If you are seeking a divorce, you should consult an experienced Lindon Utah family lawyer. Divorce is the legal dissolution of a marriage. Divorce is widespread in the United States today; indeed, the United States has the rather dubious distinction of having a higher divorce rate than any other Western nation. Although death is the leading cause of family breakup in the United States, divorce rates are at an astronomically high level.
Until the 1970s, divorce law was part of a legal regime that generally promoted an internal stance toward marriage, although to quite different degrees for men and women. Marriage was treated primarily as a lifetime commitment to the welfare of a marital community, rather than as an arrangement for promoting each individual’s happiness. Legal rights and obligations were based on one’s role within this community, rather than on one’s identity as an individual citizen. These roles involved distinct duties of care for wives and husbands. Wives were expected to care for the community through acts of altruism whose value supposedly would have been tainted by explicit economic compensation. In return for caregiving that left them economically dependent, wives were entitled to lifetime financial support from their husbands. This entitlement in part purportedly justified the transfer of ownership or control of her assets to him upon marriage. Husbands thus had a duty of care, but it was more circumscribed than that of their wives. It consisted primarily of responding to the needs of economically vulnerable members of the community.
Courts began to pass alimony orders during the period when absolute divorce theoretically was unavailable, and divorce “from bed and board” was the only form of relief available to an aggrieved spouse. If the spouse who petitions for divorce could prove that the other spouse had engaged in specified forms of misconduct, a divorce from bed and board would allow the spouses to live separately, even though they continued to be formally married. A husband continued to be responsible for providing for the financial needs of his wife. The payment of alimony in the event of a divorce from bed and board thus literally was the fulfillment of an ongoing spousal obligation.
Absolute divorce first became available under a fault-based system. Marriage remained a lifetime contract; it could not be dissolved simply because either individual desired it. Nonetheless, when one member of the marital community could be blamed for the breach of communal duties, the innocent spouse could sue for divorce. While absolute divorce made alimony more conceptually problematic, such financial assistance continued to be justified on various grounds. The most analytically coherent rationale was that a husband who had committed a breach of the marital contract sufficient to warrant divorce should not be permitted by his own wrong to escape his obligations under that contract. In either instance, damages consisted of the amount that was necessary to place the injured wife in the position that she would have enjoyed had not her husband wrongfully ended the marriage. As one court expressed it, an alimony award “should be so apportioned, as to secure to the wife the same social standing, comforts, and luxuries of life, as she would have had, but for the enforced separation.”
Alimony thus was the cornerstone of the traditional law of divorce awards. Since the husband had earned most if not all of the property acquired during marriage, he got to keep these assets. He had an obligation, however, to use part of’ them to ensure that his wife continued to have an adequate income after divorce. Even after divorce, men and women remained part of an ongoing community in which the more financially fortunate member had a duty to respond to the need of the less fortunate one. Such a system ideally served to reassure wives that they would not be economically harmed by their caregiving activity should the marriage end.
Alimony was the primary vehicle for financial claims and obligations at divorce. Men had economic duties to the community, but otherwise had relative freedom to pursue their own interests. The property that they acquired during marriage was legally theirs, not the community’s – even though they had the duty to use a portion of’ it to satisfy obligations to their wives.
No-Fault Divorce In Utah
Beginning with California in 1970, states across the country began making available a no-fault divorce option. By 1985, it was possible to obtain a no-fault divorce in all fifty states and the District of Columbia. You can apply for a no-fault divorce in Utah. To be eligible to file a divorce petition, you must meet certain requirements set out by Utah divorce laws. Your Lindon Utah family lawyer will review your circumstances and advise you if you qualify to file for a divorce under Utah laws.
There are many legal sides to the dissolution of a marriage, and Utah divorce laws have changed over the years. For centuries, Utah divorce law centered around the concept of fault. In this concept, there was the requirement that one party had done something wrong while the other party was without fault. Thus traditional divorce law represented an adversary process. It should be noted, too, that once fault was determined, financial terms of the divorce were directed to the party at fault.
At one time, the notion of ‘‘fault’’ included only adultery and physical cruelty. Later, though, ‘‘fault’’ included such grounds as mental cruelty or desertion. Because divorce was an action in equity, it could be granted only if the party seeking the divorce was innocent of any wrongdoing. If both parties happened to be at fault, the doctrine of recrimination prohibited the granting of a divorce. Also, proof that parties colluded to obtain a divorce would bar a divorce.
In addition, traditional divorce law perpetuated the gender-typed division of roles and responsibilities apparent in traditional marriages. That is, in traditional marriage a woman presumably agrees to devote herself to being a wife, mother, and homemaker in return for her husband’s promise of lifelong support. If the marriage did not endure, and if the wife were virtuous, she would be granted alimony. Alimony represents the husband’s continued economic support, a perpetuation of this element of marriage. Traditional divorce laws also perpetuated the gender-typed division of roles as far as the children were concerned: The wife was typically responsible for their care, while the husband was responsible for their economic support.
In 1970, California passed legislation making it the first state to recognize the breakdown of a marriage as a ground for divorce. Called the Family Law Act, this legislation heralded the concept of no-fault divorce. This concept does not accuse either party of creating the marital breakdown, a factor that makes divorce proceedings simpler. No-fault divorce also helps to reduce the bitterness associated with adversarial proceedings, not to mention the complexities often arising with property settlements, alimony, and the like. Since its inception in 1970, nearly every state has instituted some variation of no-fault divorce proceedings. Today you can seek a no-fault divorce in Utah.
The concept of no-fault divorce changes several basic elements of traditional divorce legislation. First, it eliminates the fault-based grounds for divorce. Second, it removes the adversary process. Third, financial settlements no longer originate in the concept of fault or gender-based role assignments. Finally, no-fault divorce redefines the traditional responsibilities of husbands and wives by implementing a new norm of gender equality. No-fault divorce attempts to institutionalize gender-neutral obligations between partners, including those related to economic support, division of property, and child support.
If you are seeking custody of your children during the divorce proceedings, speak to an experienced Lindon Utah family lawyer. Generally, the mother is awarded custody of the children, especially if they are very young. However there have been cases where the courts have denied custody to the mother.
Custodial arrangements greatly influence a child’s adjustment to divorce. Unfortunately, conclusive answers about the best arrangements remain elusive. Judicial decisions over time regarding child custody reflect the uncertainty that has plagued this issue. For example, until the middle of the nineteenth century, children automatically went to their fathers. But as economic conditions changed, the laws were modified to award custody to mothers as the natural nurturers of children during their ‘‘tender years.’’ Judges now make custody decisions on the basis of the child’s best interests. Mothers still obtain custody in about nine out of ten cases, but fathers are more often seeking custody. Grandparents can also go to court to obtain the right to visit their grandchildren. An experienced Lindon Utah family lawyer can assist grandparents get custody of their grandchildren.
An alternative that brings flexibility to the courts is joint custody. Joint custody embodies the mutual sharing of parental rights and responsibilities after the divorce. Joint custody actually has two meanings. One is that both parents retain the rights they always have had as parents: for instance, the right to participate in decisions about schooling or health/medical considerations. The other meaning of joint custody is that every week, month, or year parents will alternate in providing the child’s shelter. This is called joint residential custody.
Joint custody is becoming popular today. Among the reasons for its popularity are its similarities to the original marital household. Also, many believe that it requires children to make the fewest adjustments. Joint custody may also reduce the bitterness that often exists under sole-custody arrangements, particularly among fathers who pay child support but have only limited access to their children. Finally, joint custody often reduces the loss that a noncustodial parent sometimes experiences under the traditional sole-custody arrangements.
Divorce mediation is a conflict-resolution process in which the disputants meet with a third-party mediator whose role is that of a facilitator and an impartial guide to negotiation. The mediator serves as an advisor who suggests options and can describe the range of decisions that courts are likely to make about a given issue.
Divorce mediation respects and supports the participants’ ability to make decisions that affect their lives. In mediation, the separating partners control the results, taking responsibility for the final outcome instead of handing decisions over to the courts. Mediation provides a clearinghouse for cooperative solutions in which everyone can have his or her needs considered. This is especially important where children are involved and joint custody is anticipated.
Divorce mediation differs from the traditional adversary process, be it through the public judiciary or private arbitration, in several important ways. Most important, mediation is generally informal and less structured than either of the alternative procedures. Because it is private, it encourages an openness that is impossible in a public setting. The disputants retain control of the outcome rather than turning the decision-making power over to a judge or an arbitrator.
Divorce mediation offers several distinct advantages to couples. To begin with, it is often cheaper than a traditional divorce. Also, proponents maintain that disputes are settled faster when there is a mediation rather than an adversarial process. Third, participants are more likely to perceive a mediated settlement as fairer than a court resolution to the divorce.
There are different styles of divorce mediation, although each strives for the same goal: agreeing to a settlement and avoiding the cost of a court suit. In its simplest form, mediation can be performed by a single lawyer and a single mediator. However, other arrangements exist, such as with a lawyer-therapist interdisciplinary team. Court-sponsored public mediation programs are also available. To know more about divorce mediation, contact an experienced Lindon Utah family lawyer.
Seek the Assistance of an experienced Utah family lawyer
Utah family law is complex. The rules for filing a divorce petition aren’t as easy as they may appear. The court will consider various factors when deciding on the amount of alimony. Child custody is not automatic. The court will consider the best interest of the child. The non-custodial parent is usually ordered to pay child support to the custodial parent. There have been cases where the father has been given the custody of the children. Seek the assistance of an experienced Lindon Utah family lawyer.
Lindon Utah Family Attorney Free Consultation
When you need legal help with a family law case in Lindon Utah, please call Ascent Law LLC (801) 676-5506 for your Free Consultation. We can help you with divorce, child support, child custody, custody battles, guardianships, adoptions, name changes, and all types of family law. We want to help you.
8833 S. Redwood Road, Suite C
West Jordan, Utah
84088 United States
Telephone: (801) 676-5506