For parents considering a divorce, the prospect of shared custody can be an intimidating thought. Not only can some people struggle with the demands of a shared custody schedule, but constantly needing to see your ex could be unpleasant, to say the least.
Most families in Utah will end up in some kind of shared custody arrangement following a divorce or a breakup of unmarried parents. However, there are some parents who receive sole custody of their children from the Utah family courts.
Is the pursuit of sole custody a reasonable option in your family law case?
Sole custody is not the standard
When a Utah family law judge must divide parental rights and responsibilities, they typically try to split parenting time between the adults instead of giving one parent far more parenting time and authority to make choices for the children, also known as legal custody. Parents can potentially agree to their own sole custody arrangements. Utah defines sole custody as one parent having the primary decision-0making authority and having the children for 255 overnight stays or more.
If you would have to litigate because your ex wants shared custody, then you need compelling evidence to convince a Utah family law judge that granting you sole custody would be in the best interests of your children. Immoral behavior like adultery or gambling won’t be enough to convince a judge to give you sole custody.
You will typically need verifiable documentation of serious issues like drug addiction, alcoholism, child abuse or neglect. If you do have medical records, professional testimony or police reports helping corroborate your claims that your ex’s access to the children might prove dangerous for them, then a Utah family law judge might grant you sole custody.
Without a valid reason for the request and evidence to support your claims, a request for sole custody could actually hurt your case in family court.
Judges don’t like parents who put themselves first
Selfishness is common in modern divorces, and parents often lash out at one another using the children as a weapon. Judges who believe that one parent will refuse to cooperate with the other or will put their petty wishes ahead of what would be best for the children might give that parent less time with the children or control over their lives.
If you ask for sole custody simply because you don’t want to see your ex, you might hurt your case more than theirs. Understanding when Utah judges consider sole custody requests can help those preparing for a hearing in family court.