It never fails, in almost every new divorce case that walks into our office, the client tells us, at some point, that “Utah is a mother’s state.” If you are considering a divorce, chances are you believe this or your mother, sister, brother, friend, (*insert the name of someone you trust*) will give you this advice.
The fact is that Utah – and the vast majority of states- have had a paradigm shift. Courts now believe that it is in the child’s best interest to have both parents as involved as possible. Courts generally start with a presumption that parents should have roughly equal parent time with their children. Some parents only want every other weekend and one night a week provided by statute as the minimum parent time. Generally, if the parent wants more than the minimum and is a decent parent that parent will get more than the statutory minimum parent time. Even if one parent has been a stay-at-home parent the courts will look to see if both parents are interested and able in a more equal parenting relationship after divorce.
Although this can be a difficult transition for the parent used to providing the primary care for the children, this can be an opportunity for both parents to be as involved as possible. It also allows the stay-at-home parent to have time to work, as is often a necessity post-divorce. The days of the default parent time of every-other-weekend and one-night-a- week are drawing to an end. Either parent may fight for this parent time arrangement, but it is an expensive battle and one that is often full of conflict. We always encourage clients to seriously consider what is best for the children and to recognize that while divorce is full of big changes, these changes can often allow for new opportunities and growth for everyone.