Nachum BOctober 11, 2021
Are Divorce Laws More Favorable to Women? Setting the Facts Straight
If you are considering getting divorced in Utah, you may be wondering if the divorce laws favor women. Perhaps you have started a business, and you are concerned that your soon-to-be ex-wife will automatically take more of your marital property because she is a woman. Asking whether Utah courts favor women or men in divorce is a legitimate question, but the answer has become muddied by commercial interests. Some law firms spend their entire marketing budget attempting to convince anyone who will listen. They target men in their advertising, claiming that men will never get a fair day in court in divorce and child custody matters. In reality, Utah judges are not allowed to treat women more favorably than men or vice versa when deciding family law matters. Most divorces involve two different key parts — dividing the assets and determining child custody.
Division of Property in Utah
When a court divides assets between divorcing spouses, the couple with kids typically does not come into play. The same goes for retirement accounts, the marital home, and other property. The fact that the couple has kids typically does not have anything to do with how the court divides assets and debts in a divorce. For the most part, children are removed from the equation when the court decides to divide your marital property.
Men and women are nearly always on equal footing when dividing money in a divorce. As a result, women do not receive more money or take on fewer marital debts because they are women. Some people have argued that the way Utah courts calculate alimony hurts women during the divorce process. Indeed, child support payments are typically not enough to cover the child-related costs. Many women who have primary physical custody of the children after divorce have a more difficult time financially.
A judge may feel bad for the wife in divorce and perhaps give her more money in alimony payments than she deserves. However, it is also true that some judges are hard on women who do not want to get a job and want to continue to live using alimony payments. Sometimes female judges are especially hard on women who do not want to work because many judges have families and demanding full-time jobs. However, we do not see evidence that women, as a rule, do better than men when it comes to dividing money in a divorce. The laws themselves certainly do not allow judges to give preference to one spouse over the other because of his or her sex.
Despite what some law firms advertise, judges cannot give men less time with their children just because they are men. There has been a historical preference for judges to allow mothers to have physical custody of their children because they are mothers. Despite past unfairness, even some in the recent past, we do not see much of this type of unfairness and Utah’s current system for determining child custody matters. It is true that over time men have been disadvantaged in divorce systems across the United States. However, currently, we cannot identify a judge in the Utah divorce system that we consider to be an anti-father custody evaluator or guardian ad litem.
Keep in mind that women have custody of their children more often than men. Nonetheless, this does not mean that the court system is rigged against men. Instead, it is a reflection that women often spend more time with their children in our society. When judges make child custody decisions, the most important factor is the parenting time and the current primary parent. Judges will carefully consider which parent has taken care of the children more and spends more time with them when deciding child custody matters.
In many families, the children’s mother spends more time with them than the father. Even when fathers are involved, they may not spend as much quality time with their children as wives or girlfriends. This is not the case in every family and relationship, but it is a reality. Primary Parenthood is the factor on many judges’ minds, and since many men are not the primary parent, they typically will not have as much custody and parenting time.
I am a Father Going Through a Divorce, What Should I Do?
If you are a father going through a divorce and you are concerned about your custody rights, it is important that you maximize spending time with your children. You want to show the court that you are heavily involved in their children’s lives. Doing so will help you try to maximize the time you will end up having with your kids after the divorce is over. In cases in which fathers contribute approximately 50/50 with their wives, fathers have a much better chance of receiving 50/50 custody.
Utah judges are much more likely to award 50/50 custody than they were in years past. Even dads who are somewhat uninvolved in their children’s lives will sometimes get 50/50 custody recommendations. This is not because the dads were particularly involved in their children’s lives. Instead, it is because there is a presumption in Utah that both parents should be actively involved in their children’s lives. As a result, judges are likely to issue 50/50 custody rulings. There has never been a better time for a father who wants custody of his children.
Contact an Experienced Family Lawyer Today
If you are considering divorce and concerned about child custody matters, you need an experienced lawyer on your side. Contact Read & Read today to schedule your free initial consultation to learn more about how we can represent your best interests.