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Tue May 19, 2015, 12:46 AM

 

Utah’s new custody law aimed at giving both parents equal responsibility

Source: KCSG

A new law which went into effect this week encourages the state courts to award equal child custody following divorce or separation.

House Bill 35, sponsored by Representative V. Lowry Snow of St. George, combats the outdated family court tradition of awarding sole custody to one parent - usually the mother - about 80 percent of the time. The bill creates amendments for an optional parent-time schedule of 145 overnights, sets holiday schedules and provides for specific elections by the noncustodial parent.

The National Parents Organization applauds Utah for being one of the first states int he nation to pass shared parenting. It’s even mentioned in the Wall Street Journal story, “Big Shift Pushed in Custody Disputes.”

The story revealed nearly 20 other states are actively considering shared parenting legislation.

Read more: KCSG Television - Utah s new custody law aimed at giving both parents equal responsibility

Read more: http://www.kcsg.com/view/full_story/26640933/article-Utah-s-new-custody-law-aimed-at-giving-both-parents-equal-responsibility?instance=eeo_report1

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Reply Utah’s new custody law aimed at giving both parents equal responsibility (Original post)
JMolina May 2015 OP
NYC_SKP May 2015 #1
JMolina May 2015 #2
NYC_SKP May 2015 #3
BadgerKid May 2015 #4
loudsue May 2015 #5
DebJ May 2015 #16
Demeter May 2015 #6
Drahthaardogs May 2015 #7
Demeter May 2015 #9
tammywammy May 2015 #13
Thor_MN May 2015 #15
Drahthaardogs May 2015 #23
Xithras May 2015 #19
Android3.14 May 2015 #8
Demeter May 2015 #10
Android3.14 May 2015 #12
LanternWaste May 2015 #21
Android3.14 May 2015 #22
Sienna86 May 2015 #11
JMolina May 2015 #14
Demeter May 2015 #20
LeftyMom May 2015 #26
Major Nikon May 2015 #17
Sgt Preston May 2015 #18
happyslug May 2015 #24
Demeter May 2015 #25
Manifestor_of_Light May 2015 #27

Response to JMolina (Original post)

Tue May 19, 2015, 12:50 AM

1. Here's the link that should have been added to your OP:

 

Welcome to DU and thanks for the good news.

Posts in the Latest Breaking News forum should include a link to the story.

Here it is: http://www.kcsg.com/view/full_story/26640933/article-Utah-s-new-custody-law-aimed-at-giving-both-parents-equal-responsibility?instance=eeo_report1

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Response to NYC_SKP (Reply #1)

Tue May 19, 2015, 12:55 AM

2. I thought I did

 

I pasted it. Thanks. I pasted it now.

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Response to JMolina (Reply #2)

Tue May 19, 2015, 01:01 AM

3. Good job and thanks for finding that.

 

Seems much more fair and a good thing for the kids, I would think!

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Response to JMolina (Original post)

Tue May 19, 2015, 04:51 AM

4. Could be a nice result

For parents who are genuinely interested in their kids. On the other hand, forced shared custody and/or visitation can be hell on kids when one or both parents are selfish, possibly sociopathic, POS.

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Response to BadgerKid (Reply #4)

Tue May 19, 2015, 05:59 AM

5. True. You can't paint w/ a broad brush when making laws like this. Each "family" is

different, and sometimes "shared custody" is more of a nightmare for kids and the sane parent.

In the South I would think this would lead to more domestic violence/shootings in a great many cases.

But then, there are other cases where this would be great for both kids AND the spouse who really WANTS to be more a part of the life of their kids, and had been otherwise estranged by the courts.

There is no easy answer/law when it comes to social issues like divorce/child custody.

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Response to loudsue (Reply #5)

Tue May 19, 2015, 09:08 AM

16. That is why individual judges should be making the determination.

I love the optional 145 nights... you know, the 'options' the absentee parent can't be bothered with.
BUT if they have 50% control, they can wreak some real havoc.

My abusive ex would have done so just for the fun of it.

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Response to JMolina (Original post)

Tue May 19, 2015, 06:32 AM

6. Is it not the case that Divorce Occurs when One of the Couple is Irresponsible?

 

Does anyone think the courts can impose responsibility?

Are children tennis balls, to be lobbed between competing parties?

Is this nuts? Of course it is.


Life isn't fair. But if it came down to fairness for parents, and fairness for children, I know which side I'd be on. The one I've been on since 1993....my children's side.

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Response to Demeter (Reply #6)

Tue May 19, 2015, 06:41 AM

7. No. It is not the case.

Only one potential explanation for the millions of possibilities of a failed marriage. Assuming no abuse or addiction, this is a good thing for parents and children.

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Response to Drahthaardogs (Reply #7)

Tue May 19, 2015, 06:56 AM

9. I see no exemption for abuse and addiction in this

 

and you've got no data to back your claim that there are other millions of possibilities for reasons for divorce. Especially not when children are involved.

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Response to Demeter (Reply #9)

Tue May 19, 2015, 07:19 AM

13. It's in the bill

There are exceptions for endanger the child's health or emotional well being or lack of parenting skills.

The alternate schedule is for the benefit of non-custodial parents that take an active part of their child's life and it has to be in the best interest for the child.

http://le.utah.gov/~2015/bills/static/HB0035.html

If there's abuse or addiction on the part of a parent then they would fail the basic standard of "best interest of the child".

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Response to Demeter (Reply #9)

Tue May 19, 2015, 08:16 AM

15. And you have absolutely no proof "Divorce Occurs when One of the Couple is Irresponsible"

 

Considering people are complex beings, I find the notion that every single divorce is the result of one of the couple being irresponsible simplistic and naive.

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Response to Demeter (Reply #9)

Tue May 19, 2015, 09:50 PM

23. How the heck do you know what data I do or do not have?

For all you know, I may be a marriage counselor with published articles, or a divorce attorney, or a judge, or a social worker. You know nothing John Snow...

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Response to Demeter (Reply #6)

Tue May 19, 2015, 01:11 PM

19. This simply changes the default. Judges can still order single parent custody.

The existing default in nearly all states is that one parent gets custody and one parent gets visitation. This default can, and is, altered on a regular basis to fit different circumstances or to account for parents who shouldn't be parents.

The new law simply changes that default so that both parents get equal custody. Just like the previous default, it can also be altered by a judge to fit different circumstances or to account for parents who shouldn't be parents. If one of the parents is a danger, or irresponsible and a risk to the child, that parent can still have their custody removed.

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Response to JMolina (Original post)

Tue May 19, 2015, 06:51 AM

8. I can guess who will be unhappy with this law

 

It will be the parents who hate each other more than they love their kids.

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Response to Android3.14 (Reply #8)

Tue May 19, 2015, 06:56 AM

10. Hate? or Fear?

 

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Response to Demeter (Reply #10)

Tue May 19, 2015, 07:14 AM

12. In the ugliest divorces it is both

 

We hate what we fear; we fear what we hate.

In the ugliest divorces, the situation brings out the worst from both parties. Battling spouses use normal habits, addictions, and foibles as ways to control, humiliate and render each other powerless.

Everyone wants to see their opponent as the bad person, and everyone sees himself or herself as the good person.

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Response to Android3.14 (Reply #12)

Tue May 19, 2015, 03:42 PM

21. We also fear that which assaults and stalks us, regardless of hate...

We also fear that which assaults and stalks us, regardless of hate and regardless of the "ugliest" of divorces.

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Response to LanternWaste (Reply #21)

Tue May 19, 2015, 05:20 PM

22. I'm unsure what we are talking about now

 

If someone has a spouse stalking and assaulting the former partner, then that's a different level of issues only peripherally related to squabbling former spouses humiliating each other and attempting to deny access to their children.

I'm talking about ugly divorces in which a spouse accuses the wife who drinks to excess on occasion of being an unfit alcoholic mother, or accuses the husband who accesses online porn of being a unfit sex addict father.

What you are referencing appears to be abusive men with DV problems. Based on the context of the past few posts, these seem to be sensitive personal issues for which I am unqualified to judge.

If you are experiencing DV, or the other parent of your children engages in DV towards the kids or you, then my advice is to immediately seek help by calling the police (the state usually requires by statute that police make an arrest in a DV complaint), begin documenting the violence with audio and video to bolster your case to deny access to your kids, and get the hell away to a shelter ASAP.

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Response to JMolina (Original post)

Tue May 19, 2015, 07:11 AM

11. This law supports a parent's ego and finances, not what is best for he child.

I work in this area. Talk to any child who is in a 50/50 shared agreement. Unless the parents live next door to each other, which is rarely financially feasible, it can be extremely difficult for the child.

Be mindful that this means it is likely no parent will pay or receive child support. This means a parent who has stayed home with the children, whether the mom or dad, while the other parent has been employed, will be at a serious financial detriment. Maintenance is now often short-lived, so the stay at home parent may only have a year or two to ramp up, get an education, and find a job. That person may never reach the financial stability of the other parent.

Kids will be packing up and moving between houses all the time. Combine that with a tween's or teenagers propensity to lose things and misplace schoolwork, and you have a mess.

I strongly believe in both parents, if they are healthy addition to the child's life, having lots of access to the child. As much as they both want. But it does not serve the child to take away a sense of security that having their one room/home offers.

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Response to Sienna86 (Reply #11)

Tue May 19, 2015, 07:26 AM

14. It is also extremely difficult seeing one parent only a little bit

 

What a dilemma.

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Response to Sienna86 (Reply #11)

Tue May 19, 2015, 03:17 PM

20. Another voice of experience--thanks for speaking up

 

Far too many with no idea are willing to sell other people's children into living hells.

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Response to Sienna86 (Reply #11)

Wed May 20, 2015, 02:16 AM

26. A friend of mine had this kind of arrangment when her parents split back in the 80s.

In a lot of ways her family had the ideal situation for it: both parents lived in the same subdivision, near the school, extended family was also nearby, everything was amicable.

It was still disruptive for everybody involved. It made school and socializing hard, it led to a lot of conflicts about rules and a lot of competitive indulgent parenting, and it didn't work in the long term. Eventually her dad had a series of job transfers- first out state and then overseas- and 50/50 custody was no longer feasible. She chose to stay with her grandparents (she wound up spending more time with them than with either parent, because stability is a thing,) her brother chose to live with his dad.

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Response to JMolina (Original post)

Tue May 19, 2015, 10:37 AM

17. Shared parenting should be the default choice for family courts

The current trend in family law is that shared parenting is in the best interests of the child. Arkansas, Maryland, and Connecticut have already done this and there might be more by now. Many other states are revising their guidelines encouraging shared parenting within the family court system.

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Response to JMolina (Original post)

Tue May 19, 2015, 10:39 AM

18. This may take some of the load off the sister-wives.

 

Just kidding, just kidding.

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Response to JMolina (Original post)

Tue May 19, 2015, 11:16 PM

24. 145 overnights for the Non-Custodian parent, how does SCHOOL fit into that???

 

I work in this area of the law. Unless Utah addressed the one thing that ties up a child during the child minority (i,e. SCHOOL) it means nothing or it is worse then the present system.

Children are tied in with school five days a week, roughly 36 weeks a year. The custodial parent wakes the child up, baths the child, throws food into the child and then throw them on the bus for school. Six to Eight hours later the bus driver kicks the kid off the bus and the Custodian parent has to feed the child and makes sure the child's homework is done and get the child to bed for school the next day. Custodian parent do get some time with the child during the evening, but it is limited not only in duration (till the child goes to bed) but quality, for the custodian parent has to get herself or himself ready for the next day (and that generally means getting ready for work).

I once had a Father in my office demanding a 50-50 custody order and when I mentioned School, you could see his mind spinning, he had NOT thought of School. After School was brought to his attention, an every other weekend visitation was worked out.

I bring him up for once SCHOOL is a factor, custody orders tend to follow the every other weekend pattern for on the weekends is the only time the child is not committed to school. Given the limitations imposed by school, a 50-50 custody order is rarely feasible. Most kids do best when they have the same place to do their school work day after day, thus a week day visitation tends to affect their school work. Week about (one week with Mother, one week with Father), tends to have the same effect. Thus we are stuck with every other weekend orders, not because we like them, but they work around school.

Now, I have seen week about Shared Custody orders work (one week with Father, the following week with Mother), but those orders to work require the parents to be in the same school district. One such shared custody order involved a Teenager, she took the bus from her Mother's house on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday, returning to her Mother's House on Monday and Tuesday, but taking a different bus to her Father's house on Wednesday. On Thursday and Friday she took that bus from her Father's home to school. She stayed with her Father on Saturday then walked the 4 or 5 blocks to her Mother's house in Saturday Night and started the week all over again. It worked out for her for both parents were willing to work together, both lived within walking distance of each other and they were dealing with a Teenager.

I have also have done what we call 5-5-2-2 orders. Starting on a Monday, Five days with Mother, then Five Days with Father, then Two Days with Mother, then Two days with Father. This gave Father and Mother every other weekend and split the weeks in between. These work best with pre-School Children, for once School Starts such orders tend to fall apart do to the needs of the Child and School.

I once had a client who brought in a proposed 50-50 custody order, it added up to 50-50 but she ended up with the child 2/3rds of the time when the child was asleep or in school. We rejected the proposal and told them to give us whole days (we did come up with a 50-50 split using whole days, but it quickly was found not to be workable do to School and thus was modified to provide a more stable home environment to make sure the child's homework was done).

Thus School is the problem and do to School I do not see how a 145 overnight visitation with the non-custodian parent will work and NOT affect performance in School. Remember a School year is roughly 36 weeks.

You have about 16 weeks NOT tied up with School (and this varies, One Week for Thanksgiving, One Week for Christmas, one Week for Easter/Spring break, 13 weeks for Summer Vacation). Please note many of these "Weeks" overlap, Thanksgiving can be four to five days (I live in Pennsylvania, the first day of Buck Season is the Monday after Thanksgiving, even the City of Pittsburgh Schools close for that day). Christmas is at least a full week, often closer to two weeks off school. Easter or Spring Break is a full week. The various "Picnic" holidays, Martin Luther King Day, President's Day, Memorial Day, Labor Day, Columbus Day and Veterans Day add up to an additional six day, just one day short of a week (I have NOT mentioned the Fourth of July for the simple reasons most schools are closed in July).

Given the need to extent the School Year to cover for these "Picnic Holidays" most Summer Vacations last 12 weeks or less not 13 weeks (and most school years are 185 days not 180 days, the five days is to cover for any days the School has to close do to weather or other reason). If we look at NON-School Days, those are 180 days or less a year.


If you give the non custodian Parent every other weekend, or 26 weekends a year that comes to 52 overnights (do remember this includes weekends over the Summer not just the School Year).

Non Custodian parents tend to have time with the children on what we tend to call the "Major Holidays", Easter, Thanksgiving and Christmas (the days where everyone wants the children for these are "Family Holidays", these are so ingrained in our culture, I have had Moslems fight over them, these three days have strong religious overtones, but the family nature of them is supreme).

Non Custodian parents tend to get some overnights during Christmas and Thanksgiving weeks. If we assume the non-custodian parents get Seven overnights on those two holidays,that brings the total overnights to 60. Non-Custodian Parents generally get two weeks vacation in the summer, that is 10 days (remember the every other weekend continues during the Summer, thus the non-custodian parent gets the weekend followed by five week days, and this is twice during the summer). That brings us to 70 overnights and that tends to be what Non-custodian Parents get in most cases.

Lets look as the Custodian Parent. The Custodian Parent gets the child 290 days overnight, but of those 290, 180 are school nights. That leaves the custodian parent 110 overnights when the child is NOT in School.

Yes, technically we should understand that of the days that can be divided between Mother and Father, half of those days are school days. In a traditional Order the non-custodian parent has those days 70 and the custodian parent 110.

Now, the two weeks of vacation is the absolute minimum given in Custody and Visitation Cases. Most Custodian Parents give more. Now these are NOT strict rules, other options include extending each of the Summer visitation From Friday to Friday instead of Friday to Monday (and revert to Friday to Monday once School Starts). This increases the number of overnights.

If we assume 12 summer weeks, six would go to the non-custodian parent (but remember the non-custodian parent is already getting two of those six weeks as vacation weeks, so this is a increase of just Four Five day weeks, or 20 days). This reduces the Custodian time with the children on non-school days to 90 and increases the custodian non-school days to 90.

Most cases do not do the above for in most cases do to how the School Calendar run (many run 185 days not 180 days), so the Summer is not 12 weeks but closer to 10 and most parents agree that the children should be with the custodian Parent in the week before School Starts to get them ready for School (thus most parents are happy with two weeks vacation with the child, they can NOT see why the child should be with them while they are working, vacation yes, working no).

Thus even in cases where the weekend visits are extended to be week long visits, the non-custodian parents get maybe two to three additional weeks with the child, not the four such an extension in time provide in theory.

I bring this up for this seems to be the tendency in my practice. I mention it for it appears to be working. Every other weekend, some times during the "Major Holidays" of Christmas, Thanksgiving and Easter, and at least two weeks in the Summer.

Every time I run across something supported by the National Parents Organization (Formerly known as Fathers & Families or Families and Fathers) it turns out to be unworkable.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/National_Parents_Organization

National Parents Organization want something called "Shared Parenting" but ignores the problems related to such "share Parenting". My State of Pennsylvania has a law mandating shared parenting, but basically ignores it for the Courts, Schools and other groups find it is unworkable.

When Shared Custody is workable, the State Courts, Schools, Hospitals etc will follow it. Custodian parents are encouraged to inform the other parent of what is happening to the Child. Schools, Doctors and Hospitals are told they MUST give information to the non-custodian parent as while as the Custodian Parent. The Non-custodian parents getting information about the child, going events the child is involved in, etc are rarely a problem, even if the parents are NOT talking to each other.

The courts will tell the custodian parent to consult with the non custodian parent about school, little league, dance classes and other things the child may be interested in. In most cases not a problem, but if there is a dispute as to what to do with the child the Courts have to intervene. I am sick and tired of arguing that Head Start is important to a child, it is NOT day care, yet I have had non-custodian parent make that claim (and in many cases where they put the child in day care on the days they get them when the child could be in Head Start). Yes, Head Start is a constant headache with non-custodian parents claiming it is NOT educational but Day Care.

I have had parents argue about Little League, Dance, etc, the courts when faced with such arguments will defer to the custodian parent unless what the Custodian parent action is clearly unreasonable (I have NOT had such an unreasonable request by one parent and denied by the other except for head start classes).

I started this trying to figure out how do you give the non-custodian parent 145 overnights and NOT interfere with School OR deny the custodian parent free time with the child. 180 to 185 days of the year the child is tied up with School. That leaves 180 days to divide between the parents (90 days each) unless you assume overnights with a parent is more important then school.

I have had non-custodian fathers say the Child's education is more important then his visitation and if the visitation is harming the education of the child, change the visitation (This mostly involved week day evening visits some parents demand, I tell my clients that it CAN affect the education of the Child and even when granted once they find out it is affecting their education such visits tend to end).

Just a comment about Custody and Visitation Law and the big factor many "Men's rights" groups ignore, School. Once School is address a "Normal" Custody and Visitation Order is generally agreed to. The above every other weekend is NOT for everyone, a non-custodian parent who has a rotating days off will want the children on the day he or she is off work (In my experience this has been mostly prison guards), a custodian parent who works every weekend, may agree to give the non-custodian every weekend, someone who is in the National Guard would want a visitation that works around any weekend drill he or she has. I bring these things up for the every other weekend Custody and Visitation order is NOT for everyone, but it is the best base we can work from.

At the same time, you have to consider school and most children are in School 180 days of the year, which leaves only 180 days to divide between the parents. 90-90 is the ideal split but rarely possible.

Side Note: Now most attorneys accept the every other weekend concept, but I like a modification of it. I give the non-custodian Parent the first, third and fifth weekend of the month, defined as starting on the first, third and fifth Friday of the month.

The main advantage of such an order is you do not have to flip and count every weekend, between now the month you have something planned, just go to that month and count the Fridays.

There are two downsides.

First most months do NOT have a fifth Fridays, such fifth Friday occurs once every six to seven months. It occurs the weekend before the first weekend of the next month (remember the weekend is defined by FRIDAY, thus if the fifth Friday is the 31st day of the month, that weekend, including Saturday the first and Sunday the Second of the following month as the fifth Friday of the previous month). The downside is the non-custodian parents gets the child for two weekends in a row (or if you just say first and second weekend the non-custodian parent does NOT get the child for two weekends).

The second downfall, is you have to make an exception for three months, November, May and June. November you give the non-custodian parent the first weekend and the weekend after Thanksgiving starting some time on Thanksgiving. This gives the non-custodian parent some extra time with the child and is a good way to split Thanksgiving.

In May you adopt a Rule that Father has the child the weekend before and after Mother's days and all other weekends belong to Mother. This makes sure Mother has the Child on Mother's Day.

In June you give Mother the Weekends before and after Father's Day and the Father every other weekend. This makes sure the Father has the child on Father's day.

I also put in a Clause that the Weekend visitation become Week Long visitations starting with the non-custodian last weekend visitation in June and ending after the non-custodian parent's first weekend in August. School in this area give out the first week of June and Resumes the end of August, and that gives the custodian parent time to get the child ready for school (the non-custodian parent can help, but the key to be custodian parent is one person makes the final decision as to getting the child ready for school).

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Response to happyslug (Reply #24)

Wed May 20, 2015, 01:44 AM

25. Thanks for the practical experience

 

I get really tired of the "idealists", whose concept of fairness includes no one but themselves.

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Response to JMolina (Original post)

Wed May 20, 2015, 02:21 AM

27. We have had equal custody rights in Texas for many years.



Texas is a community property state. Community property states are Western states, where women have more equal property rights due to the influence of Spanish law which is more progressive than English Law (New England states) or French Law (the Code Napoleon, in Louisiana). Women are presumed to be capable of buying and selling and owning real property in their own names, whether single or married, since 1836, the first year of the Republic of Texas. I learned this in Marital Property class in law school. Marital Property is an advanced class. The prerequisite for Marital Property is Family Law.

Both parents are presumed to be fit parents to raise the child and to provide support for the child. The usual custody is Joint Managing Conservatorship, with one parent as primary custodian and the other as secondary custodian.


There is no alimony in Texas. There is separate maintenance for a limited time for a spouse to get on their feet financially and have marketable skills. And there is no presumption that the mother is a more fit parent than the father in Texas. Women are presumed to be equal to men in earning capacity and child rearing ability. Women are also presumed to be able to pay child support to the father. There are father's rights organizations that insist that women are automatically favored to be primary custodians of the child. That is not true in Texas. Generally, from what I have seen of father's rights groups, they are usually affluent men who insist that they should never have to pay a single dollar in child support and who presume that the mother should have no custody whatsoever and should be made to pay them child support.


These are the kind of men who are often self-employed professionals, doctors or lawyers, and when they are going through a divorce they will file for bankruptcy of the business so the ex-wife and children get no assets from the business, which may be worth a lot of money. And some of them have a history of physical abuse of the wife, and sometimes the jury will award the wife personal injury damages for being beaten up by the husband. I've worked in the legal profession my whole life and I've seen this more than once among affluent couples in Family Court.


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