Utah family law is complex. It covers many aspects of a person’s life – marriage, divorce, children, adoption, paternity, emancipation and much more. If you need assistance with any aspect of family law, an experienced Park City Utah family lawyer is your best friend.
Family law is also applicable to single persons. Just because you are not married does not mean that you do not have any rights under Utah family law. If you believe your rights under Utah family law are being violated because you are single, speak to an experienced Park City Utah family lawyer.
Utah has a statute defining who can adopt and the procedures involved, and the statute states that a single person may adopt. Nonetheless, it is often not as easy for a single person to adopt as it is for a married couple. Social service and child welfare agencies frequently determine that it is in a child’s best interests to have a two-parent family and may limit a single person to adopting a child unlikely to be adopted by anyone else. If you are a single person seeking to adopt a child, you should speak to an experienced family lawyer.
Unmarried Cohabitants and Adoption
If you are in a cohabitation relationship and want to adopt a child in Utah with your partner, speak to an experienced Park City Utah family lawyer. Utah law does not allow unmarried cohabitants to adopt as a couple. You may be eligible to adopt as a single parent.
Gay Parent Adoption
Single gay men and lesbian women as well as same sex couples can legally adopt a child in Utah. An experienced Park City Utah family lawyer can help gay and lesbian parent with adoption. Utah has legalized gay marriages and there are many same sex couples in Park City Utah. These couples have the same rights as other heterosexual couples. A same sex couple or a single gay man or lesbian woman cannot be discriminated against when they apply to adopt a child. A person’s sexuality.
An experienced Park City Utah family lawyer can assist you prepare a prenuptial agreement. A prenuptial agreement is an agreement that two persons enter into before they get married. This agreement lists out what will happen to the assets of each person after they get married and how the assets will be distributed in case of a divorce. The agreement does not become effective till the two get married.
Under Utah law, you can apply for an uncontested divorce. An uncontested divorce is one where the spouses have agreed on all issues of the divorce including alimony, child custody, child support and visitation rights.
Utah has minimum residency requirements for divorce. Just because you got married in Utah, you cannot automatically apply for a divorce in Utah. Either you or your spouse must be a resident of Utah for at least three months. If you have minor children from the marriage, this period is six months.
Utah also has a mandatory waiting period for a divorce to be completed. The waiting period is ninety days. You can request the court to waive this mandatory waiting period of 90 days under extraordinary circumstances. An experienced Park City Utah family lawyer can review your case and let you know if you can request this waiver. This waiver is not automatic and the court will review the circumstances before it waives this mandatory thrity day waiting period.
Once this waiting period is over, the court will grant the divorce. In case of an uncontested divorce, the spouses need not attend the court for a hearing. All that they need to do is file the paperwork correctly. The judge reviews the paperwork and pass the order declaring the spouses as divorced and the marriage as legally ended. However if the spouses are unable to reach an agreement on any of the issues, they will have to appear in court and the court will after hearing them and reviewing the evidence decide on the unsettled issues.
Nonetheless, courts sometimes terminate a parent’s custody primarily for reasons of abuse, abandonment, or neglect. Utah has statutory provisions setting forth grounds and procedures for terminating parental rights. Custody generally refers to the responsibilities of maintaining and nurturing your child, and involves the right to make decisions regarding your child. Usually a parent has custody of a child from birth until the child is no longer a minor.
When parents are divorced or separated, the child or children live with the custodial parent. The other parent has visitation rights — that is, rights to see the child for specific periods of time, which can be set by agreement between the parents or court-ordered. Today, joint custody is becoming more common, whereby both parents have equal legal rights and responsibilities, for example, making decisions regarding a child’s education or religious training. It does not necessarily mean that both parents have physical custody, which is the right and responsibility to maintain the principal home and to provide routine care for the child. One parent alone may have physical custody, or both parents may alternate. Custody decisions are made either by agreement or by courts after trial. Trial courts generally have broad discretion in custody matters, and appellate courts will not overturn a lower court’s decision unless it finds an abuse of that discretion, or a decision that is “clearly erroneous.” Once a court is involved in custody questions, it retains jurisdiction over the issue; that is, a custody decision can be modified or changed so long as a child remains a minor.
Standards used by judges use to decide custody cases
The standard generally applied in state statutes is the “best interests of the child.” Utah law lists criteria to be considered in awarding custody, such as —
1. the age and sex of the child;
2. the relationship of the child with the parent or parents;
3. the child’s interaction with the environment of the home, school, and larger community;
4. the mental and physical health of all the parties;
5. the child’s wishes
The problem with the best interests test is that although it sounds reasonable, in application it is often a vague standard that leaves room for judicial expression of bias; for example, judges who think a parent’s church attendance is important to a child’s development may use that as a factor in awarding custody; and judges who disapprove of a “bohemian” life-style may award custody to the parent with the more traditional job and home life. If you are seeking custody of your child, seek the assistance of an experienced Park City Utah family lawyer.
Sex-neutral standard for awarding custody
It’s called the primary caretaker standard, and it is a gender-neutral replacement of the tender years doctrine and a refinement of the best interests of the child standard. The primary caretaker standard is a recognition of the fact that in most families one of the parents is likely to assume responsibility for daily plans, preparations, and provision of necessities. If you believe you are the primary parent and you should be given custody of the child, use the services of an experienced Park City Utah family lawyer.
Under Utah law, a gay or a lesbian parent cannot be denied custody on the grounds of sexuality.
Courts in Utah can grant joint custody of the child. An order of joint custody is most likely to be carried out when both parties agree to it. In fact, when the parents, although separated, are cooperating in the upbringing of their children, an order is not really necessary. The potential for problems is clear when parents have not wanted to share custody and were so ordered.
Utah has an emancipation law. Emancipation is the legal process by which a minor is treated as an adult for all legal purposes. To be eligible for emancipation under Utah law, the minor must meet certain requirements. An experienced Park City Utah family lawyer can help a minor get emancipated under Utah law. The minor must be at least 16 years old. When deciding an emancipation petition the court will consider the living situation of the minor – whether the minor has the means to provide for himself. The minor must show that he is capable of managing his affairs.
While Utah does not recognize common law marriages, it does not outlaw cohabitation. You can have a cohabitation relationship with your partner. If you want your cohabitation relationship to be recognized as a marriage, you must petition the court. Seek the assistance of an experienced Park City Utah family lawyer. If you do not petition the court, you will lose certain rights. Spouses have a right of inheritance. Cohabitating partners do not have this automatic right. A cohabitating partner can leave his estate to his partner by making a will. But if he dies intestate – without a will – the estate will be distributed according to the intestate laws of Utah and the cohabiting partner will not get anything. If you are in a cohabitation relationship in Utah, an experienced Park City Utah family lawyer can help you devise legal methods by which you can ensure that your partner gets a rightful share in your estate after your death.
Annulment of Marriage
Some marriages can be annulled. There is a difference between annulment and divorce. Speak to an experienced Park City Utah family lawyer to know if your marriage can be annulled. Often it is better to have a marriage annulled. The main difference is that once a marriage is annulled, for all legal and practical purposes, it’s as if the couple were never married. Whereas in the case a divorce, the couple were married but the marriage has legally ended.
Generally speaking, an annulment is a court decree of order that declares a marriage to be null and void. To annul a marriage in Utah, you must show that your marriage is invalid from the very beginning. Although an annulment differs from a divorce, if there are children involved, the court will have to decide on the issue of child custody, visitation and child support payments. A spouse can seek alimony even in an annulment case. Annulment does not result in waiver of alimony and child support. Utah law treats child support as belonging to the child and not the parent. So, the parents cannot decide on waiving child support.
Fraud is often the most common grounds for seeking an annulment. The spouse seeking the annulment must show that his or her consent for the marriage was obtained by fraud or the other spouse has hidden some information or lied about something that has direct impact on the relationship. If the marriage results in an incestuous relationship between the spouses, the marriage can be annulled. A wife can seek annulment of a marriage on the grounds that the husband is impotent. However, this claim must be backed by medical evidence.
The issue of paternity comes up in a divorce proceeding where the spouses are fighting on the issue of child support. Often the husband will claim that he is not the father of the child to avoid paying child support. In such cases, a paternity lawsuit can help determine the biological father of the child.
An experienced Park City Utah family lawyer can also assist you in paternity lawsuits. Whether you are fighting to have your paternity proved or you are defending yourself against a paternity charge, you should always seek the help of an attorney. Paternity laws are complex. If you are declared the father of a child, you will have to provide child support till that child becomes an adult.
You may sometimes need to prove paternity to be able to get custody of your child. Paternity battle can be emotionally straining and can impact your ability to fight the legal battle alone. Hire the services of an experienced Park City Utah family lawyer.
Park City Utah Family Lawyer Free Consultation
When you need legal help for a family law matter in Park City Utah, please call Ascent Law LLC (801) 676-5506 for your Free Consultation. We can help you with divorce. Child Custody. Child Support. Adoptions. Guardianships. Conservatorships. Estate Planning. Alimony. Modifications of Divorce Decrees. Modifications of Child Custody. And Much More. We want to help you.
8833 S. Redwood Road, Suite C
West Jordan, Utah
84088 United States
Telephone: (801) 676-5506