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Tag: parents

CPS Has Encouraged Parental Alienation Before My Parental Rights Have Been Taken, My Public Defender Has Not Been Representing Me the Way He Was Supposed to Be, but I Didn’t Know Until Now. What Can I Do?

There are plenty of things you can do (plenty of activity in which you can engage), but whether any of it will do any good is the question. The answer is usually: not likely. When child protective services (CPS) is working against you, then usually law enforcement and the courts follow suit, whether you’re “guilty” or not. If you have a public defender, then you’re poor, and while there is no shame simply in being poor, it limits your options in a fight like this.

All that stated, you need to fight with all you have for what’s right, or the regret and wondering “what might have been?” will surely torment you the rest of your life. You already know the outcome if you give up.

Now, pick your battles. Don’t run faster than you have strength, and don’t engage in “ends justify the means” tactics, but fight the good fight, so that if, some day, you confront your child who asks, “Did you try your best for me, Mom/Dad?,” you can answer in the affirmative.

Sometimes doing your best means kicking the bad habits, addictions, and mental health afflictions. The work on ourselves if often the hardest—not impossible (thankfully), but the hardest

I wish I had more for you, but this is the best I can offer.

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

https://www.quora.com/In-California-CPS-has-encouraged-parental-alienation-before-my-parental-rights-have-been-taken-my-public-defender-has-not-been-representing-me-the-way-he-was-supposed-to-be-but-I-didnt-know-until-now-What-can-I-do

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What Must the Juvenile Court Consider on a Petition to Terminate a Parent’s Parental Rights?

Before terminating a parent’s rights, the court must find that termination is “strictly necessary to promote the child’s best interest.” This analysis must be undertaken from the child’s point of view. Utah law provides that termination is strictly necessary only when, after exploring possible placements for the child, the juvenile court concludes that no other feasible options exist that could address the specific problems or issues facing the family, short of imposing the ultimate remedy of terminating the parent’s rights. If the child can be equally protected and benefited by an option other than termination (such as permanent custody and guardianship awarded to someone other than the parent or parents), termination is thus not strictly necessary. The strictly necessary analysis is designed to ensure that the court pause long enough to thoughtfully consider the range of available options that could promote the child’s welfare and best interest. If a court has complied with its statutory obligations, its resultant best interest determination is entitled to deference by an appellate court. Long-term guardianship arrangements are typically only in a child’s best interest where the guardians and the parent have a working, relatively healthy relationship in which they are both willing to work together to preserve the parent-child relationship and where the child has a healthy relationship with both the guardian and the parent. Thus, when a parent and potential guardian have little to no relationship, the particular circumstances of the case may indicate that permanent custody and guardianship will not meet the children’s needs as well as termination of parental rights. This post is a summary of the law as stated in the recent Utah Court of Appeals opinion in the case of  In re K.R. – 2023 UT App 75 (filed July 13, 2023).

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Who do you pick between a present father and an absentee mother?

Who do you pick, your father who has been there your whole life or your mother who was never there until now and wants custody of you? 

Assuming that 1) custody of you must be awarded to one parent or the other; and 2) your father didn’t obtain/exercise custody over you by withholding shared custody from your mother (because your mother was an absentee parent by choice), the answer is obvious: your father. 

Why? At the very least, he’s proven to be the consistent, dependable parent. 

As much as you may ache for your mother’s love, her track record shows that odds are she’s a bad bet as a custodial parent. Odds are she’ll break your heart again, if you let her. 

But this does not appear to be a zero-sum kind of problem. Why not have the court award custody to your father and then award your mother visitation with you on as liberal a basis as is safe and beneficial for you? 

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

https://www.quora.com/Who-do-you-pick-your-father-who-has-been-there-your-whole-life-or-your-mother-who-was-never-there-until-now-and-wants-custody-of-you/answer/Eric-Johnson-311  

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What are some ways to make the divorce rate drop?

First, some marriages need to end in divorce. That is why divorce exists. But divorce is not always the answer when one or both spouses is/are miserable. Far too many divorces are not only unnecessary, but take things from bad to worse. For those marriages that need not end in divorce, teach and exemplify: 

  • belief in God; 
  • trust—humbly—in God; 
  • that God’s plan for His children includes marriage and family (so He will help you when you and your spouse turn to Him for guidance and strength to overcome); 
  • love for and service to God;
    • Loving and serving God leads us to loving and serving others (especially your spouse and children). Loving and serving others leads us to love and to serve God. You cannot sustainably have one without the other; 
    • Go to church together and with your children. Associate with other families and learn from and support each other. It’s soothing and encouraging to see you’re not alone in the struggles couples and families face. It’s good to have others in your community to whom you can turn for support in good times and bad. 
  • mercy and forgiveness for human faults and frailties; 
    • Don’t demand perfection from your spouse or yourself—that’s impossible—but strive to be your best. Don’t exploit your spouse. 
    • This does not mean that wrongs go unpunished and unrestituted, but it does mean that “the punishment fit the crime,” as the saying goes; 
    • This does not mean that punishment be “curative”; See C.S. Lewis’s “The Humanitarian Theory of Punishment 
  • specifically in marriage and family: 
    • Marriage and family is a major purpose of our lives—it’s part of God’s plan for each of us; 
    • Marry because you want “us” to be happy, supported, and fulfilled together. If you marry merely for “what’s in it for me,” you’re not ready or worthy to marry; 
      • Being equals in marriage does not mean that you and your spouse are the same in every respect. Accept it. Adapt to it. Celebrate it. Don’t forget it. 
    • Be honest in your dealings with your spouse and worthy of trust. 
    • Accept that certain aspects of a good married life and of single life are incompatible, so those aspects of single life must be left behind and replaced to serve your role as a spouse and parent; 
    • Accept the bitter aspects of married and family life with the sweet; 
      • “Anyone who imagines that bliss is normal is going to waste a lot of time running around shouting that he’s been robbed. The fact is that most putts don’t drop, most beef is tough, most children grow up to just be people, most successful marriages require a high degree of mutual toleration, most jobs are more often dull than otherwise. Life is like an old time rail journey…delays…sidetracks, smoke, dust, cinders and jolts, interspersed only occasionally by beautiful vistas and thrilling burst of speed.” — Gordon B. Hinckley 
    • Learn to make the compromises in your habits and lifestyle that marriage requires. 
      • Don’t die on the hill of whose responsibility it is to take out the trash, whether “breakfast for dinner” is untenable, etc. Go to movies and restaurants you don’t like sometimes, if going is something your spouse enjoys (he/she needs to make the same accommodations for you too). 
      • It will seem as though you are “making sacrifices” when in reality you are continuing to grow and mature as a person. You are developing dormant talents and new skills that a successful marriage needs to thrive. 

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

https://www.quora.com/What-are-some-ways-to-make-the-divorce-rate-drop/answer/Eric-Johnson-311 

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Can being a noncustodial parent improve the child-parent relationship?

Can being a noncustodial parent improve the child’s relationship with the noncustodial parent?

Recently, a reader on Quora, where I comment regularly, commented on a post of mine with this: 

Anecdotally: When my parents separated I felt I saw my father more because when they lived together simply being in the house was considered fathering. This is something I’ve heard from many fellow adult children of divorce. Suddenly Dad was actually doing something with us and having full conversations. 

I responded with this:  

Thank you for reading and for commenting. I don’t know you, your father, or your collective circumstances, but assuming generally that a father was neither abusive or neglectful (most fathers who become “noncustodial” parents in divorce are in this category), but the children were nevertheless deprived of being in the equal care and custody of their father and mother and Dad was deprived of equal custody of the children, how often do you think that a divorce awarding “sole” or “primary” custody of the children to one parent results in the children’s relationship with the other parent improving? To what degree did any aspect of the children’s lives improve? Right. Not often, not much. Indeed, just the opposite is the case.  

While there are some abusive, neglectful, and/or indifferent fathers out there, they are few and far between compared the vast majority of fathers. When fit, loving fathers (not perfect fathers, mind you) are cut off from their children by court order for even a few days, it is heartbreaking to father and children alike.   

Few parents had children without wanting to be there for them as much as possible and for them to be with that parent as much as possible. Although parental rights are not earned from the state or conditioned upon the state’s approval, that’s essentially how custody policy and law have come to function.  

Marginalizing a fit parent in a child’s eyes by reducing that parent to visitor, second-class, “backup” status necessarily marginalizes the child. “You don’t get the equal (i.e., the maximum) love and care of both parents, boy.” By depriving him/her of equal custody of his/her children with the other parent is to deprive the children of each parent exercising equal responsibility for the children, and to deprive the children of what is in their best interest. 

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

https://www.quora.com/From-a-lawyer-s-perspective-why-do-women-get-child-custody-almost-90-of-the-time-Is-there-really-a-bias-What-factors-come-into-play-when-deciding-about-it/answer/Eric-Johnson-311

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Should I get sole custody of my children if the dad does not want custody?

Should I get sole custody of my children if their dad does not want to be involved with them? Or try to talk it out before I go through with it?

Your children deserve a loving, salutary relationship with both of their parents, so it is morally right to urge and encourage the father in this situation to love and care for his children. Yes, have that talk with the father. It’s pointless, however, to nag or try to guilt a father into loving and caring for his children when he doesn’t want to love and care for his own children. And it’s plain irresponsible and wrong to try to involve a father in his children’s lives if that father is a danger to the children, whether physically or emotionally/psychologically.  

But where a father is not abusive, not a danger to the life or health of his own children, it’s not a bad idea to leave the door open. One day Dad might wake up and want to walk through it for the children’s benefit. Leaving open the possibility does not, of course, mean that the children will be receptive to repairing (or in some cases forming) their relationship with their father, but why slam that door and nail it shut if you must not? Do unto others as you would have them do for you. Don’t needlessly deprive the children of an opportunity to bond with their father.  

That stated, this does not mean that you must ask the court for a joint child custody award. “Leaving the door open” does not require you treat Dad like an involved parent when he’s not. If Dad’s not around, not interacting with the children, not playing with them, bathing, feeding them, etc., not financially supporting the children, then there’s no good reason to act as though he is when the child custody awards are made. There’s no reason to “leave the door open” in a way that sets the kids up to have their hopes dashed and their hearts broken. If an absentee parent (father or mother) says that he or she recognizes the error of that absentee parent’s ways and wants to make amends, there must needs be a price to be paid by that parent. There will be hard words to hear from the other parent and child. He or she should expect caution and hesitancy, even skepticism, from the children and the other parent. There will be hard work and sacrifice ahead as well (and not just for Dad). Easier said than done. I get it. But if the children are willing to give Dad a second chance and he’s proven he can and wants to make good, it would be tragic and frankly inexcusable to deny the children that. 

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

https://parenttoparenttalk.quora.com/Should-I-get-sole-custody-of-my-children-if-their-dad-does-not-want-to-be-involved-with-them-Or-try-to-talk-it-out-befo?__nsrc__=4  

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What are the primary concerns in determining parenting issues? Why?

What are the primary concerns of the courts in determining parenting issues? Why? 

In Utah (and in no particular order), the court must consider the factors articulated in these sections of the Utah Code when making a legal and physical custody award: 

  1. § 30-3-10. Custody of a child — Custody factors. 
  2. § 30-3-10.2. Joint custody order — Factors for court determination — Public assistance. 
  3. § 30-3-34. Parent-time — Best interests — Rebuttable presumption. 
  4. § 30-3-35.1. Optional schedule for parent-time for children 5 to 18 years of age. 
  5. § 30-3-35.2. Equal parent-time schedule. 

If I were to create a list of all factors from the above-referenced Utah Code sections, this answer would be too long, which is why I have provided hyperlinks to the Code sections for your review.  

CONCERN FOR FATHERS. What do fathers encounter far too often (not always, but far too often): “How can I rule against the father’s request for an award of joint equal legal and physical custody without my ruling appearing to be contrary to the facts, contrary to the best interest of the children and the irrational, biased or arbitrary, inequitable, discriminatory, unconstitutional thing that it is?” 

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

https://www.quora.com/What-are-the-primary-concerns-of-the-courts-in-determining-parenting-issues-Why/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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Why do people get married only to divorce a few years later?

Why do people get married only to divorce a few years later? Doesn’t really sound like love to me. 

With the exception of those divorces that take place shortly after a marriage due to abuse, mental illness, fraud, and those kinds of things OR a divorce for which there are common law or statutory grounds (adultery, impotency of the respondent at the time of marriage, willful desertion, willful neglect, habitual drunkenness of the respondent, conviction of the respondent for a felony, irreconcilable differences of the marriage, incurable insanity), a divorce after a just a few years of marriage between two otherwise normal people is usually due (in no particular order) to: 

  • realizing the marriage was a mistake, that it’s a genuinely good idea and mutually beneficial to both spouses to end the marriage and a bad idea to spend any more time or effort trying to salvage it; or 
  • selfishness and/or fear or shame; something that renders one to feel unworthy or unwilling to commit to the success of the marriage and family 

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

https://www.quora.com/Why-do-people-get-married-only-to-divorce-a-few-years-later-Doesnt-really-sound-like-love-to-me/answer/Eric-Johnson-311  

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Is it wrong for a parent to go to their adult child for emotional support?

Is it wrong for a parent to go to their adult child for emotional support concerning the parent’s marriage?

I am a divorce and family lawyer and a parent, but I am not a mental health professional. That doesn’t mean I can’t have an opinion on this subject or that my opinion won’t prove valuable, but it needs to be given the weight of a legal professional, not a mental health professional. 

When my mother died at age 63, I’m sure it was a comfort to her and to my father that her youngest child was an adult (albeit just barely; he was 18) and that he had his father and 8 older siblings to support him and to support one another. I know my father was grateful to have his children rally around him and support him in his loss and grief. Being an appropriate emotional support for a widowed parent in need is as much a child’s obligation as it is an honor. I don’t see why it should be any different for a divorced parent.  

We all know or will know people who are codependent. They need love and emotional support as much as anyone else. The problem with codependents are that they feel an excessive, pathological desire or need for others’ emotional and psychological support. Divorce is often the result of or the creation of a parent or parents who are codependent in relation to their children.  

So to answer your question: no, it is clearly not wrong for a parent to go to their adult children for emotional support over a troubled marriage, as long as that parent is seeking appropriate emotional support from his/her child(ren). 

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

https://www.quora.com/Is-it-wrong-for-a-parent-to-go-to-their-adult-child-for-emotional-support-concerning-the-parent-s-marriage/answer/Eric-Johnson-311

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If both parents are wonderful, will the court still favor the mother?

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 had been (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  

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I’m 14 and my mom is making me live with my dad. How do I stop this?

I’m 14 and my mom is making me live with my dad and is giving him custody. What can I do to prevent this from happening? 

I’m a divorce and family lawyer, and I see this question arise frequently. 

If you don’t want to live with your father for the wrong reasons, give both your dad and yourself a break, and live with Dad. You know what I mean; if you don’t want to live with Dad because he has reasonable, sensible rules and expectations for your protection and benefit, you’re only hurting yourself if you try to avoid being held to high standards. 

If Mom is too permissive, too hands-off, lets you get away with murder, doesn’t hold you accountable, then living with her is likely going to ruin you. 

What Randy Pausch said has stuck with me ever since I heard it: “Your critics are the ones telling you they still love you and care. Worry when you do something badly and nobody bothers to tell you.” 

If you don’t want to live with your mom because she’s abusive and neglectful, I wouldn’t go tell Dad first. Instead, I would try to find a lawyer who would help me. Be prepared to spend a very long time trying to find such a lawyer. They exist, but they are few and are thus hard to find. 

Why not tell Dad about the abuse and/or neglect first? It’s a little complicated, but I’ll try to make it clear. 

First, with few exceptions, courts are biased against fathers when it comes to deciding which parent with whom a child will live. Fathers who try to get custody are often believed by many courts as motivated only by self-interest, not by the best interest of their child or children. 

Fathers who seek sole or even joint custody of their children are often portrayed as being motivated by anything but honest, virtuous objectives. Instead, they are often accused of/presumed as being motivated by a desire to avoid paying child support or a desire to hurt the mother emotionally by cutting the children off from her. 

It is hard for some judges to believe fathers seek custody to protect the child from an abusive or neglectful mother because it’s hard for the court to believe the mother is abusive or neglectful in the first place. It is hard for some judges to believe that awarding to fit parents the joint equal physical custody of their children is best for the children. Far too many judges perceive the “safe bet” when making the child custody award as being: award custody of the children to Mom. 

And so if your dad were to be the one to break the news to the court that you told Dad mom is abusive and/or neglectful, your dad’s claims would immediately be met with skepticism, if not scorn. Both your mother and the court would likely accuse your dad of lying for self-serving purposes, not for the purpose of protecting you and fostering your welfare. 

So you may ask why you should not simply call child protective services and the police by yourself. Why not make these reports directly to child protective services and the police by yourself? Why get a lawyer to help you with this? These are good questions. 

If you make abuse and/or neglect reports against your mother directly to child protective services and/or to the police, the risk is too great that child protective services and/or the police will 1) believe that Dad put you up to it anyway; and 2) write you off as not credible, regardless of whether they believe your dad put you up to making the abuse and/or neglect reports to them (after all, you’re “just a kid”). 

And so it is my opinion that if you can find an attorney to help you, it is better to get an attorney—someone who knows how child protective services, the police, and the courts function and “dysfunction”—to help you navigate the system successfully by helping you avoid making costly, even irreparable, mistakes in your interactions with the system. 

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

https://www.quora.com/Im-14-and-my-mom-is-making-me-live-with-my-dad-and-is-giving-him-custody-What-can-I-do-to-prevent-this-from-happening/answer/Eric-Johnson-311  

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Why do kids talk and text online so freely with strangers?

Why do kids talk and text online so freely with strangers? Don’t they understand how potentially dangerous that is?

Why? Because kids that age aren’t very smart or wise. Don’t you remember how stupid and foolish you were as a pre-teen and teen? I don’t like to remember for myself, but I do. For some of us, it’s a wonder we’re still alive and didn’t do a stretch in juvie or worse for some of the stupid (though innocently committed) acts in which we engaged at that age.  

Kids need parental supervision. No matter “mature” or “intelligent” or “independent” you believe your minor children are, they are capable of exercising incredibly bad judgment and doing incredibly foolish, dangerous, and irresponsible things. Often without meaning to or without believing the risks are as great as they are. Those of us who survived to adulthood without bearing serious and lasting physical or mental scars are those who had good parents. Yes, some kids don’t have what is today the “luxury” of a mom and a dad to guide and shape them, but the ones who thrive are the ones who were blessed with good role models and mentors who took an interest in them and in their well-being and success.  

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

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How can I enforce my power when I have final say in joint custody?

My sons father and I have joint custody but I have final say over his well being health and education. How can I enforce my power? 

If you are asking: “How do I enforce in good faith my final say authority over our son’s well-being, health, and education when the other parent and I do not agree?,” then the answer is (depending upon the jurisdiction’s requirements) typically: 

  • go to mediation to try to resolve the dispute, and if that does not work, then 
  • file a motion with the court seeking an order that compels your ex to comply with your final decision-making authority. 

Don’t take this the wrong way, and I realize that there is more than one way to interpret the meaning of your question, but the fact that you would ask how you can “enforce” your “power” without ever expressing any concern for the welfare or best interest of the child raises questions as your motives for exercising that power. A parent wants to exercise power for the sake of lording it over the other parent is clearly unworthy of that power and should be stripped of it for the sake of the child’s welfare and best interest. 

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

https://www.quora.com/My-sons-father-and-I-have-joint-custody-but-I-have-final-say-over-his-well-being-health-and-education-How-can-I-enforce-my-power/answer/Eric-Johnson-311  

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Do you agree or disagree? Divorce creates chaos in the family.

Divorce generally creates far more chaos in individual families than it alleviates, but sometimes a divorce is the best thing to happen to a family. But that’s like saying sometimes its good to get arrested—rarely is it a good thing. 

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

https://www.quora.com/Do-you-agree-or-disagree-Divorce-creates-chaos-in-the-family/answer/Eric-Johnson-311  

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Why does paternity leave benefit everyone?

I’m not sure it does (and this comes from the father of four children himself). A little paternity leave would do no harm in most cases, but I’m not sure it confers any substantial or significant personal or societal benefits. 

Certainly I’m not against a father sharing the burdens and obligations and responsibilities of parenthood with the mother of the newborn child, particularly when the child is a newborn. 

But we’ve gone generations without paternity leave and no one ever wrung their hands over it as being a chronic or serious difficulty for families or for society at large. I see no evidence that a “lack” of paternity leave is or ever was a difficulty at all. 

With my children, I was not at home with them all day for 6 to 12 weeks after they were born, but I was with them every day, after I got home from work. There was a time when I would get home from my day job, and take care of the baby while my wife went to her job at night. My wife and I created such an arrangement so that our baby would not have to be in daycare. I don’t complain about being “denied” paternity leave, nor does my wife, nor do any of my children. Indeed, I have nothing to complain about. 

Fathers clearly do not need as much time off from work after their baby is born as many mothers may. I cannot identify any personal or societal need for paternity leave. Frankly, the concept of paternity leave equal to that of a mother’s maternity leave appears to me to be an effort: 

  • to make it appear that men are no different from women in the workplace;  

and 

  • to find an excuse for getting time off. 

Some argue that by granting fathers paternity leave it helps to put fathers and mothers in the workplace on a more level playing field when it comes too staying employed and//or being promoted (the idea being that if a man takes off as much time off of work as a woman does when a baby is born, then men who have children are seen as no more of an asset to the employer woman and/or just as much of a “liability” to the employer as women who have children). That’s not true. If paternity leave is designed to prevent men from having an advantage over women in the workplace, all that paternity leave would do is encourage employers to hire people who never have children. 

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

https://www.quora.com/Why-does-paternity-leave-benefit-everyone/answer/Eric-Johnson-311 

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Christmas/Winter Break for Parents Under the Utah Code

Christmas/Winter Break for Parents Under Utah Code § 30-3-35 or (§ 30-3-35.5 for a child 18 months and older)

If your Christmas/Winter break starts December 17, 2021 and ends January 2, 2022 (i.e., school starts back up on Monday, January 3, 2022), then that means the period between December 17 and January 2 and 17 days (an odd number of days in the holiday break parent-time period). This is how the holiday would be divided:

§ 30-3-35(2)(f)(viii): the first portion of the Christmas school vacation as defined in Subsection 30-3-32(3)(b), including Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, continuing until 1 p.m. on the day halfway through the holiday period, if there are an odd number of days for the holiday period or until 7 p.m. if there are an even number of days for the holiday period, so long as the entire holiday period is equally divided.

The day halfway through the period between December 17 and January 2 would be 1:00 p.m. December 25.

Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Saturday Sunday
Dec. 17

(day 1)

Dec. 18

(day 2)

Dec. 19

(day 3)

Dec. 20

(day 4)

Dec. 21

(day 5)

Dec. 22

(day 6)

Dec. 23

(day 7)

Dec. 24

(day 8)

Dec. 25

(day 9)

Dec. 26

(day 10)

Dec. 27

(day 11)

Dec. 28

(day 12)

Dec. 29

(day 13)

Dec. 30

(day 14)

Dec. 31

(day 15)

Jan. 1

(day 16)

Jan. 2

(day 17)

 

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How to Explain to Your Kids You Are Getting Divorced (Guest Post)

Author Bio: Cristin Howard runs Smart Parent Advice, a site that provides parenting advice for moms and dads. Cristin writes about all of the different ups and downs of parenting, provides solutions to common challenges, and reviews products that parents need to purchase.

Divorce isn’t easy on anyone, and navigating this hurdle won’t come without conflict. That makes it all the more important that when you talk to your children about it, you remain a united front, explain it calmly, and be loving parents first.

There are plenty of extra steps you can take to make this reality easier to handle. Prepare for the conversation, and don’t shy away from it or the feelings that will result. Make sure you’re both on board with helping your children overcome this obstacle along with you.

Tell Them Together

Once you and your spouse reach this conclusion, it’s still important that you remain a united parenting front. After all, while your marriage may have changed, your role as parents will always be the same.

This is not the time to place blame or argue about whose responsibility it is to break the news. Using personal pronouns like “we” instead of “I” will ensure that your children understand it’s what both of you want. They don’t need to see the ins and outs of a crumbling relationship. What they need is two parents who still love them, no matter what.

Your children also need to know that it’s not their fault and you’ll work to make sure their lives change as little as possible. They need as much assurance as you can give them that even though you won’t be living together anymore, you’ll both be as involved as possible in everything they do.

It helps to have a plan before you have this conversation so you can answer questions like where you will live, where they will be going to school, and the timeline in which all of this will be finalized.

Give Them Time to Process Their Feelings

Remember that once you conquer what seems like the most overwhelming hurdle, the process is far from over. Your children may not want to talk right now, but over the next few months (or even years), they’ll continue to process their feelings in a variety of ways.

Make sure they know you’re always there for them when they need to talk about how they feel or what they’re thinking.

After all, not all children have matured enough to handle their feelings in reasonable ways. They may lash out, blame you, throw tantrums, cry, or become reclusive. They’ll find the only way they know to process their feelings, and it’s important to allow them to do so.

It will be difficult on you, it may seem like you’re the only parent dealing with it, and it may even come at a time in which you feel like you’re the one who had to deal with abuse or infidelity.

However, remember that your children didn’t see any of that (hopefully), and they’re getting a pretty raw deal as well. They need help coping with their anger, sadness, and everything else they’re feeling.

Spouses who can’t seem to work things out between each other can still be excellent parents. Remember that whatever you’re feeling toward your ex, that person is still a beloved parent to your children, and they need your support more than anything else right now.

Prepare to Deal with Trauma

Divorce is a traumatic event for children that can cause behavioral or academic decline. As you process your emotions, you may be blind to the grief your children are experiencing. As hard as it may be, keep your children out of adult arguments and present a united front for them.

Expressing contempt for your former spouse will just make it harder for your child to trust either of you and will add to their confusion. They can’t understand what went wrong in the first place, and need to feel safe with both parents.

Work Hard to Create Two Households

Your children should feel comfortable, safe, and at home with both parents, so working together to create two households, unified in the way you treat your children is incredibly important.

If you’re still living close to one another, it makes it easy to stay involved, share holidays, and keep some semblance of normalcy in their lives. They can stay at the same school, see their friends, and keep the same extracurriculars.

It’s no mystery that this will make the adjustment easier on them. However, that’s not always possible. Make sure both parents are on board with how your children can communicate with one parent while they’re staying with the other.

Put forth the effort to ensure your children have the tools they need to stay in touch while you’re far apart. Do everything you can to agree on the rules in each new household to make the transition smoother.

Remain a Family Unit

You may now be a single parent, but you can still remain a united parenting team in a lot of ways. Putting aside any animosity you have for each other and understanding what your children are going through will help you make better decisions moving forward.

Just like when you were married, you won’t always agree on everything, but if you can both agree that remaining a parent your children can rely on is the most important thing right now, you’ll make great strides to adjusting your life in a way that makes the transition easier on them.

Working together won’t be easy, but it’s definitely for the best, if you can make it work.

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

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After a divorce, should my kids be with me or with the mom?

First, you need to understand that you’re asking the wrong question.

Child custody is not a zero-sum game; otherwise stated, when parents divorce, or when unmarried parents separate, where you get the idea that the children must be in the custody of one parent or the other, but not in the joint custody of both?

Perhaps it has come from the idea you been taught most of your life that children of divorced or separated parents must spend the majority of their time in the custody of one parent. I’m 52 years old at the time I write this, and throughout my youth I was taught that very thing.

Not only were we taught the children should spend most of their time in the custody of just one parent, but we were taught that the parent that should be the “custodial” or primary custodial” parent was the mother. Almost always the mother. The mother, unless it could be proven that the mother was heinously unfit to have custody of the children. It was not uncommon to hear about perfectly good and decent fathers not being awarded custody or not being awarded joint physical custody of their children even when mom had a substance abuse problem or was physically and/or emotionally abusive.

The idea that children could be or should be cared for equally or as near to equally as possible by both parents was in the not so distant past unthinkable. The idea of children being cared for by their fathers was believed to be emotionally and psychologically damaging to children, especially very young children. The more research that is conducted on the subject, however, the more we learn that such thinking is wrong. I’ll be the first to admit that, especially in American culture, it seemed somewhat intuitive to believe that children might need or fare better in the care of their mothers instead of their fathers, but it turns out that’s false.

Unfortunately, the legal profession and the courts have been very slow to accept, let alone embrace, this fact. But things are changing in the legal profession and the courts, and at a comparatively rapid pace.

Now (I write this May 27, 2021), things are different, or I should say they are becoming different. As well they should be. Just as this country realized it made no sense to make the black man or woman sit at the back of the bus and that all citizens deserve fair and equal treatment under the law, it makes no sense to deny children of as much love and care and companionship of both of their loving, fit parents as possible.

To crib from C.S. Lewis a bit, asking which fit parent the children are better off with is like asking which blade of the scissors we’re better off with.

When children have to loving, caring parents who are physically and emotionally and financially capable of providing the minimally necessary levels of care their children require, there is no to deny children the benefits of being reared by both parents equally. Period.

I am a divorce lawyer in Utah. For those of you who are currently facing or who are contemplating a possible divorce or child custody dispute in Utah, you may find these statutory criteria that the courts are supposed to apply when making child custody determinations:

Utah Code:


Section 10
. Custody of a child — Custody factors.

Section 10.1. Definitions — Joint legal custody — Joint physical custody.

Section 10.2. Joint custody order — Factors for court determination — Public assistance.

And these sections are worth reviewing to get an idea of what the definitions of child custody are, whether that be legal custody or physical custody:


Section 33
. Advisory guidelines.

Section 34. Parent-time — Best interests — Rebuttable presumption.

Section 34.5. Supervised parent-time.

Section 35. Minimum schedule for parent-time for children 5 to 18 years old.

Section 35.1. Optional schedule for parent-time for children 5 to 18 years of age.

Section 35.2. Equal parent-time schedule.

Section 35.5. Minimum schedule for parent-time for children under five years of age.

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

https://www.quora.com/After-a-divorce-should-my-kids-be-with-me-or-with-the-mom/answer/Eric-Johnson-311

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How do I console a father who has lost custody of his child?

How do I console a father who has lost custody of his child?

“He’s [the father who lost custody] permanently damaged.” That’s what someone else wrote in response to your question. It’s true. Time lost between a parent and child is never found. These kinds of wounds can heal, but rarely will they heal fully or not leave scars.

There is still not just some consolation, but much consolation to be found, however.

First, all of us suffer injustices in life yet the overwhelming majority of us still have far more reasons to be happy than miserable. So does Dad. That’s not a Pollyanna view of life, it’s a fact. And a fact one must not let grief blind Dad to.

If one focuses on the negative to the exclusion of the good and positive, then all one will see is the negative and miss out on most or even all of the good. Parents who are alienated from their children have an obligation to themselves not to dwell on it. Feel the pain, of course. Don’t deny it. It’s inevitable and it’s necessary to let the pain run its proper course before you can start to recover.

But don’t let the pain drown you. Don’t let the pain and the bitterness deprive you of all the other good things life has in store for you. That’s what your alienating ex-spouse is hoping for. At the very least don’t give your alienating ex-spouse the satisfaction. Your kids need to see you can rise above this so that they believe they can rise above adversity too.

Second and more importantly (and this is the truth, even if it’s new to you or you think it’s silly; regardless, you have nothing to lose by exploring whether there really is consolation to be found here), by suffering and dying for you (and for your children), Jesus Christ has the power not only to right all wrongs in the next life, but has the power to comfort you and help you heal in this life now as well.

https://youtu.be/4NhzPuNcGkA?t=405

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

https://www.quora.com/How-do-I-console-a-father-who-has-lost-custody-of-his-child/answer/Eric-Johnson-311?prompt_topic_bio=1

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