Do I Need a Family Lawyer to get Divorced?
Divorce law falls under the umbrella of family law. Very few people are able to effectuate a divorce without the assistance of a lawyer, as this is rarely possible or practical. The best way to protect your rights and your relationship with your children is to seek out the assistance of an attorney who handles family law on a daily basis. An experienced lawyer knows the ins and outs of the process, and can explain each step of the way to you while fighting to protect your interests.
Getting a divorce is more than signing a piece of paper that splits you from your spouse. You may think that there are no bones of contention between you and your spouse, but what often occurs as you move toward final separation is extreme emotion takes over and causes a serious roadblock. Certainly, parties who have legal representation meet these roadblocks too. But the difference is that a skilled divorce attorney knows how to defuse many of these situations and can guide you on which battles are best fought and how to fight them. The right family law attorney will handle your divorce with the proper mix of compassion and aggression in a cost-effective manner.
In the process of your divorce, you can expect to deal with the following issues:
- Spousal support
- Division of property and debt
- Child custody
- Child support
- Prenuptial agreements
- Postnuptial agreements
How Does the Child’s Preference Affect Custody Proceedings?
When parents divorce, asking children to choose which parent they want to live with can be traumatic for all involved. In some cases, however, children are sufficiently mature to express a reasoned preference. In such cases, the child’s preference can be an important factor in shaping the custody arrangement.
Utah courts determine child custody based on a number of factors intended to protect the interests of the child. A child’s preference is not binding on the court, but judges have discretion to consider it. They often give it significant weight if the child can articulate cogent reasons for the choice. Issues to consider when a child expresses a custody preference include:
- The older a child is, the more likely a judge is to give weight to the child’s opinion. The judge, however, is likely to independently assess the child’s maturity, regardless of age.
- Judges are vigilant for signs that a parent has tried to influence the child’s preference. Coached testimony from the child will not only be disregarded, but also may work against the parent who pressured the child.
- Judges are not required to accept a child’s preference, even if the child is mature. In fact, giving undue weight to a child’s preference in custody proceedings can be grounds for reversal on appeal.
Temporary Spousal Support During Your Divorce
While you are going through a divorce in Utah, temporary maintenance may be awarded to ensure that a lower earning spouse has an adequate standard of living during the time it takes to finalize the dissolution of the marriage. Sometimes, as a divorce lawyer, I see people don’t even think about this. Temporary maintenance (also called spousal support or alimony) is the term used in many states, but the law uses different terms such as temporary alimony or temporary spousal support.
In Utah, the law provides a formula for assessing the amount of temporary maintenance to be paid. By law, temporary maintenance is mandatory when the income of one spouse is two-thirds or less than the income of the other spouse. Temporary maintenance guidelines only apply when this requirement is met.
If the formula kicks in, the higher earning spouse will be expected to pay temporary maintenance. There is a maximum cap for utilizing the formula on the income of the payor.
Under the guidelines, to determine an appropriate amount of temporary maintenance, the court selects the lesser figure that is arrived at by the following calculations:
- 30 percent of the income of the higher earning payor minus 20 percent of the income of the lower earning spouse
- 40 percent of the combined income of both spouses. The income of the lower earning spouse is subtracted from this figure.
Free Consultation with Divorce Lawyer in Utah
If you have a question about divorce law or if you need to start or defend against a divorce case in Utah call Ascent Law at (801) 676-5506. We will fight for you.
8833 S. Redwood Road, Suite C
West Jordan, Utah
84088 United States
Telephone: (801) 676-5506