Grantsville is the second largest city in Tooele County and is noteworthy for both the number and excellence of its horses and cattle, which at one time were important means of bringing much wealth into the city. Large tracts of desert land still provide grazing in the winter for livestock, and majestic homes are still standing from the earlier period of prosperity. Located thirty-three miles southwest of Salt Lake City in Tooele Valley, Grantsville is bordered on the south by South Mountain, which divides Rush Valley from Tooele Valley; it is bordered on the west by the Stansbury Range, and to the north by Stansbury Island, both named for Captain Howard Stansbury, an early government surveyor. Across the valley floor east lies the Oquirrh Mountains. A popular grazing area for the herds of Salt Lake Valley stockmen, including Brigham Young, in 1848 the ground on which Grantsville now stands was occupied by a herd house. Thomas Ricks and Ira Willis were in charge at Twenty Wells; but when more permanent dwellings were built by the families of James McBride and Harrison Severe in October 1850, the site was named Willow Creek. Finally, the name was changed to Grantsville in honor of George D. Grant, leader of a military force sent to control hostile Native Americans. The city’s wide main street is bordered by tall, lovely trees; but her rural lanes once lined with Lombardy poplars are dying out now that the once-filled irrigation ditches have been replaced by sprinkling systems. The climate is mild; a very deep accumulation of snow is prevented because of its proximity to the Great Salt Lake. The average summer high temperature is in the 80s; the average summer low is in the 50s; the average winter high is in the 40s; and the average winter low is in the 20s. The average water year rainfall is 11 inches of precipitation.
How Debt Is Split in Divorce
The splitting of shared assets is a priority, but what happens to debt in a divorce? The bills that are routinely handled during marriage can become a contentious issue when things dissolve. As part of the divorce judgment, the court divides the couple’s debts and assets, while deciding who is responsible for paying specific bills. Equality is the goal, but the division of assets could change that ratio. If a spouse is awarded more property, for example, that decision might be accompanied by more debt obligations for that spouse. Each state has its own laws for dividing debts and assets. Some states consider the assets and debts each spouse brought into the marriage. Other states consider everything to be owned equally. And, of course, a prenuptial agreement will influence any decision.
Divorce Terms to Know
One of the many things that makes divorce such a complicated and notoriously confusing business is the array of new terms, acronyms, and phrases tossed around throughout the process. Divorce has its own language, and it is important to be able to talk the talk with family lawyers, judges, collaborative divorce professionals, and clients. Here are ten divorce terms to jumpstart your journey to divorce literacy.
1. QDRO: A court ruling earmarking a portion of a person’s retirement or pension fund payments to be paid to his or her ex-spouse as part of a division of marital assets. A Qualified Domestic Relations Order (QDRO) is an order from the court that says how an employee’s retirement plan should be divided up between the employee and his or her ex-spouse. The QDRO should include how much to allocate to each spouse, when the non-employee spouse can start receiving benefits, and what happens when either party dies. The details of retirement plans can be incredibly tricky, so it’s important to have an attorney or experienced professional draft the QDRO.
2. Financial Affidavit: Key document used to collect financial data, including all income, expenses, assets, and liabilities. The financial affidavit is the backbone of any divorce settlement. Full disclosure and accuracy are imperative, but it is also important to note that the affidavit changes frequently as new information comes to light. This document may sound straightforward, but it can be surprising how many people are not involved in family finances and are ill-prepared to compile the necessary information.
3. COBRA: The Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act (COBRA) law passed in 1986. It allows an ex-spouse to continue to receive health insurance coverage from his or her former spouse’s employer for up to three years after the divorce. This federal law is a nice safety net for divorcing individuals who are on their ex-spouse’s insurance plan. However, premiums for COBRA coverage are often higher than when they were covered under the employer’s plan. Particularly with subsidies available under the Affordable Care Act, you should be sure to shop around to make sure you’re getting the best option.
4. Community Property State: A state in which any property not deemed “separate” (i.e., owned before marriage or obtained by gift or inheritance) is “community” property and will likely be subject to a 50/50 division. The way that assets are divided in divorce depends on the property division statutes of the state.
5. Equitable Distribution State: A state where settlements divide property based on a number of considerations to achieve an equitable and fair distribution not necessarily an equal one. The remaining 42 states (those that are not community property states) have equitable distribution statutes. In these states, property is divided based on many factors, including the length of the marriage and differences in age, wealth, earning potential, and health of the partners involved. This forgoes the idea that settlements should always be 50/50 and attempts to create a fair post-divorce situation.
6. Legal Separation: Court ruling on division of property, spousal support, and responsibility to children when a couple wishes to separate but not divorce. Couples may want pursue a legal separation rather than a divorce for several reasons, including religious principals, medical or insurance issues, or simply not wishing to be divorced. The state of Texas is the only state not to recognize legal separations.
7. Recapture Rule: A rule that comes into effect if spousal support payments decrease more than $15,000 during the first three post-divorce years. If an individual paying spousal support is found to be in violation of recapture rules, the “excess spousal support” must be included in the payor’s taxable income in the third post-divorce year. One of the more confusing and easy-to-forget rules related to divorce, recapture can be a huge tax problem for individuals paying spousal support. The Tax Reform Act of 1984 created this rule to prevent a property settlement payment (which is fully taxable for the payor) from being disguised as spousal support (which is tax-deductible for the payor).
8. Rehabilitative Maintenance: Temporary financial support given to an ex-spouse until they are able to earn sufficient income to support themselves. Rehabilitative maintenance became popular as a way to give ex-spouses a transition period. It is unrealistic to expect a lower wage earning or stay-at-home spouse to immediately be able to earn enough income to support an entire household. Rehabilitative maintenance gives these individuals a chance to return to school or the workforce and transition into breadwinner status.
9. Property Settlement Note: A note from the payor to the payee for an agreed-upon length of time with a reasonable interest rate. These notes are a tool in dividing property between spouses. If one spouse wishes to keep an asset that tips the scales in his or her favor (such as the marital home), a property settlement note can be drawn up to achieve an equitable settlement.
Things to Think About: Divorce Lawsuits
• Lawsuits are serious business, requiring plenty of time, energy, and money. Here are some things to consider if you are involved in litigation.
• This is a waste of time. Not necessarily. You should take any lawsuit seriously. Even if you are being sued for starting the arms race, you have to address all the issues raised in the lawsuit as if they were real claims.
• I don’t have an attorney. Most people don’t. If you get involved in a lawsuit, shop around for an attorney you feel comfortable with. You and your attorney are going to spend a fair amount of time together during the course of the lawsuit, and you need to find someone you can work with. Make sure that you have a written retainer agreement with your attorney, detailing what you will be charged and for what, and what your attorney will do for you.
• I’ll get in trouble if [fill in blank] comes out. That might be true, but it is also probably true that if you are involved in a lawsuit, it will come out. Be honest and forthcoming with your attorney. Even if it is embarrassing, it is better if your attorney knows. Giving your attorney insufficient information is like hiring a chauffeur and not telling him or her that your brakes don’t work. Give your attorney everything in your relevant files, again even if it is embarrassing or incriminating. If you have the document, the odds are that someone else does too.
• I can’t afford this. Most people can’t really afford the expenses of a full-blown lawsuit. You should look at all legal actions as a balancing act between the expenses of going forward and the costs to you if you don’t. The question is, really, whether you can afford to ignore it. Consider, if you are sued, whether you might have insurance coverage under some insurance policy. Many policies require that you report incidents to the insurer, so it is important to look at policies as soon as you can.
• Court is scary, and too formal. A courtroom can be an intimidating place. That means you should follow your attorney’s advice about courtroom decorum and behavior, and don’t be afraid to ask him or her if something is appropriate. It’s one of the things that you are paying your lawyer for.
• This is insulting. Don’t take this lawsuit personally. If you are being sued, it is probably for economic reasons, not because you are a bad person. If you are forced to sue someone, it is probably for economic reasons or because communication has broken down.
Child Custody and Child Support In Divorce
Like most states, the court makes decisions regarding child custody based on the best interests of the child. While joint custody will be considered in every case, the best interests of the child make the final determination. If one parent does not want custody, this does not automatically mean custody will be granted to the other parent, only that this factor will be taken into consideration when awarding custody. The following factors will be considered as well:
• The physical needs of the child and how those needs will benefit from joint legal or physical custody;
• The child’s emotional and psychological needs and how those needs may benefit from joint legal or physical custody;
• The level of participation in parenting on the part of each parent prior to the divorce;
• Whether each parent can honestly make the best interests of their child a priority, putting aside their own differences;
• The ability of each parent to foster a positive relationship between the child and the other parent;
• How close the homes of the parents are, geographically;
• Whether there has been any child abuse, child neglect or spousal abuse during the marriage;
• The maturity level of each parent;
• The moral standards of each parent;
• The extent of the bond between each parent and the child, taking into consideration the past relationships;
• The child’s preference if he or she is sufficiently mature enough to make such a decision, and
• The willingness of each parent to shield the child from disagreements between the parents.
How Does Utah Calculate Child Support in Divorce?
The court will consider each parent’s adjusted gross income from salary, bonuses, unemployment compensation, social security benefits, and other types of income like investments, retirement, trusts and even alimony from a previous marriage to calculate child support. The court will also consider the amount of time each parent will be spending with the child or children. Other factors may influence the court’s decision for awarding child support like the number of children, medical care, childcare and any special care needs. A table will determine the child support obligation based on an established formula by Utah. The established custodial parent will receive the court established child support from the non-custodial parent. Here are a few other child support-related factors that will be considered by the courts to determine financial support for your child(ren):
• Medical expenses for the child are shared equally between both parents to include the children’s portion of the premium, deductibles, copayments and other non-insured medical expenses.
• Work-related child care expenses are also equally shared by both parents.
• Tax exemptions for dependent children are awarded by the court based on each parent’s contribution to the cost of raising the child along with other factors.
Free Initial Consultation with Lawyer
It’s not a matter of if, it’s a matter of when. Legal problems come to everyone. Whether it’s your son who gets in a car wreck, your uncle who loses his job and needs to file for bankruptcy, your sister’s brother who’s getting divorced, or a grandparent that passes away without a will -all of us have legal issues and questions that arise. So when you have a law question, call Ascent Law for your free consultation (801) 676-5506. We want to help you!
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