Utah Divorce Attorney Reviews

Utah Divorce Attorney Reviews

At Ascent Law we’ve received a lot of reviews. You can read out testimonials here. But now let’s talk about you. You’ve decided you’re ready to get divorced, but what do you need to do next? You need to learn how the process works. While divorce is generally an adversarial action, pitting spouse against spouse, the following articles and legal resources are tailored toward helping individuals navigate the process as smoothly as possible.

Legal Requirements to Divorce

You first need to consider where to file for divorce. Typically, this is the county and state where one or both of you live. First, determine if you meet the state’s residency requirements. If you or your spouses are in the military, you may file where currently stationed. However, there are rules to protect active duty service members from civil lawsuits. For more, read the articles on residency, eligibility for divorce, and military divorces here.

Completing and Filing Divorce Petitions

To complete the divorce petition, first consider whether you want a “no fault” or “fault” divorce. Fault divorces are for things such as abuse or adultery, read more in the articles below. If you don’t have any kids or many assets, you could get a “summary” divorce. With children, there’s child custody and child support papers to complete. Find articles explaining the types of divorces, the typical timeline, and even how to change your name in this section. You can complete divorce forms on your own, at a self-help legal clinic, or with a lawyer. As you don’t want to unnecessarily waive your marital property, spousal support, or other rights, seeking legal advice is a good idea, especially if you have many assets.

Serving Divorce Papers

Once you’ve filed your divorce papers at court, you have to serve them on your spouse. Generally, this means another adult must physically give the papers to your spouse. You can use professional servers or save money by having a friend serve the papers for you. If domestic violence is involved, the police in some counties will serve the papers, without charging the usual fee.

Answering a Divorce Petition

Maybe your spouse just served you with dissolution papers. You still have the opportunity to tell the court what you do and don’t want in the divorce. Take care to answer within the deadline set by state law. In responding, you can fill out the court forms yourself, at a legal clinic, or with the help of an experienced divorce lawyer. If there are disagreements about what to do with children or property, considering hiring an attorney.

Mediation and Settling a Divorce Case

Many divorces settle with an agreement both parties can live with. Many states require mediation to help reach a property settlement and a parenting plan everyone can follow. Even without a formal program, you and your spouse can use a “collaborative” divorce process from the beginning or can use an “alternative dispute resolution” specialist to help you settle your divorce, read more by clicking the links below.

Trial and Appeals

If your case goes to trial, you’ll need to present evidence, possibly including testimony from witnesses, so the judge can decide a property settlement for you. It will be easier if you’re represented by an attorney at trial. It’s also possible you want to appeal or modify a divorce judgment. This section provides articles on these topics as well.

Divorce Process

Divorce doesn’t happen overnight. In most states, there is a series of steps you must take to dissolve your marriage. Read on to learn what to expect during the divorce process.

Separation

Every marriage has its ups and downs. If you and your spouse feel like you need a break from each other, but reconciliation is still a possibility, you can choose to live apart during a trial separation. Some couples will attend therapy during the trial separation to try and resolve their marital problems. Court’s don’t get involved with trial separations, so typically both spouses have to be on board with the decision to separate. Generally speaking, during a short trial separation, your state’s marital property laws still apply meaning anything you or your spouse acquire during this trial period will still be considered marital property and belong to both spouses. If the trial separation is going to last for more than a month, couples may want to put the terms of the separation into an informal agreement, so there’s no confusion and the expectations are spelled out clearly. For example, you can state the amount of time you plan to be apart, how you’ll manage parental responsibilities, who will pay the bills, when each parent will see the children (if any), whether you’ll continue sharing a bank account, how you’ll manage the family home, and anything else that’s important to you.

Legal Separation

In some states, couples who can’t reconcile, but don’t want to file for divorce can ask the court for a legal separation. Legal separation may be appropriate in marriages where the couple’s religion prohibits divorce, where a couple needs to stay married for health care or tax purposes, or, in some cases, to share Social Security benefits. Not all states offer legal separation, but in the states that do, the process is very similar to traditional divorce, except that in the end, you’re still legally married. Both spouses must agree to file for a separation. If either spouse asks for a divorce, the court will proceed with a traditional divorce. If your state doesn’t offer legal separation, you may still be able to permanently separate by entering into a formal, written settlement agreement with your spouse that covers how you will handle any and all marital issues that apply to your case, such as:
• child custody and support,
• alimony (spousal support), and
• property and debt division.
If you’re unsure whether your state offers legal separation or whether it’s the right approach for you case, you should speak with an experienced family law attorney near you.

Filing a Divorce Petition

If you’ve decided that divorce is the right choice for you, you’ll need to initiate the legal process to get your divorce case started. Before you file any paperwork, check with the court to determine if your state requires you and your spouse to live separately before filing. If you file too early, you risk the court rejecting your case, and you’ll have to start over. The spouse requesting the divorce must a file divorce petition (sometimes called a complaint for dissolution of marriage) with the local court in order to start the divorce case. Typically, the petition will include the following:
• each spouse’s personal information (name, address, social security number)
• whether the couple has minor children, and if so, each child’s information
• the legal grounds for the divorce, and
• the filing spouse’s requests for property division, child custody, child support, and/or alimony.

Once you have the petition completed, you’ll need to bring it to your local court, along with any other required documents, and pay the filing fee. If you can’t afford to pay, you can complete a fee waiver request. If the judge approves your request, you won’t have to pay the court’s filing fee.

Utah Grounds for Divorce

There are two types of divorce: no-fault and fault-based. No-fault divorce means that the filing spouse asks for a divorce without alleging that the other spouse did something wrong. Instead, the spouse tells the court that the marriage is irretrievably broken, or that the couple suffers irreconcilable differences. In some states, you can request a divorce based on separation for a certain period of time. While this is no the classic “no-fault” ground, it is similar in that it doesn’t require either spouse to allege the other is at fault for the divorce. All states offer a no-fault divorce (or divorce based on separation). No-fault divorces are less expensive and time-consuming than fault divorces. Some states still allow spouses to file for fault-based divorce. In a fault divorce, a spouse will alleges in the divorce complaint that the other spouse’s misconduct caused the breakup. Some spouses ask for a fault divorce to feel vindicated for the other spouse’s wrongdoing. Others ask for a fault divorce to try and influence the judge’s property and spousal support decisions. In the states that permit fault divorce, the most common grounds are adultery, alcohol or drug abuse, abandonment, and physical abuse. Fault divorces require the filing spouse to prove the allegations in court, so the process tends to take much longer and cost more than a no-fault divorce. If you’re considering a fault divorce, you should speak to a local attorney to determine if you qualify and whether the added expense is worth it in your case.

Serving the Divorce Petition

Regardless of the type of divorce you choose, after you file your documents with the court, you must serve (deliver) a copy of the paperwork to your spouse. You can ask your local sheriff’s department to give the documents to your spouse, or you can hire a private process server to do it for a fee. If you can’t find your spouse, you can ask the judge for permission to publish the divorce information in a local newspaper. Service is important because it ensures that both spouses have time to review and respond to the complaint before the court acts. Nearly every state has a “waiting period” that the court must allow to pass before the judge can finalize the divorce which is the state’s way of allowing the couple time to either reconcile or negotiate the terms of the divorce. The filing spouse must complete and provide proof of service to the court before the waiting period begins to run.

Default Divorce

After you deliver the paperwork to your spouse, the law generally allows the responding spouse 21-28 days to answer. If your spouse fails to respond by the deadline, you can ask the court to issue a default judgment in your favor. A default divorce means that the court will award you everything you asked for in your complaint. If there are minor children involved, the judge will ensure that your requests in the complaint are in the children’s best interests before issuing an order. Once the judge signs the final documents and issues a divorce decree, your marriage is over.

Response or filing an Answer

If your spouse responds to the complaint, the court must proceed with the traditional divorce process. The responding spouse (respondent) can submit an “answer” to the complaint, which agrees or disagrees with the filing spouse’s (petitioner’s) allegations, or the respondent can file a counter-complaint, alleging new facts for the judge to consider. Like with the original divorce complaint, the respondent must serve a copy of the answer to the petitioner and then provide proof of service to the court.

A Temporary Hearing

Even in cases where divorcing spouses agree on everything in their case, the process can still take time. Depending on where you live, some states require couples to live separately for up to a year before the court can finalize a divorce. Other states have waiting periods in excess of 6 months. Because of this, the court has the power to hold temporary hearings to resolve any essential issues while the divorce is pending.
Common reasons for temporary hearings may include:
• temporary custody and parenting time arrangements
• child support
• domestic violence restraining orders
• allocation of marital expenses during the divorce process
• restrictions on the sale or use of joint assets, like bank accounts and marital homes, and
• spousal support.

Getting A Divorce Settlement Agreement

If you and your spouse agree on all your divorce-related issues, you should put your terms in a settlement agreement. A divorce settlement agreement is a legally binding contract that outlines how the couple resolved divorce-related issues. The couple will submit the signed settlement agreement to the judge and if it meets the state’s requirements for fairness to both spouses, the judge will sign it and incorporate it into the final divorce judgement.

A settlement agreement allows the couple to maintain control over the most important aspects of their divorce, including:
• child custody and visitation
• child support
• spousal support
• property division and allocation of debts, and
• any other important issues.

Settlement or Trial

Contrary to what you may see in mainstream media, most couples can work through their issues and agree on the divorce terms without a drawn-out trial. Some couples agree on everything right away and hire attorneys just to memorialize the agreement for them to present to the judge. However, if you need a little help communicating and working through unresolved issues with your spouse, you can consider divorce mediation. Mediation is a voluntary (in most cases) process where the couple meets with a neutral third-party, who will facilitate the negotiations between the couple. If the couple agrees on their issues, the mediator will draft the settlement agreement for both spouses to sign. Mediation is also popular because if there are unresolved issues after the session, the couple can ask the court to decide those limited issues, so mediation can be a valuable service even if the couples doesn’t resolve every issue their case. Mediators don’t have the power to make binding decisions, so divorcing couples often feel more powerful after negotiating their settlement together. Settling your divorce may not be easy, but if you go into negotiations understanding that you and your spouse will both need to sacrifice a little to meet in the middle, you will spend significantly less time and money on your divorce than if you go to trial. For some couples, negotiation is impossible, and a divorce trial is necessary. A trial means that there are unresolved issues between the spouses. Typically, the spouses and their lawyers will attend multiple court hearings to present witnesses, evidence, and testimony to the judge, and the judge will decide how to handle the case.

If there’s a custody dispute, a court may require the family to complete a custody evaluation. A custody evaluator will conduct an investigation by interviewing the parents, children, other relatives, teachers, caregivers, and/or therapists in order to prepare a recommendation on how much time the child should live with each parent. This process is expensive, invasive, and can take several months to a year to complete. A divorce trial can cost many thousands of dollars, and you may be unhappy with the end result, so it’s important to think long and hard before you walk away from your settlement negotiations with your spouse.

Utah Divorce Lawyer

When you need legal help with a legal separation or divorce in Utah, please call Ascent Law LLC for your free consultation (801) 676-5506. 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


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How To Find The Right Divorce Attorney

How To Find The Right Divorce Attorney

Although divorce is common throughout the United States, the divorce process varies depending on the couple’s situation. Short-term marriages without children or property typically result in a less complex and time-consuming divorce than long-term marriages with significant property entanglements, marital debt, and minor children. Additionally, divorcing couples who work together to negotiate the terms of the divorce (child custody, child support, property division, debt allocation, and spousal support) will experience a less expensive and less stressful divorce than couples who can’t agree or refuse to work together.

Filing the Divorce Petition

Whether both spouses agree to the divorce or not, before any couple can begin the divorce process, one spouse must file a legal petition asking the court to terminate the marriage. The filing spouse must include the following information:
• a statement which informs the court that at least one spouse meets the state’s residency requirements for divorce
• a legal reason—or grounds—for the divorce, and
• any other statutory information that your state requires.
Residency requirements vary depending on where you live. States usually require at least one spouse to live in the state anywhere from 3 months to 12 months, and in the county where the spouse files at least 10 days to 6 months before filing the petition. Divorcing spouses must meet the state’s residency requirement before the court can accept the case. Grounds for divorce vary from state-to-state. However, all states offer divorcing couples the option to file a no-fault divorce. No-fault divorce is a streamlined process that allows spouses to file a divorce petition without listing a specific reason or placing blame on either spouse. If your spouse committed marital misconduct or caused the breakup, some states allow parties to claim fault for the divorce, like adultery or neglect. If you’re unsure whether you should file a no-fault or fault divorce, contact an experienced family law attorney in your state for guidance.

Moving The Court for Temporary Orders

Courts understand that the waiting period for divorce may not be possible for all couples. For example, if you are a stay-at-home parent that is raising your children and dependent on your spouse for financial support, waiting for 6-months for the judge to finalize your divorce probably seems impossible. When you file for divorce, the court allows you to ask the court for temporary court orders for child custody, child support, and spousal support. If you request a temporary order, the court will hold a hearing and request information from each spouse before deciding how to rule on the application. The judge will usually grant the temporary order quickly, and it will remain valid until the court orders otherwise or until the judge finalizes the divorce. Other temporary orders may include a request for status quo payments or temporary property restraining orders. Status quo orders typically require the breadwinner to continue paying marital debts throughout the divorce process. Temporary property restraining orders protect the marital estate from either spouse selling, giving away, or otherwise disposing of marital property during the divorce process. Restraining orders are usually mutual, meaning both spouses must follow it or risk being penalized by the court. If you need a temporary order but didn’t file your request at the time you filed for divorce, you’ll need to apply for temporary orders as quickly as possible. When you file for divorce, the court allows you to ask the court for temporary court orders for child custody, child support, and spousal support.

Serve Your Spouse and Wait for a Response

After you file the petition for divorce and request for temporary orders, you need to provide a copy of the paperwork to your spouse and file proof of service with the court. Proof of service is a document that tells the court that you met the statutory requirements for giving a copy of the petition to your spouse. If you don’t properly serve your spouse, or if you neglect to file a proof of service with the court, the judge will be unable to proceed with your divorce case. Service of process can be easy, especially if your spouse agrees with the divorce and is willing to sign an acknowledgment of service. However, some spouses, especially ones that want to stay married or make the process complicated, can be evasive or try anything to frustrate the process. The easiest way to ensure proper service is for the filing spouse to hire a professional who is licensed and experienced in delivering legal documents to difficult parties. The cost is usually minimal and can help prevent a delay in your case. If your spouse retained an attorney, you could arrange to have the paperwork delivered to the attorney’s office.

The party who receives the paperwork (usually titled “defendant” or “respondent”) must file an answer or reply to the divorce petition within a prescribed amount of time. Failure to respond could result in a “default” judgment against the non-responding spouse, which can be complicated and expensive to reverse. The responding party has the option to dispute the grounds for divorce (if a fault divorce), the allegations in the petition, or assert any disagreements as to property, support, custody, or any other divorce-related issues.

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Mediation to Negotiate a Settlement

In cases where the parties have differing opinions on important topics, like child custody, support, or property division, both spouses will need to work together to reach an agreement. Sometimes the court will schedule a settlement conference, which is where the parties and their attorneys will meet to discuss the status of the case. The court may schedule mediation, which is where a neutral third-party will help facilitate discussion between the spouses in hopes to resolve lingering issues. Some states require participation in mediation, while others do not. However, mediation often saves significant time and money during the divorce process, so it’s often a good route for many divorcing couples.

Divorce Trial

Sometimes negotiations fail despite each spouse’s best efforts. If there are still issues that remain unresolved after mediation and other talks, the parties will need to ask the court for help, which means going to trial. A divorce trial is costly and time-consuming, plus it takes all the power away from the spouses and puts it in the hands of the judge. Negotiations and mediation sessions allow the couple to maintain control and have more predictable results than a divorce trial, so it’s best to avoid a trial if possible.

Finalizing the Judgment

Whether you and your spouse negotiated throughout the divorce process, or a judge decided the significant issues for you, the final step of divorce comes when the judge signs the judgment of divorce. The judgment of divorce (or “order of dissolution”) ends the marriage and spells out the specifics about how the couple will allocate custodial responsibility and parenting time, child and spousal support, and how the couple will divide assets and debts. If the parties negotiated a settlement, the filing spouse’s attorney typically drafts the judgment. However, if the couple went through a divorce trial, the judge will issue the final order.

Quick Divorce

In many states, an expedited divorce procedure is available to couples who haven’t been married for very long (usually five years or less), don’t own much property, don’t have children, and don’t have significant joint debts. Both spouses need to agree to the divorce, and must file court papers jointly. A summary (sometimes called “simplified”) divorce involves a lot less paperwork than other types of divorce; a few forms are often all it takes. For this reason, summary divorces are easy to do without the help of a lawyer.

Uncontested Divorce

In terms of dealing with the court process, the path that normally generates the least amount of stress is an uncontested divorce. That’s one in which you and your spouse settle up-front all your differences on issues such as custody and visitation (parenting time), child support, alimony, and division of property. You’ll then incorporate the terms of your settlement in a written “property settlement agreement” (sometimes called a “separation agreement”). Once your case is settled, you can file for divorce with the court. Courts almost invariably fast-track these types of cases, so you can get divorced in a relatively short period of time. In some states, you may not even have to make a court appearance, but rather can file an affidavit (sworn statement) with the court clerk.

Default Divorce

A default divorce occurs when you’ve filed for divorce, and your spouse doesn’t respond. You’d likely see this, for example, if your spouse has left for parts unknown and can’t be found. Assuming you’ve complied with the court’s rules and regulations, a judge can grant the divorce despite the fact your spouse hasn’t participated in the court proceedings. On its face, this may seem like the ideal situation. No one is there to contest what you’re asking the court to give you. But be aware that there are pro and cons to a default divorce.

Contested Divorce

If you and your spouse are at loggerheads over one or more marital issues, to the point that you can’t come to an agreement, then it will be up to a judge to decide those issues for you. This is what’s meant by a contested divorce. Contested divorces are stressful, time-consuming, and expensive (think mounting attorneys’ fees). You’ll go through a lengthy process of exchanging financial and other relevant information, mandatory settlement negotiations, and court hearings for temporary relief, such as interim alimony, for example, if warranted. And if you can’t resolve the case after all that, there will be a court trial. The burdens of a contested divorce are why the vast majority of divorce cases ultimately settle at some point before trial.

Fault and No-Fault Divorce

This refers to the grounds (reasons) on which you’re basing the divorce. Your state’s laws will set out the permissible grounds for divorce. In the not-too-distant past, people who wanted to dissolve their marriage had to show that the other spouse was guilty of wrongdoing, such as adultery or cruelty. Needless to say, accusing your spouse of misconduct could make for quite a contentious divorce. Now, however, all states offer some form of “no-fault” divorce. In a no-fault divorce, instead of proving that a spouse is to blame for the marriage failing, you merely state that you and your spouse have “irreconcilable differences,” or have suffered an “irremediable breakdown” of your relationship.

Mediated Divorce

Before filing for divorce, options are available to you if you need assistance in trying to resolve your differences. These are referred to as “alternative dispute resolution” (ADR) methods. One of those is divorce mediation. Here, a trained neutral third party (the mediator), sits down with you and your spouse to try to help you resolve all of the issues in your divorce. It’s not the mediator’s job to make decisions for you. Rather, mediators offer guidance and help you communicate with each other until; hopefully, you reach a meeting of the minds. A successful mediation usually ends with the preparation of a property settlement agreement.

Collaborative Divorce

Another ADR option is “collaborative divorce”. This entails working with lawyers who are specially trained in this method of settling divorces. The spouses hire their own lawyers, each of whom is obligated to work cooperatively, with the sole purpose of trying to settle your case. Each spouse agrees to disclose all the information that’s necessary for fair negotiations, and to meet with each other and both lawyers, as often as necessary, to attempt to reach a settlement. You all must agree that if your divorce doesn’t settle through the collaborative process, your original attorneys will withdraw and you’ll have to hire different attorneys to take your case to court. This is done to ensure that all participants, including the attorneys, are acting in good faith, with nothing to gain from veering away from the goal of settlement.

Divorce Arbitration

In states that allow it, a third form of ADR is “divorce arbitration”. This option is the most similar to a trial, because the arbitrator (usually an attorney or a retired judge) will make a decision on your marital issues, after being presented with the facts of your case and reviewing the documentation you would ordinarily produce at trial. The benefits of arbitration are that it’s typically conducted in an informal and thus less intimidating setting than a courthouse (usually the arbitrator’s office) and, as with the other forms of ADR, allows you the flexibility of picking meeting times that fit your schedules. This makes it more cost-effective than having to make court appearances, which often involve sitting around racking up attorneys’ fees while waiting for a judge to become available.

Utah Divorce Lawyer

When you need to get divorced in Utah, please call Ascent Law LLC for your free consultation (801) 676-5506. 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


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Divorce Information on the Internet

Divorce Information on the Internet

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Free Initial Consultation with a Divorce Attorney

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

Michael R. Anderson, JD

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

Telephone: (801) 676-5506

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4.9 stars – based on 67 reviews


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Insurance During Divorce

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

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

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

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

The Effect of Facebook on Divorce

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

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

Findings of the study include:

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

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

Free Consultation with Divorce Lawyer in Utah

If you have a question about divorce law or if you need to start or defend against a divorce case in Utah call Ascent Law at (801) 676-5506. We will fight for you.

Michael R. Anderson, JD

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

Telephone: (801) 676-5506

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4.9 stars – based on 67 reviews


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Child’s School Consistency in Divorce

Child's School Consistency in Divorce

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

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

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

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

Study Indicates Living with Partner Before Marriage Increases Likelihood of Divorce

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

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

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

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

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

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

Free Consultation with Divorce Lawyer in Utah

If you have a question about divorce law or if you need to start or defend against a divorce case in Utah call Ascent Law at (801) 676-5506. We will fight for you.

Michael R. Anderson, JD

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

Telephone: (801) 676-5506

Ascent Law LLC

4.9 stars – based on 67 reviews


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Family Home in Divorce

Family Home in Divorce

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

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

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

Will I end up having to leave my home?

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

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

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

Important Things to Know About Taxes After Divorce

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

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

Filing status in Divorce

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

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

Exemptions in Divorce

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

Property ownership and Divorce

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

Deductions in Divorce

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

Free Consultation with Divorce Lawyer in Utah

If you have a question about divorce law or if you need to start or defend against a divorce case in Utah call Ascent Law at (801) 676-5506. We will fight for you.

Michael R. Anderson, JD

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

Telephone: (801) 676-5506

Ascent Law LLC

4.9 stars – based on 67 reviews


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401k in Divorce

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

401k in Divorce

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

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

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

How this process works

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

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

Tips for Summer Visitation for Divorced Parents

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

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

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

Free Consultation with a Utah Divorce Attorney

If you have a question about divorce law or if you need to start or defend against a divorce case in Utah call Ascent Law at (801) 676-5506. We will help you.

Michael R. Anderson, JD

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

Telephone: (801) 676-5506

Ascent Law LLC

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Considering Divorce

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

Considering Divorce

I am Considering Divorce. Is Legal Separation an Option?

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

Below are the benefits of separation:

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

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

Alimony Tax Changes Could Make Divorces More Difficult

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

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

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

Effect of the tax changes in Divorce

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

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

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

Free Consultation with Divorce Lawyer in Utah

If you have a question about divorce law or if you need to start or defend against a divorce case in Utah call Ascent Law at (801) 676-5506. We will fight for you.

Michael R. Anderson, JD

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

Telephone: (801) 676-5506

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Documents to Bring to Divorce Lawyer

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

Documents to Bring to Divorce Lawyer

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

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

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

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

Does Utah Still Have Lifetime Alimony?

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

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

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

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

When Assets Go to Waste in Divorce

Which of these examples would be considered marital waste?

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

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

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

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

Free Consultation with Divorce Lawyer in Utah

If you have a question about divorce law or if you need to start or defend against a divorce case in Utah call Ascent Law at (801) 676-5506. We will help you.

Michael R. Anderson, JD

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

Telephone: (801) 676-5506

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Divorce and Credit Cards

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

Divorce and Credit Cards

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

What should you do about credit card debt?

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

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

My Spouse is Disobeying Direct Court Orders — Now What?

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

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

Additional steps may be necessary

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

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

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

Free Consultation with Divorce Lawyer in Utah

If you have a question about divorce law or if you need to start or defend against a divorce case in Utah call Ascent Law at (801) 676-5506. We will help you.

Michael R. Anderson, JD

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

Telephone: (801) 676-5506

Ascent Law LLC

4.9 stars – based on 67 reviews


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