Keeping in line with traditional thinking and, what some would say, are outdated laws, courts have predominantly awarded custody of a couple’s children to one parent — the mother in the majority of cases. However, a significant amount of research done in recent years shows that children tend to do better when the parents share custody. This belief is behind a new child custody law that was recently passed in Utah that encourages the courts to award shared custody to divorcing or separating parents.
Of course, if awarding sole custody to one parent is in the best interests of the children, a Utah court can still do so. However, there is now an option to divide parenting time more evenly. The recommended schedule would give the non-custodial parent at least 145 overnights. Holidays would also be divided, and the non-custodial parent would be able to make specific elections.
This would equate to an approximate 40-60 split of time between the non-custodial parent and the parent with primary custody. The children get the benefit of continued contact, love and support from both parents. In addition, the parent with primary custody gains the opportunity to pursue other interests and is not forced to struggle to raise a child on his or her own.
Up until now, if parents wanted to enjoy a shared parenting arrangement, it was best to negotiate it on their own. Unfortunately, if negotiations broke down and the couple had to go to court, a different standard was used to determine child custody. Now, parents who are not able to come to an agreement on their own can ask the court to order a shared parenting arrangement with the support of the state.
Source: kcsg.com, “Utah’s new custody law aimed at giving both parents equal responsibility”, Nancy Rigdon, May 18, 2015