What To Do When Your Divorce Has Turned Ugly

What To Do When Your Divorce Has Turned Ugly
What To Do When Your Divorce Has Turned Ugly

Many ѕроuѕеѕ соmе bеаring thе same question whеn thеу ѕреаk with their attorneys: How dо I рrеvеnt mу divоrсе frоm turning uglу? Unfоrtunаtеlу, in ѕоmе саѕеѕ, уоu mау find that thiѕ iѕ inеvitаblе аѕ уоu dеаl with сhild сuѕtоdу matters, ѕрlit рrореrtу, and so muсh more. This is whу it iѕ imроrtаnt tо learn ѕоmе ways tо dеаl with thе ugliеѕt divоrсе аnd hоw you саn bоth lеѕѕеn thе load оn уоurѕеlvеѕ.

Tiрѕ tо Avoid аn Uglу Divorce

The firѕt thing thаt you should always remember iѕ that nobody iѕ telling уоu to be bеѕt friеndѕ with your еx. Yоu аrе in the middlе оf litigation, whiсh уоu may see аѕ a bаttlе, but this dоеѕn’t аlwауѕ mean thаt it has tо bе аn асtivе battle grоund. You ѕhоuld аlwауѕ rеmеmbеr thаt еvеrу ѕinglе thing you ѕау to уоur еx, over the phone or in реrѕоn, could bе broadcast to the соurt аnd come bасk in your fасе. Thiѕ is why you ѕhоuld always сhооѕе уоur wоrdѕ саrеfullу and kеер thingѕ ѕhоrt and tо thе point, bесаuѕе they will always work out fоr уоu. Thiѕ also mеаnѕ сlеаning uр уоur online presence because уоur еx could uѕе all of thiѕ against you, frоm ѕhоwing рiсturеѕ оf уоu drunk at a раrtу to оthеr circumstances thаt could аggrаvаtе thingѕ in thе courtroom.

The second thing that you must rеmеmbеr iѕ that, ѕоmеtimеѕ, соmmuniсаting properly саn mаkе thingѕ еаѕiеr оn bоth уоu аnd уоur еx. When уоu create gооd diаlоguе between уоu аnd уоur еx, you аrе curbing resentment bесаuѕе уоu are nоt mаking assumptions аbоut thеir character or whаt thеу might have dоnе. Sоmеtimеѕ, ѕееking thе hеlр оf a therapist оr mediator (thоѕе whо are thеrе fоr уоu аnd уоur ѕроuѕе еmоtiоnаllу) соuld hеlр.

If уоu аrе stressed out аbоut thе divоrсе, уоu should also think аbоut yourself аnd уоur оwn needs. Thе divorce рrосеѕѕ can bе diffiсult оn you, which iѕ whу it iѕ imроrtаnt tо think аbоut уоur diеt, hоw tо tаkе саrе оf yourself рhуѕiсаllу, аnd so muсh more during оnе оf thе mоѕt ѕtrеѕѕful timеѕ оf уоur lifе.

CAN I LЕАVЕ THЕ STАTЕ IF I АM THЕ LЕGАL GUARDIAN ОF A CHILD?

Thеrе are many situations whеn the соurt will арроint a guаrdiаnѕhiр. Fоr inѕtаnсе, уоu will find сеrtаin cases whеrе thе раrеntѕ аrе dесеаѕеd аnd a guаrdiаn hаѕ tо take оvеr – however, in mаnу mоrе cases, the parents аrе unаblе tо care for thе child duе tо illnеѕѕ or ѕubѕtаnсе аbuѕе. In mаnу situations, the parents may bе аblе to hаvе ѕоmе contact with thе child, but it iѕ limitеd ѕо thаt the сhild iѕ nоt harmed.

Because guаrdiаnѕhiрѕ аrе taken vеrу seriously bу thе court, the judgе assigned tо thе саѕе will сhооѕе a guardian whо trеаtѕ mаttеrѕ with thе utmоѕt of саrе аnd wаntѕ whаt it best fоr thе child. They have many powers tо mаkе аrrаngеmеntѕ fоr the сhild such аѕ hоw tо ѕреnd сhild ѕuрроrt mоnеу, dеtеrminе whаt types оf activities thе сhild саn раrtiсiраtе in, аnd hаvе thе right tо dесidе whеrе thе child will livе. When it comes to trаvеling аnd mоving, whаt rights does a guаrdiаn hаvе?

Travel and Mоving Undеr a Guаrdiаnѕhiр

The court will tурiсаllу give a lot оf freedom tо a guаrdiаn in thе guardian-child rеlаtiоnѕhiр. Thiѕ аlѕо givеѕ thеm thе frееdоm to dесidе whеrе thе child trаvеlѕ аnd livеѕ lоng-tеrm. A lеgаl guаrdiаn hаѕ thе right to trаvеl оut of state with thе сhild fоr vасаtiоn аnd mаnу оthеr рurроѕеѕ. Thе оnlу exceptions to thiѕ rule аrе if thе judgе ѕtаtеd оthеrwiѕе or if thе guаrdiаn iѕ оnlу traveling to isolate thе сhild frоm соntасt with оthеrѕ. In thеѕе ѕituаtiоnѕ, a hearing will tурiсаllу be hеld.

Thе guаrdiаn аlѕо hаѕ a right tо сhооѕе where the сhild will live within thе ѕtаtе. If thе guardian wiѕhеѕ to move thе сhild to аnоthеr state, thеу must filе a petition аnd оthеr paperwork to thе соurt along with ѕеrving сорiеѕ to the minоr, раrеntѕ, ѕiblingѕ, аnd other реорlе involved in thе сhild’ѕ lifе. Thе соurt will соnѕidеr thе best interests of the child in every саѕе.

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!

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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When Is Divorce A Good Idea?

When Is Divorce A Good Idea?

Deciding whether you’re in a failing marriage that’s beyond repair is obviously not a choice that comes easily—especially when you’ve put in the work to try and salvage what feels like a loveless partnership. You might’ve chosen to overlook those first signs that divorce is the best move for one (or both) of you, and you’ve been coping with an unhappy relationship for some time. Or, perhaps you hope that the union’s still got some fight left and you’re not ready to leave. It’s not a decision to take lightly. But now, whether it’s a matter of one too many arguments, trust-sapping infidelity, or something else entirely, you’re clearly contemplating a permanent split.
Many relationships can be revived, but if there’s been too much neglect, damage, or depletion of all the ‘nutrients’ necessary to cultivate a healthy relationship, it may have reached its final expiration date.”

Here are the most common signs that you should consider divorce, and that you may be ready to move on to the next chapter of your life.

You never argue.

Believe it or not, you’re supposed to argue. Silence and avoidance can be detrimental to a relationship. When you just can’t be bothered anymore, it means something is missing. While not all fights are productive, it’s healthy to be able to resolve arguments in a way that benefits the marriage, you fight for each other. You fight for the relationship. The biggest problem is when there’s no fight left.

Winning is everything.

While never fighting (i.e. complete detachment) may be one sign of impending divorce, the way you argue when you do have a disagreement is another indication. “Ideally, you want a conflict to be resolved in a way that preserves the relationship, if fighting is more about pointing fingers, placing blame and the need to ‘win,’ the focus becomes power and not connection, and that is a red flag.

You want to provoke your spouse.

When you find that you’re constantly testing how far you can push your marriage before it completely shatters, you’re playing divorce roulette. Once you start trying to push your spouse’s threshold, it’s possible that you subconsciously want to end things but are afraid to make the move. For example, if you leave your computer open to an inappropriate (read: flirtatious) email exchange, you may secretly be hoping your spouse finds it so they’ll initiate a conversation about why you’ve been unhappy.

They send your heart racing.

We’re not talking the pitter patter of love. We’re referring to full on, heart rate rising stress. If you have a negative physical reaction when your spouse walks into the room, it’s important to pay attention to what your body is telling you.

Along those same lines, if your heart grows heavy and your stomach balls up into a knot every time you think about staying in your marriage, your body is letting you know it might be time to go. Our brains can lie to us, our body on the other hand, is the incorruptible truth-teller.

You hide your real self.

If you feel like you’ll be rejected if your spouse sees “all” of who you are, it’s impossible to be in a fulfilling relationship, a relationship expert and paternity court judge. When you constantly have to filter yourself, or keep your beliefs away from your spouse, it shows a lack of respect in your opinion. And that’s tough to fix.”

You’re overcompensating on Facebook.

Social media usually manufactures an extremely edited version of our lives. It’s also a space in which it’s easy to craft an illusion, hiding the reality of an unhappy marriage. According to Morris, when you or your partner suddenly start to overshare on social media, it’s usually an attempt to cover up the truth. Constantly feeling the need to show the world how great your relationship is—when, in reality, you know it’s not—may be a sign that things are falling apart.

When the thought of leaving scares the hell out of you, and yet…

It can be exciting to think about the life you could be living if you weren’t with this person any longer—the freedom, the adventures, the passion. But those fantasies are centered on what happens when you’ve already left the marriage. Take notice of what it feels like to imagine actually leaving, not just living this new life of yours sans partner. If the thought of leaving scares you, yet you’d still rather leave than stay, it’s a pretty strong indicator that it’s time to go.

Kids (or work, or friends) come first.

All of these outside influences can positively impact a marriage. And, of course there will become times when other factors (an ailing mom, having to focus on your child) will require your full attention. But, when any one thing takes over, leaving little room for a partner to dedicate time and attention to the relationship, it can take its toll. When those influences are all they talk about and all they think about, it can drive a wedge between spouses. The chasm can become so wide that the prospect of divorce begins to stare them right in the face.

It’s “I” and “me” and never “we.”

Marriage takes teamwork, and that means coming together for a common goal. When the team mentality stops, it may be a sign your marriage is over, couples are encouraged to think of their relationship in terms of “we” instead of “I.” The language we use when talking about our relationships can predict a break up. The pronouns you choose (I, me, mine, our, us, we) are a sign of how close you feel to your partner. So, look out for what expressions you find yourself (or your spouse) using.

You push back when others say, “stay.”

We rarely broadcast our relationship struggles to those around us, so it’s to be expected to get pushback from others who can’t seem to understand why you’d want to make this choice. A friend or family member’s objections may just be the gut-check you need. Leaving a marriage of any length will eventually provide the opportunity to examine your decisions, and your heart, , and you can only truly do this if you know you’ve made the decision that makes the most sense for you, not anyone else.

They stop being your go-to person.

Who do you call when you’re having a bad day? Who’s the first person you text when you hear good news? There’s an amazing rainbow outside your window…who—besides Instagram—do want to send the photo to? Your partner should be the first person you go to, in crisis or in celebration. When either one of you no longer wants to share important moments, you stop feeling connected. That disconnect can cause major loneliness in a relationship, which can often lead to divorce.

Forgiveness doesn’t seem like an option.

Infidelity in a marriage is definitely a road block, but not always a deal breaker. It’s possible to move on and have a healthy relationship. However, if both spouses choose to stay married, it’s imperative to fully forgive and make peace with your partner. If you’re dredging up past issues every time there’s an argument, or are holding onto resentment, then it’s most likely the marriage won’t survive.

You already have an exit strategy.

Are you moving money into different accounts? Looking for a new job so you have even more financial independence? Once you start planning like that, it’s a sign that you believe your marriage isn’t working, While she acknowledges that taking steps to ensure you’re not reliant on anyone and that you have your own savings can certainly be a good thing, it also means that you may have one foot out the door without realizing it. And when you’re not willing to be “all in,” your marriage could be on the outs.

It’s hard. All the time.

While every relationship has its rocky periods once in a while, conflict and feelings of disconnection shouldn’t be chronic. If it’s hard far more often than it is inspiring or pleasurable, it may be time to move on.”
You’re constantly wondering if you should leave.

There’s one thing about confusion, It is usually a lie. We block our own answers when we tell ourselves we don’t know. You are not confused about what to do, but you are afraid of the action you know you should probably take. In other words, if you are constantly wondering, then you likely already know your answer. When you’re considering divorce ― or reeling from your ex’s decision to end the marriage ― it’s easy to focus on the negatives: How will I possibly get by living on my own again? How will the kids be impacted by this? Am I doomed to be alone for the rest of my life?

Your Spouse Is A Serial Cheater.

It possible that your spouse just isn’t cut out for marriage or monogamy, even if they seemed to have wanted to get married. They also may put the blame for their philandering and untrustworthiness on you and may accuse you of being too jealous or controlling. When trust is broken in such a painful way, it is difficult to recover, and it if your partner has had multiple affairs, it is highly improbable that there will be enough good will for your marriage to be viable. Even if you decide to stay in the marriage, but it is doubtful that you will ever be able to fully trust your partner if they have cheated multiple times.

When you can’t get past a major breach of trust in the marriage despite many efforts and discussions, that’s a telltale sign your marriage may be beyond repair.

There’s Been An Instance Of Domestic Violence.

The reality is that, more likely than not, if there has been one incident of domestic violence, that there will be more. If you are in doubt about this, ask yourself the following question: If you had a daughter who was the victim of domestic violence, would you encourage her to stay married? Hopefully, your response would be a resounding, ‘No” When your health and safety are compromised by staying in the marriage, there should be no question about whether you should leave.

Reasons Divorce Is Preferable To Staying In An Unhappy, Unhealthy Marriage.

Marriage may give you a sense of security but divorce gives you a new lease on life.
Staying in a bad marriage can provide security because at least you know how your life will go. But getting a divorce gives you hope ― the hope to be who you want to be, the hope to be happy and the hope to find someone else to love.

Being a single parent is better than modeling an unhealthy relationship.

If you’re a parent with young kids, getting a divorce is better than staying in a bad marriage because these are formative years for them. They will likely seek out and emulate the types of relationships they see modeled. I want my relationships to be happy, healthy and mutually respectful, so that my children never settle for anything else in their own lives.

Divorce clears the way for you to meet the right partner.

Divorce is painful but it’s kind of like pulling off a Band-Aid: The anticipation is horrible but once it’s over, it’s pure relief. Bonus: It allows you the freedom to meet the person you were meant to be with!
You get to focus on you for once.

After divorce, you find yourself again and fall in love with the wonderful attributes that makes you you. As a mother especially, you can parent with just your own mama instincts and all your love and energy can flow into your little one(s). You find genuine peace and happiness and an appreciation for life that may have been sucked out of you during your bad marriage.

Divorce isn’t the worst thing that can happen to your kids. Enduring a hostile home life is.

After my first wife and mother of my five children left us permanently, I felt like going through divorce was the worst thing that could happen to a family. So when my second marriage was falling apart, as my kid’s sole and single parent, I was desperate to protect them from the trauma of another divorce. As a result, I kept the family in a situation that wasn’t good for any of us. The reality is, the worst thing for your children is for them to live in a hostile home and have them see you unhappy. My life and my children’s’ lives have gotten better and happier with each passing day after the divorce.

There’s a big difference between loneliness and solitude.

My divorce helped me discover the gift of solitude when I once experienced the pain of loneliness. Now that I’ve learned to enjoy being alone, I’m free from that awful feeling of separation that comes from being with the wrong person.

You and your partner may be stifling each other’s growth.

I feel that divorce should rarely be the first choice because generally the only thing keeping a ‘bad’ marriage from being a ‘good’ marriage is sustained mutual effort. That being said, there are times that divorce is the best choice in order to allow both partners to grow and achieve the life they desire, and in some scenarios, the life they deserve.

A happier parent is a better parent.

Learning to let go and step into the unknown may be the single most important thing you can do for your own sanity and the sanity of those around you. Divorce proves that you have the courage to live a life of happiness. And if you’re happier, you’ll be a far more effective parent.

You can devote your energy to other important areas of your life.

If you have done all the work of trying to make the marriage better and nothing is changing, finding the courage to leave and move forward pays off in the long run. The pay off? You stop putting all your energy into a relationship that no longer works and put more energy into yourself and your kids.

You deserve a partner who’s just as invested in the relationship as you are.

Divorce is preferable to a marriage without love. We all deserve to be loved. I never want to be in a marriage where that partnership isn’t sacred and a priority.

Relationships are complicated, to say the very least, and even the most stable of marriages will go through intense highs and extreme lows. So if you’re asking yourself, Should I get a divorce?” know that you’re not alone — a 2015 poll found that half of all married couples have contemplated divorce. But determining whether or not your marriage should end is an entirely personal decision, and there are a number of factors that will play into you eventually choosing to either work through your relationship issues, or call it quits.

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!

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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What Are The Most Common Financial Mistakes Made During Divorce

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During your marriage, you and your ex most likely comingled funds and budgeted together. These are sound marital practices, but divorce puts you in a position that requires an in-depth review of the income, expenses, and assets that you and your ex brought to the marriage and forces you to make important decisions with lasting implications. Too often people underestimate just how complex these issues can be and how important it is to make the right choices. Your best plan of action is to be informed, take your time, think practically instead of emotionally, and consider the future when getting your divorce finances all in a line.

That being said, we have compiled a list of the most common financial mistakes people make when divorcing, as well as tips on how you can avoid similar pitfalls. While this list may set your mind at ease some, it does not replace the advice of a qualified professional when it comes to unique circumstances of your case. You may still find it necessary to consult a financial expert to assist with your situation.

Here are some financial mistakes to avoid when it comes to negotiating your divorce settlement.

Becoming a Financial Victim

The biggest mistake divorcing spouses can make is being in the dark about finances. If your spouse has always handled all of the financial decisions in your household and you don’t have any information about you and your spouse’s income and assets, your spouse will have an unfair advantage over you when it comes time to settle the financial issues in your divorce.

If you suspect your spouse is planning a divorce, get as much information as you can now. Make copies of important financial records such as account statements (e.g., savings, brokerage, and retirement) and all other data that relates to your marital lifestyle (e.g., checking accounts, charge card statements, tax returns).

If you believe your spouse may liquidate (sell or transfer to cash) assets or retitle marital assets without your consent, notify the holder of the asset or property in writing and get a restraining order from the court. Watch out for any cash held in joint checking and brokerage accounts, and the cash value of life insurance policies. If your spouse uses or moves assets without your knowledge, you may have to hire legal and forensic accounting experts to help you locate and value the assets.

Not Considering Mediation

If you and your spouse can work together to reach a fair settlement on most or all of the issues in your divorce (e.g., child custody, child support, alimony, and property division), choosing mediation to resolve your divorce case may save thousands of dollars in legal fees and emotional aggravation. The mediation process involves a neutral third-party mediator (an experienced family law attorney trained in mediation) that meets with the divorcing couple and helps them reach an agreement on the issues in their divorce. Mediation is completely voluntary; the mediator will not act as a judge, or insist on any particular outcome or agreement.

Mediation also provides divorcing couples a lot of flexibility, in terms of making their own decisions about what works best for their family, compared with the traditional adversarial legal process, which involves a court trial where a judge makes all the decisions.

Mediation, however, is not appropriate for all couples. For example, if one spouse is hiding assets or income, and refuses to come clean, you may have to head to court where a judge can order your spouse to comply. Or, if one spouse is unwilling to compromise, mediation probably won’t work.

Hiring a Combative Lawyer to Punish Your Spouse

This is a very bad idea for two reasons. First, except in extremely egregious cases, most courts won’t punish your spouse financially for being a bad person.

Second, hiring an attorney to punish your spouse will cost you because your attorney will need to increase the number of hours spent on your case. Increased attorney hours means higher divorce costs, and higher divorce costs means there will be fewer assets and cash left for you and your family. Try to take the emotion out of your divorce, and treat your case as a business arrangement. The best revenge is to live well after the divorce is over.

Failing to Recognize Your Common Enemy – the I.R.S.

Work together with a divorce financial planner or tax accountant to minimize the total taxes you and your spouse will pay during separation and after divorce; you can share the money you save. Don’t forget that both spouses are liable for taxes due as a result of audits on joint returns, so it’s usually in your best interest to work together and minimize possible liabilities. If you’re facing complicated tax issues in your divorce, it’s best to consult with an experienced family law attorney and an accountant.

Disregarding the Impact of Taxes in a Divorce Settlement

It’s important to remember that after the divorce is final, you may get taxed on the marital assets you received through your settlement. Say your spouse handles all the investments and offers to split them 50/50. Sounds good, right? The only way to know if you’re getting a fair deal is to determine the value of the investments on an after-tax basis, then decide if you like the deal. Again, you should speak with a tax professional about the impact of any proposed property division before you agree to it.

Failure to Evaluate Settlement Proposals

If you’re trying to decide whether your spouse’s proposed divorce settlement is fair and workable, you should try to figure out how the settlement will impact your finances in the years ahead. There are many factors to consider, including assets, incomes, living expenses, inflation, alimony, child support, taxes, retirement plans, investments, medical expenses and health insurance costs, and child-related expenses such as education.

There are specialized divorce computer models that produce comprehensive and realistic analyses of your post-divorce lifestyle. You should speak with a local divorce attorney or financial planner that specializes in divorce for help analyzing any proposed financial settlement.

Being Emotionally Attached to Assets in Divorce Negotiations

The marital residence, the pension you earned, a painting purchased during your marriage – these assets often bring an emotionally charged debate to divorce negotiations, which can impair good decision-making. Often, divorcing spouses that are attached to the family home don’t realize that they can’t really afford. Yet, they fight tooth and nail to keep it, sometimes at the expense of retirement planning.

However, the real estate market crash has made it abundantly clear that homes have a very low return on investment and, in some cases, have a negative return; many houses today are still underwater, and couples have had to walk away from their homes and the hard-earned money they invested.

In addition, a home is a major cash expense (e.g., mortgage payments, property taxes, repairs, and utilities). Let go of any emotional attachments you may have. During your divorce and settlement negotiations, your main focus should always be on how to maximize your finances by making sure you’ll have enough cash for living expenses after your divorce and in retirement.

Beware of Settlement Offers That Look Too Good

Both spouses and children must make compromises in their life styles post-divorce. A settlement that does not give one spouse enough money to live on is likely to go into default in the future. Be fair, but verify the numbers. Get payments up front whenever possible, even if you get less in total. Try to secure all payments with assets and insurance. It may be worth speaking to a family law attorney who can review a settlement offer and make sure your rights are fully protected.

Disregarding the Long Term Impact of Inflation

The effects of inflation on the cost of a child’s college education, or on retirement, 15 years in the future can be dramatic. The “Rule of 72” is a simple way to judge the impact of inflation. For example, if the inflation rate is 3%, the “Rule of 72” means that prices will double in 24 years (72/3=24). College costs at 5% inflation will double in 14.4 years (72/5=14.4). Be sure to work inflation into your settlement negotiations so you can cover the true costs of future financial expenses.

Failing to Consider Your Spouse’s Eligibility for Social Security Benefits

If a couple is married for 10 years or longer, a non-working or lower-earning spouse is entitled to derivative social security benefits on the higher earning spouse’s (“worker spouse”) record. These derivative benefits do not impact or lower the worker spouse’s social security payments, which is why it’s so ironic that the average length of marriage for people who get divorced is about nine and a half years. Waiting just another six months may guarantee increased retirement options with no reduction in payments.

Failure to Adequately Insure the Divorce Settlement

Your ex-spouse’s premature death or disability can be devastating and may result in a loss of alimony, child support, college tuition, or property settlement payments. Life and disability insurance policies can guarantee that these payments will continue despite an unexpected loss or injury.

Failure to Develop a Post-Divorce Financial Plan

One indisputable fact of divorce is that two households cost more to operate than one. Many divorcing spouses fail to realize that their divorce settlement must last a significant amount of time: perhaps even the rest of their lives. Financial planning can help people transition from a married to single lifestyle by prioritizing financial goals, developing realistic expectations, and producing sound plans for the assignment and division of financial resources.
Not understanding your responsibility to pay marital debt

In most cases, if a debt was incurred during your marriage, it is a shared liability. Dividing the responsibility for marital debts is part of the divorce process, but debtors often do not abide by the arrangements you and your ex made. Unexpected debts like this could cause complications and unexpected stress in your divorce finances if you are unaware of your liability, or if your ex accepts responsibility yet fails to keep up. Let’s say you agree that your ex will be responsible for the credit card in both of your names but fails to make timely payments. The collection agencies could come after you and won’t simply forgive you because of a divorce settlement agreement.

Tip: If possible, avoid the stress and reduce your risk of being harassed by debtors later by paying off all marital debts before the divorce becomes final.

Not securing enough alimony or child support and failing to insure your alimony

Most people are unaware of just how hard it is to modify an alimony or child support order. You should make sure your alimony and child support terms are comprehensive and clearly stated in your court order or separation agreement, because it won’t be easy to modify later on.

Additionally, if your ex cannot pay for alimony or child support then there will be nothing for you to collect. In the event your ex becomes disabled, deceased, or unemployed, you may be left without any support. You can request that your spouse obtain disability and life insurance policies (or modify an existing policy) to ensure you will continue to receive support in the event of any accident or drastic change in your ex’s circumstances, thus avoiding any impact to your post-divorce finances.

Tip: It may be possible to negotiate the alimony and child support payments to include money to cover the costs of the life insurance policy.

Choosing the wrong attorney

Your divorce is already a stressful and time-consuming process, especially when it comes to your divorce finances. If you can reduce the cost and burden on yourself it will greatly reduce your stress levels and better equip you for a stable future. An aggressive lawyer may frustrate your ex causing negotiations to turn sour or even hostile. Additionally, an attorney that instigates a fight runs the risk of squandering your share of the marital estate in unnecessary litigation costs and fees. Instead, find a lawyer that will advocate for your best interest in a professional way, and try to leave the emotion out of it.

Tip: Mediation may be your best money-saver. If the relationship with your ex is amicable enough, you could save a lot of time and money by avoiding the court room altogether. Mediation usually involves a neutral third-party family law attorney assisting you in reaching an agreement that works for both parties. This process provides flexibility and efficiency over the traditional court route. There is certainly a lot to consider here, and it definitely can seem overwhelming. But if you take your time to become informed, consider all the circumstances with the knowledge of your current situation and an eye towards your future, you can avoid these divorce finance mistakes. Remember, try to act from a place of logic and consider finding trustworthy qualified financial professionals to get the best outcome.
Wanting to keep the family home even when you can’t afford to

A house is more than another asset, it’s an intimate place with priceless emotional value. However, it is necessary to be realistic and protect yourself from future financial trouble when settling a divorce, and that means making tough decisions. If you cannot afford the family home then you may need to let it go. Homes often have a very low return on investment, sometimes even resulting in negative returns. If you ignore the numbers and attempt to hold on, you could find yourself struggling under the weight of the mortgage, maintenance, and property tax costs.

Tip: Most mistakes made during a divorce stem from actions taken from an emotional perspective. It is hard to separate the emotional weight of your situation from the practical and logistical, but it must be done for your own benefit. Consider the financial decisions of your divorce in the same way you would handle business transactions, supported by numbers, facts, and solid calculations.

Not knowing your ex’s work benefits and stock investments

Your ex’s employer-funded pensions and investments are assets of value that you are entitled to a share of, even if payment does not occur until the employee spouse retires. You should familiarize yourself with all of your ex’s assets and any potential rights you may have regarding these benefits and other divorce finances. Defined benefit plans, 401(k) s, and company stock may all be subject to division between the employee spouse and the non-employee spouse. In most cases, you will need to consult an actuary to calculate the present value of these assets.

Tip: Proceed with caution regarding risky investments and expected returns. Your ex may be attempting to convince you that a certain investment will yield a large enticing profit in an attempt to bargain for a different asset they would prefer to take in the division. In reality there may be no evidence to support your ex’s claimed return on investment. Consult a professional on the risks and potential for all investments before reaching a settlement. If it seems an offer is too good to be true, it very well may be.

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!

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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Divorce Attorney In Utah County

Divorce Attorney In Utah County

Utah allows divorce on fault-based grounds, as well as the no-fault grounds of irreconcilable differences. If you want to file for divorce in a Utah court, you must have lived in the state for at least three months. If you have minor children and need the court to decide custody, those children typically must have lived in the state at least six months.

Reasons for Divorce In Utah

Like a majority of states, Utah allows both no-fault and fault-based divorce. In a no-fault divorce, spouses don’t have to prove that the other’s misconduct caused the breakup of the marriage, so these types of case are generally faster and less expensive. Utah provides two kinds of no-fault grounds: “irreconcilable differences” and living apart for at least three years under a separate maintenance order issued by any state. If you and your spouse can’t agree on an amicable divorce, you can file for a fault divorce, where you have to show that your spouse engaged in some type of misconduct that caused the marriage to fail.
There are eight fault-based grounds in Utah, which include:
• inability to perform sexually (at the time of the marriage)
• adultery
• willful desertion for more than one year
• willful neglect
• habitual drunkenness
• felony conviction
• extreme cruelty, and
• incurable insanity.

Filing for Divorce In Utah County

• Consider hiring an attorney: If your divorce is complicated, an attorney can help guide you through the process and ensure everything is done correctly. You may have difficulty going it alone if you have complex child custody or support issues, if you and your spouse have been married for a while and have a lot of property and joint assets, or if you and your spouse disagree about any of these issues.

• Prepare your forms: Rather than physical forms, Utah has an Online Court Assistance Program (OCAP) you can use to prepare the petition and other documents you will need to file for divorce. The online system includes instructions on how to fill out the forms correctly. After you input all the necessary information, the program will personalize the forms for you and prepare all the paperwork you need – the only thing it won’t do is file the forms for you. When you file the forms, you also will be charged a $20 document preparation fee for using the OCAP service.
Sign your divorce forms in the presence of a notary. Once you’ve finished preparing your forms and printed them, you must sign them in front of a notary public. If you’re unsure where to find a notary, check your bank – many banks offer notary services free of charge to their customers. You also may find notaries in private businesses such as check-cashing services, or at the courthouse.

• File your divorce forms: To open your divorce case, you must file your forms in the clerk’s office of the court in the county where you live. The clerk will charge you a $310 filing fee (plus the $20 document preparation fee if you used OCAP). If you can’t afford the fee, you can file a motion asking the judge to waive them. You’ll have to file extensive documentation proving that you are unable to afford the fee, including a detailed description of your income, expenses, debts, and property.

• Serve your spouse: Within 120 days after you’ve filed your initial petition, you must serve your spouse with a copy of the petition, the summons, and all other documents you filed. You can either mail the documents using certified mail, or have the sheriff’s department or a private process serving company provide service for you for a fee. After the other party has been served, you must file a proof of service document. The court won’t act on your petition until all parties to the action have been served.

• Wait for an answer: After you serve your spouse, they have 21 days to file a response to your petition. This time is extending to 30 days if he lives in another state. If your spouse files an answer, both of you must disclose to each other a Financial Declaration. On this form, each party discloses all income, assets, debt, and expenses both to the court and to each other. In addition, you must attach a number of financial documents, including pay stubs, copies of tax returns for the two tax years before the petition was filed, loan applications, financial statements, real estate appraisals, and other documents pertaining to any item listed on the form. If your spouse does not file an answer within the time specified on his summons, you may ask the court for a default judgment. A default judgment means you get everything you’ve asked for, and your spouse doesn’t have an opportunity to protest or tell their side of the story. Instead of a response contesting your petition, your spouse also may file a written stipulation that he agrees to the divorce. If you agree on the terms of the divorce, you can answer the questions in the OCAP Stipulation Interview and prepare agreed documents. However, you can only do this after you’ve filed a petition and served it on your spouse.

Waiving the 30-Day Minimum Waiting Period

In Utah, there is usually a minimum 30-day waiting period before a divorce may be granted. However, this delay may be waived if you can prove the waiver is warranted by extenuating circumstances. To waive the waiting period, you will need to file a Motion to Waive the 30-Day Waiting Period with the help of a divorce attorney. If your spouse objects by filing a Statement Opposing Motion to Waive 30-day Waiting Period in response, you must then file a Reply. Additionally, the judge will not decide anything until either you or your spouse files a Request to Submit for Decision. You may also request a hearing on the matter. While 30 days is the minimum duration of most Utah divorce cases, cases which need litigation to settle strong disagreements can take several years.

What if Your Spouse Doesn’t Answer Your Complaint?

The first step in the divorce process is serving a complaint on your spouse. As the party serving the complaint, you are known as the petitioner, while the recipient spouse is referred to as the respondent. Once the respondent is served, he or she has 21 days to answer the complaint (or 30 days if located outside of Utah). If the respondent simply never files an answer, the courts may enter a default judgment. However, that does not mean your divorce will be automatically granted after 21 days — it simply means the respondent loses the opportunity to contest the claims contained within the original petition.

Is Your Utah Divorce Contested or Uncontested?

If your spouse does not contest or challenge any of the matters addressed by your petition, your divorce will be smoother and will conclude more rapidly than a contested divorce, where disputes arise — and need to be resolved. If you do have a dispute over alimony, child support, child custody, or other aspects of your marriage dissolution, you will be required to participate in mediation. Mediation is a form of conflict resolution which involves a qualified mediator guiding you and your spouse toward a mutually created, mutually acceptable solution. This is very different from litigation, where a judge hands down a decision which you must comply with. The courts or your mediator may grant your request to waive mediation in extraordinary circumstances.

Do You Have Children Who Are Under 18 Years Old?

If you have minor children, the process automatically becomes longer. This is because all divorcing parents in Utah are required to attend a divorce orientation class, as well as a divorce education class. For greater convenience, you can “attend” the orientation class online for a fee of $30 (per person, not per couple). However, you must still attend the education class live and in-person. The fee for the education course is $35 per person, meaning your total cost would be $65. However, there are several discounts which may be available to you depending on the time elapsed between filing your petition and attending the courses. If you’re concerned about your child adjusting, you can enroll him or her in an optional divorce education class designed especially for children. This class is available for children aged nine to 12.

Attending Divorce Education and Mediation in Utah

• Complete the 30-day waiting period: Utah law generally requires a period of 30 days between the date you file the petition and the date the judge signs your final order, regardless of whether you and your spouse agree.
• Take divorce education classes: The state requires couples with minor children to attend a divorce orientation class and a divorce education class before divorce is granted. You must pay a $45 fee to attend the classes, which you can attend online. The fee is discounted if you attend the class in person within 30 days of the day the petition is filed. The orientation course educates parents about divorce and its alternatives, including resources to improve the marriage and resolve custody issues, along with procedural alternatives to divorce. The education course discusses how children experience divorce, ways to communicate, and how parents can help their children, among other issues.
• Comply with mandatory mediation: If your spouse files an answer, Utah law requires you to attend at least one mediation session to attempt to resolve your differences. You and your spouse are responsible for finding a mediator and paying for their services. You can request a list of qualified mediators by calling the Divorce Mediation Help Line. If you do not feel safe attending mediation or feel you won’t be able to fully express yourself due to an extreme level of conflict between you and your spouse, you can apply to have the mediation requirement waived.
• Request a temporary order: If you need the court to resolve certain issues such as use of the marital home or child custody and support while the divorce is pending, you can request a temporary order that will remain into effect until the judge signs your final divorce order.
Going to Trial
• Request a child custody evaluation: If you have outstanding issues regarding child custody and support and you and your spouse cannot agree, you can get a professional evaluator to perform a child custody evaluation and report their findings to the court.
• Either party may request an evaluation, or a judge may order one even if neither party requests it. These evaluations may be expensive. Typically, the cost is split among both parents. The custody evaluator observes and considers many factors related to the best interest of the child, the standard courts use to make child custody decisions. The evaluator reports on the child’s preference, bonds with each parent, the parents’ moral character, and religious compatibility with the child, financial conditions, and other factors.
• Attend the pre-trial conference: Before the court schedules a trial, you must attend a pre-trial conference and make one last attempt to settle your case. If you cannot come to a resolution, you will schedule a trial and determine which issues need to be determined at trial.
• Prepare for your final hearing: After your pre-trial conference, the court will schedule a full trial to make a final decision if you and your spouse still have unresolved issues. Before your hearing, try to go to the courtroom where your hearing will be held and observe another hearing so you have some idea of what to expect. Collect all of your documents and evidence you intend to present and organize them neatly so you can find anything you need without shuffling a lot of papers or taking up time unnecessarily. Have at least four documents of any items you bring, if possible, so each party, the judge, and any witness can have their own copy to look at. Review the court map and make sure you know how to get to your courtroom. If necessary, go to the courthouse early and find it so you can make sure you know where you’re going.
• Attend your final hearing: Appear in court at the designated date and time of your hearing, dressed professionally and conservatively with all documents and witnesses you intend to present. Plan on getting there at least 30 minutes early so you have time to go through security, find your courtroom, and take a seat. You don’t want to be rushed. Leave any cell phones, electronic devices, or other items that might be confiscated at home. When your case is called, stand and identify yourself to the judge. Remain standing while the judge speaks to you. Treat the judge with respect, and don’t interrupt them or speak out of turn. The judge will give each spouse the opportunity to present their story. Don’t interrupt or argue with your spouse while they are talking. If the judge has any questions for you based on what he said, they will ask you once your spouse is finished speaking.

• Get copies of the final decree: You are not legally divorced until the judge signs the decree. Once the decree is finalized, you should get copies for your records. The judge may announce her decision at the conclusion of the hearing, or you may get it later. You should call the clerk’s office if you haven’t received a final written decree 60 days after your hearing. If you disagree with the judge’s decision, you have 30 days to file an appeal.

How Long Until My Utah Divorce Can Be Finalized?

There is no single, concrete answer to this question, for one very simple reason: no two families are exactly alike, which means no two divorces are exactly alike. The length and complexity of your divorce will depend heavily on factors such as:
• Whether you are able to waive the minimum waiting period.
• Whether you are able to obtain a default judgment.
• Whether your divorce is contested or uncontested
• Whether you have any minor children.
• Whether your spouse files an appeal after the divorce.

Utah County Divorce Lawyer Free Consultation

When you need to get divorced and you live in Utah County, 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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4.9 stars – based on 67 reviews


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Uncontested Divorces In Utah

Uncontested Divorces

Uncontested divorce can be relatively quick and less dramatic since it most often will avoid a trial. Your divorce is traumatic enough so going the uncontested route shows empathy for both parties and hopefully a solid foundation for co-parenting if children are involved. In the state of Utah, an uncontested divorce is certainly an option, this type of divorce is generally less expensive and faster than traditional divorces because you can avoid sky-high litigation fees, and the stressful drawn out trial hearings, which wind up being a complete waste of time. This is where hiring an experienced divorce attorney comes in, as understanding the divorce process can be very daunting. However, if you and your spouse can agree to be fair at least on the major issues regarding your divorce such as financial and property distribution, and child custody particulars, then an uncontested divorce is a real option.

Before you and your soon to be ex-spouse can rest easy you must first pummel through the following areas with a fine tooth comb:

• Real estate and personal property distribution
• Distribution of debts and assets
• Child custody and visitation agreement
• Child support, health, and insurance coverage for all children
• Alimony or spousal support & any lingering issues that need addressing

To obtain an uncontested divorce in Utah, you must meet the following criteria:
• Residency requirements: you and your spouse must have lived in Utah for 3 months; if you have minor children you must have resided in Utah for 6 months.
• All custody and support issues are agreed upon in writing and notarized by both parties.
If all criteria are met, you may begin divorce proceedings in the state of Utah, by completing the necessary forms. You may also seek help by researching online for help with completing the forms through online publications or by speaking with an experienced Divorce Attorney to help you complete the necessary forms.

What Forms Are Needed

The Utah court sites offer a detailed description of the forms that need to be completed. However, to make sure you complete the correct forms, understand the process better, and not relinquish your rights, it is best to seek the advice of an experienced divorce attorney.

To give you a more detailed explanation of the types of forms needed to complete your divorce process, you will expect to complete and sign the following forms below:
• Civil Coversheet
• Petition for Divorce
• Vital Statistics Form/Certificate of Dissolution
• Acceptance of Service
• Stipulation
• Affidavit of Jurisdiction and Grounds
• Military Service Declaration and Order
• Findings of Facts and Conclusions of Law
• Decree of Divorce
If you and your spouse have children together under the age of 18, then the following forms must be completed as well:
• Child Support Worksheet
• Affidavit of Income and Compliance with Child Support Guideline
• Financial Declarations, and
• Child Support Locator.

Can I file for my divorce in the State of Utah?

In almost all cases, you file for a divorce in the state where you reside. This means that if you are a resident of Utah, you file in Utah and are governed by Utah’s divorce laws even if you were married, for example, in California. You must meet Utah’s residency requirement for a Utah court to have jurisdiction over your divorce. Utah Divorce works as long as both you and your spouse agree about everything and both of you are willing to sign the divorce paperwork.

Do I need a lawyer to file for divorce in Utah?

Thousands of people divorce in Utah every year without hiring a lawyer. When spouses cannot agree about the terms and conditions of their divorce, they sometimes end up in court where a judge makes decisions for them. This is called a contested divorce, and hiring a lawyer is a good idea in this case. When a Utah divorce case is uncontested and both parties are willing to sign, (when you and your spouse agree about everything) filing your own divorce is a common choice in order to cut down legal expenses.

The residency requirements for a divorce in Utah are as follows:
• Either the Petitioner or the Respondent must be a bona fide resident of Utah for three months and of the county of filing. This applies to members of the armed services who are stationed in Utah.
• No hearing for the divorce may happen until 90 days have elapsed from the filing unless the court, “for good cause shown and set forth in the findings, otherwise orders.” This 90-day provision does not apply in any case where both parties have completed the mandatory classes.

What if my spouse does not live in Utah?

After you have printed all the divorce paperwork, you simply mail the documents to your spouse and he or she signs them. After your spouse returns them, you file in your local district court.

The grounds for divorce in Utah are as follows:
• No Fault: a) irreconcilable differences of the marriage, b) husband and wife living separately under a decree of separate maintenance of any state for three consecutive months without cohabitation.
• Fault: a) impotency of the Respondent at the time of the marriage, b) adultery committed by the Respondent subsequent to the marriage, c) willful desertion of the Petitioner by the Respondent for more than one year, d) willful neglect of the Respondent to provide for the Petitioner the common necessities of life, e) habitual drunkenness of the Respondent, f) conviction of Respondent of a felony, g) cruel treatment of the Petitioner by the Respondent causing injury or great mental distress to the Petitioner.

How long does a divorce take in Utah?

Once the divorce paperwork has been filed in court, it takes at least 30 days for a divorce to be final unless a party is exempt from the 30-day provision mentioned above. The start to finish time of the divorce may vary depending on the caseload of the court and the availability of judges to sign the final divorce papers. In Utah, a divorce hearing is not typically required unless you and your spouse have children. If there are children involved, a short hearing, generally about 15 minutes, gives the court an opportunity to make certain that you understand the parameters of custody, visitation and support that are ordered as part of your divorce. If there are no children, the process in very streamlined. Since you and your spouse are in agreement, there is nothing for the court to decide.

How do I calculate how much child support I owe?

We provide Utah Child Support Worksheets inside your account. These worksheets make it very easy to calculate a monthly support amount. The support calculation is based on a number of variables, but the primary one is income. Once you have calculated the amount, you and your spouse decide if you want to deviate from it and the reasons for doing so.

Utah permits deviation from its child support guidelines if the court finds sufficient evidence to rebut the Utah Child Support guidelines by considering all relevant factors, including but not limited to: a) the standard of living of the parties; b) the relative wealth and income of the parties; b) the ability of the oblige to earn, e) the ability of an incapacitated adult to earn, or other benefits received by the adult child on the adult child’s behalf including Supplemental Security Income; f) the needs of the oblige, the obligor, and the child; g) the ages of the parties; and h) the responsibilities of the obligor and the oblige for the support of others. Child support can be modified based on a change in circumstances. In Utah, a change in circumstances means “a significant change in circumstances,” generally, changes “not considered when the original judgment was entered” that are “permanent and substantial” and/or “affect one’s current standard of living.”
What documents do I receive with my Utah account?
• Utah Filing Instruction
• Cover Sheet for Civil Filing Actions
• Verified Petition for Divorce
• Acceptance of Service, Appearance, Consent and Waiver
• Marital Settlement Agreement
• Schedule for Visitation/Parenting Time of Minor Children (attach to MSA)
• Affidavit Regarding the Children
• Affidavit of Income Verification and Compliance with the Uniform Child Support Guidelines
• Child support Obligation Worksheet (Sole Custody)
• Child Support Obligation Worksheet (Joint Custody)
• Child Support Obligation Worksheet (Split Custody)
• Insurance Premium and Child Care Adjustment Worksheet
• Child Support Obligation Table
• Child Support Obligation Worksheet Required Location Information
• Motion fort Entry of Default Certificate
• Default Certificate
• Petitioner’s Affidavit of Jurisdiction and Grounds for Divorce
• Findings of Fact and Conclusions of Law
• Decree of Divorce and Judgment
• Notice to Submit for Entry of Default Decree of Divorce
• Certificate of Divorce. Dissolution of Marriage, or Annulment

The following is a list of some of the major issues that must be resolved between you and your spouse before filing an uncontested divorce action in Utah:
• division of real estate and personal property
• division of debts and assets
• child custody and visitation if you and your spouse have minor children
• child support, health and insurance coverage
• alimony or spousal support, and
• any other issues related to your marriage.
To obtain an uncontested divorce in Utah you must meet the following criteria:
• you or your spouse have resided in Utah for at least 3 months, if minor children are involved, you must have resided in Utah for 6 months
• you and your spouse have agreed on all issues in your divorce, and
• child support and spousal support, custody and visitation are not requested, or there is a written agreement signed and notarized by both parties resolving those issues.

If you plan to file for divorce without the help of an attorney, you will be responsible for filing the right documents with the right court. Utah’s district courts oversee divorce cases and trials. Utah has approximately 70 judges serving in the state’s eight judicial districts. Where you live will determine where you file for divorce because generally, you will file your divorce paperwork in the county in which you live. If you and your spouse have separated but still reside in Utah, either the county in which you lived, or where your spouse has lived for the last three months is proper to file your paperwork. Utah has a mandatory 30-day waiting period to complete a divorce. Under extraordinary circumstances, the 30-day waiting period may be waived. However, before a divorce will be granted to parents of minor children, both spouses must complete the Divorce Education Course. Utah does not require that you attend a court hearing before a judge will finalize your uncontested divorce. Instead, if all your paperwork is filed correctly and the judge finds that your agreement is reasonable and/or in the best interests of your children, then the judge will sign the Findings and Decree of Divorce. Note that the date the judge signs your Decree, is when your divorce becomes final.

There Are Predictors for Divorce in Utah

If you enter into marriage under the age of 20 and/or have an income of less than 25,000, your risk of divorce skyrockets. Throw in a spouse losing their job or a surprise pregnancy, and your marriage may be doomed before it begins. Here in Utah, we have a tendency to marry quite young. The median age of marriage in the United States is 27 for women and 29 for men. Now compare that to the average age of marriage in Utah, which is 24 for women and 26 for men.

Divorce Has Declined Nearly Everywhere Except Utah

Utah’s divorce rates run slightly higher than the national average. Statistics often attribute this to Utah having larger families than the national average, citing more than 5% of families have 7+ family members compared to the 3.25 national averages (2013). Modifications of court orders can sometimes be legally complex and hard to understand. Sometimes the order itself will dictate if and how an order may be modified. Often, discussion and mediation between the parties is a pre-requisite before a petition to modify may be filed. Having a post divorce modification lawyer in Utah on your side can help you can be fully informed of your rights If you have additional questions about obtaining an uncontested divorce in Utah, contact an experienced family law attorney for assistance.

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!

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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Tips for Surviving Divorce Settlement Talks

Tips for Surviving Divorce Settlement Talks

The divorce process legally ends a marriage and necessarily creates agreements about spousal support, division of assets and child custody if there are children. Many couples can make decisions themselves or with the aid of an attorney or mediator. However, if you are not lucky enough to be half of one of those couples, your case will continue toward trial and possibly settlement.

Most cases flowing through the criminal justice system settle short of trial. Civil divorce litigation is no different. What does it mean to “settle on the courthouse steps,” and what do you need to do when the date of your trial approaches and settlement proposals begin flying back and forth?  Consider the following:

  • Before your trial, the judge is likely to hold a pretrial conference to determine whether there are issues that can be settled. Although you have arrived at the courthouse prepared for trial, events may take a sharp turn toward settlement during the pretrial conference. You may spend time waiting nearby or in a conference room.
  • While your attorney is tasked with representing your interests and relaying settlement offers to you from the other party, your job is to keep in mind your personal divorce and custody objectives. Even with good legal counsel, parties sometimes settle for inappropriate arrangements or conditions simply because they are stressed from proceedings that have stretched out for months or years.

  • Talk to your attorney about the possibility of settlement prior to the trial date. Ask how it looks, what you might need to decide, what concessions might be appropriate and which are not. Make sure you think about what you agree to — you and your children will have to live with your decision.

Some Careers Have Significantly Higher Divorce Rates than Others

A new analysis of U.S. census data performed by a career website called Zippia revealed workers in certain fields are much more likely to get divorced by age 30. The highest divorce rate was among first-line enlisted military supervisors, at approximately 30 percent. People in that field must coordinate the activities of enlisted service members.

Other fields that had particularly high divorce rates for people 30 and under included logisticians, mechanics and automotive service technicians, military-enlisted tactical operations and air weapons personnel. There were three military jobs in the top 10, and overall, military workers of any rank were most likely to be divorced before the age of 30. They had a 15 percent overall divorce rate.

Factors in these careers that make divorce more likely

The analysts who performed the study say the common factors involved in many of these jobs with high divorce rates are that they are demanding professions that involve a lot of time spent away from home, relatively low pay or persistent danger. Military professions often involve all three of these factors, which likely explains the presence of three such jobs in the top 10.

Numerous studies have been performed on the effects of military deployment on marriage. A study in the Journal of Population Economics published in 2016 found that divorce rates increased significantly with every month spent away on deployment. Mental health issues also frequently place more stress on couples, and veterans frequently experience depression and post-traumatic stress disorder.

Career stress affects all couples. Many of the fields that ranked in the top 10 in the study have extremely high demands in terms of average hours worked per week.

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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Filing for Divorce While Living Abroad

Although this article provides a basic overview of international divorce, we are by no means suggesting you should handle a foreign divorce on your own. Transnational divorce is a complex and a fairly new field of the law. You should speak with an experienced family law attorney who can guide you through this process and ensure your divorce is valid.

Filing for Divorce While Living Abroad

When the Filing Spouse Lives Overseas

Filing for a divorce while living abroad often presents complex legal questions. First of all, you may need to abide by local law in order to get a divorce. If so, you should contact the U.S. Embassy or Consulate in your area to obtain a list of local attorneys that can help you get the divorce process started.

Check the U.S. Department of State’s website for a list of all U.S. Embassies, Consulates and Diplomatic Missions and a link to their websites.

Will the United States recognize a foreign divorce decree?

The short answer is yes, but only to a certain extent and not in all circumstances. Most states recognize divorce decrees from foreign countries as long as the foreign country ensures certain procedural requirements have been met (such as proper notice to the parties). To find out if a foreign divorce decree is considered valid or is recognized in your state, contact your state’s Attorney General. You could also contact an experienced family law attorney in your area.

Although a United States court is likely to recognize a foreign divorce decree as having terminated your status of being “married,” foreign divorce orders may not be effective for dealing with all of the issues in your divorce. For example, if your children are U.S. citizens residing in the United States and you file for divorce while living abroad, the foreign court is not likely to issue orders regarding custody of the children, because it will not have jurisdiction (authority) to make child custody orders over U.S. citizens living in the United States. And, even if the foreign court issues orders that purport to deal with the custody of your minor children, a United States court is not required to honor such foreign custody orders. The United States court (the local state court) will have jurisdiction over the children and will issue its own custody orders.

Finally, a foreign divorce decree may not be effective to divide property, such as retirement benefits, located in the United States.

When the Filing Spouse Lives in the United States

If you are living in the United States and want to file for divorce from a spouse that’s living abroad, you’ll want to talk to an experienced attorney who can guide you through the process and make sure you are taking all necessary steps.

First, you’ll need to file a petition (paperwork) for divorce in your local court, and make sure you meet state and local residency requirements. You’ll also need to have a copy of the divorce petition and a summons “served” (meaning personally delivered) on your spouse, unless your spouse agrees to waive (forgo) the process requirements. If your spouse agrees to waive personal service of process, then he or she can sign an affidavit stating they have been served, and you can file that with the local court and move on to the next phase of the divorce.

If not, and your spouse insists on service of process or tries to avoid service, things will be more complicated. You may need to comply with the laws regarding service of process for the foreign country where your spouse lives. If the country where your spouse lives is a member of the Hague Service Convention, it will govern the international service of process. If not, you’ll have to figure out how service can be completed. In some countries, you may serve the summons by a letter request or “Letters Rogatory,” while in others you must have the paperwork served on a central government authority or an overseas agent who will then guarantee delivery of the papers on your spouse. In all cases, you’ll probably want to speak with an attorney here in the United States and an attorney in the foreign country who can make sure service is being handled correctly on that end.

Next, the local state court will need to determine if it has jurisdiction (authority) to make orders over your spouse. This will depend, at least in part, on the extent of your spouse’s contacts with the state. Whether or not the local state court can issue orders over your spouse in the divorce proceeding will also depend on a variety of other factors, including whether or not you seek orders regarding custody of the children or division of property. Your attorney(s) will need to perform a careful analysis of the facts of your case and the laws regarding your spouse’s country of residence.

Overseas Divorce in the Military

The divorce process for U.S. military spouses can be a bit trickier than civilian matters, as the U.S. military has its own codes and processes that govern divorce-related matters. In this situation, you should consult a lawyer with experience in military divorce to ensure that the filing, processing, and serving of divorce papers are all handled correctly.

Free Consultation with a Utah Divorce Lawyer

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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Calculating Alimony in Utah

Alimony is money one spouse pays to the other for support either during or after a divorce. In Utah, alimony is sometimes called “spousal maintenance,” “spousal support,” or a “spousal allowance.” When spouses with large differences in income separate, a lower earning spouse may be unable to continue paying for normal living expenses, in which case a court may require the higher earner—whether that’s the husband or the wife—to assist the lower earner financially for at least some period of time.

Calculating Alimony in Utah

Types of Alimony Available in Utah

Utah law allows a judge to award temporary alimony during divorce proceedings—sometimes referred to as alimony “pendente lite”—as well as temporary or permanent alimony after the divorce is final. Usually, the paying spouse gives the recipient spouse a specified amount periodically—monthly or biweekly, for example—for a set length of time. In a few cases, the alimony order calls for payment of a lump sum.

Permanent alimony was once common but is becoming increasingly rare–and even when “permanent” alimony is ordered, it’s usually not truly permanent, but just long-term. Permanent alimony is generally reserved for older spouses who have served as homemakers during long marriages. A couple can also agree between themselves to provide one spouse with long-term or permanent alimony.

Particularly in shorter marriages, courts tend to look at alimony as rehabilitative—paid for a temporary period of time to allow a spouse to find a job or obtain training and education to improve employment prospects.

In some cases a court may award limited alimony as reimbursement to a spouse who worked to support the couple while the other spouse attended graduate school or advanced vocational training.

Eligibility for Alimony

To award alimony a court must find that one spouse has financial need and the other has the ability to pay. A court will determine whether there is both need and ability to pay by looking at all of the relevant circumstances in a particular case. One of the biggest factors an Utah court will consider is the length of a marriage. In a short marriage, the mutual investment in the couple’s standard of living is generally substantially less, calling for either brief alimony or none at all.

In evaluating a spouse’s need, a court will first consider the extent to which separate assets, or any marital assets the spouse receives in an equitable property division, may provide a sufficient means of support without an alimony award. (This means that alimony is always determined after the property division is complete.)

In determining the ability of a higher earning spouse to pay alimony, the court will generally not consider as part of the paying spouse’s assets any property the spouse owned before marriage, or acquired by gift or inheritance, unless the property was used by the couple as a source of income during marriage. A court may consider vested retirement benefits accumulated during the marriage as an available source of alimony if the couple has been married for at least 10 years.

Other factors a court might take into account in deciding whether to award alimony include:

  • each spouse’s age and health
  • the standard of living during the marriage
  • the lower earner’s contribution to the increased earning power of the higher earner
  • a spouse’s past services as a parent or homemaker
  • both spouse’s future opportunities to gain income and assets
  • the needs of any dependent children of the couple, and
  • any conduct by either spouse that contributed to the breakup of the marriage.

There is no specific formula governing the calculation of alimony in Utah, and a court has great discretion in deciding what amount to award, or whether to award any amount at all.

Termination or Modification of Alimony

Unless the couple has a written agreement stating that they won’t seek any changes in alimony, a court can modify periodic payments on a showing of material change in circumstances. Proof that a spouse has remarried or is cohabiting in a marriage-like relationship with a person of the opposite sex will generally result in termination of an award.

Tax Effects of Alimony

Periodic alimony payments are usually taxable to the recipient and tax-deductible by the payer. Couples can sometimes take advantage of this situation by structuring alimony payments to create the best possible tax scenario for both spouses. The IRS generally treats lump-sum payments as property distributions even if the court or the couple refers to the payment as alimony. Under these circumstances there would be no tax effects for either spouse.

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

4.9 stars – based on 67 reviews


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Utah Divorce Basics

Utah Divorce Basics

Utah allows for no-fault divorce, requiring only that the filing spouse allege irreconcilable differences between the parties. A spouse filing for divorce in Utah may also file for a fault divorce, citing any of the following grounds: bigamy, willful absence of the other party for more than one year, adultery, extreme cruelty, fraudulent contract, living separate and apart for more than one year, or incompatibility, among others.

The court may order, either on its own or at the request of one of the spouses, that the parties participate in reconciliation counseling for a period of up to three months or family counseling, if children are involved, for the entire divorce proceeding. If the court orders counseling, it will not finalize the divorce, annulment, or legal separation until the results have been reported to the court.

Residency Requirement for Divorce

The spouse filing for divorce (otherwise known as the plaintiff) must be a resident of Utah for at least six months before the filing.

Divorce Property Division 

Utah is an equitable distribution state, so the court will divide marital property equitably between the two spouses. Separate property is not subject to division–this includes property that each spouse had before the marriage, inheritances or gifts given only to one spouse, and separate property as agreed to in a prenuptial agreement.

Alimony

The court may grant either spouse an award of alimony, also called spousal support, based on factors that include the parties’ respective incomes and earning abilities, the duration of the marriage, and the standard of living established during the marriage. The court may also determine that one spouse’s earning capacity has been diminished or lost because of marital responsibilities, and award alimony accordingly. Support may be awarded in lump sum or as monthly payments.

Child Support

All parents are required to support their children regardless of the status of the marital relationship. The parents will also be required to provide healthcare for the child. Child support in Utah is calculated based on the gross income of the parents and the number of children that the parents support. A judge might make adjustments to the income considered if the parent is responsible for union dues, support for other children, or spousal support obligations. If the parents’ total annual income is less than $6,600 or more than $150,000, it is outside of the guidelines and the court must determine a support amount on its own. The court would use the child support schedule as a guideline and will always take into consideration the best interests of the child when making an order for support.

All child support payments are paid to the Department of Job and Family Services, which facilitates payments to the other parent. Child support payment information can be found at the website for Utah’s Department of Job and Family Services.

Child Custody

A judge looks at numerous factors when making child custody orders, including the child’s wishes, the parents’ wishes, the child’s relationship with both of the parents and the family members of each parent, and whether either of the parents have been convicted of a crime involving child abuse or neglect. The court may order that the child spend equal time with each parent, or establish one parent as the primary residential parent while granting the other parent visitation rights.

A residential parent who wishes to relocate with the child must notify the court in writing; the court will then notify the other non-residential parent of the intent to relocate. If the non-residential parent does not agree to the move or if the judge feels that the move would not be in the best interest of the child, there may be a hearing to determine whether the custody arrangement should be modified.

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

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Utah Divorce

If you are getting divorced in Utah, make sure you have a good divorce lawyer on your side. Do you know what property you get to keep and what you have to split with your spouse? You may also have questions about who will be responsible for the marital debt.

Utah Divorce

Equitable Division of Property in Utah Divorce

Utah is an equitable distribution state, meaning that the marital property will be divided between spouses in a way that is equitable, or fair. The court decides what’s fair based on a set of factors that show what each of you contributed to the marriage and what each spouse will need to move forward after divorce. The division does not have to be equal to be considered fair.

The court will be involved in the division only if you could not work together with your spouse to resolve your property disputes. Throughout the divorce process, you will have opportunities to decide with your spouse how you want to split your property between yourselves. The court will usually accept a written separation agreement on how you want to divide your property. It is only if you cannot reach a compromise with your spouse that the court will step in and divide your property for you.

Marital Property Will be Divided

Before the court can divide your property, it needs to know which property belongs to the marriage, which belongs to each spouse separately, and how much there is of each. Generally, marital property is all property acquired or earned during the marriage, regardless of what the title says. Separate property is property you owned before marriage. It also includes some property you receive during marriage, like a gift, an inheritance, or personal injury award to you alone. If you exchange your separate property for new property during marriage, then that new property remains yours alone. There are circumstances, however, when an increase in the value of your separate property will be characterized as marital property.

For example, if you owned a vacation home before marriage that your spouse updated and remodeled during marriage, then the increase in that house’s value is marital property because it comes from your spouse’s efforts. On the other hand, if you bought an apartment in an up-and-coming neighborhood before marriage and it improves in value during the marriage simply because the rest of the homes in the area do the same, then that increase in value remains your separate property.

At divorce, the court divides only the marital property. It can’t award any property that was yours alone before or during marriage to your spouse. It can, however, consider all your financial resources – both your share of the marital property and your separate property – when deciding how much spousal maintenance (alimony) to award, if any.

Factors Considered in Dividing Marital Property

The types of property commonly divided at divorce are real property like the family home, personal property like jewelry, and intangible property like income, benefits, and debts. The court treats debts the same as any other real, personal, or intangible property. Before dividing an asset or debt, the court will have to characterize it as either marital or separate and then assign ownership or responsibility for it based on a set of factors designed to give an equitable result.

These factors include the length of the marriage; each spouse’s age, health, income, potential earnings or future financial circumstances; and property. The court also looks at how each spouse contributed to the acquisition of marital property and, for these purposes, the court treats a spouse’s efforts as a homemaker the same as monetary contributions. For the family home, if you have custody of your children, then you have a better chance of keeping that property, or at least the right to live there while you raise the children.

In addition to any other factor that might be relevant to the particular circumstances of your marriage, the court specifically considers what the spouses may have lost at divorce, such as an interest in an inheritance, pension rights, or health insurance. It also evaluates future losses the spouses face in terms of taxes.

Some assets aren’t easy to divide between two people. Something like cash, which is very liquid, can easily be split between the spouses. But an interest in a business isn’t as easy to divide. The court has the option to order a distributive award – a payment to balance out an uneven distribution of property – if it is impractical to divide a substantial asset.

Although fault in causing the marriage to fail is not part of the calculation, the court can award less of the marital property to you if you wasted marital assets. You can’t spend marital funds flying your lover to Paris, for example, without having to pay for it later. Likewise, you can’t sell, transfer, or otherwise encumber property in anticipation of your divorce. If you do, the court can penalize you for it during the division.

Spousal Maintenance Determination in Utah Divorce

Spousal maintenance is a payment from one spouse to the other to help sustain the recipient spouse after divorce. Similar to the division of property, the court’s order for spousal maintenance must be equitable. Payments can be periodic (monthly, for example) or in a lump sum, and for a set or indefinite period of time. A spouse can request temporary maintenance payments during the divorce process, the amount of which will be based on specific income guidelines.

When the court orders the divorce and the property has been divided, the court can also make a permanent maintenance award. In Utah, an award for spousal maintenance is based on many of the same factors as the division of property. Some other factors include the spouses’ level of education and earning capacity, the marital standard of living, and the needs of any children. The court also considers domestic violence during the marriage, which may have kept the battered spouse from seeking or improving employment. The court is also free to look at any factor relevant to the award of maintenance, such as a spouse’s ability to pay.

Divorce in Utah is sometimes also referred to as a Dissolution of Marriage and is conducted as a civil action, with one party, the Petitioner, filing a Petition for divorce, and the other party being named as a Respondent. To file for divorce in Utah, either spouse must be a bona fide resident of the state and must have lived in the county of filing for the three months immediately preceding commencement of the action. The Petition may be filed in the district court of the county where either spouse resides. If the Petitioner is a member of the armed forces of the U.S. who are not legal residents of this state, he/she may file for divorce if he has been stationed in the state for the three months immediately preceding the commencement of the action. No hearing for decree of divorce may generally be held until 90 days have elapsed from the filing of the complaint, provided the court may make interim orders that are just and equitable. The 90-day period shall not apply, however, in any case where both parties have completed the mandatory education course for divorcing parents. Although there are no statutory provisions for the restoration of a spouse’s name when divorcing, either spouse may request that his/her former name be restored on the Petition or the judge will honor the request.

Legal Grounds for Divorce

The court may decree dissolution of marriage for any of the following grounds:
• Impotency of the Respondent at the time of the marriage;
• Adultery committed by the Respondent after entering into the marriage;
• Willful desertion of the Petitioner by the Respondent for more than one year;
• Willful neglect of the Respondent to provide for the Petitioner the common necessities of life;
• Habitual drunkenness of the Respondent;
• Conviction of the Respondent for a felony;
• Cruel treatment of the Petitioner by the Respondent to the extent of causing bodily injury or great mental distress to the Petitioner;
• Irreconcilable differences of the marriage;
• Incurable insanity; or
• The spouses have lived separately under a decree of separate maintenance of any state for three consecutive years without cohabitation.

Should I Get An Annulment Instead Of A Divorce?

Maybe. The following are prohibited and void marriages and they may be annulled for these causes:
• Marriages between parents and children;
• Marriages between ancestors and descendants of every degree;
• Marriages between brothers and sisters (half or whole);
• Marriages between uncles and nieces or aunts and nephews;
• Marriages between first cousins (unless both parties are 65 years of age or older, or if both parties are 55 years of age or older, upon a finding by the court that either party is unable to reproduce);
• Marriages between any persons related to each other within and not including fifth degree of consanguinity;
• When there is a husband or wife living, from whom the person marrying has not been divorced;
• Either party is at least 16, but under 18 years of age and has not obtained parental consent;
• Either party is under 16 years of age at the time the parties attempt to enter into the marriage, unless the party is 15 years of age and has obtained judicial consent;
• Marriage between persons of the same sex; and
• Re-marriage to a different spouse before the divorce decree becomes absolute, or in the case of an appeal, before the affirmance of the decree.
When there is doubt regarding the validity of a marriage, either party may demand its avoidance or affirmance in a court where either party is domiciled. However, when one of the parties was under the age of consent at the time of the marriage, the other party of proper age may not have cause against the party under age. The court shall either declare the marriage valid or annulled. A marriage may also be annulled for any of the annulment grounds existing at common law.

Property Division In A Utah Divorce

In all dissolution and separate maintenance actions, the court and judge have jurisdiction over the distribution of property. Utah is an equitable distribution state. Therefore, marital property shall be distributed fairly and equitably. The court shall include the following in every decree of divorce:

• An order specifying which party is responsible for the payment of joint debts, obligations, or liabilities of the parties contracted or incurred during marriage;
• An order requiring the parties to notify respective creditors or obliges, regarding the court’s division of debts, obligations, or liabilities and regarding the parties’ separate current addresses;
• Provisions for the enforcement of these orders; and
• Provisions for income withholding.
When a marriage of long duration dissolves on the threshold of a major change in the income of one of the spouses due to the collective efforts of both, that change shall be considered in dividing the marital property. If one spouse’s earning capacity has been greatly enhanced through the efforts of both spouses during the marriage, the court may make a compensating adjustment in dividing the marital property.

How Much Will I Have To Pay In Alimony And Support Payments?

In all dissolution and separate maintenance actions, the court and judge have jurisdiction over the payment of alimony.
When determining alimony, the court shall consider, at a minimum, the following factors:
• The financial condition and needs of the requesting spouse;
• The requesting spouse’s earning capacity or ability to produce income;
• The ability of the paying spouse to provide support;
• The length of the marriage
• Whether the requesting spouse has custody of minor children requiring support;
• Whether the requesting spouse worked in a business owned or operated by the paying spouse; and
• Whether the requesting spouse directly contributed to any increase in the paying spouse’s skill by paying for education received by the paying spouse or allowing the paying spouse to attend school during the marriage.
The court may consider the fault of the parties when making its determination regarding alimony. When a marriage of long duration dissolves on the threshold of a major change in the income of one of the spouses due to the collective efforts of both, that change shall be considered in determining the amount of alimony. If one spouse’s earning capacity has been greatly enhanced through the efforts of both spouses during the marriage, the court may make a compensating adjustment in awarding alimony. In determining alimony when a marriage of short duration dissolves, and no children have been conceived or born during the marriage, the court may consider restoring each party to the condition which existed at the time of the marriage. Alimony may not be ordered for a duration longer than the number of years that the marriage existed unless, at any time prior to termination of alimony, the court finds extenuating circumstances that justify the payment of alimony for a longer period of time. Unless otherwise stated in the divorce decree, any order for payment of alimony to a former spouse automatically ends upon the remarriage or death of that former spouse, unless the remarriage is annulled and found to be void. In that case, alimony shall resume, provided that the paying spouse was made a party to the action of annulment and his/her rights have been determined. Any order for payment of alimony to a former spouse terminates upon establishment by the paying party that the former spouse is cohabitating with another person.

Child Custody and Support

In all dissolution and separate maintenance actions, the court and judge have jurisdiction over the custody and maintenance of minor children. The court shall consider joint custody in every case, but may award any form of custody which is determined to be in the best interest of the child. If the court finds that one parent does not desire custody of the child, it shall take that evidence into consideration in determining whether to award custody to the other parent. In determining whether the best interest of a child will be served by ordering joint legal or physical custody, the court shall consider the following factors:
• Whether the physical, psychological and emotional needs and development of the child will benefit from joint legal or physical custody;
• The ability of the parents to give first priority to the welfare of the child and reach shared decisions in the child’s best interest;
• Whether each parent is capable of encouraging and accepting a positive relationship between the child and the other parent, including the sharing of love, affection and contact between the child and the other parent;
• Whether both parents participated in raising the child before the divorce;
• The geographical proximity of the homes of the parents;
• The preference of the child if the child is of sufficient age and capacity to reason so as to form an intelligent preference as to joint legal or physical custody;
• The maturity of the parents and their willingness and ability to protect the child from conflict that may arise between the parents;
• The past and present ability of the parents to cooperate with each other and make decisions jointly;
• Any history of, or potential for, child abuse, spouse abuse, or kidnapping; and any other factors the court finds relevant.
When determining any form of custody, in addition to the aforementioned criteria, the court shall consider the best interests of the child, the following factors, and any others the court finds relevant:
• The past conduct and demonstrated moral standards of each of the parties;
• Which parent is most likely to act in the best interest of the child, including allowing the child frequent and continuing contact with the non-custodial parent; and
• The extent of bonding between the parent and child, meaning the depth, quality, and nature of the relationship between a parent and child.
The court may inquire of the children and take into consideration the children’s desires regarding future custody or parent-time schedules but the expressed desires are not controlling and the court may determine the children’s custody or parent-time otherwise. The desires of a child 16 years of age or older shall be given added weight, but is not the single controlling factor.

Legal Separation and Separate Maintenance

A Petitioner may file an action for a temporary separation order without filing a Petition for Divorce, by filing a Petition for Temporary Separation and a Motion for Temporary Orders if the spouses are lawfully married and both have been residents of the state for at least 90 days prior to the date of filing. The temporary orders are valid for one year from the date of the hearing, or until either a Petition for Divorce is filed and consolidated with the temporary separation Petition, or the case is dismissed.

Separate Maintenance

In a legal separation, the parties live separately, but remain spouses legally married to one another. The couple’s rights and duties to one another are set forth in a Decree of Legal Separation, which covers such matters as custody and child support, spousal support, division of property and payment of debts. In Utah, this is referred to as separate maintenance.
The grounds for legal separation are as follows:
• A party who has sufficient ability to provide support, neglects or refuses to properly provide for and suitably maintain his/her spouse;
• A party deserts his/her spouse without good and sufficient cause;
• A party who has property in the state and his/her spouse is a resident of the state, deserts or neglects or refuses to provide support; or
• A party, without fault, lives separate and apart from his/her spouse.
If a married resident of Utah files a Complaint for Separate Maintenance, the district court may allot, assign, set apart and decree as alimony the use of the real and personal estate or earnings of a deserting spouse as the court may determine appropriate. Practice and proceeding for actions for separate maintenance shall be the same as near as may be as in actions for divorce; but the action may be brought in any county where the wife or husband may be found.
In all actions for separate maintenance, the court may order the following by order or decree:
• Provide for the care, custody, and maintenance of the minor children of the parties and determine with which of the parties the children or any of them shall remain;
• Provide for support of either spouse and the support of the minor children living with that spouse;
• Provide how and when support payments shall be made, and provide that either spouse have a lien upon the property of the other to secure payment of the support or maintenance obligations;
• Award to either spouse the possession of any real or personal property of the other spouse, or acquired by the spouses during marriage;
• Specify which party is responsible for the payment of joint debts, obligations, or liabilities contracted or incurred by the parties during the marriage;
• Require the parties to notify respective creditors or obliges regarding the court’s division of debts, obligations, and liabilities and regarding the parties’ separate, current addresses; and
• Provide for the enforcement of these orders.

Equitable Distribution and Marital Property

There are two ways states divide marital property: equitable distribution and fifty-fifty division of the property. Utah is an equitable distribution or marital property state, which is the majority marital property legal system. However, large numbers of people, especially in the Western U.S., live in community property states – like California and Washington – but Utah is different. This means marital property in Utah isn’t automatically assumed to be owned by both spouses and therefore should be divided equally in a divorce. In Utah, marital property is divided “equitably” or fairly, which may not be an even 50-50 but sometimes it is. Usually for longer marriages, it is about 50% to each party. For short-term marriages, the court generally puts people back to their position before the marriage, such as giving people what they had before the marriage and typically what they made during the marriage. Parties can agree on how they want to divide the property outside of court, but a judge will review it to ensure it’s fair.

Free Consultation with a Divorce Lawyer

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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