Utah Divorce Code 30-3-11.4

Utah Divorce Code 30-3-11.4

Utah Code 30-3-11.4: Mandatory Orientation Course for Divorcing Parties — Purpose — Curriculum — Reporting

(1) There is established a mandatory divorce orientation course for all parties with minor children who file a petition for temporary separation or for a divorce. A couple with no minor children is not required, but may choose to attend the course. The purpose of the course is to educate parties about the divorce process and reasonable alternatives.

(2) A petitioner shall attend a divorce orientation course no more than 60 days after filing a petition for divorce.

(3) (a) With the exception of a temporary restraining order pursuant to Rule 65, Utah Rules of Civil Procedure, a party may file, but the court may not hear, a motion for an order related to the divorce or petition for temporary separation, until the moving party completes the divorce orientation course.

(b) Notwithstanding Subsection (3)(a), both parties shall attend a divorce orientation course before a divorce decree may be entered, unless waived by the court under Section 30-3-4.

(4) The respondent shall attend the divorce orientation course no more than 30 days after being served with a petition for divorce.

(5) The clerk of the court shall provide notice to a petitioner of the requirement for the course, and information regarding the course shall be included with the petition or motion, when served on the respondent.

(6) The divorce orientation course shall be neutral, unbiased, at least one hour in duration, and include:

a) options available as alternatives to divorce;
b) resources available from courts and administrative agencies for resolving custody and support issues without filing for divorce;
c) resources available to improve or strengthen the marriage;
d) a discussion of the positive and negative consequences of divorce;
e) a discussion of the process of divorce;
f) options available for proceeding with a divorce, including:
I. mediation;
II. collaborative law; and
III. litigation; and
g) a discussion of post-divorce resources.

(7) The course may be provided in conjunction with the mandatory course for divorcing parents required by Section 30-3-11.3.

(8) The Administrative Office of the Courts shall administer the course pursuant to Title 63G, Chapter 6a, Utah Procurement Code, through private or public contracts.

9) The course may be through live instruction, video instruction, or through an online provider.

(10) (a) A participant shall pay the costs of the course, which may not exceed $30, to the independent contractor providing the course at the time and place of the course.

b) A petitioner who attends a live instruction course within 30 days of filing may not be charged more than $15 for the course.
(c) A respondent who attends a live instruction course within 30 days of being served with a petition for divorce may not be charged more than $15 for the course.
(d) A fee of $5 shall be collected, as part of the course fee paid by each participant, and deposited in the Children’s Legal Defense Account described in Section 51-9-408. (e) A participant who is unable to pay the costs of the course may attend without payment and request an Affidavit of Impecuniosity from the provider to be filed with the petition or motion. The provider shall be reimbursed for its costs by the Administrative Office of the Courts. A petitioner who is later determined not to meet the qualifications for impecuniosity may be ordered to pay the costs of the course.

(11) Appropriations from the General Fund to the Administrative Office of the Courts for the divorce orientation course shall be used to pay the costs of an indigent petitioner who is determined to be impecunious as provided in Subsection (10)(e).
(12) The Online Court Assistance Program shall include instructions with the forms for divorce that inform the petitioner of the requirement of this section.
(13) A certificate of completion constitutes evidence to the court of course completion by the parties.
(14) It shall be an affirmative defense in all divorce actions that the divorce orientation requirement was not complied with, and the action may not continue until a party has complied.
(15) The Administrative Office of the Courts shall adopt a program to evaluate the effectiveness of the mandatory educational course. Progress reports shall be provided if requested by the Judiciary Interim Committee.

Purpose Of The Orientation Course

The course informs parents about resources to improve or strengthen the marriage. Resources to resolve custody and support issues without filing for divorce. The positive and negative consequences of divorce
What if my spouse will not complete the divorce orientation and education courses for parents? Can the judge still grant the divorce?
You can file a motion notifying the court that your spouse refuses to take the courses and assert that it is not equitable to deny you a divorce for your spouse’s inaction. You can ask that the court enter the decree of divorce nonetheless, with a provision that your spouse cannot exercise child custody or parent-time unless and until he/she has completed the mandatory courses. As a prerequisite to receiving a divorce decree, both parties are required to attend a mandatory course on their children’s needs after filing a complaint for divorce and receiving a docket number, unless waived under Section 30-3-4. If that requirement is waived, the court may permit the divorce action to proceed. Both parties shall attend a divorce orientation course before a divorce decree may be entered, unless waived by the court. A certificate of completion constitutes evidence to the court of course completion by the parties. The divorce orientation and education courses are mandated only for divorcing parents of minor children. If you and your spouse have no children or have no minor children, you and your spouse are not required to take the courses. In Utah, the courts take the needs of children whose parents are going through a divorce very seriously. In fact, if the divorce petitioner and respondent have children together who is under-aged, the parents are required to take divorce education classes that other divorcees may not have to attend. The petitioning parent must provide notice of the course requirements to the other party. There is a fee for the courses, although fairly nominal.

Divorce Education Course

The other mandatory class is the education course. This course strives to help parents understand how their divorce may impact their children and to appreciate their children’s reactions to the divorce. Children of different ages may have different ways of sharing their feelings, including their pain, fear, confusion and loss that may result from their parents divorcing. This education course hopes to better equip parents in supporting their children as they adjust to the changes while helping them build coping skills to help move forward in a healthy manner both during the divorce proceedings and after finalization.

Class for Children

There is also a free, voluntary course offered for children of divorce. This class recognizes that children typically need help and encouragement in getting through a family break or divorce, just like adults do. The Divorce Education for Children class is for adolescents between the ages of 9 and 12 years. The teacher is a mental health professional. He or she promotes skill development in the areas of improved communication of the children’s feelings to their parents. The hope is to reduce any negative effects the divorce process has on the children. Parents themselves play an incredibly important role in how their children learn to transition through a divorce, particularly when sharing living time between both parents, an adjustment that is easier with proper education for both parents and children.

How Can We Change The Court System In Order To Make Divorces Easier On The Children?

• Institute a “loser pays the prevailing party’s attorney’s fees” rule.
• make divorce cases more litigant focused and tailored to meeting their needs and the needs of their family, instead of tailoring the cases for the convenience of the courts and lawyers;
• focus making divorce cases take less time to work their way through the court system. This reduces anxiety and emotional distress, reduces costs, promotes just and equitable outcomes, and helps prevent other abuses of the legal system caused by delays;
• require judges to make commendably detailed written findings of fact and conclusions of law to support their rulings on every issue in a divorce case;
• rather than make the standard a negative one (i.e., the ruling stands unless it can be shown to be an abuse of discretion) require that they show that their rulings are as equitable as they could reasonably make them for the parties and their children under the circumstances;
• subject to rigorous, forensic psychological examination and evaluation every litigant in a divorce case in which child custody is an issue and where accusations of any kind of physical, emotional/psychological, sexual, financial, or any other kind of abuse of spouse or children are made.
• Find out whether the allegations are true
• Find out if the accusations are sincere or motivated by malevolence and/or intent to defraud the court Because: if you are falsely accused of abuse, it can too often be the seriousness of the allegations, as opposed to the substance of the evidence, that will determine how your judge rules. far too often courts, when confronted with allegations of abuse, take the easy way out and err on the side of caution, the “better safe than sorry” approach (and thus treat those accused of being abusive as abusive) instead of having the guts to say, “the evidence is insufficient to support these abuse allegations, and so if you really are a domestic violence abuse victim, I can’t find as a matter of fact that you are.” That’s a gross miscarriage of justice when that happens, but it’s what some judges do in these circumstances. All but mercilessly punish litigants and witnesses who lie to the court. The purpose of our justice system is to get to the truth and then apply the law based upon the facts as best we can know them. “Perjury is considered a serious offense, as it can be used to usurp the power of the courts, resulting in miscarriages of justice.”

What can the penalties be for violating child custody orders?

Generally speaking:
• Fines
• compensatory service (like picking up trash on the interstate, volunteering at soup kitchens, etc.)
• jail (only in the most egregious cases, if the court has the will to impose it)
• orders that the noncompliant parent submit to counseling and/or take parenting and anger management classes and other such nonsense now if one repeatedly and unrepentantly violates custody orders with impunity the court could respond by modifying the custody order, but for that to occur the violations usually have to be highly voluminous and/or egregious.

What is the “right of first refusal”? Is it a statutory right in Utah?

Many of you dealing with child custody disputes may have heard the time “right of first refusal” in the context of child care. This “right of first refusal” or “first right of refusal” is shorthand for a provision that goes into many child custody and parent-time orders. What it means is that if a parent is unable to provide personal care and supervision for the children when they are scheduled to be with that parent, then the other parent has the “first right” to pick up the children and provide that care for the children, instead of having a babysitter, daycare provider, or other surrogate care provider take care of the children, until the parent with whom the children are scheduled to stay can again provide personal care and supervision. The principle behind the right of first refusal is that the parents, not surrogate, should be providing as much care for their own children as possible. A good example of this would be when a parent who is scheduled to have the children for particular week or weekend has to go into work to deal with an emergency or out of town for a business trip. A lot of mean-spirited and malicious parents get very territorial with their custody time and want to limit the amount of time the other parent has with the kids to the bare minimum. In response to this problem, the right of first refusal clause was invented. It requires:

1. a parent who is going to be away from the children to notify the other parent that he or she will be away from the children for certain period of time and
2. that the other parent may provide care for the children before the parent can leave the children with a babysitter, in daycare, with a grandparent or neighbor, or any other surrogate provider.
Terms Used In Utah Code 30-3-11.4
• Affidavit: A written statement of facts confirmed by the oath of the party making it, before a notary or officer having authority to administer oaths.
• Evidence: Information presented in testimony or in documents that is used to persuade the fact finder (judge or jury) to decide the case for one side or the other.
• Litigation: A case, controversy, or lawsuit. Participants (plaintiffs and defendants) in lawsuits are called litigants.
• Process: means a writ or summons issued in the course of a judicial proceeding.
• Temporary restraining order: Prohibits a person from an action that is likely to cause irreparable harm. This differs from an injunction in that it may be granted immediately, without notice to the opposing party, and without a hearing. It is intended to last only until a hearing can be held.

Utah Divorce Lawyer

When you need legal help with a Utah Divorce, please call Ascent Law LLC for your free consultation (801) 676-5506. We want to help you.

Michael R. Anderson, JD

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

Telephone: (801) 676-5506

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