As discussed last week in this blog, one of the most rewarding experiences for Salt Lake City residents is the time they take raising a child. Perhaps the only thing that tops this for many individuals is becoming a grandparent, which brings about its own rewards and fulfillment.
Divorce is not always the final word in a relationship. Although it does legally end a marriage, it does not prevent couples from falling back in love or even remarrying. While divorce is one way to resolve issues in a marriage, sometimes couples aren't ready to completely call it quits but still need space and time away from one another. For those couples a legal separation is a possibility.
For some people, adoption means solidifying an existing family bond or adding another member to the family. For others, it means creating a family where none existed before. Adoption has improved the lives of countless children and brought joy into the lives of even more adults. The ability to create a family through adoption is a right that until recently was denied to a many same-sex couples in Utah.
When it comes to relationships, especially those involving children, one move can change the direction of your life. Marriage brings two people together for what most hope is a lifetime. But, as statistics show, over half of those who get married end up divorced. A divorce can lead to child custody disputes as parents fight for time and access to their children. When child custody is determined, so are child support payments. Failure to adhere to custody arrangements, pay child support, alimony or other monies can lead to more court hearings.
Those who have suffered a mental break, whether short or long-term, are treated with a mix of fear, distrust and hostility in some cases. Whether due to ignorance or willful malice, such treatment has an effect on not only those who are working to get better, but on all those who love and care for them. The stigma surrounding mental illness creates an environment in which families can be torn apart and individuals stripped of rights all under the guise of a helping hand.
For over the last decade, states and the federal government have played a tug-of-war game with those fighting for the right of same-sex marriage. With publicity, shifts in the public's perception of same-sex marriage and countless lawsuits, the trend is slowly changing in favor of same-sex marriage. While the change is ongoing, tens of thousands of couples are left in legal limbo while waiting for the decision of judge after judge as the cases make their way through and up the legal system. Married and dating same-sex couples in Utah now have a new reason to hope after a federal judge's recent ruling.
Some perceptions are wrong and facts will wash away the illusions that people's minds create, but other times, perceptions are true and must be tackled head-on. Since its creation, there has been a perception that family law courts hold mothers in higher regard than fathers when it comes to parenting children. This perception may be more fact than myth for unwed fathers who are seeking to play a meaningful role in their children's lives. Current reports of fathers suing Utah for the right to raise their children only serves to reinforce these long-held beliefs.
Marriage has long been held as the cornerstone of American values. In the past, marriage was held with such high regard that divorce was a near impossibility. Just a hundred years ago, ending a marriage was much like a criminal trial. There had to be evidence of an act such as abuse or adultery in order for a couple to divorce and they were usually granted only after great difficulty. With the creation of no-fault divorce, spouses were able to dissolve their marriage for a wide range of reason with little difficulty.
There are cases where adoption is the best solution for all parties involved. Then there are cases where adoption only serves to benefit one or more of the parties involved. And then there are adoptions that do more harm than good to those involved. Typically these are adoptions carried out over the objections of one of the parents or the child's family members who are seeking custody. Although the American legal system is far from perfect, it does have the ability to make changes and corrections.
Adoption law varies from state to state to such a degree that prospective mothers will sometimes engage in forum shopping to assure their child is adopted even if it is against the wishes of the child's father. Over the last year, Utah has continued to be in the spotlight due to an interesting case involving competing state laws on adoption.