Divorce Lawyer Bountiful Utah

Divorce Lawyer Bountiful Utah

Divorce law in the United States has come a long way. Today all states including Utah permit you to seek divorce on no fault grounds. If you are seeking a divorce, speak to an experienced Bountiful Utah divorce lawyer.
“Just cause and good provocation” convinced Reuben Ward of Howard County, Missouri, that he and his wife should “tear” themselves “asunder.” In a whimsical notice in the Missouri Intelligencer, June 19, 1824, he advised her to get a divorce: “when you readest this suppress thy sobs, sue out a divorce, and set thy cap for another and a more happy swain, while I roam through the world sipping honey from the bitter or sweet flowers that chance may strew in my path.” With this lighthearted farewell, Ward joined thousands of others who left their homes and spouses behind them.
Ward’s attitude was far from unusual in the nineteenth-century American West, a region widely known for its dedication to individualism, breaking ties, and reshaping institutions. Although settlers carried established ideas and institutions westward, most refused to be bound by them. Instead, they revised customary procedures whenever it suited their purposes. In addition, western settlers frequently acted in haste. Because they were anxious to establish government and other institutions, westerners often skipped time-consuming deliberations. Haste set the state for the adoption of permissive divorce statutes and short residency requirements on more than one occasion.

Western states including Utah soon gained notoriety for their broadminded or, as some said, decadent divorce laws. The West was widely known for divorce laws that were, according to an 1867 observer, “very liberal; seldom compelling men or women to remain in marriage bonds which they wish severed.”

The American West seemed to provide a hothouse environment for the institution of divorce. Here, the divorce rate rose faster than in northeastern or southern states. Even if migratory divorces were subtracted from total divorces, the West’s divorce rate considerably exceeded those of the Northeast and South. in addition, one town after another gained a national, and sometimes international, reputation as a divorce mill during the latter part of the nineteenth century. Gradually, lenient western divorce laws and colorful western divorce mills helped convince many Americans that the time had come to regularize and control divorce in the entire United States.

Divorce and Desertion

In 1908, Commissioner of Labor Carroll D. Wright reported that “the divorce rate increases as one goes westward.” Wright and the staff of the Census Bureau collected statistics beginning with the year 1867 that revealed the ratio of divorces to population increased faster in western states than in any other region of the United States.
The growth of divorce in the West is even more striking when rates in the western division are combined with those in the southcentral and north-central divisions–the two next highest divisions. The western division, which encompassed Arizona, California, Colorado, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, Utah, Washington, and Wyoming, can be united with the south-central and northcentral because these divisions also included a number of states and territories generally thought of as western in culture and outlook during most of the nineteenth century. The south-central included Indian Territory, Oklahoma Territory, and Texas, while the northcentral was composed of Indiana, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, South Dakota, and Wisconsin.

Undoubtedly, some Americans interpreted high rates of divorce in these states and territories as a temporary development resulting from stresses of migration and settlement. But Commissioner Wright pointed out that the upwardly spiraling divorce rate was a western rather than a frontier phenomenon. Although it was reasonable to expect the divorce rate to stabilize as western areas became more settled, Wright noted “no such tendency” was “apparent in the figures for divorce, and in fact an opposite tendency” appeared “to be at work.” In his view, high rates of divorce in the West seemed likely to continue.
Wright reported the “most common single ground for divorce” was desertion. During the period of the first Census Bureau study, 1867-86, desertion was higher nationwide than in the western division, but during the period of the second study, 1887-1906, the western desertion rate exceeded the national average.

The rise in desertion cases in the western division may have been caused by a shift in population. Between 1867 and 1886, abandoned spouses in eastern and central states obtained divorces after their spouses went westward. In 1840, for example, Anna Tucker Morrison of Mobile, Alabama, left her husband and relocated in Jacksonville, Illinois. He later obtained a divorce in Alabama on the ground of her desertion. After 1887, however, far more people, and far more potential deserters, lived in western states and territories. Many abandoned spouses were westerners and obtained divorces in western jurisdictions. One such case was deserted Oklahoma Territory husband who sought a divorce on the ground of his wife’s prolonged absence, explaining that she had “gone over-land in a wagon west to some Western state.”
A sizable number of western settlers obtained divorces because their spouses refused to migrate with them. A wife who remained in a couple’s former home was considered a deserter in jurisdictions whose laws stated that a husband’s domicile constituted the family domicile. A typical case was that of Berne Ball. In 1895, he divorced his wife of twenty-eight years on the ground of desertion after she refused to migrate from New York City to Logan County, Oklahoma.

Desertions that never reached divorce courts also appear to have been rampant throughout the West. But, because no one was counting, it is impossible to measure the extent or duration of desertion.
The growing use of cruelty as a ground for divorce may have resulted, at least in part, from the inclination of legislators to extend its scope. Before the Civil War, many northeastern and southern lawmakers expanded the definition of cruelty to include verbal abuse. During the latter part of the nineteenth century, western lawmakers also added verbal abuse to cruelty provisions. In 1877, for example, legislators in Dakota Territory broadened the ground of cruelty to include “mental suffering.” In 1890, Oklahoma territorial legislators did so as well.
Like women petitioners, men who accused their mates of cruelty cited both physical and verbal mistreatment. In 1895, J. Dayton Thorpe testified before an Oklahoma territorial court that his wife, Abbie, struck and beat him over one hundred times, threw scissors at him, and aimed a revolver at him which she repeatedly snapped to frighten him. He added that she regularly called him a “damned old fool” and a “damn son-of-a-bitch,” and told him to “go to hell” on several occasions when he asked her “civil questions.” According to him, Abbie finally abandoned him and their daughter, saying that “she did not want the child that it looked too much like its father, she had no use for it.” The paperwork ended before a divorce was granted, but it is unclear whether Thorpe dropped his suit or the case was dismissed after Abbie counter charged him with paying “improper attentions” to a hired woman and squandering the $3000 she brought to the marriage.

These divorcing women received alimony more frequently than women in northeastern and southern states. Most women who requested alimony were plaintiffs rather than defendants, for it was widely believed that a guilty wife forfeited her claim to a husband’s earnings if her misbehavior brought the marriage to an end.
Clear regional differences existed in the application of this principle. Pennsylvania judges ordered alimony in 0.4 percent of divorce cases, Alabama courts in 1.9 percent of cases, and Massachusetts judges in 6.1 percent of cases. But Wisconsin judges ordered alimony in 34.3 percent of cases, and Utah judges did so in 32.1 percent of cases.
Even when a man initiated the divorce and proved his wife guilty, judges sometimes awarded alimony to the female defendants. Generally, alimony awards were insufficient to women’s needs, especially women who received custody of children. Presumably women who had worked during their marriages would continue to do so after they divorced. Western divorce-seeking women also had a slightly better chance of getting child custody than did women in southern and northeastern states. Between 1887 and 1906, Census Bureau figures show that women received custody at a three-to-one ratio to men. In western states, women received custody at a noticeably higher ratio, especially in California, Colorado, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, Ohio, Utah, Washington, and Wisconsin.

When women were denied custody, public sentiment was often on their side. In 1906, for example, Evelyn Blakeney kidnapped her seven-year-old daughter, locked herself and her daughter in a lavatory on an eastbound Rock Island train, and fired a bullet through the door when the sheriff tried to break in. After her arrest, a scandalous hearing ensued, in part because her former husband was a well- known attorney who was a candidate for delegate to the Oklahoma Constitutional Convention. Throughout, she was supported by a condolent crowd and sympathetic newspaper coverage.
Obviously, western divorce was far from a nirvana for women. Alimony awards were often small, one-time sums, and child custody decisions were erratic. Consequently, many women remained in difficult marriages because they were unable to support themselves and feared losing their children. One especially touching case was that of Lena Tow, who left her husband and took their three small children to Montana. After her borrowed funds ran out and she failed to find a job, she dejectedly returned to her husband in Norway, Iowa. A despairing Kansas woman took another tack; she simply waited for her verbally abusive, alcoholic husband to die.
Yet another national trend found in the western states and territories was the spread of divorce–meaning decrees granted by white legislatures and courts–to virtually all groups of people.
The Divorce Mill Panic
By the late nineteenth century, many Americans were disquieted by divorce in general and western divorce in particular. In their eyes, it seemed the West was rapidly leading the nation into moral and social decline. Their fears were reinforced by frequent reports of outrageous western divorce trials and of free-wheeling divorce mills that granted quick divorces to migratory divorce-seekers from stricter jurisdictions.
Divorce mills alarmed many Americans. Some people recognized the injustices that could occur in quick and easy divorces granted to out-of-state divorce-seekers. Others were embarrassed because their home states and territories were widely censured for their permissive divorce laws and procedures. And others reacted to divorce mills with consternation because they saw them as harbingers of greater evils: the spread of immorality, a breakdown in family life, and the fall of American society.
During the latter part of the nineteenth century, divorce mills fueled the divorce debate and fostered a widespread demand for change. In 1885, Samuel W. Dike, secretary of the National Divorce Reform League, pointed out that divergent divorce laws made divorce mills and migratory divorce possible. “The divorce broker,” he wrote, “sits in his office, and from the compilations prepared for his use, assigns his applications to one State or another as may best suit each case.” Consequences of divorce mills, whether real or assumed, primed many people to respond with indignation to the divorce mill scenario.

Certainly, during the closing decades of the nineteenth century, the rapid growth of divorce stunned many people: one of fourteen to sixteen marriages ended in divorce in the United States during the 1880s. In addition, divergent divorce laws caused confusion and sometimes corruption as well. In 1888, a New York attorney compiled a chart showing that all states and territories, except South Carolina, allowed divorce. Of the forty-seven states and territories surveyed, forty allowed the inclusive, flexible ground of cruelty. Numerous other grounds were available, and even anti-divorce South Carolina provided several grounds for annulment.
Western divorce mills seemed to be the height of laxity and permissiveness: the ultimate inducement to divorce-seekers to flee strict laws in their home states and seek a divorce in more lenient jurisdictions. Consequently, divorce mills elicited impassioned criticism and indignant responses.
During mid-century, Utah was branded a divorce mill as a result of Mormon policies concerning marriage and divorce. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints was founded by Joseph Smith in Fayette, New York, in 1830, but its members, commonly known as Mormons, fled persecution by moving to Ohio, Missouri, and Illinois. It was at Nauvoo, Illinois, on July 12, 1843, that Smith received a revelation saying that Mormons must practice polygamy–meaning that one husband wed several wives. This innovation drew enormous enmity from outsiders; in 1844, an anti-Mormon mob lynched Joseph Smith.
After this calamity, thousands of Mormons trekked to a desert in Utah that lay outside the boundaries of the United States. They hoped to live in peace, free from persecution and regulation by laws stipulating that marriages be monogamous. Under the leadership of Brigham Young, Mormons established Salt Lake City in 1847 and the state of Deseret in 1849. In 1850, the United States Congress recognized Deseret as the Territory of Utah, which brought Mormons back within the jurisdiction of the United States. Brigham Young served as governor of the new territory until 1857, when conflicts with the United States government, largely over polygamy, ended his tenure. Although the U. S. Congress enacted anti-polygamy statutes in 1862, 1882, and 1884, church officials refused until 1890 to abandon the practice.

During these years, many Americans harshly criticized Mormon practices, for they saw polygamy as a threat to long-held and widely cherished conceptions of marriage. In 1850, John Gunnison, an army officer stationed in Salt Lake City, wrote his wife that “some things happen in this polygamy loving community which would astonish the people in the States.” He added that it was easy to see “the influence of polygamy in degrading the female sex.” Some years later, another anti-polygamist, Philip Van Zile, thought about running for Congress so he could “do this country good” by eradicating “that relic of barbarism from its fair name.”
In addition to polygamy, the divorce practices of the Latter-day Saints shocked Gentiles, as Mormons called non-Mormons. Beginning in 1847, Mormon church leaders regularly granted divorces. Because they lacked the legal power to terminate marriages, they claimed they limited themselves to divorcing polygamous couples whose marriages fell within the jurisdiction of the church. Brigham Young reportedly granted over 1600 divorces during his presidency of the church between 1847 and 1876. Although Young theoretically opposed divorce because it contradicted the Mormon belief in eternal marriage, he was willing to terminate contentious and other unworkable marriages. On one day, he relieved George D. Grant of three wives and a few weeks later, parted him from a fourth.
Young personally lacked sympathy for men such as Grant: “it is not right for men to divorce their wives the way they do,” he stated in 1858. He had slightly more compassion for women. Although he often counseled a distraught wife to stay with her husband as long “as she could bear with him,” he instructed her to seek a divorce if life became “too burdensome.” In 1861, Young instructed husbands to release discontent wives.
As news of Mormon church divorces reached the Gentile world, public outrage against Mormons flared. After 1852, when the first Utah territorial legislature adopted a statute that permitted probate courts to grant divorces, many people became highly critical of lenient civil divorces as well.

The 1852 Utah Territory statute was objectionable because in addition to listing the usual grounds of impotence, adultery, wilful desertion for one year, habitual drunkenness, conviction for a felony, inhuman treatment, it included an omnibus clause. According to this clause, judges could grant divorces “when it shall be made to appear to the satisfaction and conviction of the court that the parties cannot live in peace and union together and that their welfare requires a separation.” In addition, the 1852 statute contained a loose residency requirement: a court need only be satisfied that a petitioner was “a resident of the Territory, or wishes to become one.”
As a result of the 1852 statute, civil divorces were easy to obtain in Utah Territory; a couple could even receive a divorce on the same day they applied for it. Unlike most other jurisdictions, Utah judges accepted collusion–an agreement to divorce between husband and wife. A married couple could appear in court, testify that they agreed to divorce, and receive a decree. Records of the Washington County probate court between 1856 and 1867 contain several such cases. On February 12, 1856, John and Sarah Wardall petitioned for divorce and requested equal division of their children and property. The judge agreed: John received custody of the two oldest boys and Sarah got custody of their daughter and youngest boy. The Wardalls also amica bly split two beds, four pillows, two bolsters, two blankets, and other household equipment down-the-middle. What could have been a difficult divorce turned out to be an administrative matter completed in a few minutes.
In an unusual case of mutual agreement, a woman’s father appeared before a Washington County judge. He testified that his daughter and her husband had asked him to apply for a divorce on their behalves. The judge, who knew the couple, stated that husband and wife wanted to divorce so that they could “marry whomsoever they will or can.” Because he believed that mutual agreement resulted “in the most good to both Parties,” he granted the divorce. It became final four days later when the couple submitted a property settlement.
When Jacob Smith Boreman, a non-Mormon from Virginia, became United States district court judge in the Salt Lake City region in 1872, he was shocked by Utah divorce laws and procedures. Boreman was especially surprised that judges accepted collusion and that divorce-seekers could file petitions, enter proof of grounds, and receive divorce decrees “all on the same day.” Boreman remarked that such practices “made it no difficult matter to secure a divorce in a probate court,” especially when most judges “had no legal training, but on the contrary were densely ignorant of the rules of law.”
Boreman himself heard a portion of one of the most dramatic divorce cases in Mormon history. In 1873, Ann Eliza Webb Young brought suit against her husband, Brigham Young. Young seemed willing to divorce Ann Eliza, but unwilling to pay the requested alimony: $20,000 costs plus $200,000 to support Ann Eliza and her children. Young, who had once offered to divorce any wife who wished to leave him, fought Eliza’s petition by arguing that their marriage was illegal because it was polygamous, thus unrecognized by United States law. According to Boreman, Young believed that if he won, he would be free from alimony; if he lost, polygamous marriages would have garnered legal recognition, for if a judge gave Ann Eliza a divorce he would have also inadvertently declared the Young’s polygamous marriage valid.

After an 1874 federal law moved Utah divorce cases from probate to district courts, Boreman became the presiding judge in the case of Young v. Young. Boreman ordered Brigham Young to pay temporary alimony to Ann Eliza, but he had to imprison Young to make him pay. The suit was dismissed in 1877 by another district court judge who refused to recognize Brigham Young’s polygamous marriage to Ann Eliza. Consequently, Ann Eliza Young failed to get a divorce decree and alimony, while Brigham Young failed to get recognition of polygamous marriages.
Despite its lenient divorce laws, it is unclear whether Utah was a divorce mill. Between 1867 and 1886, Utah courts granted 4,078 divorces. Of these, 1,267 couples had married in Utah. It is impossible to know how many of the remaining 2,811 cases involved migratory divorce-seekers or those who were converts anxious to join the Latter-day Saints after they freed themselves from unwilling mates. High migration rates into Utah during these years, however, suggest that most divorces were probably obtained by would-be converts rather than migratory divorce-seekers.
The number of divorces granted to migratory divorce-seekers by western divorce mills was almost certainly exaggerated by contemporary observers. Still, thousands of Americans reacted with alarm to the divorce mills that seemed to litter western areas of the United States during the last half of the nineteenth century. How could state governments restrict and control divorce when western divorce mills tempted divorce-seekers to escape restrictive laws and obtain divorces in more permissive jurisdictions?
The divorce issue was already volatile during the mid-nineteenth century, but the divorce mill panic greatly exacerbated that volatility. In addition, it convinced some people that divorce should be reexamined and cut back, and that “the practice of permitting residence in another state for the purpose of securing a divorce should be abolished.”
During the late nineteenth century, many Americans felt the spiraling divorce rate and the rise of divorce mills in western states and territories indicated it was time to re-evaluate divorce in the United States. They believed these pheonomenon were evidence that such long-held American values as individualism, freedom from tyranny, and a search for personal happiness had flourished in the American West–and had gotten out of hand. Clearly, the time was right for a national call for revision in divorce laws and procedures; the stage was set for the national uniform divorce law movement.
The seeds of the uniform national divorce law reform movement were planted in 1881, when the New England Divorce Reform League organized under the leadership of Theodore Woolsey, attorney, Doctor of Divinity, and retired president of Yale University. The divorce controversy reached a new peak in public visibility when the government’s second statistical study was released in 1908. This report on marriage and divorce between 1887 and 1906 described a far more comprehensive study of the topic than the earlier surveys. It contained statistics from 2,797 counties. Only six counties were omitted; for example, San Francisco County, California, was left out because an earthquake and fire had destroyed public records on April 18, 1906. This study asked for more information than the first, including data regarding alimony and number of children involved in divorces. In addition, it reflected a growing concern of the day, alcoholism, by compiling statistics of cases in which intemperance was a cause of divorce. Finally, it included a thorough digest of statutes concerning marriage and divorce in states, territories, and other countries.
The reawakened interest in national uniform divorce law continued for several years. Despite this brief regeneration, the uniform divorce law movement gradually lost momentum. It was increasingly apparent that states and territories could not, or would not, agree on divorce provisions. Around 1910, many supporters of uniform divorce law began to recognize the odds against their cause. The divorce rate was rising, divorce was gaining acceptance, and the National League for the Protection of the Family was waning in membership and visibility. It no longer provided impetus for the uniform law movement.
Still, some tenacious people clung to the idea of uniform divorce law. To them, the failure of states and territories to agree on this matter demonstrated that the federal government would have to mandate such laws. If a constitutional amendment was necessary, then they would campaign for such an amendment. President Roosevelt’s annual message of 1906 had paved the way. Arguing that “the home life of the average citizen” was imperiled by the scandals and abuses resulting from wide variations in divorce laws, Roosevelt suggested “the whole question of marriage and divorce should be relegated to the authority of the National Congress.”
Boards of Episcopal, Methodist, and Roman Catholic clergy, several members of the U.S. Congress, the General Federation of Women’s Clubs, and the California Commission on Marriage and Divorce also supported the idea of a constitutional amendment. These uniform law proponents and their successors continued to unsuccessfully push the idea of a constitutional amendment until 1947. Specifically, the leaders of the uniform law movement committed an error when they neglected to include more women in policy-level conferences. This inattention to women, especially feminists, turned a visible, vocal group against their cause. As early as 1890, in the pages of the widely read North American Review, Mary Livermore attacked divorce laws made by men to serve the interests of men. She demanded that women be included in policy deliberations.
The leaders of the uniform divorce law campaign also failed to construct a broad platform that would attract people who advocated their own solutions. Livermore, for example, insisted that “legal equality” between mates was the only solution to growing “restlessness and unhappiness in married life.” And an outspoken woman essayist, Marguerite Wilkinson, argued that only education could cure the “divorce evil.” The “right education” would help people develop informed minds and strong characters, crucial qualities in marriage partners. Wilkinson also believed people must be taught about sex and love before marrying rather than being “childishly ashamed” to talk about such matters. Uniform divorce law proposals were narrow in another way: they failed to raise such crucial issues as alimony and child custody and focused on reducing the divorce rate and destroying western divorce mills. In so doing, they failed to attract the support of people whose major concerns about divorce were alimony, child custody, and easing the burdens on divorcing spouses and their children. Uniform divorce advocates seemed to overlook the desirability of revising laws for the benefit of divorcing Americans.
External forces also impeded the success of the uniform divorce law campaign. One influential force was social scientists’ views of divorce, views that opposed the idea of uniform divorce law at almost every turn. The other was a rising divorce rate; even as some Americans harangued against divorce, other Americans increasingly embraced it. During the closing decades of the nineteenth century and the opening decade of the twentieth, social scientists tended to argue that divorce was a positive institution. Many believed that it especially benefited modern society by eliminating dysfunctional marriages.
The rising divorce rate was the second external factor that defeated the national uniform divorce law movement. Many Americans began to accept the ubiquity of divorce in American society; even as uniform divorce law advocates called for a reduction in divorces, increasing numbers of American divorced. Because thousands of people each year rejected the argument that marriage was a sacrament and a lifetime agreement, and discounted warnings regarding the decline of American society and their children’s futures, the divorce rate continued its upward spiral in the United States.
Self-Help Literature
As the divorce rate rose in the United States, self-help authors increasingly tried to assist their readers in achieving satisfactory marriages rather than resorting to divorce. Although it is impossible to know how many people bought and read advice manuals, such books appeared on the market with regularity. This suggests that self-help books had a sizable audience, for publishers surely would have abandoned the genre if it failed to sell.
Self-help authors tried to combat the rising divorce rate in their own way, by offering practical counsel on how to avoid divorce. They attempted to strengthen marriages and avert people from the divorce courts by suggesting ways of choosing a good marriage partner and achieving serenity and happiness in marriage. Each of these writers tried to stem the tide of divorce by suggesting ways that marriage could be improved. Their advice focused on strengthening marriage rather than on assisting divorce-seekers. Few writers addressed such matters as locating an attorney, laws of various jurisdictions, child custody, property settlements, alimony, and general etiquette of divorce. One of the few practical guides to appear was How to Get a Divorce, published in 1859 in New York City. Written by an attorney, this small pamphlet contained a compilation of each state’s divorce laws, but neglected to give step-by-step advice.
During the late nineteenth and early twentieth century, many Americans clung to traditional views of marriage and divorce. They failed to realize that powerful forces, including industrialization, urbanization, changing gender roles, and rising expectations of marriage, propelled people toward divorce. Instead, they believed that strict divorce statutes could keep people in their marriages, reduce the divorce rate, and eliminate western divorce mills.
Other Americans, however, acknowledged divorce as a reality. Increasingly, advocates of divorce argued that divorce was a citizen’s right, and that it was beneficial to American society because it eliminated dysfunctional marriages. Although “no thinking person” would argue that divorces “be granted people who have simply tired of the marriage yoke,” certainly divorces for “extreme cruelty, drunkenness and certain forms of crime” were necessary. Should divorce disappear, “women would be the chief sufferers, for they would be compelled to bow their necks to the yoke.” Rather than escaping unbearable marriages, aggrieved wives would have to endure–to be “a bond slave as abject as she was in the days of the savagery of the race.”
On May 18, 1913, Sara Bard Field boarded a ship in Portland, Oregon. With her sister Mary and her four-year-old daughter Kay, Field sailed to San Francisco where she spent $62.70 on three train tickets to Goldfield, Nevada. During the train’s Sacramento stop, she mailed a letter to her husband telling him of her plans. When the trio arrived in Goldfield, they discovered what Field described as a “typical mining town,” but to their amazement and delight, Goldfield’s hotel boasted running water, bathtubs, electricity, and “excellent food.” After settling into the hotel, Field met with an attorney to initiate a divorce suit against her husband, Albert Ehrgott.
Sara Field was typical of a growing number of Americans who rejected the idea of marriage as a sacrament and for life. Field was willing to put her marriage asunder and set herself and her children adrift because her watchword was love. Although her husband had not committed a marital crime–adultery, desertion, non-support, or cruelty–Field no longer loved him. Moreover, she loved another man. Thus, she was willing to thwart her husband’s opposition to a divorce by seeking a migratory decree in Nevada.
Many Americans still opposed this kind of thinking. As a result, the great American divorce debate continued. Most of its themes were familiar ones. Was marriage a lifetime undertaking or was it a dissolvable contract? Should divorces be difficult or easy to obtain? Could uniform national divorce laws reduce the rising divorce rate? What actions would curb migratory divorces? What factors caused the rising divorce rate?
Certainly, a new morality seemed to be developing in the United States. As the first decade of the twentieth century came to a close, divorce appeared to be everywhere; it also seemed to have garnered widespread support.
The new morality that affected a wide spectrum of Americans was accompanied by a rising divorce rate. Regardless of how the divorce rate was computed, its overall pattern was the same: upwards. Whether the number of divorces between 1910 and the mid-1940s was compared with total population, married population, or marriages in a given year, the resulting ratio showed an ascending curve that surpassed the divorce rate in all other nations. The divorce rate was abnormally high after World War I, when hasty wartime marriages collapsed and others succumbed to war-related stresses, but it leveled off somewhat during the 1930s Depression when limited resources mitigated against divorce. In 1928, a year approximately midway between 1910 and 1945, slightly more than one of six marriages ended in divorce.
Most other trends held steady as well. Urban divorce rates continued to out-distance rural rates. The West’s divorce rate continued to exceed that of other regions. Women continued to obtain more divorces than men; in 1928, women received 71 percent of all divorces granted. And in that year, 47 percent of divorces were granted on the increasingly popular ground of cruelty, a charge women continued to use more than men.
Proponents of uniform divorce law kept the issue of migratory divorce in the public eye throughout the pre-World War II era. They discounted statistics indicating that only 3 to 20 percent of divorces were obtained in states other than the state of marriage and that only a few of these involved spouses who had purposely migrated to obtain a divorce. Instead, they talked in terms of an “exodus” of divorce-seekers from New York and an “interstate migration” of British Columbian divorce-seekers into Washington state.
Of course, Nevada was the most highly publicized destination for divorce-seekers. The state, and especially the city of Reno, soon gained a reputation as a jurisdiction that combined lax laws, leisure pursuits, and a pleasant climate. Reno began its rise to infamy as a divorce mill largely because of Nevada’s six-month residency requirement for citizenship, voting, and divorce, a provision intended to accommodate the needs of a highly mobile population of miners and entrepreneurs. In 1900, a well-known Englishman, Lord Russell, divorced his wife in Reno, married another woman, and was subsequently sued for adultery by his first wife. The resulting scandal drew widespread attention to Nevada’s lenient divorce laws.
Other well-known people soon took advantage of Nevada’s six month residency requirement and permissive grounds for divorce, including a broad, catch-all cruelty provision. In 1905, the ease of Reno divorce, at least for those who could afford to travel to Nevada and spend six months there, was brought to public attention by Laura B. Corey of Pittsburgh. Corey claimed that her wealthy husband was involved with a dancer. The resulting publicity catapulted Reno into the national spotlight.
Collusion
Collusion subverted the adversarial nature of divorce actions in which an innocent spouse sued a guilty spouse. Instead, couples who agreed between themselves to “sue” for divorce, usually also decided whether it would be more convenient and seemly if the wife or the husband was the plaintiff. They might also take into account the costs and amount of court time involved if one or the other initiated the suit. Because women received more divorces than men, it is reasonable to assume that in cases of collusion, couples agreed that wives should be the plaintiff more often than husbands. During the 1930s, a Richmond, Virginia, man who was considering divorce said as much: “Custom demanded, to a large extent, that the husband allow the wife to make the first move.”
The contention that many couples agreed which party would be the plaintiff is borne out by a sample of forty-five midwestern women and men who obtained divorces before 1945. Thirty-seven interviewees revealed that they and their spouses had agreed that the wife should be the plaintiff. They believed that if she accused him of fault instead of him accusing her, she would bear less stigma in the eyes of their children whom she would be raising. They also thought that if a wile appeared as the wronged party, this would encourage a court to accept her property and child custody demands–arrangements that the couple had already agreed upon. Eight other couples chose the husband as plaintiff, but none of these cases involved children so neither stigma nor custody settlements was an issue. Five of these couples decided that the husband should act as plaintiff because the wives feared dealing with attorneys and appearing in court. One husband was willing to take care of all legal matters and hire an attorney friend at a special rate. Only years later did his former wife accidentally learn that he had moved out of town without paying his “friend.”
Certainly, many migratory divorces had a collusive element. When spouses agreed that one of them would go to a lenient jurisdiction to obtain a divorce, they were practicing collusion. And when a spouse promised to refrain from bringing a counteraction or attempting to revise the terms of a migratory divorce, she or he was being collusive.
The state of New York provided the setting for another type of collusion. Because New York specified only adultery as a ground for divorce, many people created sham adultery cases. Companies sprang up that supplied a hotel room, a phony partner, a private detective, and a photographer. Once the incriminating photographs were taken, the case went to court where the partner and detective testified to a husband’s or wife’s adultery. During the early 1920s, one entrepreneur used unemployed actors in producing fabricated court evidence.
In other states, collusion frequently went hand-in-hand with the use of moderate grounds. Few wives and husbands who agreed to divorce wanted to stain their spouses’ reputations with charges of adultery, alcoholism, or impotency. Even if accurate, such harsh grounds could easily be replaced by the less damaging grounds of cruelty, neglect of duty, or incompatibility when they were available. Of the forty-five collusive couples mentioned above, forty-two chose such grounds as cruelty, neglect of duty, or incompatibility, although in at least twenty-nine of these cases, adultery and alcoholism had destroyed their marriages.
In flaunting the adversary system, collusive couples practiced a form of what was later called no-fault divorce. Evidently, the time was not yet ripe for the acceptance of no-fault divorce; few people even raised the possibility. Instead, collusion remained in force, thus establishing in practice what later no-fault legislation would recognize by statute.
The Search for Causal Factors of Divorce
As the divorce rate rose and problems concerning full faith and credit as well as collusion captured the public’s attention, a growing number of Americans felt compelled to identify factors causing divorce. If they understood causes of divorce, they reasoned, they might be able to curb divorce, or at least deal effectively with associated problems. And if they were aware of causal factors, policy-makers and legislators could devise rational solutions for such problems as the rising divorce rate, migratory divorce, and collusion.
The move to detect causes of divorce was hardly new, but it intensified as the divorce rate climbed. Commentators ranging from sociologists to novelists to judges posited their pet theories regarding divorce. Like earlier commentators, several writers linked American individualism and democratic ideals to the escalating divorce rate. In 1915, one advocate of easy divorce declared that the growth of divorce in the United States signaled Americans’ “increasing individualism” and their “demand for a larger degree of freedom and happiness.
Between 1910 and the mid-1940s, a few divorce-related issues had been resolved. The Supreme Court had hammered out a principle regarding migratory divorce. And the uniform divorce law movement had neared its end. But many problems continued to exist. The growth of collusion was subverting the word and intention of divorce statutes. Causes of divorces were still difficult to determine. And such issues as alimony and child custody continued to receive little public airing. Clearly, post-1945America would have no lack of causes to debate and pursue. By the mid- 1940s, then, divorce was a permanent feature of American life. It was everywhere; it had even become a staple theme of popular literature in the United States.
When World World II ended in 1945, divorce was becoming increasingly common in the United States. With spouses frequently coming and going, the institution of marriage was beginning to somewhat resemble a revolving door. But divorce was not only ubiquitous; it was widely accepted as a traditional–or customary–way of resolving marital disharmony.
As the century progressed, the spread of divorce affected American law and society on many levels. By 1970, every state in the union permitted divorce.
No-Fault Divorce
As the divorce rate spiraled upward, more people became concerned about the effects of the divorce process on divorcing spouses and their children. Early in the twentieth century, several Americans began to support a radical plan to soften the process by replacing adversarial divorce with divorce by mutual consent. As early as 1915, one commentator prophesied that divorce by mutual consent was “likely to form one of the provisions of future divorce law.” In 1923, novelist and essayist Katharine Fullerton Gerould had argued that if laws made it possible “to marry at sight,” they ought to make it possible “to divorce on demand.” And in 1927, Judge Ben B. Lindsey of Denver suggested that couples undertake trial marriages that could be terminated by mutual agreement.
During the mid- 1940s, Americans continued to discuss the possibility of replacing adversarial divorce with a non-punitive procedure.
In 1947, the New York Public Affairs Committee published a pamphlet, Broken Homes, criticizing adversarial divorce. It maintained that because most husbands and wives were driven apart by “internal tensions” in the marriage itself, both parties were “at fault.” Two years later a legal authority defined divorce as the termination of an unworkable relationship, a termination that should consider the best interests of divorcing spouses and their children rather than punishing the “guilty” party.
Other writers explored the form that mutual consent–essentially no-fault–divorce might take. In 1949, one legal specialist supported the American Bar Association’s “contract theory” of divorce. A dissatisfied couple would present data about themselves and their children to a judge. During the next six months, the court would investigate the case, while the couple considered reconciliation. If the information submitted proved accurate and the couple rejected reconciliation, the judge would grant a divorce. This process was intended to bring an end to court battles “about ’causes’,” “substitute honesty for hypocrisy,” and result in humane, enforceable divorce decrees.
In the meantime, a number of states by legislative enactment had begun to de-emphasize adversarial divorce procedures. In several states, statutes permitted couples to divorce after they had lived apart for a specified time; no wrongdoing need have occurred. By the mid- 1960s, eighteen states, Puerto Rico, and the District of Columbia sanctioned living apart as a ground for divorce.
Another attempt to offset the harsh effects of adversary divorce was the establishment of family courts; only judges trained in family law would rule on such issues as alimony and child custody. It was hoped that family courts would establish equitable financial settlements and prevent one parent from denying child-visitation rights to the other. After the first family court was established in Cincinnati, in 1941, the concept spread to Milwaukee, St. Louis, Omaha, Des Moines, Portland, Oregon, and Washington, D.C. In 1949, the states of Texas and Washington initiated similar reforms. The Los Angeles Children’s Court of Conciliation, which tried to reconcile divorcing parents, was perhaps the most well-known of these schemes. By 1959, the Los Angeles Children’s Court reportedly reconciled 43 percent of the alienated couples who entered counseling.
Still, many people continued to advocate the elimination of adversary divorce. In 1966, historian Christopher Lasch argued that lenient, non-punitive divorce would protect the family rather than threaten its well-being. If mates could easily end destructive marriages, society would be left with “mature marriages” rather than non-functional ones. Two years later, anthropologist Margaret Mead advised Americans to view divorce as the termination, without re crimination, of a dead marriage. Divorce was, in her view, an opportunity for a divorced person to form “a better marriage, a true marriage” in the future.
During the late 1960s, such legal specialists as New York University law professor Henry H. Foster, Jr., and attorney Doris Jonas Freed recommended the adoption of mutual consent, or no-fault, divorce. Foster and Freed argued that divorce law must strike a balance between public concern for the family and the need to end an individual marriage. Foster explained that 70 percent of divorce petitioners tried to minimize the adversarial nature of divorce proceedings through collusion or by charging cruelty rather than utilizing harsher grounds, especially adultery. Foster predicted that “substantial reforms” were in the offing and hoped that they would “sever the bonds of acrimony” and assist divorcing mates and their children in getting on with their lives.
California was first to act on the idea of no-fault divorce. After studying various suggestions and the 1966 Report of the Governor’s Commission on the Family, California legislators began to draft nofault divorce statutes in 1967. In 1969, the legislature approved the Family Law Act. Governor Ronald Reagan signed it into law on September 5, 1969. The bill, which went into effect on January 1, 1970, replaced California’s seven grounds for divorce with two no-fault provisions: irremediable breakdown of a marriage and incurable insanity. Petitioners had only to reside in California for six months before applying for a divorce. Judges could award alimony based on a spouse’s need for support and the other spouse’s ability to pay; they were to divide a couple’s property equally. Judges were also to make child custody decisions. And the final decree was to be known as a dissolution, rather than a divorce. Legislators hoped that these provisions would end adversarial divorce and eliminate the need for one petitioner to present evidence blackening the character of the other.
California’s no-fault divorce statute marked the beginning of widespread changes in American divorce law. In 1971, Iowa was the first state to follow California in adopting no-fault divorce. By August 1977, only three states retained the adversary system of divorce: Illinois, Pennsylvania, and South Dakota. Fifteen states–Arizona, California, Colorado, Delaware, Florida, Iowa, Kentucky, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Oregon, Washington, and Wisconsin–stipulated irretrievable breakdown of a marriage as the sole ground for divorce, while sixteen others–Alaska, Alabama, Connecticut, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Indiana, Maine, Massachusetts, Mississippi, New Hampshire, North Dakota, Ohio, Texas, Tennessee, and Rhode Island–had added irretrievable breakdown to existing “fault” grounds. Today you can apply for divorce on no fault grounds in Utah. Speak to an experienced Bountiful Utah divorce lawyer to know how you can seek a divorce in Utah on no fault grounds.
No-fault divorce did bring about a number of significant alterations in American divorce. It changed the concept of divorce from a punishment of an offending spouse to a “remedy for situations which are unavoidable and unendurable.” And, although no-fault divorce law attempted to preserve marriages when possible, it provided relief to dissatisfied spouses on non-judgmental grounds.
It also made collusion between divorcing spouses unnecessary because one no longer “sued” the other for divorce. As a result, the number of male petitioners increased considerably. No-fault divorce also led to less costly divorce because a no-fault action seldom involved high court, attorney, and other costs. A 1977 U.S. Supreme Court ruling in Bates v. State Bar of Arizona intensified this effect by permitting attorneys to advertise their services. Soon, American lawyers advertised easy, inexpensive divorces more frequently than any other legal service.
Parents Versus Third Parties: Grandparent Visitation
Parents have rights over their children; and the state has a residual role. Are there others who have claims? Sometimes—particularly after bitter divorces or the death of one parent—grandparents feel themselves cut off from their grandchildren. The extended family may be decaying; but grandparents still play a huge role in the lives of millions of children.
All fifty states today have statutes granting grandparents, and sometimes other third parties, the right to petition for visitation rights—even when parents object. These statutes pit parental rights against the grief of grandparents who lose contact with their grandchildren. These statutes vary in substance and procedure, but they all give a court power to override a parent’s decision to cut off contacts with relatives. Many of the laws require divorce or the death of a parent to trigger visitation rights for third parties; children of fractured families, it was feared, were losing touch with extended families, particularly the parents of the non-custodial parent.
Tommie and Brad Troxel never married, but they lived together and had two daughters together. (Tommie had eight children in all.)81 After the couple broke up in 1991, Brad moved in with his parents and often brought the girls to their house for his visitation weekends. When Brad committed suicide in 1993, his parents wanted to maintain the same type of schedule; but their mother agreed to no more than one visit per month. The Washington State statute permitted “any person” to petition for visitation rights, and authorized courts to grant these requests if this was shown to be in the “best interests of the child.” The trial court granted substantial visitation rights to the grandparents— more or less what a divorced dad might expect.
Tommie appealed; and in Troxel v. Granville (2000), a somewhat surprising decision, the United States Supreme Court held that Washington’s visitation statute was unconstitutional, at least as applied to Tommie. Under the Fourteenth Amendment— the Due Process Clause—the parents’ right to “liberty” included rights over the care, control, and education of their children. Troxel expanded this right. The Washington statute, according to a plurality of the Court, was “breathtakingly broad.” A third-party visitation statute must, at a minimum, give “special weight” to a parent’s decision not to allow visitation. The Washington statute relied on that old standard, the “best interests of the child.” This appeared to give equal weight to the preferences of the parent and third parties. But a fit parent must be presumed to act in the best interests of the child; and that includes the decision to block visits by grandparents. Before a court can order visitation rights, there must be at least some evidence to overcome this presumption.
After Troxel, courts in many states struggled with challenges to their own statutes—did they give enough deference to parental rights? Statutes in California and Minnesota expressly built in a presumption in favor of parental decisions. New York’s visitation statute permits grandparents to petition for visitation if either parent is deceased or if “equity would see fit to intervene.” Lower courts have read this requirement as sufficiently protective of a parent’s right to refuse visitation.
Little Brittany Collier lived with her mother and her maternal grandparents, Gary and Carol Harrold, from birth to age two. Her father (who had never been married to her mother) had supervised visitation rights twice a week. Then Brittany’s mother died of cancer. Her father petitioned for and won custody of Brittany. He took her from the grandparents’ home and refused any further contact. They filed a request for visitation. Ohio law put the burden of proof on the party seeking visitation, and listed factors to be considered, including the wishes of a child’s parent. This emphasis on the parent’s rights was enough to allow the court to avoid Troxel. The Harrolds, who had a longstanding and close relationship with Brittany, won the right to visitation.
Cases like these continue to wind their way through state court systems with mixed results. The statutes, and Troxel itself, are, of course, signs of the times. There is no organized “grandparents’” lobby; but it is easy to form interest groups out of dispersed individuals with a common problem or interest. And the civil rights movements—starting with African Americans, then women, Native Americans, the elderly, the handicapped, prisoners, and all other conceivable clusters—make the idea of grandparents’ rights more tenable. As do the increasing use of courts, constitutions, and judicial review to sort out rights and conflicting interests; the growing tendency of law to treat individuals as rightsholders, rather than families; and the increase in the number of what used to be called “broken homes.” All this set the stage for a battle, in which Troxel was a kind of climax, but not a definitive resolution.
Choosing the right attorney
Divorce law is a highly specialized profession, and one attorney is not necessarily as good as another. Even if you restrict yourself to an attorney who specializes in divorce law, attorneys have different amounts of experience in complicated negotiations and in litigation. They differ in the time they have practiced in your jurisdiction and in their awareness of individual judges’ previous rulings. They differ in cost. They differ in how thoroughly they prepare cases and in how responsive they are to your phone calls and needs. Some will handle your case themselves, while others will turn it over to an associate—perhaps an inexperienced one. Some will agree to act as a coach if you decide to represent yourself, providing information and advice and reviewing agreements you have reached with your spouse.
Litigation has a number of serious financial and emotional pitfalls. Legal fees may escalate out of proportion to your assets. When you take your case to court, your life is scrutinized in public and your future is turned over to a judge who neither knows your family nor has the time to tailor a decision to your unique case. His or her ruling is determined by some combination of formulas, the opinions of experts if called in on your case, and the judge’s own leanings. Litigation is chancy and courts unpredictable. He points out that every trial lawyer has had the experience of turning down settlement offers because they were too low, only to obtain far lower settlements in court.
Mediation is an alternative to the traditional two-attorney adversarial path to divorce and is being used by increasing numbers of people. In mediation, an impartial professional helps divorcing spouses hammer out agreements that are fair, informed, workable, and acceptable to both spouses. In mediation, there is no winner and loser, as there so often is in an adversarial divorce. Mediators take a win-win approach. Some couples use mediation to negotiate all issues: parenting arrangements, support issues, and property division. Some use it only for decisions related to the children, while their attorneys handle their financial issues.
Don’t confuse mediation with arbitration. In arbitration, parties accept the decision of the arbitrator. In mediation, a settlement is completely voluntary. Mediators neither make decisions nor force a decision. If the parties do not reach a decision on one or more issues in mediation, they are free to resolve them through their attorneys or the courts. Don’t confuse mediation with counseling or therapy, either. Mediators do not help you decide whether to get divorced or help you work through your emotions and losses, as therapists do.
Mediation can be used at any time. Some couples use it before one moves out of the home, others after they have met with an attorney. Some try it as a last attempt to avoid litigation, although by this time conflict has often escalated out of control. Some couples seek family mediation after divorces are final to settle new disputes that have arisen over children. Some use it after remarriage to work out a detailed parenting agreement in which everyone’s roles and responsibilities are spelled out when one or more stepparents are involved.
Mediation is not a panacea. It is a poor choice if either party is fixated on revenge or “winning,” or if either is determined to hide assets despite agreements for full disclosure. It is not a good alternative if one party’s functioning is seriously impaired due to very low intelligence or severe psychopathology. If a spouse cannot let go of the marriage, he or she may not be willing to resolve all issues because to do so would mean the end of the marriage. And if one spouse has clearly dominated the relationship or if there has been ongoing domestic violence, it takes a very highly skilled and astute mediator to guide the couple to a fair agreement.
Successful mediation may mean you can avoid years of bitterness, hard feelings, court battles, and relitigations. It is a process far better suited to families than is the adversarial process, particularly for issues concerning children. If all issues are not resolved in mediation, you can always fall back on adversarial means to resolve them. Mediation is an option well worth considering at any time during the divorce process. Couples in mediation typically report feeling empowered to shape their own futures rather than victimized by a callous system. Mediation is less time-consuming, less costly, and less stressful than is the adversarial path to divorce, and people generally report more satisfaction with mediation and mediated agreements than they do with adversarial procedures and their resultant settlements.
The adversarial legal system can do for families in divorce what the hand grenade does for interior design. Mediation is a path to a kinder, gentler divorce. In fact, the majority of states now have mandated mediation for couples with disputes about their children. In Utah the spouses must subject themselves to mandatory divorce mediation before they can move the courts.
If divorce will be the end of the relationship, the hand grenade approach may not be so catastrophic. But in cases involving underage children, divorce is not the end of the parents’ relationship, but a milestone. Mediation gets spouses communicating in a constructive way. It demonstrates that cooperation can be more to their advantage than confrontation. It models communication and negotiation skills that can be used in the future. This is quite a contrast to the escalating bitterness and conflict that are so often by-products of adversarial divorces and that inevitably color future interactions.
Couples in mediation typically report feeling empowered to shape their own futures rather than victimized by a callous system. Mediation is less time-consuming, less costly, and less stressful than is the adversarial path to divorce, and people generally report more satisfaction with mediation and mediated agreements than they do with adversarial procedures and their resultant settlements. Studies report that people are also more willing to adhere to their mediated agreements and less likely to drag one another back to court.
In mediation, the mediator helps the parties clarify issues, individual needs, and priorities; develop and evaluate a variety of options; and hammer out agreements that are acceptable to both parties. Parties are also helped to compile information needed to make informed decisions, such as financial records, their separate living expenses, pension valuations, and property and business appraisals.
Emotional Divorce
Your emotional divorce is completely separate from your legal divorce. For some it does not take place until long after the legal divorce is finalized. For some, it is an elusive goal, never reached.
Your emotional divorce is accepting the end of your marriage, recognizing both its strengths and shortcomings over the years, and acknowledging the role you played in its demise. It is letting go of the sadness, anger, and resentments and laying your past to rest. It is feeling only indifference, concern, or tenderness for your former partner rather than anger, hatred, resentment, regret, sorrow, longing, love, or dependency. It is getting on with a future of your own design.
People achieve their emotional divorce to different degrees; not everyone is a glaring failure like John or a dazzling success like Ann. Those with moderate success may still harbor strong feelings but may be able to compartmentalize them so they do not interfere with their day-to-day lives. Others may successfully co-parent their children but not without a constant struggle to avoid conflict.
For most people, disengaging from one another is an important step in completing their emotional divorce. Many people balk at the idea of disengaging, feeling that it is unnecessary. However, in the long run, relatively few people find they were correct. For most people it is a must! The following steps will help you in the disengaging process:
• If you are a departing spouse, take everything with you and change your mailing address; do not keep keys to the family home.
• Limit all contact and discussions with each other to necessary matters only, such as children, dividing belongings, and resolving financial matters.
• Formalize how you will communicate from now on; set prearranged meetings or phone calls.
• If your former partner persistently tries to make unnecessary contact, get an answering machine and screen calls.
• Send support payments through the mail.
• Do not rely on your ex-spouse for any of the functions (other than parenting) that he or she took responsibility for in the marriage (cooking, laundry, car or house repairs, bill paying, financial planning, and so forth). Falling into these familiar patterns will keep you in a state of limbo—no longer a part of your old world but unable to enter a new one.
• If you have children, establish a set schedule for them to see the departing parent. This eliminates the need for ongoing contact to arrange for exchanging the children, and it allows each of you to make plans independently. It is also good for your children.
• Respect one another’s privacy; do not ask about or offer personal information.
Disengagement does not mean you must permanently terminate your relationship with your spouse. A good relationship with your former partner can be a real asset in the future, particularly if you have children. However, to have a good relationship in the future, the spousal relationship needs to be redefined and restructured. You need to stop interacting in your old ways and find mutually acceptable new ways of relating. Because of the emotionally charged atmosphere of separation, a period of non-involvement is usually necessary before a new and different relationship can develop successfully.
If you feel the need to speak or contact your ex-spouse after a bitter divorce battle, speak to an experienced Bountiful Utah divorce attorney before you do so.

Bountiful Utah Divorce Lawyer Free Consultation

When you need legal help for a divorce in Bountiful Utah, please call Ascent Law LLC (801) 676-5506 for your Free Consultation. We can help you with Divorce. Legal Separation. Child Custody. Child Support. Alimony. Mondifications. Paternity Issues. College Funds. School Schedules. Vacation Schedules. International Divorce. International Travel with Minor Children. And So Much More. We want to 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


Recent Posts

Products Liability Lawsuits

Real Estate Lawyer Magna Utah

When Did Divorce Become Legal In Utah?

Bankruptcy Lawyer Alpine Utah

Criminal Defense In Utah

Do I Need A Lawyer For A First Time DUI?

False Accusations of Abuse During Divorce

False Accusations of Abuse During Divorce

In some particularly contentious divorces, it is all too common for one spouse to make false allegations of abuse in order to gain an upper hand. The presence of abuse by one spouse can have a huge impact on divorce litigation, especially insofar as determining custody of minor children, and can lead to criminal charges in some cases.

While wise Utah divorce lawyers strive to keep discord to a minimum when negotiating a divorce, allegations of abuse change the entire character of the process. Abuse allegations can be very difficult to conclusively disprove and, as a result, often make divorce litigation unavoidable.

If you are involved in a divorce and your spouse has turned to false accusations of abuse, you need to act quickly to prove your innocence. Our experienced divorce lawyers in Utah have seen nearly everything that can happen during the divorce process. We have the investigation and litigation skills to deal with false accusations of abuse and are prepared to handle anything your spouse can throw at you.

We understand that it is important to confront allegations of abuse immediately. Experience has taught us that negotiations may still be salvageable if we can disprove allegations early.

It is much more common, however, for such allegations to signal the end of any chance at a peaceful resolution. That is why we are always prepared to go to trial if necessary to defend the reputations of our clients and their rights to their children and property.

Splitting Up After a Long-Term Marriage: Why?

In 2010, former Vice President Al Gore and his wife, Tipper, announced their separation. By all outward appearances, the couple was happy and comfortable, and the announcement came as a shock even to close friends. Many asked why they were separating.

As a firm dedicated to the practice of divorce and family law on Long Island, we hear and understand the reasons men and women of all ages, in marriages of all lengths, decide to divorce. For long-term, stable couples, divorce oftentimes brings few fireworks, no accusations and oftentimes no infidelity. What contributes to the demise of a long-term marriage?

Consider this:

  • Al and Tipper Gore separated after 40 years of marriage. They raised children, sought and found adventure, and following a process of long and careful consideration, they decided to separate. From their statements, it seems clear they still love each other as friends, but chose to pursue their lives separately.
  • While the end of a long marriage can come rudely, it may also come as an emotional relief. As people live longer and healthier lives, fewer people are willing to accept an empty marriage that lost its love and intimacy long ago. In a recent paper from Bowling Green State University, researchers found the divorce rate for those over 50 has doubled between 1990 and 2010.
  • Divorce after decades means careful consideration about wealth, and often retirement monies as well. While two people can live together less expensively than two can separately, more women and men are choosing to go it alone, understanding the financial difficulties and potentially lowered quality of life that may follow.

By all accounts, the Gores remain happy with their decision and the new opportunities pursued by each party. While causes of divorce are many, changes in time and relationship often spell the end of a marriage.

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

Ascent Law LLC

4.9 stars – based on 67 reviews


Recent Posts

Utah Divorce Myths

How to Negotiate a Contract

Why Couples Choose Prenuptial Agreements

Primary Caretaker in Divorce

Make a Will

Children of Wealthier Parents More Affected by Divorce

Dating After Divorce

Dating After Divorce

Getting back into the dating world after a divorce can be exciting — as well as incredibly frightening. Before you decide to take this next step in your journey, there are a few questions you should ask yourself to be completely sure you are ready to date.

What outcome do I hope to achieve in this relationship?

What kind of relationship are you looking for? Are you all-in on looking for a new long-term partner, or are you simply looking for something light and fun? You do not have to have a desired outcome set in stone, but you should at least consider what your intentions are and what you hope to achieve.

You don’t have to have a serious intention with a relationship, but it’s good to at least set reasonable expectations so you can be more comfortable if you start to get serious with a new partner.

Have I taken enough time to heal after my divorce?

It can take some time to emotionally heal after a divorce. You should reserve some time for reflection and to get over the tough times you’ve recently experienced. If you are still feeling a lot of pain, hurt or anger, you may need more time before you seriously begin dating again. This is just as much for your potential new partner’s sake as yours — it is unfair to use another person as a means to get over your divorce.

What will I tell my children?

You should not give your children any details they do not need to know. It can be understandably difficult to bring up a new relationship to your kids, but you will not be able to hide it forever. Be as honest as you can, and speak with a counselor if you’d like further advice.

What to Know About Equitable Distribution in Utah

In Utah, the standard for divorcing couples is that their property will be divided in an equitable manner. Note that this does not necessarily mean an equal division, but instead a fair one. When making decisions regarding asset distribution, courts will consider what each spouse brought to the marriage and what each will need once the marriage has ended.

Some of the factors a judge will consider include the following:

  • The income and property each spouse had at the time of marriage and the time of the divorce filing
  • The length of the marriage
  • The age and health of each spouse
  • Any pension, inheritance rights and health insurance either spouse will lose due to the divorce
  • Whether the court has awarded or will award alimony
  • Whether the marital property is liquid or non-liquid
  • Each spouse’s likely financial circumstances in the future
  • The tax consequences of the divorce and asset distribution to each spouse
  • Whether either spouse has purposefully wasted marital assets
  • Whether either spouse has transferred marital property to another person or entity as a means of avoiding distribution

Only property acquired during the course of the marriage is divided by the court, with a few exceptions, such as inheritance or gifts. Examples of marital property include any income earned during the marriage by either spouse, the property purchased using that income, other properties purchased while married, retirement benefits either spouse earned during marriage and the appreciation of any assets (such as real estate or valuables) accrued during the marriage. Businesses and professional practices are also subject to equitable distribution if they can be classified as marital property.

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

Ascent Law LLC

4.9 stars – based on 67 reviews


Recent Posts

Resolve Your Divorce With a Level Head

Difference Between a Divorce and Annulment

10 Ways Your Spouse Can Hide Money in Divorce

Life Insurance Policy to Lower Estate Tax

West Jordan Utah Adoption Lawyer

Why Use a Lawyer?

Why You Need an Attorney for Divorce

Why You Need an Attorney for Divorce

When you file for divorce, you are required to provide the court with certain information. For example, you must give the court the legal authority to actually process your case.

divorce petition — occasionally also referred to as a divorce complaint — allows you to present certain facts that indicate you meet all jurisdictional requirements for the divorce. These conditions vary depending on the state in which you live.

If you have somehow made a mistake regarding the requirements for filing the divorce petition, a court will instantly dismiss it. Your case could also be dismissed if you fail to include any required item in the petition.

That’s not the only way you could make your case more difficult on yourself by improperly filing the petition. You must inform the court on what you are seeking in your divorce. If you do not understand the divorce laws in Utah, you could accidentally leave out requests for benefits to which you are legally entitled, which means you will not get that benefit once the divorce is finalized.

Importance of properly filing your divorce petition

For your divorce proceedings to begin, you must serve your spouse with a copy of the petition. However, you are not allowed to mail it. Instead, you may have a police officer or process server deliver the petition in person. This individual will also deliver what’s called a “summons,” which notifies your spouse of the due date by which he or she needs to respond.

What to Expect as a Witness in a Divorce Deposition

Divorce depositions, like those associated with most other civil cases, involve parties making sworn statements about certain elements of the case in question. This could include information on finances, assets or a variety of other issues.

In some situations, third-party witnesses might get called in to be deposed, as well. Attorneys representing either spouse could reach out and ask to speak to a witness directly to get key information. These witnesses may also sign an affidavit, a sworn written statement that contains information on issues relevant to the divorce case.

What happens at a divorce deposition?

To call in a witness to a divorce deposition, attorneys must serve that witness with a subpoena, either personally or via a police officer or process server. This subpoena will specify when and where the deposition will occur (typically in the office of the deposing attorney). At the deposition, a court reporter will be on hand to record everything the witness says. Both spouses and their divorce lawyers may also be present.

Witnesses in these depositions also have the right to legal counsel. This is especially important if a witness will be asked questions that would be protected by doctor-patient privileges or other sensitive issues. Because there are no judges present, lawyers have the ability to ask just about any question. Witnesses are required to answer honestly, unless an attorney instructs them not to answer at all.

To that end, it’s a good idea to at least speak with a family law attorney ahead of time if you are to be a witness at a deposition. This will give you an opportunity to go over the types of questions you should avoid answering (if applicable) and will give you a better feel for what to expect in this process.

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

Ascent Law LLC

4.9 stars – based on 67 reviews


Recent Posts

Severance Agreement Lawyer

Protect Your Business in Divorce

Fraudulent Conveyance Explained

Move Out of the Family House

Interstate Enforcement of Child Custody

Avoid Motorcycle Accidents at Night

What Not to Do if You’re About to Get Divorced

What Not to Do if You’re About to Get Divorced

When you’re about to get divorced for the first time, you may start to feel more than a little overwhelmed. Those who are unfamiliar with the divorce process and do not receive proper advice often make some key mistakes that could impact them in the long term.

To that end, the following are some things you should never do before and during your divorce:

  • Speak with financial advisors you cannot trust or understand: You need to be able to get your financial affairs in order before your divorce begins. Any financial advisor you work with should be someone you can trust implicitly and who can explain your financial situation to you in a way you can fully understand.
  • Acting based on your emotions: It’s completely understandable if you feel like an emotional wreck during your divorce. However, you should never let your emotions dictate your actions. This is, of course, much easier said than done, which is why it’s so important to have an attorney who advises you on the strategy that’s right for you.
  • Attempt to conceal your assets: Many people mistakenly believe they can get away with concealing their assets to reduce the amount of their money or possessions subject to the division of assets. This is illegal and could impact your ability to receive a fair settlement if caught.
  • Try to stick to the same standard of living: One of the biggest errors people make during and after their divorce is trying to stick to the same standard of living. Your new financial situation may force you to be much tighter with money than you were previously, at least in the short term. It’s a good idea to get used to your new lifestyle before your divorce than to try to suddenly adjust to it afterward.

Tips for Navigating the Holidays When Dealing with Divorce

The holiday season can be a tough time for families dealing with divorce or separation, especially if there are children involved. There are, however, some ways you can navigate the challenges that come during the holidays in a way that minimizes potential conflict.

Below are a few tips to help you through this time of the year:

  • Consider starting new traditions: Just because you have celebrated one way in the past does not mean you have to repeat those traditions each year. Consider starting new traditions to which you and your family members can look forward.
  • Be flexible: If there are certain traditions you and your former spouse are both unwilling to part with, consider how you can compromise so that you can both enjoy them.
  • Consider what the kids want: Although your children should not be able to make the sole decision as to what you’ll do over the holidays, at least consider their wants and needs. Will they feel cheated if they don’t get to see a certain family member? Are there certain holiday traditions that are particularly meaningful to them?
  • Be transparent about your plans: If it’s going to be impossible for your children to spend time with both parents over the holidays, but you and your former partner have come to an agreement on how you will split holidays moving forward, be sure your children know that next year will be different.
  • Set rules for gifts: Communicate with your former spouse about how much money you will spend on gifts and the budget with which you’ll be working. Substantial differences in the gifts children receive from each parent can breed resentment.

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

Ascent Law LLC

4.9 stars – based on 67 reviews


Recent Posts

Investment Bank Vice President Charged With Insider Trading

Legal Separation vs Divorce

Asset Protection for Real Estate

Cohabitation and Property

How a Trial Works

Trust Types

Negotiating Divorce in Utah

There are some situations in which only one spouse will take part in the divorce proceedings. This could be for a variety of reasons — one spouse may live in a different state, for example, or simply be resistant to the divorce occurring. When only one spouse participates in court, the process is called an ex parte divorce. The divorce will still be valid, so long as you meet certain requirements.

Negotiating Divorce in Utah

First, you must meet the residency requirements of a divorce. You must file your divorce within the state or county that you permanently live, or where you have been present for a certain period of time according to state law. This time period could be anywhere from six weeks to a full year.

Under an ex parte divorce, you have an exception to the normal rule of jurisdiction. This means that the divorce court can have power over a person’s legal rights even if they lack a relationship with the state in question.

Next, you must give notice to your spouse of your intent to file divorce. A person working as a “process server,” typically a local law enforcement officer, delivers this notice. If you do not know where your spouse is currently located, you may have to look into other options to ensure that they get notice of the divorce action.

Once the process has been completed, courts are required to honor divorces that were obtained even in another state.

How to Negotiate a Fair Alimony Arrangement

Like any other aspect of your divorce, you can negotiate an alimony arrangement outside of the courtroom. Doing so allows you to have more control over your future, while also avoiding the expensive, time-consuming process associated with litigation.

Each spouse in a divorce must provide certain financial disclosures at the outset of the divorce, even if it’s obvious which spouse will be making the alimony payments. To determine an appropriate amount of alimony, you will need to consider the following:

  • Separate assets your spouse owns: You are entitled to know the value of any assets your spouse owns independently of you. This includes any assets gained before the marriage.
  • General income and expense reports: A detailed income and expense report will give you a clear picture of how your spouse is spending money. Major disparities in spending and income must be addressed in alimony discussions, especially if one spouse has a lot of money to spend on luxury items.
  • Bonuses and benefits: Additional income is available from overtime and bonuses. This may be unpredictable, but should still be included when calculating alimony. Know if your spouse receives certain work-related benefits such as sick pay, unused vacation pay, health insurance benefits, vehicles paid for by the company or any similar benefits.
  • The needs of the person receiving alimony: The purpose of alimony is to provide the spouse receiving payments with the support he or she needs to maintain a reasonably decent standard of living. Just because there is a large disparity of income does not mean the recipient is going to get large sums of money each month.

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

Ascent Law LLC

4.9 stars – based on 67 reviews


Recent Posts

Tax Incentives for a Charitable Remainder Trust

Will Domestic Violence Affect Child Custody in Utah?

Trial Lawyer

How to Pay Off High Interest Credit Card Debt

Reasons Parents Lose Custody of Their Children

Utah SEC Lawyer

Do I Need a Family Lawyer to get Divorced?

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
  • Visitation
  • 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.

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


Recent Posts

Financial Planning After Divorce

Types of Trusts

An Employee is Hurt During a Workplace Emergency, Can the Employer be held liable?

How to Screw Up Your Bankruptcy Discharge

Financial Planning for Beginners

Types of Alimony in Utah

Types of Alimony in Utah

Types of Alimony in Utah

When a couple divorces, they are occasionally on uneven ground financially. This may be due to their unequal earning potential or because one has foregone their career aspirations to care for the couple’s children. Under some circumstances, one of the spouses may be required to support the other one financially. This support can be temporary in nature, long-term or even permanent.

Under Utah law, a spouse may seek spousal support to address any number of situations. For some, the need for support is temporary in nature and should last only a few months. For others, however, alimony is required in the long term due to inability to financially provide for his or herself in a manner to which the spouse is accustomed.

Temporary maintenance is sometimes ordered to be paid for a spouse who needs support while the divorce is being finalized. Generally this support is meant to be for only a few months and the obligation terminates once the divorce is final. Once this happens, a judge may decide if the support should continue and may then order the other to pay permanent alimony.

Permanent alimony, on the other hand, is designed to continue, usually on a monthly basis, without stopping unless and until the supported spouse gets remarried. To decide if permanent alimony is warranted, a judge will look at a number of factors. These factors may include the length of marriage, the spouses’ ages, each of their present and future earning potential and the contributions each spouse made during the course of the marriage. Not every judge will order alimony, but the longer a couple is married, the more likely a judge is to order alimony payments.

How Does Infidelity Affect Divorce?

For many couples, infidelity is an unforgivable act of betrayal. It can negatively affect a marriage to the point where divorce is the only option. Each year, a large number of couples end their marriage because one person is unfaithful.

Utah State recently adopted a no-fault divorce law. As a result, Utahers who wish to end their marriage for any reason, including infidelity, may cite that their marriage as irretrievably broken down.

While you may be angry with your spouse for cheating, the court system has no interest in why your marriage failed. Divorce is not a criminal proceeding. As a result, the courts do not punish spouses for being unfaithful.

If your spouse cheats on you, do you get the house? Does cheating affect equitable distribution? You may be surprised to know that equitable distribution is not affected by infidelity. Cheating can devastate an entire family, emotionally harm your children, and end your marriage, but the court is only concerned with obtaining a fair resolution to your marital dissolution. The court views marriage as an economic partnership. As a result, it divides the assets of a marriage equally between each partner.

The only time infidelity can affect equitable distribution, and as a result a divorce proceeding, is if the cheating spouse diverted funds from the marriage to further his or her extra-marital relationship. The court may require the return of the funds used outside the marriage. A skilled and aggressive attorney can fight to determine the amount of those funds and help you retrieve them.

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


Recent Posts

Pour Over Will

Trust Is Crucial In Attorney Client Relationships

Payday Loans and Bankruptcy

Claims in a Business Divorce

Financial Planning After Divorce

Types of Trusts

Financial Planning After Divorce

After a divorce, it can take some time to adjust to your new financial situation. There is less money coming in, but still plenty of expenses to monitor. To that end, it’s important to sit down and closely analyze how a divorce will affect you financially before it is actually made official.

Financial Planning After Divorce

Here are some financial planning considerations to keep in mind as you prepare for life after divorce:

  • Thoroughly analyze your expenses. Many people do not completely realize the financial impact of their divorce until after it happens. To avoid being shocked, sit down and list out every one of your sources of income and your expenses. This will give you an accurate picture of what you can expect your financial state to look like after your divorce.
  • Consider your career. Are you going to need to find another job or embark on a new career to make ends meet? If so, you should start looking into your options right away so you are prepared once the divorce is finalized. Also consider any training you might need for a new career.
  • Figure out your living situation. It might not be realistic to hang on to the family home. Thus, you need to consider where you are going to be living. Will you rent an apartment? Do you have another place lined up? Will you be able to sell the home quickly?
  • Consider what you are losing. You’re not just losing an income. You are also potentially losing health insurance and a variety of benefits, including retirement benefits. All of these benefits should factor into your detailed financial analysis.

Tips for Keeping Your Divorce Relatively Inexpensive

In addition to being stressful for a variety of reasons, divorce can be an expensive process. Between the legal fees, property division, debt responsibilities and other costs, it’s possible you will come away from your divorce with some work to do in terms of rebuilding your financial health and stability.

However, there are some tactics you can use to help keep costs down in the divorce process. The following are just a few of them:

  • Negotiate as much as possible: This might be easier said than done in a contentious divorce, as your former spouse might not be willing to negotiate on certain (or any) issues. But whenever possible, negotiating allows you to compromise and avoid some expenses.
  • List your priorities: Create a full list of priority issues in your divorce, and determine how much you want to negotiate on those issues. This helps you form a plan of action for your negotiations and allows you to set priorities.
  • Be thorough with your record keeping: With the large amount of paperwork associated with a divorce (and marriage), it’s easy to lose track of some items. Be as thorough and meticulous with your record keeping as possible, and keep track of all correspondence, research, court orders, notes and other documents.

Seeking an Annulment in Utah

We’ve written about the difference between getting an annulment or divorce as well as an annulment in Utah. Though annulments have the effect of ending a marriage, they are different in various ways from divorce. Divorce dissolves a marriage, while an annulment declares it void.

Marriage is a legal contract. Just like any other contract, there are certain requires that the contract must meet in order for it to be considered valid. If one of the spouses can show that there was some material issue with the marriage contract, he or she may be successful in annulling the marriage.

Under Utah law, there are five grounds for annulment. The first is that one or both of the spouses was under the age of 18 at the time of the marriage. In order to legally enter into a contract, a person must be an adult (18 years old) at the time. If he or she is not, the contract is not necessarily void, but it is voidable.

A marriage can be annulled if one or both of the spouses was unable to consent due to mental incapacity. This can include any circumstances where one or both of the spouses is unable to give legal consent, such as if one were drunk at the time of the wedding, for example. If one of the spouses can prove that they were mental incapacitated at the time of the wedding, the marriage might be voided. In the same vein as mental incapacitation, if one of the spouses has been mentally ill for at least five years, the other may seek an annulment.

Sexual intercourse is considered part of the legal agreement of a marriage. If one of the spouses is physically unable to partake in sexual intercourse, the marriage may be annulled.

Finally, if a spouse can prove that the marriage was obtained through duress, coercion or fraud, it may be voided. For instance, if one of the spouses was threatened in order to obtain the marriage, this marriage would voidable.

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

Ascent Law LLC

4.9 stars – based on 67 reviews


Recent Posts

Lawyer for Excessive Use of Margin

Does the Utah Anti-Deficiency Law Protect Me?

Imputing Income for Divorce in Utah

Will a Chapter 13 Plan Look Better on My Credit Report Than Chapter 7?

How to Deal With an Angry Spouse During Divorce

Pour Over Will

How to Deal with an Angry Spouse During Divorce

How to Deal with an Angry Spouse During Divorce

In some cases, a divorce can get rather contentious. I’ve seen it as a family lawyer.

If you have reason to believe your soon-to-be-former spouse will react with anger, or if you have already experienced this response, it is important to know how to deal with these issues appropriately.

Here are a few examples of what you might expect from an angry spouse and how you should respond:

  • False accusations of abuse. In some situations, one spouse might falsely accuse the other of abuse and seek a restraining order as a means of gaining leverage in the divorce process. You can prevent this from happening by simply refusing to get into any sort of conflict, whether it’s in person, over the phone or via email.
  • Not fulfilling verbal agreements. You might believe you’ve reached an understanding with your spouse about a certain issue, but suddenly he or she reverses course. To prevent this from happening, get every agreement in writing and signed by your spouse. If the other person goes back on his or her word, the document then provides evidence.
  • Limit access to money or assets. Some individuals try to limit their spouse’s access to marital assets. Before you file for divorce, make sure your name is on all of the assets the two of you own together, including bank accounts, credit card accounts, retirement accounts and mortgages. Open your own credit accounts separately as soon as you can to avoid your former spouse damaging your credit.
  • Spying. Your former partner may be tracking all of your activities, including what you are doing online. Do not say or do anything that could compromise you or give your spouse ammunition to use against you during court proceedings.
  • Actual physical or verbal abuse. If your spouse’s anger escalates to the point where he or she becomes truly abusive, it’s time to get law enforcement involved. At this point, the situation has become more serious than you needing to protect your best interests in the divorce — you and your kids could be in actual danger.

Rules to Help You Communicate with Your Former Spouse After Divorce

Although many people who go through a divorce would very much like to never have to see or talk to their former partner ever again, this is unfortunately not a realistic scenario for most couples. If, for example, you have children together, you need to keep in touch regularly if you have any hope of consistent parenting.

Here are some ground rules that can help you to more effectively communicate after a contentious divorce in what is typically an awkward and unpleasant situation:

  • Be smart about how you communicate. Whenever possible, keep all communication in writing if you know there might be a disagreement. If you have to make phone calls, keep them as brief as possible and only talk about what you need to discuss. The longer the communication, the more likely an argument will occur.
  • Stay impersonal. Never discuss any personal issues, as this opens the door up to emotional entanglements. Keep everything strictly business.
  • Do not send messages through children. This can cause a lot of long-term emotional damage to kids. Any communication between the two of you should be conducted directly, rather through an intermediary like your children.
  • Have your own life. You are divorced, which means you no longer need to be concerned about where your former spouse is going, what he or she is doing or thinking or who he or she is seeing. Keeping your lives as separate from each other as possible is the best course of action, and will help you to stay businesslike during your communication.
  • Analyze your relationships with your former partner’s family. If you had been married for some time, it is understandable to want to maintain relationships with your former in-laws. However, it is important you never discuss your former spouse, and maintain the relationship primarily as a friendship.

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

Ascent Law LLC

4.9 stars – based on 67 reviews


Recent Posts

Birth Injury Claims and Medical Malpractice

Child Support Enforcement in Utah

How Adultery and Infidelity Relates to Divorce in Utah

180 day waiting period to refile bankruptcy after a dismissal

6 Ways to Protect Yourself During a Utah Divorce

Lawyer For Excessive Use of Margin