Alpine Utah Divorce Attorney
Alpine is a city on the northeastern edge of Utah County, Utah, United States. The population was 9,555 at the 2010 census. Alpine has been one of the many quickly-growing cities of Utah since the 1970s, and especially the 1990s. It is located on the slopes of the Wasatch Range north of Highland and American Fork. The west side of the city runs above the Wasatch Fault. Alpine is located on State Route 74, just north of the city of Highland. According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 7.4 square miles (19.2 km2). None of that area is covered with water, although a number of small mountain streams run through the city on years with sufficient rainfall. There are a number of mountain biking trails around the city that attract bikers from all over the state. There are also many trails and paths well suited for back-trail hiking along the mountains. The nearby American Fork Canyon offers camping, swimming and access to mountaineering regions around Mount Timpanogos.
The hills surrounding Alpine have been affected by a number of brush fires in recent years, the most devastating of which was the Quail Fire, which consumed over 2200 acres on the north-east side of town in July 2012. The area is serviced by the Lone Peak Fire Department and Lone Peak Police Force.
Division of assets during a divorce in Alpine Utah is governed by a legal theory called equitable division. Equitable division of assets will not necessarily be an equal 50/50 split; instead, the court will consider factors like the length of the marriage, the health of each spouse and the occupation of each spouse to determine a fair division. Splitting property accumulated during your marriage like real property, possessions and intangible financial assets like retirement, dividends and benefits will be divided during your divorce regardless of which spouse holds the title or policy. However, there are several factors that will affect the division including the distinction of marital or separate assets, the value of your assets, a prenuptial agreement or inherited assets. When you and your spouse agree upon the division of property during mediation, the judge will determine if it is an acceptable fair and reasonable agreement. If both parties cannot come to an agreement, the court will order a fair division of the marital estate in the final judgment within your divorce decree.
Valuing and Dividing Property in Divorce In Alpine
Property is defined as real property like your home or land and any property attached to it. Personal property includes possessions like vehicles, furniture, jewelry, clothing, tools, household items, and collections. Intangible financial assets will include income, investments, retirement, dividends, and benefits. Property value is the fair and impartial assessment of the property’s value. To determine an accurate evaluation of real property you will need an appraisal from a professional real estate appraiser. While household items are typically not included in a division of assets during a divorce unless you have an item of significant value. Otherwise, the personal property like collectibles and vehicles can be determined by its resale value. Property division should be guided by the general rule that if there are two of something, each party will receive one. Dividing furniture and household items should be done so that each individual will be able to set up a separate life and home. When all factors are considered, marital property, including intangible financial assets, will be distributed between both parties in an equitable manner.
Equitable Distribution in Alpine Utah
Alpine Utah is considered an equitable distribution or common law which means that the property owner is not automatically assumed to be both spouses equally. Instead, property should be divided fairly based on the amount of time the couple was married and his or her separate assets when they entered the marriage union. From the date on the marriage certificate to the date of separation, a marriage that is 10 years or longer is considered a long-term marriage. A marriage of less than 10 years is considered a short-term marriage. Equitable distribution of property and alimony is primarily guided by the length of time you have been married:
• A Long-Term Marriage will usually end with an equitable division of 50/50 for each party.
• A Short-Term Marriages will typically end with dividing assets to put you and your spouse back into the same positions you were in before the marriage.
How to File for Divorce in Alpine Utah
1. Choosing a Divorce Attorney: The first step in the divorce process is retaining a lawyer who is reputable and experienced. It is also extremely important that the attorney you hire is someone that you like and trust. During your divorce, you are going to be discussing many of the most personal aspects of your life. You must also have confidence that your lawyer is capable of zealously representing your interests in court, being a good problem solver, and understanding you as an individual. You must remember that your initial consultation with a divorce lawyer is not only a time at which you receive legal advice, but also the time that you interview the lawyer to make sure that he/she is not only qualified, but also a good fit for you personally. When interviewing divorce lawyers, it is important to ask how long they have been in practice, what areas of law they practice, how many divorce cases that they have be involved in and what they believe is their most valuable asset in assisting you with your case. Carefully listen to their answers and assess whether or not you feel comfortable speaking with them. During the initial consultation, if you feel uncomfortable or rushed, feel free to express your feelings with the lawyer and ask what other firms they might recommend. A good lawyer will always answer your question directly and not take it personally. A good lawyer wants you to feel comfortable and, from the moment you meet, wants only what is best for you.
2. Setting Your Goals for Divorce: After you hire your lawyer, the second thing you must determine is what your goals are and what you want. A capable attorney will counsel you and provide information about Utah law and what is, and is not, possible with regard to issues such as property division, alimony, child custody and child support. No attorney can ever make a guarantee. However, an experienced and capable attorney can provide you with information and devise a strategy for attaining goals.
3. Providing Information to Your Attorney: The next step in the process is providing information that your attorney requests. All individuals who are going through a contested divorce in Alpine Utah must fill out a financial declaration. This form is required by the courts and, the sooner the information is provided to your attorney, the sooner your attorney can make a more specific assessment of your case.
Filing Alpine Utah Petition for Divorce
After your attorney has sufficient information regarding you, a Petition for Divorce with be drafted and filed. All Utah divorces begin with a Petition. A Petition for Divorce is the technical beginning of your divorce with the court. In the Petition, your attorney provides the court with information regarding who you are whether or not you have children, your assets and what you want the court to do by way of the division of your assets and child custody arrangements. After the Petition is filed, it is served upon your spouse. In most cases, your spouse has 21 days to answer. In the event that you have been served with a Petition for Divorce, your attorney will file an Answer and, perhaps, a Counter-Petition for Divorce. The Answer is a response to your spouse’s Petition and either agrees or disagrees with your spouse’s requested division of assets and child custody arrangement (if you have children). In most instances, a Counter-Petition is filed. The Counter-Petition is the way the your attorney communicates with the court about what you want. After the Petition and the Answer and Counter-Petition are filed, the next step in your divorce is the discovery phase. In some instances, you may not know, for example, precisely what your spouse does or does not have in terms of money or other property. In other instances, your spouse may not know what you have. The court rules have a solution to this problem and it is called discovery. Your attorney will assist you in determining what is, and is not, information necessary to resolve your case.
Alpine Utah Divorce Mediation
In all Utah divorces, the parties are required to attend mediation. Mediation is a formalized negotiation in which the parties try to resolve their divorce without the expense and unpredictability of the court making the final decision. Generally, mediation will take place after your lawyer has the entire discovery needed to counsel you regarding a fair settlement. In some instances, this can happen within 30 days of filing for divorce. If mediation is successful, there is no need to go to court. If it is unsuccessful, your case will be scheduled for trial. In Alpine Utah, it generally takes at least one year from the time the Petition is filed to a trial date. At trial, you put your case on and your spouse puts his/her case on. After all of the evidence and arguments are presented to the judge, the judge decides how to divide the assets and, if you have children, determines the child custody arrangement.
The Dos and Don’ts of Child Custody and Divorce In Alpine Utah
The following are general principles, which may vary depending on the case, and not legal advice to any specific reader.
• Security Measures: When dealing with child custody and divorce matters in Alpine Utah, it is important to secure information, including online accounts, email accounts, and legal documents. It would also be wise to take note of all of your sensitive accounts and social media accounts that the other side could have access to, and create new passwords.
• Use Of An Attorney: In Utah, there is an online do-it-yourself program called the Online Court Assistance Program (OCAP). This system is better than nothing, but can be overly complicated and doesn’t address all of the issues. Ideally, it is best to retain the services of an attorney who has at least 10 years of experience doing family law in Utah as at least 50 percent of their practice.
• Experience Matters: Many young or inexperienced attorneys will gear a case towards mediation, but will do so without having any plan in place in the event that mediation fails. In some cases, they will push their clients towards a bad settlement because they lack the experience to know what to do if mediation doesn’t settle the case; in other words, they lack the experience necessary for taking a case to trial.
• Protective Orders Or Child Protective Orders: If a child has been the victim of domestic, physical, or sexual violence or any threats thereof, you should consider obtaining a protective order or a child protective order at the outset of your case. The primary purpose of these is protection. However, obtaining a protective order legitimately can also provide a short-term, yet significant advantage in preparing for a divorce or custody case.
• Child Interactions: In terms of communicating with the children involved, you should not interrogate them, burden them with adult information, disparage the other party to or in front of them, discuss the litigation with them, or force them to state their preference on where they want to live. If child support isn’t being paid by the other parent, do not punish the other parent by preventing parenting time; likewise, the other party should not withhold child support if they are not getting parenting time. If custody and parenting time orders are not in place, determining whether or not to allow parenting time with the other party after separation should be decided on a case-by-case basis with the assistance of an attorney. Once court orders regarding custody and parenting time are in place, those orders should be strictly followed.
• Video Inventory: In a divorce case, it is often wise to videotape everything in the house (i.e., garage, grounds, hot buildings, storage units, closets, drawers) in order to obtain video documentation of what assets need to be divided. In the event that one party leaves the home and takes property with them, having this video footage can be crucial in determining and helping you remember what property should be dealt with in court.
• Joint Accounts: Consider carefully whether to take your name off a joint account or remove the other party’s name so that the other party cannot withdraw or charge those accounts during the pendency of the case. However, if the other party is the income-producing party, then you may choose not to remove their name from the account. Either way, you should obtain as many bank statements for those accounts as possible. In joint bank accounts, you should carefully consider how much to withdraw for closing the account or taking your name off of it. Depending on the circumstances, one of three options will be appropriate: withdrawing the entire amount, leaving 50 percent, or taking nothing. It is best to have an attorney advise you on the best course of action in this regard. If you are worried that the other side is going to increase the debt on joint credit cards, you should consider closing, freezing, or having your name removed from the account in order to avoid further charges being attributed to you. However, there are times when financial need will prevent this kind of action and the continued use of those cards will be necessary; this is a fact-sensitive inquiry on which an attorney should advise you.
• Joint Residence: If you and another person were not married but were living together, you should consider carefully whether to leave the residence, stay in the residence, or attempt to have the other party leave. Much depends on whose name the residence is in, as well as other options you might have available to you. You should talk to an attorney about whether you should change the locks, put the other party’s personal property in a storage unit and give them the key to the storage unit, or attempt to have the other party move out, etc.
• Papers And Documents: During the divorce process, you will want to collect and make copies of important documents, such as your tax returns, pay stubs, W-2s, social security cards, birth certificates, retirement statements, etc., and passports; this will be especially important if the other party was the one who handled the finances and your name was not on the accounts. In some circumstances, copying a computer hard drive may be appropriate.
• Witnesses: Make a list of anyone who might be helpful as a potential witness, including their name, address, email, and phone number. For each potential witness, summarize everything their testimony would cover, and do not leave out witnesses who may be adversarial to your case. If there is a witness who is going to support the other party but nevertheless has information that would be helpful to you, a good attorney will know how to elicit the right information from them in order to bolster your case.
• Financial Declaration: On the court’s website, you can obtain a document called the financial declaration, which will be required by the court in both divorce and custody cases. You should leave no blank sections on this declaration; if a section is not applicable, write “N/A” rather than leave it blank. If alimony is an issue, pay special attention to your expenses, including non-monthly expenses such as property taxes, oil changes, and other yearly or quarterly expenses. Everyone remembers their monthly bills, but their non-monthly bills come up periodically and they often forget. They’ll want to total up your bank statements and checkbook registries and divide by 12 to reach a monthly average; this is particularly important in cases where alimony or spousal support is an issue. Have your attorney review this for completion and accuracy and to ensure that all necessary attachments had been concluded.
• Income, Assets and Liability Table: For divorce cases, you will want to create a table or list of all income, assets, and liabilities, such as personal property, vehicles, real estate, and financial assets. For each item, the state will indicate whether the item was premarital or acquired during the marriage. You should obtain proof of the values of each asset in order to demonstrate how much you will be able to sell it for.
• Debt: For all debt, you should get a copy of the statement that lists the amount of debt present at the time of separation (or close to the time of separation), and also the most recent statement or bill. This will help us determine, how much the bill has been paid down since the parties separated, and how much remains to be paid.
• Financial Assets: For all bank accounts, retirement accounts, pensions, and other financial assets, you should obtain a statement for the date closest to the date of separation, the most current statement, and the last statement prior to the beginning of the marriage.
• Divorce Education Classes: If you are dealing with an original divorce case, you will need to take divorce education classes as soon as possible; as the court will not allow any motion of yours to be heard until you have done so.
Alpine Utah Lawyer For Divorce
When you need to get divorced in Alpine Utah, please call Ascent Law LLC for your free consultation (801) 676-5506. We want to help you now!
8833 S. Redwood Road, Suite C
West Jordan, Utah
84088 United States
Telephone: (801) 676-5506