American Fork Utah Divorce Attorney
American Fork, in northern Utah County, is located fifteen miles northwest of Provo and thirty miles southeast of Salt Lake City. It is bordered by Utah Lake on the south and by the Wasatch Mountains to the east. Adjacent to it lie the recently organized communities of Highland and Cedar Hills, the unincorporated area of Manila, and the nearby cities of Pleasant Grove on the east, Lehi on the west and Alpine on the north. In the early days of the nineteenth century, the Rocky Mountain region was a treasure-house for valuable furs, particularly beaver, which were found in large numbers along the mountain streams. Utah Valley was visited by some of the fur trappers and hunters, and Utah Lake and the streams running into it became known to them. The streams running into the lake were known as forks, the principal ones being Timpanogos (Provo), Spanish Fork, and American Fork. The first settlers on the American Fork Creek took the name of the stream for the settlement. American Fork was settled by Mormon pioneers in the summer of 1850. Stephen Chipman and his son William Henry, along with Arza Adams and his son Nathan, were en route to Fort Provo to trade when they camped overnight near American Fork Creek. Cottonwood trees along the creek and lush meadows on the lowlands toward Utah Lake convinced them that this would be an excellent place for their cattle and sheep. Chipman, Adams, and Ira and John Eldredge went to Brigham Young and received permission to “go take up land you want.”
Heber C. Kimball was present at the meeting and asked them to survey a tract for him adjoining theirs. The first survey was completed by Ira Eldredge under the direction of a Mr. Fox, who was head surveyor in the territory. This was known as the “Big Survey.” During the late months of 1850 and the spring of 1851 other settlers were attracted to American Fork; they included Leonard E. Harrington, who came as Kimball’s agent. He served for twenty-nine years as American Fork`s mayor, bishop, and postmaster. Matthew Caldwell, a member of the Mormon Battalion, arrived in American Fork in the fall of 1850, having crossed the plains with a company of emigrants. He, his wife, and three children brought with them a herd of cattle. Brigham Young had directed Caldwell and his herders to proceed to American Fork with the livestock. Caldwell is believed to have built the first house in American Fork, cutting the logs near Fort Provo. Other log houses were quickly erected against the coming winter. At a conference held at American Fork on 18 September 1852 it was decided to lay out a city on American Fork Creek to be called Lake City. It was incorporated by legislative act on 4 June 1853. The community was known as Lake City until 1860 when the city charter was amended. The name was then changed back to American Fork in keeping with the wishes of the people and to avoid a confusion of mail with Salt Lake City. American Fork was also known for a time as McArthursville, taking the name in all probability from Duncan McArthur, who owned a farm between American Fork and Pleasant Grove, and after whom the McArthur irrigation ditch was named. American Fork is a city of well-kept private homes, condominiums, and apartments. There is a high percentage of home ownership, and well-maintained public parks are found in every area of the rapidly growing community of 18,000 (in 1993), up from the 1990 census figures of 15,696 people. An innovative, full-service public library serves the community and was built in 1968 without a bond issue. It has been continuously upgraded, with plans for further expansion underway. The LDS American Fork Ward was organized on 25 May 1851 with Leonard E. Harrington as bishop. In 1901 four wards were divided from it, and Alpine Stake, with Stephen L. Chipman as president, was organized. The Community Presbyterian Church was organized in 1877 and celebrated its centennial with a restoration of the original building. There are currently four LDS stakes and forty wards in American Fork, along with the Community Presbyterian Church, St. Peter’s Parish Catholic Church (organized in 1973), Calvary Chapel, and a Jehovah’s Witness congregation. Members of other religious denominations also live in the city.
Divorce In American Fork, Utah
Before you can file for divorce in American Fork Utah, you need to meet two basic requirements: you must have been a state resident for at least three months, and you must decide the grounds for your divorce.
Accepted Reasons for Fault Divorce in American Fork Utah
There are two types of divorces in the state of Utah: fault divorces, and no fault divorces. Fault divorces point out specific problems with a marriage or spouse, such as acts of adultery. By contrast, no-fault divorces point toward general issues, the most well-known of which is inarguably “irreconcilable differences.”
American Folks Utah establishes fault grounds as follows:
• “Impotency of the respondent at the time of the marriage,” meaning your spouse cannot produce children. This applies to both men and women.
• “Adultery committed by the respondent subsequent to marriage,” meaning your spouse cheated on you after you were wed.
• Your spouse deliberately deserted or abandoned you for a period of more than one year. This means 12 consecutive months, not a total of 12 months separated by periods where you were together.
• Your spouse deliberately neglected to “provide for the petitioner the common necessaries of life.” This means he or she willfully failed to provide you, the petitioner, with basic needs like food and shelter.
• The “habitual drunkenness” of your spouse, i.e. chronic alcoholism.
• Your spouse has a previous felony conviction. It does not matter whether the felony involved violent crimes, sex offenses, drug possession, or something else entirely: the key component is that the conviction was a felony rather than a misdemeanor.
• Your spouse has subjected you to “cruel treatment,” resulting in physical injury and/or “great mental distress.”
• Your spouse has a medical diagnosis amounting to “incurable insanity.” Be advised that incurable insanity is often very difficult for plaintiffs to prove successfully. “A divorce may not be granted on the grounds of insanity” unless both of the following conditions are satisfied:
• The “appropriate authorities of this or another state” have adjudged the respondent insane “prior to the commencement of the action.” In other words, certified healthcare professionals, whether inside or outside of Utah, diagnosed your spouse before you filed the petition for divorce.
• It isn’t enough that your spouse has been “adjudged insane.” Additionally, the court must find that such insanity is incurable, based on “the testimony of competent witnesses.”
No Fault Grounds for Dissolution of a Marriage
In addition to the fault grounds noted above, there are also two acceptable no fault grounds under Utah law):
• You and your spouse have irreconcilable differences which simply cannot be resolved. Irreconcilable differences can encompass many different issues, ranging from religious differences to disagreements about how children should be raised. The core idea is that there is a profound, fundamental gap between you and your spouse which your marriage cannot withstand.
• You and your spouse “have lived separately under a decree of separate maintenance of any state for three consecutive years without cohabitation.” This means you are currently in a period of separation, having spent at least 36 consecutive months physically living apart. The “decree of separate maintenance” refers to a special form of alimony for separated couples.
Waiving the 90-Day Waiting Period In American Folk, Utah
Whether you ultimately decide to file based on fault or no fault grounds, you will still be subject to Utah’s 90-day waiting period. This waiting period means at least three months must pass between your initial filing and the granting of the final divorce decree. While this delay is normally mandatory, you or your spouse you may be able to waive the waiting period under certain circumstances. To waive the waiting period, you (or your spouse) must file a formal Motion to Waive the 90-day Waiting Period, ideally with the help of an experienced family law lawyer who can help you understand your legal responsibilities. It’s important to understand that simply filing the motion is not enough to waive the waiting period: you must also persuade the judge that “extraordinary circumstances” actually merit granting a waiver. You should also know that both you and your spouse have the right to challenge the motion, though granting the waiver is ultimately at the judge’s discretion.
Residency Requirements for an American Folk Utah Divorce
In the state of Utah, both the petitioner and the respondent must have been actual residents of both the state and the county where the action is brought for a period of three months. This residency requirement also applies to members of the armed forces who are not legal residents of the state but have been stationed in the state under orders from the U.S. military. Once a petition for divorce has been filed in the state, no hearing or decree of divorce will be entered into until 90 days have passed. This 90-day period does not apply in cases where both parties have completed the mandatory educational course for divorcing parents.
Filing for Divorce in American Folk, Utah
The Petitioner will file for divorce, and the Respondent will be served with divorce papers and must then respond to those papers. The Petition for Divorce can be filed in the district court of the county where either spouse currently resides. The Petitioner must serve copies of the Verified Petition for Divorce, the Court Summons and any Temporary Injunctions to the Respondent via mail or personal service. The divorce cannot proceed through the Utah court system until there is proof of service. Once the other spouse has been served, he or she has 21 days to file a response to the divorce petition—if a response is not filed within this time, the chance to respond could be lost.
Contested or Uncontested Divorce
If all issues of the divorce include asset division, Spousal Support and child custody are agreed upon by both spouses, and then an uncontested divorce is possible. An uncontested divorce is typically much faster because there is no need to appear in court (unless there are minor children of the marriage). Although many uncontested divorces later turn into contested divorces, if you and your spouse are in complete agreement, then a Verified Complaint for Divorce can be filed with the Clerk of your local county court. If there is only partial agreement or no agreement about divorce issues, then both spouses will be required to attend a hearing to identify the issues which remain unresolved. If the divorce is contested, then the spouse who is served with the divorce Petition will answer, possibly refuting details in the complaint and/or making counterclaims. Both attorneys will then use the discovery process to request documents, interview the other party and interview witnesses if necessary. Discovery can be a drawn-out – and expensive – process, depending on the number and scope of issues which must be hashed out. If agreements cannot be reached, then a trial will be scheduled, and the judge could end up making decisions for the couple. These decisions may not please either party. Therefore, whenever possible, couples should do everything in their power to make their own decisions.
Asset Division in American Folk, Utah
Utah is an equitable distribution state, which means all assets are split fairly which might not necessarily be equally. Deciding what is “fair” takes several factors into account, including the length of the marriage, the age and health of each party, the occupations of each party and the amounts and sources of income, as well as other related matters. If a marriage is very short-term, the court could make the decision to put people back into the economic position they had prior to the marriage each partner gets what he or she had prior to the marriage. In longer-term marriages, each partner is entitled to whatever they brought into the marriage (non-marital property) unless that property has been combined with marital property or used in a manner which gives it the legal status of marital property. In the case of a marriage of long duration, a major change in the income of one spouse, due to the collective efforts of both, is a consideration in the division of marital asset, causing a compensating adjustment. Asset division during a divorce can be nullified by the presence of a premarital agreement which can affect real and personal property, including earnings, other income and retirement benefits. Premarital agreements do not govern child support or other child care expenses. The marital home will either be sold and the proceeds divided between the spouses, or one spouse will be awarded the house and the other spouse will be awarded other marital assets to equal the worth of the marital home.
Retirement and pensions plans will also be divided, and are usually regulated under plan policies as well as federal and state law. Typically, anything paid into a retirement account by either spouse from the date of the marriage becomes marital property, and therefore falls under the equitable distribution laws of the state of Utah during a divorce. If both spouses have retirement plans which are roughly equal, then each spouse could be awarded his or her own benefits.
The court and the judge have jurisdiction over an award of spousal support, however the court is bound to consider at a minimum – the following factors:
• Whether there are minor children, and whether the requesting spouse has custody of those minor children;
• Whether the paying spouse has the financial ability to pay spousal support;
• Whether the requesting spouse has a financial need for spousal support;
• Whether the requesting spouse has the ability to earn a living;
• How long the marriage lasted;
• Whether the requesting spouse worked in a business which is owned or operated by the paying spouse during the marriage, and
• Whether the requesting spouse offered contributions to the paying spouse’s skills or education—i.e., working and putting the other spouse through college or a trade school.
While fault in the divorce is not generally a consideration in the award of spousal support, in certain cases it can be. As an example, if one spouse dissipated a large amount of marital assets during the marriage through gambling, adultery, etc., the judge could “equalize” the dissipated assets through a larger award of spousal support. In the state of Utah, spousal support cannot be ordered for a duration longer than the number of years the marriage lasted, barring any extenuating circumstances. Further, spousal support automatically ends upon the remarriage or death of the former spouse.
Annulment in American Folk, Utah
In American Folk, a marriage may be annulled for any of the following reasons:
• A marriage between any of the following: parent and child, ancestor and descendant, brother and sister (half or whole), first cousins (unless both parties are over the age of 65, or over the age of 55 with a court finding of an inability to reproduce), or any person related to one another within the fifth degree of consanguinity.
• A marriage between persons of the same sex;
• A marriage with one or both parties being at least 16 but under 18, with no parental consent;
• A marriage with one or both parties being under the age of 16;
• A marriage when there is an existing husband or wife with no divorce (bigamy), or
• A marriage which occurred before a divorce was finalized.
Legal Separation in American Folk, Utah
While not all states recognize a legal separation, the state of Utah does. A temporary separation order can be filed without filing a Petition for Divorce. Temporary orders are valid for a year from the date of the hearing, or until a Petition for Divorce is filed or the case is dismissed. During a legal separation, division of assets, spousal support, custody and child support will all be determined under the umbrella of separate maintenance. The grounds for a legal separation in American Folk include:
• Non-support of a spouse by a spouse with sufficient ability to do so;
• Desertion of a spouse, or
• One spouse living separately and apart from the other.
Consequences for Violations of a Divorce Decree
When the court has made their rulings in a divorce and the paperwork signed, both parties are legally bound by the divorce decree. Violations of any part of the agreement by either party can result in a contempt of court charge. The most common types of violations following a divorce are non-payment of child support or spousal support, non-compliance with the visitation schedule or withholding visitation. That being said, if the circumstances of one spouse changes significantly following the divorce decree, then a motion may be filed to alter the original agreement.
When you need a divorce lawyer, please call Ascent Law LLC for your free consultation (801) 676-5506. We want to help you.
8833 S. Redwood Road, Suite C
West Jordan, Utah
84088 United States
Telephone: (801) 676-5506