Stephen J. Buhler, Attorney at Law

Man who won three year fight for custody still fighting

Children are one of the great joys of life. There have been and will continue to be parents who give up everything for the benefit of their children. This system works well as long as the parents are linked as a team; problems can arise when parents separate and form their own households. Many parents are able to resolve their differences without the help of a court but some disagree so fundamentally that a judge's decision is the only way custody can be determined.

After three years of fighting a man was labeled as a traitor and expelled from his home, wives and children continues his fight after winning the right to raise his children. The man was a member of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints and practiced polygamy until he left his community. After the arrest of the leader of the community and revelations of child sexual abuse the man decided to return home and seek custody of his children. The judge in the case ruled in the man's favor, but his wives' attorney is now asking the court to make the man pay their fees.

In custody disputes, Utah allows a financially needy party to make the other party pay their fees regardless of who wins the case. While this duty doesn't arise if a party is able to pay it may have chilling effect on individuals pursuing custody cases against financially needy parties. Money and financial stability are factors in determinations such as which parent is likely to allow the other visitation or make an effort to be a good co-parent and are all pertinent in custody determinations.

While the focus is normally on the parents, one of the most often forgotten aspects of child custody cases is what is in the best interest of the child. Courts may change their view on child custody as more evidence points to having a strong relationship with both parents as in the best interest of the child.

Source: The Spectrum, "Domestic challenges continue for FLDS exile who won landmark child custody case" Kevin Jenkins, April 26, 2014

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