even in situations where the children are preteens or older, the mother was (past tense) the children’s primary caregiver when they were infants and toddlers, and therefore she always has that “advantage” over the father in the here and now. I have this case where mom had been working full-time for the past four years. The youngest of the couple’s children could take care of himself and did not need a full-time caregiver. Worse, mom worked outside the home full-time, while dad’s full-time job permitted him to work from home. At the temporary orders phase of the case, the court awarded mom primary physical custody of the kids because (and the court made no secret of the basis for its decision) she hadbeen (past tense) the per children’s primary caregiver. Dad Wasn’t even seeking sole or primary custody; he was seeking joint equal physical custody, but he lost. Such an outcome is ridiculous and tragic, but not surprising. 
  • Rejecting Dad’s claims that the mother is so lazy and that Dad not only works full-time each day outside the home, but then spends the rest of his time at home taking care the housekeeping and taking care of the kids as well. Why? Because (in my experience) in the minds of most judges it is unthinkable for a stay-at-home mother to be a lazy and inattentive parent (while at the same time it is easy for judges to believe—just believe—that a father doesn’t pull his weight when it comes to fulfilling child caregiving). 
  • Penalizing the father for being the only full-time employed (in many cases the only employed) parent and awarding sole or primary physical custody of the children to the mother because she doesn’t work outside the home. Never mind (apparently) the fact that if the parties share joint equal custody, that would enable both parents to provide as much personal care to the children as possible and also allow them to work full-time jobs for their children’s financial support. Nope. Now clever courts will “acknowledge” and “praise” Dad for being a responsible and devoted breadwinner, but won’t award joint equal custody, justifying the unequal award of child custody with assertions such as: 
    • Spending equal time in both parents’ Respective residences creates an “unstable” residential circumstance for the children. 
    • The fact that unemployed Mom spends more of the waking hours with the children than does Dad (until the children start school, in which case the amount of time mom spends with the kids during waking hours is negligible compared to the time the children are with Dad while he’s at work) means that dad should spend even less of the children’s waking hours with them when he gets home from work. Otherwise stated, because Dad can’t be with the kids during the eight or nine hours that he is at work each day, that means that he should not spend the hours that he does have available to be with the children when the children could be spending that time or “consistently” in the custody and care of their mother. If you don’t understand this reasoning the first time you read through it, you’re not alone. 
  • Courts will still indulge in blatantly discriminating against fathers: 
    • by citing to the “fact” that women/mothers are “born nurturers”; 
    • by citing to the “fact” that children are more closely bonded with, and thus need more time with, their mothers than with their fathers; 
    • by claiming “it’s not the quantity of time but the quality of time” that children spend with their fathers that matters most, failing to concede that the quality of the time is a function of the quantity of time when it comes to parent-child interactions. How did the term “Disneyland Dad” evolve? Not by assuming the responsibilities and “heavy lifting” parental duties of day to day living. No, but by spoiling the child when they have such disproportionately little time on alternating weekends and one weeknight. It creates a warped sense of the father-child relationship and of reality for the kids in general, leading to the kids becoming self-absorbed, worldly, and feeling entitled around their fathers. 

Utah Family Law, LC | divorceutah.com | 801-466-9277  

https://www.quora.com/If-both-parents-are-wonderful-will-the-court-still-lean-towards-full-custody-to-the-mother/answer/Eric-Johnson-311  

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What is the argument for hearing a child’s view in a custody decision?

What argument supports taking the views of a child into account when making custody determination?

The argument is this: the judge cannot determine if such evidence is relevant if the judge never actually has such evidence to consider. 

In Utah (where I practice divorce and family law), this was the law as late as 1967 in this part of Utah Code Section 30-3-5: 

When a decree of divorce is made the court may make such orders in relation to the children, property and parties, and the maintenance of the parties and children as may be equitable; provided, that if any of the children have attained the age of ten years and are of sound mind, such children shall have the privilege of selecting the parent to which they will attach themselves. Such subsequent changes or new orders may be made by the court with respect to the disposal of the children or the distribution of property as shall be reasonable and proper. 

You read that correctly. Time was in Utah (and I’m sure in many other states) that children 10 years of age or older got to choose which parent they lived with after divorce (back in a time when it was unthinkable to award joint custody of children to parents). Utah (and I’m sure most other states) no longer give the child the choice regarding the child custody award. That’s a good development, but Utah went too far and now rarely (so rarely it might as well be never) hear their experiences, observations, opinions, and desires regarding custody. 

In Utah, those who have the greatest stake in the child custody award (i.e., the children themselves) have no right to express themselves and be heard on the record on the subject. At best, the court has the option of inquiring with the children, and so if the court does not want to hear from the children, it won’t hear from them. 

[Utah also has provisions for appointing spokespeople for children in the form of guardians ad litem and custody evaluators, but the problem with them is that they are sources of nothing more than court sponsored hearsay, providing accounts allegedly coming from the children, but secondhand, filtered through the biases, agendas, and inattention inherent in every secondhand account. The so-called reasoning of judges who refuse to permit testimony directly from the child’s mouth to the judge’s ear is patently lame. One of the most common and most lame excuses goes something like this: “Allowing the children to testify places them in the middle of their parents’ child custody fight, so for the sake of sparing the children this trauma, I will not hear from the children.” You may have even heard this argument yourself from judges or even from attorneys. The flaw in such an argument arises when it is asserted to justify “hearing” from the children in the form of guardians ad litem and/or custody evaluators. Whenever I point out that questions to children are still going to be the same kinds of questions, regardless of whether they come from a guardian ad litem (who is a lawyer) or from a custody evaluator. It’s not as though the children somehow magically and cheerfully forget the purpose and import of such questions as long as a judge does not pose them.] 

Some judges may worry that children are too young or too manipulable to be trusted to express their experiences and preferences in a way that is probative, in credible a way that will help the court make a sound, informed decision. But such judges can’t know one way or the other if the children are not questioned on the record at all. To assume that all children are inherently bad witnesses is unfair to everyone, but especially to the child. 

Utah Family Law, LC | divorceutah.com | 801-466-9277  

https://www.quora.com/What-argument-supports-taking-the-views-of-a-child-into-account-when-making-custody-determination/answer/Eric-Johnson-311  

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How do you go through a custody battle and the only thing they can use is making up lies, manipulating the children to tell lies?

If you want my answer, skip to paragraph three.

1. First, it may be the case (and it may be that you need to acknowledge) that the problem is not simply a matter of lies being told, but also a matter of lies being believed. Lies are useless to the liar (even counterproductive for the liar) unless they are believed.

2. Plenty of divorce litigants lie. Judges have come to expect it. Indeed, in my experience, judges expect to be lied to. As a result, most (most, not all) become skeptical of virtually everything they are told (and when you are lied to on not just a daily, but on an hourly, basis, one can sympathize with them to a point). These kinds of jaded, cynical judges instead rely upon their own subjectivity to deter who are the good guys and bad guys, the winners and losers (i.e., “I know’em when I see’em.”). The problem with this approach is that such judges come to rely upon stereotypes, conventional wisdom, and personal bias as substitutes for the difficult and tedious work of impartially ferreting out the facts and the truth.

3. If you have such a judge in your case, there is little to nothing you can do to overcome or improve your plight. As I see it, there are only two options open to you: 1) provide the court with indisputable, irrefutable independently verifiable proof that your spouse is lying and/or that you are telling the truth; or, if you cannot do that (and few can), then 2) scrutinize and analyze your spouse’s testimonial evidence to expose the contradictions, discrepancies, and other holes in it. In other words, show from your spouse’s own stories how and why it is harder to believe those stories could be true than it is to believe they are lies.

4. Let me give you an example of option 2 from my own cases. First, a little background. In many divorce cases it is standard operating procedure for many wives/mothers to take an “ends justify the means” approach, which includes accusing the husband/father of abusing and/or sexually abusing the children. This is done for the purpose of poisoning the court against the husband/father from the outset of the case, so that the court rules against the husband/father in making its child custody award out of disgust and/or an abundance of caution (i.e., “keep the children away from dad to ensure that IF he is an abuser, he cannot abuse them”[1]; this gambit only works because a) our culture is so willing to believe the lie that most husband/fathers are abusive and that wives/mothers almost never are; and b) even if the mother is caught lying, she is almost never held to account for it by the court.[2] So it was in this particular case where I represented the husband/father.

5. Before the divorce action was filed, the wife/mother filed for a child protective order, but fortunately told a clumsy, inconsistent story about it, which allowed me to persuade her attorney to persuade her to dismiss the request for the child protective order to avoid having her credibility damaged any more than necessary.

6. Of course, wife/mother—wishing to save face—would never admit she dismissed her child protective order case because she’s a liar. Instead, she claimed that she dismissed for child protective order case to “protect” the children from the “trauma” of being questioned about whether their father had abused them. Really, that’s what she claimed. The upshot of the mothers actions and her explanation for them was that she would rather the children continue to have contact with an allegedly abusive father than have the children questioned to see whether they would corroborate their mother’s child abuse allegations against their father.

7. Later, after the divorce action was filed, wife/mother tried to get temporary orders of sole child custody in the divorce action, again trotting out the same child abuse claims as the basis for her motion. I cited the court to the wife’s previous voluntary dismissal of her child protective order case and her bizarre explanation for doing so. Wife’s sole custody motion was denied. It doesn’t always work out this way, but in this case fortunately, it did.

———————————-

[1] http://www.mediaradar.org/docs/RADARsignatureReport-ErringOnTheSideOfHiddenHarm.pdf

[2] No fines, no jail sentences, no criminal prosecution for making false child abuse reports to courts and law enforcement.* Indeed, it is often the case that even when a parent (especially the mother) is caught lying about abuse claims it doesn’t utterly destroy the parent’s credibility in the eyes of the court. When the odds are so low of a) people being believed for telling the truth; and b) people being punished for lying, it should come as no surprise that people will lie and lie a lot.

*”Why?,” you may ask. Some will justify going easy on liars by arguing that if false abuse reports are harshly punished, then it might have a so-called “chilling effect” on legitimate abuse reporting. In other words, a genuine abuse victim or witness might fail to report the abuse for fear of being branded and punished as a liar. The problem with such a policy is that it ends up creating more victims than it prevents. When the presumption of innocent until proven guilty gets turned on its head, we get a policy and practice of “It is better that 100 innocent men go to jail to help ensure the 1 guilty man doesn’t go free.”

Utah Family Law, LC | divorceutah.com | 801-466-9277

https://www.quora.com/How-do-you-go-through-a-custody-battle-and-the-only-thing-they-can-use-is-making-up-lies-manipulating-the-children-to-tell-lies/answer/Eric-Johnson-311?prompt_topic_bio=1

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Why is it OK for a parent to be given custody without their kids’ consent?

Why is it okay for a parent to be given custody without their kids consent or at least their input? This is a great question. I can’t speak for all lawyers, and the laws and rules governing what the courts must and can consider when making child custody awards differs slightly from jurisdiction to jurisdiction, but in the jurisdiction where I practice divorce and child custody law (Utah), there is a general policy that you can’t find written down anywhere but is nevertheless pervasive, and that is: courts will not talk to children in child custody cases if there is any way they can come up with a plausible excuse.

Do not misunderstand me. Courts can interview children on the subject of child custody and solicit the children’s experiences, observations, opinions, and preferences regarding the child custody award, although a child’s desires are “not the single controlling factor” governing the eventual child custody award (See Utah Code Section 30–3–10(5)(ii)). It’s just that most Utah courts, for reasons they’ve never credibly or logically explained to me, just don’t want to do it. Instead, they contract out the interviewing process to what are known as “custody evaluators” and/or “guardians ad litem”. You may ask, “So what’s the harm in that?”

In Utah, interviews between the children and custody evaluators and/or guardians ad litem are not on the record. Thus, we will never know what the children on what subjects the children were interviewed over or even if the children were interviewed at all. neither will we know what questions were asked, the manner in which they were asked, and the content and tone of the children’s responses, if any. Curiously, we don’t treat any other witness this way, but for some reason courts are more than happy to believe or say they believe that a custody evaluator and/or guardian ad litem would lie about a child interview or bungle a child interview.

when a judge interviews the child, not only do you have direct, unfiltered testimony in response to questions that the judge himself or herself deems most important to the child custody and parent time award analysis, that it takes less time, far less time than having a custody evaluator and/or guardian ad litem appointed to do the job. And it’s free of charge to have the judge interview the children, as opposed to costing thousands of dollars to pay for the services of a guardian ad litem, and even costing in excess of $10,000 to pay for the services of a custody evaluator. the value of what guardians ad litem and custody evaluators provide for the money just isn’t there when compared to no cost for a judge to interview the children directly and on the record. For some reason courts are more than happy to believe or say that they believe that it is just as good or better to have a child interview summarize and filtered through a custody evaluator or guardian ad litem then it would be to have the child speak directly to the judge, answering questions most pertinent and relevant in the judge’s opinion, and on the record. If you can explain how that makes any sense, please drop me a line.

Now clearly, some children would be too young to express a credible opinion or desire regarding child custody, are too young to know what they want, so young that they are easily manipulated, coachable, intimidated, or coerced. in those situations, it may make all the sense in the world to have a mental health professional observe the child to provide the court with some guidance as to

what custody and parent time arrangement serve the best interest of the child. but if a child is older than 10 years of age, there’s no harm in having the judge speak to that child to take the measure of the child, the child’s level of maturity and intelligence, and solicit information from that child’s experience to help guide the court in making the child custody and parent time awards. This is simply inarguable. And yet it remains virtually impossible to get a court to interview children directly and on the record. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t ask the court to interview the children on the record, just don’t be surprised if you get inexplicable resistance to such a sensible idea, both from the court and from opposing counsel.

Utah Family Law, LC | divorceutah.com | 801-466-9277

https://www.quora.com/Why-is-it-okay-for-a-parent-to-be-given-custody-without-their-kids-consent/answer/Eric-Johnson-311?prompt_topic_bio=1

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What does it take to get the court to award custody to the father?

What does it take to get the court to award custody to the father?

Either:

A) a miracle

or

B) the mother has to be so clearly an unfit parent that the court cannot both i) award her custody and ii) be taken seriously.

Now first, I exaggerate, but only a bit.

While fathers are being increasingly (albeit slowly) treated more fairly in child custody awards, there is an obvious bias against awarding fathers sole, much less joint, physical custody of children. Culturally, the courts (and society at large) has been duped into believing that mothers “make better parents.” Courts frequently cite to the fact that the mother was “the primary caregiver” as a reason for awarding custody solely or primarily to mothers. That might actually be a valid argument if a child is a nursing infant dependent upon a parent for 24/7 care. Yet even when the children are in school and Mom now has a job, the “mom was the primary caregiver” argument is often made. That’s silly and grossly unfair to fathers and children alike. That’s like saying Kareem Abdul Jabar should be paid tens of millions of dollars to play in the NBA again because he was such a great player before he turned 73 years old.

Second, no parent—whether father or mother—should seek sole legal or physical custody of children if both parents are at least minimally fit and their geographic proximity, job schedules, and other such material factors enable them to exercise joint physical and legal custody of the the children. The children love both of their parents and want to spend as much time as possible with each of them. Unless joint physical custody is a practicable impossibility, the “best parent” is both parents.

“We cannot expect men to be active, engaged fathers when they have been told since birth that they are the lesser parent, that they should defer to the mothers, and that once they no longer live in the same home as their children, they are relegated to a visitor and a paycheck.”

Emma Johnson

Utah Family Law, LC | divorceutah.com | 801-466-9277

https://www.quora.com/What-does-it-take-to-get-the-court-to-award-custody-to-the-father/answer/Eric-Johnson-311

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