Divorce Lawyer Salt Lake City Utah

Divorce Lawyer Salt Lake City Utah

Today to get a divorce all you need to do is get in touch with an experienced Salt Lake City divorce lawyer. The divorce law in Utah is very different from what it used to be in the past.

The divorce procedure is described—and approved of, in a qualified way—in Deuteronomy. The grounds for divorce are that a husband find “something shameful” in his wife. In the Middle Ages the grounds for divorce were tightened considerably, making divorces almost impossible to obtain. People could get divorces of bed and board—what we today would call a separation. They would live apart but could not remarry.

The tribulations of King Henry VIII led the English, in 1534, to allow individuals to appeal to the House of Lords for a divorce. This procedure was cumbersome, though, and it wasn’t until 1801 that a woman petitioned for a divorce. In 1857, England allowed courts to grant divorces, but this did not open the divorce floodgates: by 1886, British courts were granting only 400 divorces per year. (By way of contrast, in 1890, U.S. courts granted 33,461 divorces.)

In the United States, divorce has been around since the Puritans. In 1639, James Luxford’s wife asked for a divorce because Luxford already had a wife. The Puritans had what were, for the time, rather liberal divorce laws. Acceptable grounds for divorce included female adultery, male cruelty, bigamy, desertion, failure to provide, and impotence. Divorce hearings, besides deciding whether a divorce would be granted, determined which party to the divorce had been responsible for the breakup of the marriage. The guilty party was fined, whipped, or put in the stocks. Puritans were also likely to forbid remarriage by the guilty party. Such a person had, after all, shown incompetence in matters matrimonial and had no business trying to form another family.

In the early 1700s, Connecticut accepted the notion that when divorces happened, someone was to blame and should be punished, but added a unique twist: if both marriage partners were guilty, then no divorce would be granted. The implication is that in such cases, the appropriate punishment was for the partners to be forced to live with each other.

By the 1830s, divorce was easier to get in America than in Europe, with some states having more liberal divorce laws than others. In Virginia in 1827, acceptable grounds for divorce included adultery, cruelty, and just cause of bodily fear. In South Carolina, on the other hand, divorce was impossible until after the Civil War.

In the course of the nineteenth century, states kept adding to the list of acceptable grounds for divorce, sometimes with unintended results. Indiana accidentally turned itself into a divorce mecca when, in 1852, it allowed judges to grant divorces on grounds they found “proper.” This alone would have made Indiana a desirable place to get a divorce, but what really did the trick were three other features of Indiana law. First, Indiana had a minimal residency requirement. Indeed, your own affidavit was regarded as sufficient proof of residency, so that an unscrupulous person might establish his residency in Indiana without actually residing there. Second, Indiana law allowed notification of divorce proceedings to be served through publication. This meant that you could, by putting an ad in an Indiana newspaper—which people in other states and certainly in other countries would be unlikely to read—satisfy the law’s requirement that you inform all relevant parties of your intent to divorce. Third, under Indiana law, divorce decrees were irrevocable. In theory, a person could go to Indiana, declare residency, put an ad in a paper, and in short order be divorced. The spouse might not even find out about it until months later, and protests of unfairness would be met with the reply that the divorce was irrevocable. In 1873, Indiana tightened its divorce laws and thereby closed the Pandoras box it had inadvertently opened. This was Americas first encounter with “migratory divorces” on a grand scale.

Indiana is not the only place to gain infamy for its divorce practices. Thereafter, Utah gained a reputation as a divorce mill, followed by the Dakotas, Oklahoma Territory, and of course Nevada.

Migratory Divorce

By the beginning of the twentieth century, politicians were up in arms about interstate differences in divorce laws. One state, believing that marriages should be terminated only in extraordinary cases, might enact restrictive divorce laws only to see its citizens slip across the state line to obtain an easy divorce in the neighboring state. And then, adding insult to injury, the citizens in question might cross back, flaunt their divorce, and perhaps even remarry in their original state.

Here in a nutshell is the (political) problem with migratory divorce. If people are allowed to migrate to obtain divorces, the divorce standards of the entire country will effectively be set by the state that is most liberal with respect to divorce. This state will tend to drag down the standards of the other states: they can either maintain their restrictive divorce laws and see them circumvented, or they can weaken them. This might be thought of as Gresham’s Law of Divorce. According to the original version of Gresham’s Law—found in economics texts—bad money will drive good money out of circula tion. (If you had two dimes in your pocket, one of which you knew to be 100 percent silver and the other of which you knew to be only 50 percent silver, you would spend the one with less silver and hoard the other. Others would reason similarly. The debased coin would circulate, the undebased coin would not.) In much the same way, Gresham’s Law of Divorce declares that liberal divorce laws in one state will tend to drive restrictive divorce laws out of the law books of surrounding states.

Divorce Lawyer Salt Lake City Utah

Notice, too, that states that liberalize their divorce laws and become divorce meccas usually profit from doing so. Their hotels will be full, their tourist industry will thrive, and their divorce lawyers will enjoy boom times. The lobbying money spent by these prodivorce forces is unlikely to be matched by groups opposed to easy divorce. Thus, economic factors bring divorce meccas into existence and help them endure.

There are two fairly obvious ways in which migratory divorces could be blocked, but both raise constitutional issues. The first is for the federal government to enact divorce laws, so that all states have the same standards for divorce. Then no advantage could be gained by crossing state lines to obtain a divorce. It is generally agreed that such laws would be an unconstitutional infringement by the federal government on the rights of states. Some attempts have been made to amend the Constitution in this respect, but to no avail.

A second way to block migratory divorce is for states with restrictive divorce laws simply to refuse to accept divorces granted in states with more liberal laws. When states tried this, chaos resulted, with some states regarding a “divorced” couple as still legally married. In 1906 the Supreme Court settled the issue by ruling, in the case of Haddock v. Haddock, that a state could reject a divorce decree issued by a state that was not the couple’s marital domicile. In 1942 the Supreme Court modified this view in the case of Williams et al. v. North Carolina, which involved a man and woman from North Carolina who were married—but not to each other—and who ran off to Nevada to obtain divorces from their respective spouses. They subsequently got married and returned to North Carolina, where they found themselves charged with bigamy. The Supreme Court ruled that North Carolina had to accept the Nevada divorce, thus overturning Haddock v. Haddock. North Carolina kept pestering the couple, though, and questioned whether the couple’s six-week residence at the Alamo Auto Court (in Nevada) counted as a valid residence. The Supreme Court concluded that it did not. In short, states were required by the full faith and credit clause of the Constitution to accept the divorces granted in other states—but not always.

The No-Fault Divorce Revolution

After World War II, divorces became easier to obtain. By the mid1960s, several states included- “living apart” among the acceptable grounds for divorce and specified the amount of time that a couple must live apart. Finally, in the late 1960s, even this almost groundless ground was dropped when California became the first state—indeed, the first place in the Western world—to adopt “no-fault” divorce. The “grounds” for a divorce became “irreconcilable differences” causing the “irremediable breakdown” of a marriage. What proof was required that irreconcilable differences existed or that a marriage had broken down irremediably? None, other than the declared opinion of one party to the marriage that they did and it had.
This was the most breathtakingly revolutionary feature of California’s nofault law: it allowed unilateral divorce. The wife of a man seeking a divorce could claim that the differences were not irreconcilable or that the marriage could be saved, but these claims counted for nothing in a court of law. If the husband wanted to go, there was nothing she could do to stop him. There was, in short, no right to remain married.

Unilateral divorce tips the balance of power in favor of the person who wants out of a marriage. The person who is happy in the marriage must beg and compromise in an attempt to get the other to stay. Under traditional divorce laws, it was the person who wished to depart who needed the consent of the spouse and who therefore had to beg or compromise. By tipping the balance of power in favor of the person who wants out of the marriage, the unilateral nature of no-fault divorce laws increases the chance that a divorce will occur.

Many people don’t understand this feature of no-fault divorce. When sociologist Lenore Weitzman interviewed divorce lawyers nearly fifteen years after the passage of no-fault, she found that they were still having to explain to their clients that it didn’t matter how rotten their ex-spouse had been. From the legal point of view, their spouse’s behavior was irrelevant to determining whether or not a divorce should be granted; and if a divorce was granted, the spouse’s behavior was irrelevant to determining how the couple’s property should be divided and whether the wife should get alimony. Under no-fault divorce laws, marital property is divided equally, and alimony is granted on the basis of need rather than on the basis of marital guilt.

Thus, under no-fault divorce laws, you can violate your marriage vows and pay no price—or, at any rate, pay a far lower price than you would have had to pay under traditional divorce laws. Having an extramarital affair used to be an expensive undertaking: your exspouse could get revenge when it came time to divide the property or award alimony. Under no-fault divorce laws, you can be a blatantly unfaithful spouse and fare as well in a divorce as if you had been a perfect spouse.

Not only were the grounds for divorce trivialized, but the divorce process itself was streamlined. A divorce might require only a few pages of paperwork and two minutes of court time—unless, that is, one chose the divorce-by-mail option, in which case no court appearances were necessary. Thus, in its most liberal form, no-fault divorce wasn’t that much different from the process used in the Middle East, where to obtain a divorce the man simply declares, “I divorce you.”

How, one wonders, did no-fault come to happen? Where were the guardians of the family? Where were the political conservatives?

One of the leading political conservatives, Ronald Reagan, was governor of California when that state triggered the no-fault revolution. Reagan and other conservatives backed the law because as originally proposed, the no-fault divorce law would have created a Family Court that would have attempted to reconcile marriages before granting a divorce. Conservatives liked this aspect of the law and thought it would help preserve the family and reduce California’s high divorce rate. At the last minute, though, the Family Court feature was removed from the law. What California ended up with was a law that made it easy for people to separate without first pushing them to reconcile.

No-fault divorce did accomplish one of its original goals: it made the divorce process less acrimonious. In a traditional divorce the two parties typically battled each other, dragging out their spouse’s every fault, both real and imagined, for all the world to see. They declared emotional war on each other, and the legal system aided and abetted their acts of war. Under no-fault, though, it didn’t matter what your spouse had done to you. The courts no longer wanted to hear about it.

California was not alone in making the move to no-fault. In 1971 the Supreme Court, in Boddie v. Connecticut, ruled that divorce is a citizen’s fundamental right. By 1980 all but two states had no-fault divorce laws. To be fair, not all these states went as far as California in liberalizing their divorce laws. By the mid-1980s about a quarter of the states still required mutual consent in divorces. States also differed in whether property divisions and alimony awards could be affected by “guilt” on the part of one of the married persons.

It used to make financial sense for a wife to stay home and take care of the needs of her husband and children. In the (unlikely) event of a divorce, she would be compensated for her years of effort. She might be awarded alimony payments for the rest of her life. If her spouse were the “guilty” party in the divorce, she might be awarded an oversized property settlement. The state saw to it that she would not, as a result of having spent years taking care of her family, subsequently find herself impoverished.

No-fault divorce changed all this. It turned full-time motherhood into a financially hazardous occupation. In the no-fault era, a woman can devote two decades—indeed, arguably the best two decades—of her life to her family only to be dumped when her services are no longer required. In most cases the best she can hope for is temporary alimony payments and an equal division of the marital property. She will have to support herself, but thanks to her two-decade layoff, her employment prospects will be bleak.
If it is difficult to get out of a marriage, there will be more incentive to expend effort in an attempt to make the marriage work. It would be foolish to declare war on your spouse if you knew that “the enemy” was going to be around to retaliate for the next few decades. On the other hand, if you can waltz out of a marriage on a whim—or equally important, if you know that your spouse can waltz out—there will be less incentive to engage in the sort of self-repression and compromise that is typically necessary if a relationship is to endure. The old proverb “Marry in haste, repent at leisure” has, thanks to no-fault divorce, been turned on its head: now the appropriate proverb would be “Marry in haste, divorce in haste.”

Marriage Law

The Marriage Law, we must remember, is a part of the Domestic Relations Law of the state, and each state has its own Domestic Relations Law which is a part of the incorporated laws of the state. Congress could not pass a Federal Marriage Law without an amendment to the Constitution that would delegate to the Federal Government the power that is now possessed by the states, that is a, the power to authorize and to sanction marriage. There is no doubt that the present condition in the United States leads to many complications and to much confusion. This is especially true when a couple is married according to the civil law of one state and wishes to have a religious ceremony performed in another. There is nothing to do, however, but to live in accordance with the law and to labor for its amendment and improvement from year to year and eventually for a uniform law for all states in the country.

The law, it is most necessary to stress, makes marriage a civil contract. This means that the consent of parties capable in law of making a contract is essential. Both these terms “consent” and “capable in law” need to be explained. Some men and women, according to the law, are not legally permitted to marry or to enter into a marriage contract. An ancestor and a descendant, a brother and a sister of either whole or half blood, an uncle and a niece, or an aunt and a nephew are not permitted to marry. These marriages are called incestuous and are prohibited whether the persons are legitimate or illegitimate of birth; and, if contracted, these marriages are void.

Other marriages in every state are absolutely void from the outset. A marriage is absolutely void if contracted by a person whose husband or wife by a former marriage is living unless such former husband or wife has been finally sentenced to imprisonment for life. This law applies even in cases in which the former husband or wife has been sentenced to a maximum term of life imprisonment with the privilege at the end of a prescribed less term of applying to the parole board for a release on parole or for an absolute discharge. A marriage is likewise absolutely void if contracted by a person whose husband or wife by a former marriage is living unless such former husband or wife has absented himself or herself for five successive years then last past without being known to such persons to be living during that time. This is the so-called Enoch Arden law. The law authorizes the court in these cases to enter a formal decree declaring such marriages void; but even without this decree the marriage is regarded as void from its inception.

The phrase “want of understanding” means that one of the parties is mentally incapable of understanding the nature, effect, and consequence of a marriage. This clearly includes idiots and lunatics who at the time of the marriage were insane. As a matter of law the marriage can be annulled only when it can be proved that want of understanding existed at the time. the marriage took place. Mental incapacity arising subsequently to the time of marriage is not sufficient cause for annulment. The general rule also is that a man is presumed sane until the contrary is proved. Therefore, the marriage cannot be annulled on the ground of want of understanding until this presumption has been overthrown by proof that is clear and satisfactory to the court. The fact that a man or woman suffered an attack of insanity before marriage or developed an attack after marriage is not legally a ground for annulment.

In other words, a man or woman who is insane and marries during a lucid interval is validly married, according to the law of the state. Whether a man or woman who is intoxicated or under the influence of a drug at the time of marriage is suffering from a want of understanding is still legally debatable. There can, however, be no debate that such a marriage is immoral and should not be contracted. A marriage may therefore be legal even though it is a violation of morals.

Other marriages are voidable, that is, the marriage may be annulled by the court, if action for annulment is instituted. Voidable marriages include cases in which either party thereto: is under the age of legal consent; is incapable of consenting to a marriage for want of understanding; is incapable of entering into the marriage state from physical cause; consents to such marriage by reason of force, duress, or fraud; has a husband or wife by a former marriage living, and such former husband or wife has absented himself or herself for five successive years then last past without being known to such party to be living during that time.

The phrase “physical cause” means physical incapacity to enter into the marriage relationship, a condition that is usually described as impotence. It must be proved, however, that impotence existed at the time of marriage, has continued to exist at the time of legal action, and is incurable. It may not be difficult to prove that this physical condition existed at the time of marriage, and it may not be difficult to prove that it continues to exist at the time of legal action; but it may be very difficult to prove that the condition is incurable. The new knowledge of glands and their function, the new science of endocrinology, has resulted in miraculous changes in the glandular systems of both men and women. Glands that were dormant have been stimulated into action and maturity, and many cases of so-called impotence have been cured. It is also known now from the findings of psychiatry that many cases of impotence are due to psychological causes and that through psychiatric treatment these causes can be removed and impotence cured. Few physicians therefore are willing to swear in a court action that any case of impotence is incurable. Impotence does not, of course, include sterility. Sterility, in fact, in either the man or the woman is not a ground for the annulment of a marriage.

Force and duress” are self-explanatory: If a person enters into marriage as a result of a threat of personal injury, if a person is abducted and consents to a marriage through fear and in order to secure her liberty, the marriage may be annulled, but the threat must be made by the other party to the contract. A threat made by a third party without knowledge of the other party to the contract is not a ground for annulment. In other words, a marriage to be legal requires the willing agreement of both parties to the contract. “The legal principles governing the authority of the court to annul a marriage on the ground of duress of one of the parties thereto are essentially the same as those applied when the annulment of any other contract is requested upon the like ground, . . . and to be available as a ground for relief it must appear that the duress of the party asking to be relieved was occasioned by the other contracting party, or that he knowingly used or availed himself of such duress as a means of procuring the contract sought to be annulled.” “In an action to annul a marriage on the ground of duress the plaintiff, in order to succeed, must satisfy the court that the duress was occasioned by the other contracting party or that he knowingly used or availed himself of it as a means of procuring the marriage, and it must also appear that the threats of defendant alleged in the complaint constrained the will of the plaintiff and induced her promise.

The term “fraud” has been interpreted by the courts in a number of ways, some of which are clear to the laymen and others of which are extremely puzzling. A marriage will not be annulled for fraud unless the facts misrepresented or concealed go to the very essence of the contract. The marriage will not be annulled unless the misrepresentations were of such a nature as to be calculated to deceive a reasonably prudent person. Nor will a marriage be annulled if the misrepresentations were unintentional; nor if a man falsely represented his character or the extent and value of his worldly belongings; nor if a woman concealed the fact, to quote an interesting decision, that she has a swollen tongue or inflammation of the bladder.

If a man has engaged in criminal activities before his marriage and conceals this fact from the woman he marries, the marriage can be annulled. If a woman induces a man to marry her on the ground that he is the father of her child and this statement is proved not to be the case, the marriage can be annulled. In one case the court annulled a marriage because a woman persuaded a man who believed in spiritualism that the spirits ordered the marriage to take place. A false statement in regard to chastity prior to marriage is not in itself a ground for annulment.

In addition to requiring certain conditions of those who wish to marry, the marriage contract does something else. It confers certain rights upon the two parties to the contract, and it also imposes upon each one certain responsibilities. These rights and responsibilities are implied in the contract and are contained explicitly in the Common Law and the Domestic Relations Law of the state. An interesting thing about these rights and responsibilities is that they change with changing social conceptions and the changing status of women in the course of the centuries. Not many decades ago the Common Law assumed that in marriage the man and the woman are one, and, as one jurist put it, that one is the husband. The woman possessed no legal rights as a wife; she belonged legally to her husband, and what she possessed became his and did not remain hers. As the movement for the emancipation of woman progressed, however, women insisted more and more upon legal recognition and upon legal rights. They have now achieved equal legal status with men in all states, they have also succeeded in ending the ancient fiction that a woman ceases to be a legal entity when she marries. Today she possesses rights that establish her as a person in law.

Parents are the natural and legal guardians of their children. They are legally responsible for their children’s welfare and education. If for any reason they do not fulfill these responsibilities, they can be summoned to court. The law, for example, makes education up to sixteen and in some states up to eighteen compulsory. It is the duty of the parents to send their children to school, and if they fail to do so, the State can compel them to act or punish them if they fail. It is the duty of parents to provide for their children properly and to treat them humanely. If they fail to do this, the State can step in and remove the child or children from the home and custody of the parents. Every now and then we read of a child in some community who is neglected or maltreated. In these cases the parent or parents are usually discovered to be habitual delinquents, though in some cases they are found to be only cruel and inhuman and in a few cases to be suffering with a nervous or mental condition. The State in these cases has the power to remove the child and to arrange for its proper care. The implication clearly is that the child is entitled to protection by its parents, and if parents for some reason are unable or unwilling to give this protection, the State must intervene in the interest of the child. The theory in this matter is that the child is the ward of the State, and the State is the ultimate guardian of the child.

The Divorce Law is not a part of the Domestic Relations Law, but the subject of divorce is so closely associated with marriage that we must include divorce in any discussion of the legal implications of marriage. Among the couples that come to us for counsel we not infrequently find that either the man or the woman has been divorced. It is therefore necessary for us to know something of the conditions of divorce and the procedure that is involved. We must recognize that the contract of marriage that is authorized and sanctioned by the state cannot be dissolved by the two parties without the consent of the state. They may agree to separate and may draw up a separation agreement, which will serve as a legal document in case the terms are not fulfilled by either party. This is known as voluntary separation. Or one or the other may sue for separation through court action and allow the court to decide upon the terms of separation including allowances and the custody of children and other matters. But their marriage contract cannot be abrogated except by a court of jurisdiction.

Divorce Lawyer Salt Lake City Utah

The battle to secure legal rights for women has been long and arduous and is far from over. Women were not accorded rights under the U.S. Constitution because in the Founding Fathers’ political context women did not exist as actors in civil life. Not until 1971 did the United States Supreme Court use the equal protection clause of the Fourteenth Amendment to strike down a statute as being discriminatory on the basis of sex. During most of the 19th century women could not enter into a contract or own property. Custody was almost always awarded to fathers, who were seen as having a property right in their children. Wives were the property of their husbands. Until well into the 20th century women could not vote or serve on juries, but they could be denied jobs solely because they were women, be paid less than men for doing the same work, and be fired when they became pregnant. Women were denied credit and equal access to education. Abortion and in some states even contraception were illegal. Wives who failed to follow their husbands anywhere they wished to go could be divorced for abandonment. Husbands were awarded almost all family property at divorce. Rape victims were cross-examined on their entire sexual histories. Domestic violence and sexual harassment were concepts that did not even exist.

Despite the great progress made over the last 20 years in reforming the laws that particularly affect women, in the courts today women must still contend with problems ranging from demeaning behavior on the part of judges, lawyers, and court personnel to outright judicial unwillingness to apply and enforce the new laws so as to effectuate their remedial intent. Minority group women may bear the double burden of sex and race discrimination, or they may find themselves denied effective access to the courts for want of a skilled interpreter.

The court system is difficult to navigate on one’s own, but lawyers are expensive. Women as a group are poorer than men, and even women who are apparently well off are usually poorer than their husbands if not totally dependent on them for their economic status. In a contest for support enforcement or a change of custody, the man’s deeper pockets place the woman at a significant disadvantage. Single mothers are also often denied meaningful access to the courts because of the Reagan administration’s sustained attack on funding for the Legal Services Corporation. Two-third of Legal Services’ clients are poor women seeking legal assistance for matters such as welfare, housing, domestic violence, divorce, child support, and social security–a fact not often recognized in discussions of women’s issues. The legal services first cut were those for family law matters, because scarce funds had to be dedicated to criminal defense work.
The issues that bring a single mother to court are usually family law issues such as child and spousal support, custody, or domestic violence.

These issues are disfavored by the legal system, which prefers to focus on enhancing commerce, an area in which it is easier to maintain the fiction that law is pure, rational, objective, abstract, and principled. Although family law cases are a significant, if not the major, category of cases on every state’s civil docket, every law school requires students to take courses in contracts, real property, and torts (civil wrongs); only one, however, requires family law. Some judges go to great lengths to avoid being assigned to hear matrimonial cases. In some states the family courts receive small shares of the judicial system’s budget, despite the enormity of their caseloads, and family law is seen as not “real law” but the area in which to dump less competent lawyers who yearn to be judges and to whom political favors are owed. The judicial system’s effort to move family law cases out of the courts and into alternative dispute resolution is also of concern to women’s rights advocates. After decades of struggling to have the law and the courts deal seriously with these issues, these advocates are not pleased to see them being reprivatized, decided in a forum in which there is no record made for a possible appeal and thus no accountability.
Gender bias is an age-old, multifaceted problem. It encompasses stereotyped thinking about the nature and roles of women and men, society’s perception of the value of women and men and what is perceived as women’s and men’s work, and myths and misconceptions about the economic and social realities of women’s and men’s lives. Each aspect of gender bias creates problems for women in the courts, particularly for single mothers. A judge’s stereotyped belief that a good mother is at home full-time may cost the mother in the paid work force custody of her children.

Devaluation of women as individuals is revealed in judicial indifference to domestic violence and the enforcement of support awards. Devaluation of women’s unpaid work as homemakers and mothers is reflected in divisions of marital property at divorce in which the wife is awarded a much smaller share than the husband. Myths and misconceptions about women’s access to well-paying jobs and the costs of child raising result in minimal child support awards that impoverish women and their children.

Divorce in the Courts

The termination of a marriage with minor children has several legal aspects: division of marital property, custody, spousal and child support, and the enforcement of those awards. Although most divorces are resolved through negotiated settlements rather than trials, these settlements reflect what lawyers believe they would obtain at trial, based on those cases which are fully litigated. Law reform efforts by women’s rights and family law advocates over the last 15 years have created a gender-neutral statutory framework for divorce which, when applied with concern for the actual personal and economic circumstances of the parties and their children, can be equitable.

Access to the Courts

The woman who becomes a single mother by virtue of divorce effectively assumes that status from the moment the decision to divorce is made by either party. Because the costs of litigation are enormous, the question of how the divorce itself will be paid for is critical. Although the laws in most states provide that the court is to award the nonmonied spouse counsel and expert fees sufficient to permit the effective litigation of the issues, this rarely happens.

For many single mothers, who are almost always poorer than their husbands, the entire divorce process is shaped by the inability to afford proper representation. Extremely few sources for free or low-cost legal assistance are available in divorce litigation. The lawyer a woman retains must often curtail activities such as pressing the husband for full disclosure of his financial assets–something that many men hide with great success during divorce litigation–because the woman cannot pay for the hours necessary to develop that information. If the family has any assets such as a business or investments, a properly conducted case requires appraisal by accountants and other financial experts. This, too, the woman finds difficult to afford. Knowing that women can rarely afford lengthy divorce litigation, some fathers engage in what is called “custody blackmail”–that is, they threaten to sue for custody, which they do not want, as a way to force the woman to reduce or abandon her claims for child and spousal support. Even when they can afford counsel, many women report extreme dissatisfaction with their attorneys’ attitudes and the quality of representation.

Divorce Lawyer Salt Lake City Utah

Although mediation is presented as a less expensive, less emotionally damaging way to conduct a divorce, it, too, has drawbacks for women. Mediation works best between parties of equivalent power. When the female party is less worldly, poorer, truly afraid of losing custody, and perhaps intimidated by a spouse’s psychological or physical cruelty, as is often the case for women, she is far more likely to compromise in order to satisfy the mediator, even though the “compromise” is in fact a one-sided bargain. Divorce mediation that is effective for women requires mediators aware of and skilled in overcoming these gender-based power imbalances, not to mention their own gender-based biases. The sex of the mediator, like the sex of the judge, is no guarantor of sensitivity to these issues.

Division of Marital Property

Marital property generally means all property–homes, cars, clothing, furnishings, businesses, savings, investments–that the couple has acquired during the marriage. Nine states are community property states and by law must divide all marital property in half. The other states divide property according to “equitable distribution”–a legal construct that gives the judge power to determine what percentage of the property and debts should be awarded to each partner, regardless of whose name is on the deed, bank book, loan form or other indicia of ownership. Some states require judges to divide the property equally unless there are important reasons for an unequal division. Most states have a list of factors that the court is to take into account in dividing the property, such as the duration of the marriage; the age, health and income of the parties; and the contributions made by one party as a spouse, parent, wage earner and homemaker to the career or career potential of the other. Some states simply require the judge to divide the property “equitably.” In all equitable distribution states, judges have great discretion in dividing the property, and there is substantial evidence that women are often shortchanged.

Many judges do not see the unpaid work a woman performs as homemaker and mother as having contributed significantly to the acquisition of marital assets and as being equal in value and importance to a husband’s paid work outside the home. There is insufficient recognition of how women contribute to their husband’s earning capacity–often the only true asset of the marriage–by keeping the family’s emotional motor running and making it possible for him to focus on his job, career, or business without worrying about how his children are getting to the doctor or whether he will have a clean shirt to wear. (Although men are increasing their participation in homemaking and child care, repeated studies show that women still bear the majority of these responsibilities.) The fact that most women today work full- or part-time outside the home and thus hold down two jobs, as wage earner and homemaker, also often goes unrecognized. Even when husband and wife do the same work, the wife’s effort may go unrewarded. Farm wives find that some judges disregard the fact that the wife has labored right alongside her husband to make their farm viable. Another factor disadvantaging women in property division is that often the court finds a way to keep the husband’s business intact but has no qualms about ordering the sale of the home–in effect the wife’s business–whether immediately or as soon as the children are 18.

Alimony

There is a widespread myth that the award of alimony (also known as maintenance and spousal support) to a wife at divorce is the norm. This is not true now and never was. When increasing numbers of women began to enter the paid work force in the late 1960s, the stage was set for judges to act on their reluctance to award permanent alimony.

Short-term alimony does have its place. It is not wrong for the courts to encourage women to become self-supporting, both for their own self-interest and self-esteem and to eliminate repeated litigation about the modification and enforcement of awards. Studies have shown that women provided with sufficient rehabilitative alimony to obtain meaningful education and training are in a much better financial position a few years after divorce than are women whose economic circumstances force them to take the first job they can find. But short-term alimony is not appropriate for the older, long-term homemaker who lacks skills to make her marketable and who will never be able to make up for the years she invested in unpaid homemaker work for the benefit of her family. Even for younger women who are in the paid work force or who have some expectation of success when they join it, fairness may require a combination of rehabilitative and permanent alimony to avoid the kind of stark post divorce economic inequities.

Child Support

The federal Child Support Enforcement Amendments of 1984 require each state to enact a variety of mechanisms for enforcing child support and to adopt nonbinding quantitative guidelines for support levels or lose federal funding for the Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC) program. Although passage of these amendments was a significant victory for single mothers, it is too soon to know what their impact will be, and the question that must be asked is, What happened in our court system that made it necessary for the federal government to step in to what had always been a state preserve? As with alimony, the regrettable answer is that not only are many judges uninformed about women’s earning capacity and the true costs of child raising, but among some judges there is an attitude of protectionism toward men and their money and indifference to the financial struggle of women and their children.

Legally, both parents are responsible for the support of their minor children. If the parents are divorced or have never been married to one another, state laws provide that the noncustodial parent shall make payments to the custodial parent for the support of the child in accordance with the child’s needs and the standard of living the child would have enjoyed in a two-parent home. Parents may make a private agreement, enforceable in court, as to the amount and schedule of these payments, or they may be ordered by the court. The history of child support has been that awards do not remotely reflect the true costs of child raising or the parents’ incomes. Because children live with their mothers after approximately 90 percent of divorces and in almost all paternity situations, even if the full amount of the award is paid–a rare occurrence–the mother must scramble to make up the difference between payment and need.

Custody

Although it is widely believed that it is only fathers for whom gender bias is a factor in custody decisions, mothers, too, may be affected by judges’ stereotyped thinking about the true nature and role of women. The cultural stereotype of the good mother is the chaste, selfless woman who is at home and is the caretaker of her children. Women may be deprived of custody because of social relationships and life-styles that are acceptable for men.

A single mother need not even be a careerist to be deprived of custody. Merely working outside the home puts her at risk. Some judges believe that any woman at home is better than a mother at work, so when fathers remarry and tell the court they now have a wife at home full-time and can provide a proper environment for the child, there are judges who go along with this and switch custody. They see no irony in the fact that the father, like the mother, is turning his child over to a caretaker while he goes to work, because that is what men are supposed to do. This woman in-the-home standard amounts to a paternal preference because rarely is the woman who has been a full-time homemaker awarded sufficient spousal and child support to permit her to remain a homemaker, and men 35 to 44 remarry twice as often as women.

Another growing, unstated, paternal preference is the award of custody to the parent with more money, regardless of who has been the primary caretaker of the child or whether the father has a history of violence. Because fathers almost always are in a stronger financial position than mothers, making money the determinative factor amounts to a paternal preference.

The mother who initiates a divorce and seeks custody because she discovers that the father is sexually abusing the children faces particular risks. Some judges simply do not want to believe that sexual abuse and incest are realities, and their attitudes may be compounded by mental health and social work professionals. Thus, if the woman reveals her grounds for wanting the divorce, she may be branded as paranoid or as inventing stories in order to deprive the father of access to his children. Not merely unsupervised visitation but custody itself may be awarded to the father. Experts in the area of child sexual abuse often counsel women not to acknowledge what they know and to seek divorce on other grounds in order to avoid this problem.

The welcome facts that fathers are participating more in child rearing and that there are parents who genuinely want joint custody and manage it well also have negative consequences for the single mother. Some judges are so taken with the image of the new father that they award custody to the father who only became an active parent at the time of separation. In some cases there may be good reasons for this, and society as a whole should stop stigmatizing mothers who have given years of daily care and would like voluntarily to turn that responsibility over to fathers. However, in most cases the father’s sudden interest should not be decisive and some states have adopted a “primary caretaker” rule under which, barring unusual circumstances, custody is awarded to the parent who has taken primary responsibility for daily, ongoing care of the child. This rule minimizes both faddish custody awards and the incidence of “custody blackmail,” described above, because the law provides much greater predictability than a generalized “best interests of the child” standard.

For the single mother the problems with imposed joint custody are several. Usually joint custody means that although both parents are responsible for making decisions about the child’s welfare, principal physical custody is with one parent, usually the mother. Yet courts are cutting child support awards in joint custody cases as if the mother did not have to continue providing space, food, clothing, etc. for the child on a virtually full-time basis. Imposed joint custody also means that parents who do not get along must agree on decisions about their children. Fathers often use imposed joint custody as a means to continue harassing their former wives, and much repeat litigation is generated, as mothers, must seek court approval for everything from braces to special education.

If you are seeking custody of your children, contact an experienced Salt Lake City Utah divorce lawyer. Custody is not automatically given to the mother. Courts in Utah consider many factors when deciding which parent gets custody of minor children.

Mediation

The best alternative to court is mediation. In certain counties in the United States mediation may be mandated for custody or visitation disputes once divorce papers are filed. One need not wait for a mandatory session, as a private mediator can be hired. Inquire if the mediator is a member of the American Academy of Family Mediators, which will help assure the individual’s training. The court system may also offer mediation sessions even when they are not mandatory. A family mediator can help settle all matters relating to custody and visitation outside of court. Once an agreement is reached, it is simply put into legal language and filed. The process is much less expensive than attorney fees and court costs, and it greatly increases the chance of a smoother separation, since the mediator seeks to have both partners be as satisfied as possible with the result. The mediator also helps to ensure a continued relationship with the children for both parents.

On May 5, 2005, a law took effect in Utah that required mandatory mediation for contested divorces. Speak to an experienced Salt Lake City Utah divorce lawyer to know about the mandatory mediation requirement in Utah.

Divorce Lawyer Salt Lake City Utah

Financial Support

Child support is set in the United States by federally mandated state guidelines. Call the office of child support enforcement to obtain a copy of the guidelines. Whether one becomes a custodial parent, a noncustodial parent, or a joint-custody parent, it helps to know in advance how things will look financially. An experienced Salt Lake City Utah divorce lawyer can assist you with your child support battle.

Visitation

Consult with an experienced Salt Lake City Utah divorce lawyer to know how you can get visitation rights. Never assume that because you are the non-custodial parent, the court will automatically grant you visitation rights.
Even when there is joint physical custody, visitation is an important issue. The key to a continued parental relationship and to a separation that is less stressful for the children is advance planning. Emergency restraining or protective orders often deal with visitation in a general way, and what seems temporary often has a way of becoming permanent under law. Judges do not like to force children through too many changes in residence or lifestyle.

Many court jurisdictions specifically define what is meant by “reasonable visitation.” It is important to obtain a copy of the court’s visitation guidelines before a partner leaves the home. There may be special considerations that need to be addressed in even a first hearing. Vague and general final visitation orders should especially be avoided by a partner leaving an abusive situation. Precisely set times for pickup and delivery, prohibitions against verbal abuse of the other parent in the presence of the children, and remedies or consequences for late pickups or non-delivery are just some of the issues that should be answered. Supervised visitation should be considered in cases of child abuse or threat of child abduction. Attention to the long term should be given in the beginning in order to make return trips to court less likely.

Separating parents’ classes, books on making separation less traumatic for the child, the advice of an attorney, legal consumer groups, and mediation are all helpful avenues to be used. The information gleaned will help to construct a workable visitation arrangement. Use the time between a temporary order and a final one to constructively gather information and examples that can be applied to an individual situation.

While visitation is not often easy for the custodial or the noncustodial parent, parents who separate due to domestic violence need to be especially careful not to use the child as a weapon against one another. A large body of research suggests that parental separation in itself can be healthy for the child who benefits by the removal from partner acrimony but that the child can be harmed by continued conflict after separation, especially when drawn into the arguments by being asked to take sides and other reprehensible demands. Children can also be damaged by the loss of a continued relationship with one of the parents. Custody is an adult decision; visitation and adequate financial support are a child’s rights.
The partner who separates from an abusive relationship may justifiably resent and resist continued contact with the other partner for the purposes of visitation. There are alternatives to face-to-face contact, such as exchanges through a third party. Supervised or monitored exchanges can be made, or they can be conducted in a public place such as a shopping mall or police department parking lot. Given time, adequate structure and safeguards, visitation can take place without undue stress for parents or children.

Parents who attempt to block or impede visitation may face legal challenges. For partners who have left an abusive situation, it is vitally important that the child not be drawn into old emotional issues or be used as a means to try to control the former partner. For men, who face a statistically greater likelihood of being noncustodial parents, the abusive former partner may continue to try to establish control through visitation blocking, denial, or using the bait of increased visitation in exchange for favors. Anyone who is denied visitation rights needs to discuss the situation with an attorney. The most important item in any such case is proof; a witness to the denial of court-ordered visitation is vital. It is also important for the child that the noncustodial parent take care not to give up on visitation attempts or fall into the trap of denigrating the former partner to the child. A continued demonstration of caring is vital for the child’s self-esteem. Denouncing the other parent to the child usually backfires, by forcing the child to defend that parent or take on an unfair adult role as a mediator. Support groups for children of separated parents are available in some school districts and provide an opportunity to share common visitation problems and other issues with peers under a counselor’s guidance. Such groups are particularly valuable for a child without siblings.

Taking the Big Step to Leave

Speak to an experienced Salt Lake City Utah divorce lawyer if you are a battered spouse seeking divorce. You must act fast for your safety.
Many of the professionals and volunteers who work with battered spouses report the common phenomenon of remaining past the reasonable expectation of any improvement. The abused spouse may live with the perpetrator for years, until there is the “last straw,” which may not be an incident that is particularly more violent than previous ones but seems to be a final strong internal recognition of the futility of trying to change the other person.

This emotional moment is necessary but has its dangers. Leaving the household in a hurry may have long-term adverse consequences. The phrase “possession is nine tenths of the law” has particular meaning in domestic relations cases. Leaving valued material possessions in the hands of a vindictive spouse could result in their being damaged, sold, or destroyed. Even if the victim believes the children are not in danger, leaving them with the former mate may greatly limit the chances of legal custody later.
If the victim of abuse is still undecided about leaving or waiting for that last straw incident, an emergency exit plan should be drawn up. Such a plan is necessary to ensure a safe temporary haven from a real threat of death or abuse. Unfortunately, for the male victim, domestic violence shelters are not an option except in a very few places, so planning is especially necessary to prearrange a place to stay on an immediate basis—probably with a relative or friend who will readily accept both the victim and the children. Adequate money for transportation and at least some nights of commercial lodging should be set aside privately. Supplies and clothing adequate for children and self should be preidentified, and if one needs to return home to gather belongings, the police should be asked to provide protection.

Restraining Orders

The restraining/protective order removes an abusive partner from the home. The victim and any children stay. It will need to be proven in a hearing (usually within two weeks) that both parties attend that there has been domestic violence. A man may face a higher standard of proof that he is the primary victim. It is critical for both men and women victims to prepare for a restraining order before one is actually sought.

The first step is to go to the courthouse and obtain information about how the restraining or protective order process works. Emergency restraining order hearings with a judge are usually limited to certain times of the day. These hearings are most often very brief. The victim may get assistance in some localities with a court-appointed advocate. Such an advocate should prove valuable in convincing the judge that the case is serious enough to warrant an emergency temporary order. The victim may need time to schedule an appointment with the advocate in advance of the emergency hearing.

If the police have responded to incidents of domestic violence at the household in the past, copies of those reports need to be obtained and presented at the emergency temporary restraining order hearing and again at the hearing in which the order is extended, changed, or not allowed to continue. The victim needs to be prepared to assist his or her attorney with testimony or credible documentation from other household members, relatives, friends, and acquaintances who have witnessed, seen the results of, or can offer corroborating evidence of domestic violence. Any hospital or physician medical records about injuries should be introduced. If there are observable injuries, photographs of the injuries should be taken and a credible witness or documentation provided as to the circumstances of the pictures.

Thousands of restraining orders are obtained every day in the United States, and the majority are granted without the assistance of an attorney. The male victim, however, faces obstacles unique to his gender. Advice as to which judge and/or advocate who may be more understanding of his plight could be crucial. Knowledge of personnel in the district attorney’s office if criminal charges are sought may also be vital. The male victim in particular should seek out an attorney in advance of the need. Finding an attorney who has had prior experience successfully representing male abuse victims will likely take some extended effort, and in some localities, an attorney with prior experience in such cases may not exist. It may take some time to locate a person with adequate expertise in domestic relations law, who will not hesitate to be a strong advocate and who is aware of any sexism in the system.

Going Back

Restraining orders and criminal charges are often dropped or ignored by a domestic violence victim following a reconciliation with his or her partner. The victim is relying on promises that it won’t happen again. The dynamic of domestic violence feeds on the regrets of both victim and perpetrator, and there can be no guarantee that there will not be a repeat of a violent episode. The victim should not rely on promises. He or she should demand specific steps before considering returning. These steps should at a minimum include anger management classes and counseling. If alcohol or drug abuse is part of the situation, a comprehensive and completed treatment program should be required.

The primary physical abuse victim should not neglect his or her own specific steps before considering returning. Gathering information through reading and from others about domestic violence should be a priority, including resources directed at abused women, because of the similarities we have discussed. Counseling to better understand the victim’s role in an abusive situation is necessary, not only to ensure that he or she is prepared to break out of roles and patterns of behavior that contribute to a lack of self-esteem typical of abuse victims but also to help identify factors that may contribute to seeking relationships based on domestic violence in the future.

If the victim does return after specific conditions are met, he or she should still be prepared to act quickly with the previously described emergency exit plan and other steps in place. There must be no acceptance of being physically or verbally abused again. One more abusive act must be the final “last straw.” Male victims tend to be particularly dismissive of so-called minor acts, but it does not matter if he has been “not hardly hurt” or has had much worse happen to him on the athletic playing field. It is abuse when it comes from one’s mate. The victim must wrest control from his mate and give it to himself. He must not return to or accept old dysfunctional patterns of behavior in the relationship. Support in leaving does exist. The victim must accept the responsibility and task of finding that support and taking the necessary step of never returning to this or any other abusive relationship again.

Salt Lake City Utah Divorce Lawyer Free Consultation

When you need legal help for a divorce in Salt Lake City Utah, please call Ascent Law (801) 676-5506 for your Free Consultation. 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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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

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4.9 stars – based on 67 reviews


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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


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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

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4.9 stars – based on 67 reviews


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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

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4.9 stars – based on 67 reviews


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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


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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


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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

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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


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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


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