Divorce Information on the Internet

Divorce Information on the Internet

If you are reading this, I understand you are already looking for divorce information on the internet.  Here is something you should know:  the cases and the new developments in the law that are listed on the internet are the one in ten thousand rare exception and may not apply to your particular case.

For example, most recently, a Judge in one of our firm’s cases ordered joint shared parenting.  This is a very rare occurrence and was the subject of some internet blogs, and a second case reported by official legal publication.  Because this issue was so unique, it has brought a huge volume of comment and searches.  The “internet spiders” then listed this information as more relevant than all other father’s rights and joint custody information.  It has taken the very few (absolutely rare, one in 10,000 exception cases) and turned them into the most searched cases.  This is why people who are searching for divorce information on the internet must be careful.

On a daily basis we have clients come into the office.  It is important that we are aware of the new developments and we are most often way ahead of all other firms.   I say this with confidence because we have eleven attorneys that are in court every day.  We handle a wider amount of cases, and we are before more Judges than almost any other firm in Utah that exclusively handles matrimonial law.   Therefore, we know the statistics and we know the exceptions to every rule.   However, many of our new clients seem to only know the exceptions to the rules and are not familiar with the rule.

For example, if 10,000 cases are all resolving the same way, that is not news.  That is not something that is going to be picked up by Google searchers.  It is not something that is going to elicit a huge volume of texted, linked (in and out bound) and comments by news worthy sources.  It is only the exceptions to the rule that will be subject to link, sharing, in and out bound, together with a large volume of traffic.  Therefore, people who are searching for joint custody, unique child support problems, or even specific problems with respect to their case and their fact pattern, may only be getting the exceptions to the rule and not what “normally” occurs on a day to day basis in the courthouse.

Think about it, nobody reports on the day to day cases handled by a Judge.  Nobody reports on the law that is practiced daily throughout Utah State, to the same extent, that interest is generated on the exceptions to the rule.  Therefore, rather than spending a huge amount of time searching for information about divorces (and often coming up with just the exceptions to the general rules) it is best to contact an attorney.

It is our opinion and our experience that the larger the firm, the greater amount of cases that a law firm will handle.  Therefore, the law firm will have real and updated information concerning facts and circumstances affecting couples and children in that location.

Furthermore, it is important to note that when a case is “noteworthy” or “newsworthy” it is usually after the case has “lost” twice or more.   Cases in the very lower trial courts in Utah State (Supreme Court) often do not make the news or are newsworthy.   It is only after the attorney or the law firm loses the case, that it is appealed to the Appellate Division.   Thereafter, it may be appealed again to the Court of Appeals.  Then if the case is reversed, or the decision is different or unique, the decision will be noteworthy and it will be the one exception to the rule after a three to five year fight and tens of thousands of dollars.  Do not be mistaken, although the Appellate Division and the Court of Appeals will have precedence and may control future decisions, this takes years and there is usually a reason why the case that comes up first on the internet is different from the average day to day case.    It stands to reason that if there is one out of every 10,000 cases is newsworthy or notable, your specific case has a very poor chance of fitting into the very exact fact pattern.

When looking through various medical websites such as “Web, M.D.” people often see signs and symptoms that they personalize and feel are applicable to themselves.  When looking through the internet, people see just a sampling of the law and the practice of attorneys in matrimonial law.  That sampling is not representative of the average case.  In fact, it is usually just the exception to the rule.   A small amount of legal information is often worse than having a full consultation.  Take a full consultation.  You owe it to yourself and your children.

Free Initial Consultation with a Divorce Attorney

When it’s your divorce on the line, it needs to be done right. So call Ascent Law for your free consultation (801) 676-5506. We want to help you get your divorce done right.

Michael R. Anderson, JD

Ascent Law LLC
8833 S. Redwood Road, Suite C
West Jordan, Utah
84088 United States

Telephone: (801) 676-5506

Ascent Law LLC

4.9 stars – based on 67 reviews


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Insurance During Divorce

Life insurance is one of the financial assets you must disclose during your divorce as part of the equitable distribution process. But the court can treat your policy any number of ways, depending on your family’s overall circumstances:

  • A piece of property — A whole life policy has cash value. The court may assess the surrender value of the policy and, if premiums were paid with marital property, treat it as an asset of the marital estate. If the policyholder took out the policy before the marriage and continued to pay premiums with separate property, the policy is separate property.
  • Security against support obligations — A court may use the policy as a means of indemnifying a dependent spouse/custodial parent for unpaid obligations.
  • Insurance against the untimely death of a supporting spouse/parent — If the court orders the policyholder to pay child support and/or alimony, the court can also order the life insurance policy maintained in case death prevents the policyholder from providing support.

There are many strategies a party to divorce can employ regarding a life insurance policy, including a restraining order preventing the policy owner from changing the beneficiary. This must be more specific than an order preventing a party from transferring property, because a change in beneficiary is not technically a change in ownership. This order can stay in place until the divorce is finalized and then be incorporated into the divorce decree.

However, if the court distributes the policy as property to the policyholder and does not specifically rule on beneficiary rights, the other spouse generally does not have a right to remain as beneficiary.

The Effect of Facebook on Divorce

A new study presents facts that seem to underpin the idea that a couple splitting up can influence their close friends toward divorce.

The new study looked at data from the Framingham Heart Study, a long-term longitudinal study that follows more than 5,000 residents of Framingham, Massachusetts. To examine factors of cardiovascular health, the original study group has been followed since 1948. Many spouses and children of the original cohort are enrolled in the study, providing substantial data for researchers studying the effects of social networks.

Findings of the study include:

  • The divorce of a close friend, or a friend once removed, significantly increases the possibility of divorce.
  • (In what seems a logical point for this day and age) divorcees are more likely to marry divorcees.
  • People with more friends in their social network are less likely to be divorced, possibly due to supportive friends who help them through the difficult times of any marriage.
  • Divorcees often become less popular when the social network of a couple divides.
  • Children did not prove a factor in divorce, and in fact, the presence of one or more children reduced vulnerability to divorce in a social network.

Because of the homogeneity of the background of participants in the study, the results cannot be considered applicable throughout the United States. For everyone, though, the study does make an important comment that “Divorce should be understood as a collective phenomenon that extends beyond those directly affected.”

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.

Michael R. Anderson, JD

Ascent Law LLC
8833 S. Redwood Road, Suite C
West Jordan, Utah
84088 United States

Telephone: (801) 676-5506

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Child’s School Consistency in Divorce

Child's School Consistency in Divorce

Although it’s somewhat rare, it’s not unheard of for one parent to enroll children in a different school without the permission of the other parent or the court. Obviously, this is usually a problem when the two parents are separated or divorced. In some cases, children even go entirely un-enrolled because the parents have such contentious arguments about which school a child should attend.

It is an unfortunate reality that children sometimes get caught in the crossfire of a contentious divorce. Parents must make every effort to keep their children’s lives as normal and stable as possible, especially when it comes to their education.

Below are a few basic rules all parents should remember regarding this issue:

  • Consistency is crucial: A school is not just the building at which you drop off your kids. It is filled with important relationships your children have built with friends, teachers and staff. Their comfort in their school can help them through what is, even in the best cases, a stressful and turbulent home life.
  • Keep children in their school, if possible: If you can, keep your children in the schools they were already attending, unless both parents agree a move is for the better. Again, having this consistency and maintaining those relationships that have already been built is crucial.
  • Consider expenses: If your children have been attending private school before your divorce, there is a chance you will have to move your children to public school. Private school is often one of the first expenses to be removed after a divorce, as it can become too much for parents to handle.

Study Indicates Living with Partner Before Marriage Increases Likelihood of Divorce

If you have wondered whether living together before marriage has an impact on the quality of marriage, a new study from the Center for Marital and Family Studies indicates that it does. According to the survey performed by the organization targeting couples that have been married for fewer than 10 years, there appears to be a greater likelihood of divorce among couples that lived together before marriage.

The men who responded in the survey rated themselves as being “considerably lower” in how much they are dedicated to their spouses. Other studies performed by the organization have yielded the same findings for women, though to a smaller degree.

Meanwhile, survey respondents that were committed to marrying each other before they began living together did not experience the same lower levels of commitment exhibited in the cohabiting partners.

Researchers at the center posit that some of the men surveyed may have married their spouse even though they might not have done so had they not lived together. The term used was “deciding, not sliding.” The group of people not cohabiting had decided that they were going to be married, whereas the people living together were more likely to “slide” into a marriage because it was the natural next step.

Other statistics reflect the same conclusion. In 2010, the divorce rate for couples cohabiting before engagement was even 8 percent higher than couples cohabiting after engagement but before marriage.

The problem with living together, according to the researchers, is that it seems to be more difficult to “disentangle” yourself from the relationship should it appear to be coming to an end. Therefore it’s easier for people to try to fix the relationship, even if it doesn’t appear that it’s going to work.

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.

Michael R. Anderson, JD

Ascent Law LLC
8833 S. Redwood Road, Suite C
West Jordan, Utah
84088 United States

Telephone: (801) 676-5506

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Family Home in Divorce

Family Home in Divorce

Here at Ascent Law, we’ve found that establishing separate living arrangements — including custody of the family home — is one of the most immediate concerns in divorces.  And since the home is often the couple’s most valuable marital asset, it also represents a significant property issue. This is something that you should speak with a family lawyer about right away if you are thinking about getting divorced.

For now, how do I get my spouse to leave so I can stay in or return to my home?

If you own a home together (or if both names on a rental lease), you can request a court order giving you exclusive occupancy of the marital residence while the divorce is in process. The judge is most likely to give occupancy to the party who needs it most — the person who is the primary caretaker of the children, for example, or the person who is least able to afford another place to live.

Will I end up having to leave my home?

If you and your spouse have a settlement agreement establishing the terms of the divorce – or an existing legal separation agreement – the home will likely be awarded accordingly. Otherwise, it’s up to the court to divide marital property, presumed to include your home, according to Utah’s Equitable Distribution Law.

The judge will want to establish the home’s value, the balance on the mortgage and the taxes. Each spouse’s probable future financial circumstances will be examined, including whether each has the resources to maintain the home independently.

The court may order that the home be sold and the proceeds divided between the spouses. This process can be delayed until a future date – for instance, after the children have graduated from high school.

Important Things to Know About Taxes After Divorce

One of the most important tasks to complete when going through a divorce is planning for your financial future. A part of this is determining your tax outlook after the divorce is finalized. If you live in Utah, or if you’ve been in Salt Lake County for more than 3 months and are thinking about divorce, make sure you call a divorce lawyer in Salt Lake City Utah for help with your situation.

Paying taxes is always at least somewhat complicated, but a divorce can make matters even more difficult. However, with the help of an experienced attorney, you will be able to navigate your taxes after your divorce without a problem. Below are a few issues you will need to consider:

Filing status in Divorce

If your marriage has not officially ended, you may file your taxes in several ways. These include “married filing jointly,” “married filing separately” or, in some cases, “head of household.”

You’re considered “married” or “divorced” based on your marital status on the final day of the calendar year. If you were single as of December 31, you were considered single for the entire tax year. If you are divorcing (but still married) as of December 31, you may file your taxes as married. This is typically the best option for both parties, as it offers the biggest tax breaks.

Exemptions in Divorce

If you have children, it might be helpful to file as the head of the household if you are the custodial parent. This offers you lower tax rates and allows you to claim your children as dependents.

Property ownership and Divorce

If you own joint property, you might wonder who is responsible for paying taxes on it. Any income from joint property is kept by the person who ends up with the asset, and so that person must also pay the associated taxes.

Deductions in Divorce

Legal fees connected to a divorce are not deductible — and neither are child support payments. However, alimony payments are deductible for the payer and taxable to the recipient, under certain conditions.

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.

Michael R. Anderson, JD

Ascent Law LLC
8833 S. Redwood Road, Suite C
West Jordan, Utah
84088 United States

Telephone: (801) 676-5506

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401k in Divorce

Retirement plans like 401(k)s are plans companies offer to their employees. This means that a 401(k) is not an asset you and your spouse jointly own — it is instead a benefit offered to one person by his or her employer.

401k in Divorce

A common question in divorce cases is whether you can split the payouts of a retirement account if you do not work for the same employer as your spouse. The answer is yes, but only if you meet the requirements of the federal laws pertaining 401(k)s, known as ERISA (the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974) and the Internal Revenue Code.

Federal law does not allow an employee’s 401(k) to be assigned to another person, even a spouse. This law ensures the benefits will go to the employee upon his or her retirement.

There is, however, an exception for an “alternate payee.” If the proper procedures are followed in compliance with ERISA, the local divorce court may order distributions to the spouse.

How this process works

After the divorce court determines the 401(k) will be split, the court must approve a special order, called a Qualified Domestic Relations Order (QDRO). This is the tool used to transfer assets from the person who owns the 401(k) to his or her former spouse. This is the only means by which an individual can receive nontaxable payouts through his or her former partner’s 401(k).

In most cases, the portion of that 401(k) that goes to the spouse will be transferred to the spouse’s own individual retirement account (IRA) to avoid taxation. A QDRO may also be used to assign part of a 401(k) to a child or a dependent to satisfy child support obligations.

Tips for Summer Visitation for Divorced Parents

During the summer months, your children likely do not have nearly as much routine in their schedules as they do between the months of September and May. As such, you might find it necessary to adjust your custody and visitation schedules so that you can accommodate your children’s needs and your own work schedule.

Below are a few tips for summer visitation for divorced parents:

  • Prepare yourself for longer visitations: If you are the custodial parent, prepare yourself for your child to have longer visitation times with the other parent. This is a normal arrangement for divorced parents — your child might go on a vacation with your former partner, for example. Make sure you know where your child will be and how to contact him or her. Get an itinerary for the vacation and be sure the other parent knows your child’s capabilities for activities such as hiking, swimming and biking.
  • Keep in touch: When your child does go away for longer visitations during the summer, stay in touch. If he or she has a cell phone, you can call a few times per week to check in and make sure everything is going well. Unless you feel your child is in danger, don’t try to stay constantly connected to your child. Doing so could cause unnecessary conflict with your child and/or the other parent.
  • Prepare your child: Depending on your child’s age and how long you have been divorced, he or she might not have spent more than a couple days away from you before. For these longer summer visitations, be sure your child understands he or she will be with their other parent, and that you two will be together again soon. Do not say anything about the separation being difficult for you — focus instead on preparing your child to have fun.

Free Consultation with a Utah Divorce Attorney

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 help you.

Michael R. Anderson, JD

Ascent Law LLC
8833 S. Redwood Road, Suite C
West Jordan, Utah
84088 United States

Telephone: (801) 676-5506

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Marriages fail for a variety of reasons. However, with the help of a tenacious attorney, you can rebuild your life. Divorce is one option. However, depending on the circumstances of your marriage, you may go through a contested or uncontested divorce.

Considering Divorce

I am Considering Divorce. Is Legal Separation an Option?

While an uncontested divorce is quick and cost effective, a contested divorce can last weeks and even months. For some people, separation is a better option. At first glance, legal separation looks a lot like divorce. You live in a different location from your spouse and you determine who gets custody of your children. However, on paper, you are still legally married. We’ve written about the different between divorce and legal separation on this page, this page, and this page.

Below are the benefits of separation:

  • Possibility of reconciliation. First, separation may be the right choice for you and your spouse if you are having problems but feel that divorce is too permanent. Separation allows you to reconcile with your spouse if after a period you are able to work things out.
  • Tax benefits. Since you are still legally married, you can continue to file your income taxes as a married couple.
  • Religious benefits. Separation is also the right choice for you if you or your spouse practices a religion that does not approve of divorce.
  • Insurance benefits. Lastly, separation is a good choice if a couple would like to retain employer-based health insurance benefits.

Legal separation may be the first step toward reconciliation or toward ending a marriage. Either way, though, you need an experienced and committed attorney who can advise you and protect your best interests throughout the process.

Alimony Tax Changes Could Make Divorces More Difficult

Figuring out alimony has never been a simple task for divorce attorneys. Alimony arrangements often become the subject of dispute during the divorce negotiation process. The new tax regulations signed into law by President Donald Trump in December could make determining alimony arrangements even more difficult.

For the past several decades, the rules with regard to alimony taxation were clear. Payers could deduct these payments from their taxes, while recipients were responsible for paying taxes on any payments received.

The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act makes significant changes to these rules. Now, in all divorces finalized after December 31, 2018, those paying alimony will no longer be able to deduct those payments on their taxes. And, individuals receiving alimony will no longer have to pay taxes on that money.

Effect of the tax changes in Divorce

It has only been a couple months since the bill was signed into law, and attorneys are still working to adjust and determine how their negotiation tactics will need to change.

The greatest expected impact of these changes is that settlement negotiations could become more complicated. Now that there is much more financial disparity at stake in alimony arrangements, those involved in a divorce may be much less willing to compromise with regard to spousal support issues.

Proponents of the changes say it levels the playing field between divorced and married couples, as some divorced individuals had benefited from tax breaks to which married couples did not have access.

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.

Michael R. Anderson, JD

Ascent Law LLC
8833 S. Redwood Road, Suite C
West Jordan, Utah
84088 United States

Telephone: (801) 676-5506

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Documents to Bring to Divorce Lawyer

Your divorce lawyer is there to help you through the divorce process. To assist you, your attorney needs to obtain a full picture of your situation. Why you want a divorce, what you expect out of one, and a snapshot of your financial situation are key to helping your lawyer understand how best to advise you on moving forward with your divorce. Before you meet with your lawyer, ask yourself some questions and examine your situation.

Documents to Bring to Divorce Lawyer

Your first meeting with your attorney will serve to flesh out your situation. Your lawyer will ask questions to obtain an understanding of your case. You need to express your intentions and answer honestly.

You should bring the following with you to help your lawyer understand and prepare your case:

  • Your contact information, including home and work addresses and phone numbers
  • Certificate of marriage
  • Pay stubs
  • Loan information, including any car loans
  • Tax returns
  • Information on mortgages
  • Any prenuptial agreement
  • Bank account numbers and statements
  • Adoption decrees, if any children are adopted
  • Credit card statements
  • Deeds of properties
  • Pension information
  • Trust information
  • A list of extremely valuable assets, such as art or jewelry

Your lawyer may request you bring other documentation, depending on your circumstances. Gathering this information and providing it to your attorney saves time in preparing your case and is a cost-effective measure.

Does Utah Still Have Lifetime Alimony?

Utah State recently reformed many aspects of its Domestic Relations Law, including rules for permanent alimony. The new law creates an advisory schedule for the duration of permanent alimony based on the length of the marriage:

  • From 0 up to and including 15 years — Alimony may last anywhere from 15 percent to 30 percent of the marriage’s length.
  • More than 15 up to and including 20 years — Alimony may last anywhere from 30 to 40 percent of the marriage’s length.
  • More than 20 years — Alimony may last anywhere from 35 to 50 percent of the marriage’s length.

The court is not required to follow this schedule and may consider other factors, listed elsewhere in the law, as the bases for deciding the alimony amount. A judge who declines to use the schedule must present a written decision citing the factors considered. When setting the duration of alimony, the court must also consider the impact that retirement might have on the available assets and benefits. Alimony of any duration terminates upon the passing of one of the spouses.

The new law seems to favor very short terms of spousal maintenance for marriages of short duration, while setting a maximum recommended term of 10 years. Since the law is new, it’s impossible to say how heavily judges will rely on the new schedule. However, the law does leave open the possibility of lifetime alimony in cases the court finds appropriate.

When Assets Go to Waste in Divorce

Which of these examples would be considered marital waste?

  • Upon being asked for a divorce, a spouse goes on a spending spree, running up the balance on jointly held credit cards.
  • Throughout the marriage, a spouse drinks to excess and gambles away the proceeds of an investment account held by the couple.
  • A couple separates when one spouse learns the other has been having an affair for several years, using marital monies to fund the relationship.

The answer is all of them. The marital estate comprises the possessions, assets, goods and liabilities a couple brings to the table during a divorce. In Utah, property is divided equitably. Reaching an agreement with your spouse during divorce that divides assets fairly benefits you both. Failing to do so means the court will divide your assets.

Sometimes a spouse unfairly uses, loses or wastes value of the marital estate. The court looks at marital waste as wasteful dissipation of marital assets and takes the unjust use of assets into account when making decisions about the division of property.

While some cases of marital waste seem obvious, others are less so. If one spouse takes out a business loan, struggles to make the enterprise work and loses the business in the end, the marital estate is diminished and possibly saddled with debt. Nevertheless, the undertaking was done in good faith with the idea of improving the economic condition of the couple.

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 help you.

Michael R. Anderson, JD

Ascent Law LLC
8833 S. Redwood Road, Suite C
West Jordan, Utah
84088 United States

Telephone: (801) 676-5506

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In some cases, a divorce court may include stipulations stating that one spouse is responsible for paying debt on credit cards that were taken out in their former spouse’s name. Of course, the concern then becomes that the ex-spouse will take advantage of this arrangement and rack up massive bills in the hopes that you will not notice and will be responsible for these new payments, even if you are only legally responsible for paying off existing marital debt.

Divorce and Credit Cards

This can be a difficult issue to navigate, depending on how receptive and helpful the credit card company is. You might, for example, request to have all bills sent directly to you so you can see how much you owe and what is being charged (and when). However, credit card companies do have privacy rules you will need to navigate, and if the cards were taken out in your spouse’s name, it can be hard to get that information. You might also find it hard to close out accounts that aren’t in your name, especially if your former partner is being uncooperative.

What should you do about credit card debt?

Of course, it’s still important that you take the necessary steps to ensure you aren’t paying for anything more than the debts for which you are legally responsible through your divorce decree. The credit card companies don’t care where the money is coming from — they just want to be paid. So your best option is to go back through the court system.

Visit the judge who handed down your divorce decree. Ask the judge to order your former partner to deliver all copies of credit card statements to you immediately. This will provide you with accurate information about charges that were incurred during the course of the marriage and could also pave the way for you to be repaid if you paid anything more than what was necessary.

My Spouse is Disobeying Direct Court Orders — Now What?

Most of the time, you can trust that if a court hands down direct orders to your spouse on a divorce-related issue, that spouse will comply. However, there are plenty of circumstances in which divorcing spouses will either violate court orders or fail to obey them entirely. What do you do if this becomes an issue in your case?

If you let your spouse get away with violating a court order once, there’s nothing stopping them from trying to do it again and again. Therefore, if your spouse violates an order, it’s important to address it immediately. Contact your attorney as soon as you can and have him or her send a letter to your spouse (or your spouse’s attorney) to resolve the issue right away.

Additional steps may be necessary

If the letter route doesn’t work, you are going to have to go to the court to have the order enforced. Your attorney will file a document called a “motion to enforce a court order,” which serves as a written request for the court to intervene in the case. At this point, the judge could proceed in any of several ways:

  • Demanding your spouse follow the order immediately
  • Requiring your spouse to completely fulfill their obligations on overdue payments
  • Holding your spouse in contempt of court for a failure to meet the obligations of the original court order, which could result in fines or jailing (depending on the circumstances)
  • Ordering your spouse to pay you back for any attorney’s fees and other costs you incurred due to bringing the motion

There are some situations in which urgent matters might require immediate court attention, but in most cases, this is how you can expect matters to proceed if you’re dealing with an uncooperative individual.

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 help you.

Michael R. Anderson, JD

Ascent Law LLC
8833 S. Redwood Road, Suite C
West Jordan, Utah
84088 United States

Telephone: (801) 676-5506

Ascent Law LLC

4.9 stars – based on 67 reviews


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