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Utah Divorce Code 30-3-11.1

Utah Divorce Code 30-3-11.1

30-3-11.1. Family Court Act–Purpose

It is the public policy of the state of Utah to strengthen the family life foundation of our society and reduce the social and economic costs to the state resulting from broken homes and to take reasonable measures to preserve marriages, particularly where minor children are involved. The purposes of this act are to protect the rights of children and to promote the public welfare by preserving and protecting family life and the institution of matrimony by providing the courts with further assistance for family counseling, the reconciliation of spouses and the amicable settlement of domestic and family controversies.

Family Court

Family court was originally created to be a Court of Equity convened to decide matters and make orders in relation to family law, such as custody of children and could disregard certain legal requirements as long as the petitioner/plaintiff came into court with “clean hands” and the request was reasonable, “quantum meruit”. Changes in laws and rules have made this distinction superfluous. Family courts hear all cases that relate to familial and domestic relationships. Each state and each country has a different system utilized to address family law cases including decisions regarding divorce cases.

The Role Counselors and Therapists Can Play In Divorce

Divorce is probably the most emotional thing a family will ever go through. Children, even ones that are well-adjusted, often need someone to talk to besides their parents about the situation. One of the best things you can do for your kids in divorce is to find a qualified counselor to help them through the process. In fact, counselors and psychologists often play important roles during divorce for both families with children and individuals who might need counseling themselves.

Put your children’s interests first

Depending on the situation, you can ask a court to mandate counseling for your children if you think it is going to help your family. But it’s probably something you and your attorney should push for with your spouse and their attorney to ensure your children are taken care of. You want to focus on the big picture, and the big picture should be figuring out what is best for your children. Once you decide you want to find a counselor or psychologist for your children, your next step is to talk with your attorney about who they’ve worked with in the past that they trust that they think will do a good job. You also want to make sure you find someone who is well-trained in dealing with children. There are a lot of therapists out there. Some are more suited to adults; some are more suited to children. Again, you can look to your attorney to help you find someone that can best help you and your family. Of course, counseling isn’t needed in every case. If your children seem to be holding up well, you might just ask the school counselor to check in on them every once in a while and make sure they don’t notice any issues you might be missing. If you do decide to seek counseling for your children, you shouldn’t worry about what might come out about you or your wife. By seeking help for them, the judge will likely respect the fact that you are putting your children’s needs before your own.

How a counselor or therapist can help you, individually

Even when children are not in the picture, a counselor or therapist can still be beneficial. When you’re in the middle of litigation and fighting for a fair settlement, it can be difficult to turn your focus outward and think about how you’re going to move on once your divorce is final. Men face increased physical and mental health risks after divorce, and counseling can help you with the transition to the next stage of your life and recover from the trauma of divorce. Often, counselors can also help with the actual litigation process. For example, say you were in an abusive relationship and have been taking some counseling to deal with that. If you want that abuse to be taken into account in the final division of property, you need to bring in your counselor to testify about the things you’ve gone through.

When counselors and therapists are brought to court

There are many instances when counselors or psychologists are called to court to testify. If you want to bring a family therapist to court, you first need to have your attorney make sure they’re comfortable doing so. Many clients are concerned about information they disclose to psychologists being discoverable, but the substance of what is talked about with a counselor is protected under the rules of evidence as well as HIPAA laws. There is a very high burden of proof for that information to be discoverable.

A marriage counselor’s potential impact

Prior to divorce, it is common for couples to have been in marriage counseling in an attempt to save their marriage. Often, there will be a breakdown in communication and one of the parties will decide to separate and file for divorce. In those instances, it is still very difficult to enter whatever was said in those counseling sessions into evidence. However, it is possible for one of the parties to sign an HIPAA release to gain access to those records. Therefore, there is a risk that once you’re in counseling, even though you’re encouraged to be honest and forthright, the information could be used against you if either you or your spouse elects to get a copy of the records. This can be a sticky situation because when you enter counseling, you’re trying to work to save your marriage, but if the marriage fails, you don’t want to have revealed anything that can be used against you.

The cost of counseling

Counseling can be very pricey. Some counselors charge hundreds of dollars per hour. But there are resources available to find quality options and ways to help pay even if you are not financially set. Many health insurance plans have some coverage four counseling and will pay for an allotment of sessions. Check with your employer’s human resources department to find out what options you have available.

Counseling and Reconciliation in Family Law

Counseling in Family Law – Counseling in family law is defined within the Family Law Act to be a process where a family counsellor assists parties following separation or divorce to make decisions relating to their personal issues and parenting.

Counseling as a non-court based service

Before the court can make a parenting order the parties must first undertake family dispute resolution and obtained a section 60I certificate. The following are some exceptions to this general rule:
• When there is a history of family violence, parties generally do not have to obtain a section 60I certificate;
• A section 60I certificate will generally not be required if there has been abuse of the child by one of the parties; or
• If there would be risk of abuse of the child by one of the parties.
Counseling can be a valuable way for the parties to formulate a parenting agreement without having to go to court. If an agreement can be made it saves the parties financially and emotionally in the long run.
Information disclosed at counseling sessions is confidential and can only be disclosed if the party who made the communication consents and is over the age of 18 years.

A counselor can break their confidentiality and disclose information in the following circumstances:
• Disclosure is necessary to protect a child from harm;
• If the disclosure is to prevent a threat of harm or damage to a person or property;
• Disclosure is necessary to prevent the commission of an offence involving violence or damage to property; or
• When there is an independent lawyer representing a child’s interests, the counselor has the discretion to disclose otherwise confidential information.

Any information disclosed at counseling cannot be used in court unless it relates to the abuse of the child or family violence.

When should counseling be considered?

Counseling should be considered when there is a possibility that the parties can reach an agreement.

Whilst lawyers and courts can assess a person’s legal rights and options, they are not qualified to deal with the significant emotional consequences of a family break-down. This is where the use of counselors in family law is effective. A professional counselor can assist the parties in overcoming their emotions and dealing with the issues in a practical way.
Certificate by counselor that reconciliation has been considered
Parties who partake in family dispute resolution before applying for a Court Order will be issued stating any of the following:

• A person did not attend family dispute resolution because they refused to do so;
• Non-attendance by a person to family dispute resolution was because the practitioner considered it inappropriate;
• The parties attended but did not make genuine efforts to resolve the issue;
• There was attendance to family dispute resolution and the parties made a genuine effort to resolve the issues; or
• The parties did attend family dispute resolution but the practitioner considered it inappropriate to continue.

What is Reconciliation?

Reconciliation is when parties who were separated later resume their marriage or de facto relationship. If the Family Court or Federal Circuit Court is required to make a determination in regards to parenting, they must consider the likelihood of reconciliation between the parties. Court proceedings may be adjourned where there is evidence that the parties may reconcile. If such an adjournment takes place, then the court will refer the parties to family counseling.

Marriage Counseling versus Application for Divorce

You have separated or are thinking about separating from your spouse. Meanwhile, the lawyer you are meeting with begins to ask you about the possibility of getting back with your spouse. Not really. First, your lawyer has a duty to advise you of the sections of the Divorce Act that have as their objective the reconciliation of spouses. Their other duty is to discuss the possibility of reconciliation with you and to inform you of marriage counseling or guidance services that they may know of that can help you and your spouse in achieving reconciliation if you are interested in reconciliation. Another duty is to discuss the advisability of negotiating in your particular situation and to inform you about mediation facilities that may assist you in negotiating matters like custody and support. This duty is not taken lightly. If you commence a divorce proceeding, your lawyer is required to certify that they have, in fact, complied with this duty as required by Section 9 of the Divorce Act.
Reconciliation’s Impact on an Application for Divorce & Corollary

What impact does reconciliation have on your rights and obligations after an Application to the Court has been commenced? You and your spouse agree to attempt marriage counseling. Should your next court date be adjourned? You have decided to move back in and live together under the same roof. Has a spousal relationship been re-established? Simply moving back in together and living under the same roof does not automatically mean that you have reconciled if your spouse never intended to resume a meaningful reconciliation.

Reconciliation’s Impact on a Separation Agreement

If you have signed a Separation Agreement, what does the Agreement say about the impact of reconciliation on the terms of the Agreement? Many Agreements provide for a 90 day period and if in that time you and your spouse separate, the terms of the Agreement remain in place. Whatever your situation, understand what impact reconciliation will have on your rights and obligations. This way, you are not caught unprepared if the relationship breaks down in the future.

What is Divorce Counseling?

Divorce counseling, sometimes called discernment counseling, is a type of psychotherapy that helps couples to explore, recognize, and resolve conflicts in an effort to understand if either partner wants a divorce or how to move forward after a divorce. Unfortunately, sometimes marriages do not succeed long-term and divorce counseling is the next best step. While the end of a marriage can be a relief for some parties involved, it is often also a stressful situation. One or both partners in the marriage may experience a range of emotions, including grief, anger, confusion, fear, shame, anxiety, etc., even if one or both of the partners want to leave. If children are involved, stress levels can be even greater. Therefore, divorce counseling is a type of counseling often used to lessen the stress of a divorce. Counseling can help you or your partner decide whether to stay in a marriage, whether to leave a marriage, or how to transition from married life to single life. If you’re considering divorce, in the middle of a divorce, or experiencing the challenges after divorce, you’re in the right place.

Why divorce counseling?

There are many benefits of divorce counseling, including:
• Learning how to resolve conflict in a healthy and effective way. A divorce counselor is trained to help you identify and learn effective communication skills.
• Learning how to process and address unresolved issues. Counseling is a safe environment for you to express any negative emotions or feelings and work towards your own personal growth.
• Better understanding your partner’s needs and, more importantly, better understanding and communicating your own needs and wants.
When working with a divorce counselor, you and/or your partner are given the space to explore your relationship, your future goals, and your desires. Qualified therapists will give you a safe environment with which to explore the patterns of both your individual and relationship behavior, as well as find ways to be more intentional with your actions and conversations. If deciding whether or not to divorce, a counselor can help you come to the decision that is best for you. When transitioning to single life after a divorce, a counselor can help you move forward in a way that feels good for you.

What can the counselors help me with?

Whether you want to address depression, divorce challenges, relationship anxiety, individual psychological issues, parent-child challenges, or anything else, you can get started addressing your challenges quickly online. Each of our counselors is trained and certified in one of the following professions:
• Counseling
• Life Coaching
• Divorce Counseling
• EMDR therapy

Divorce Attorneys

When you need divorce attorneys, 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

Ascent Law LLC

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Michael Anderson

About the Author

People who want a lot of Bull go to a Butcher. People who want results navigating a complex legal field go to a Lawyer that they can trust. That’s where I come in. I am Michael Anderson, an Attorney in the Salt Lake area focusing on the needs of the Average Joe wanting a better life for him and his family. I’m the Lawyer you can trust. I grew up in Utah and love it here. I am a Father to three, a Husband to one, and an Entrepreneur. I understand the feelings of joy each of those roles bring, and I understand the feeling of disappointment, fear, and regret when things go wrong. I attended the University of Utah where I received a B.A. degree in 2010 and a J.D. in 2014. I have focused my practice in Wills, Trusts, Real Estate, and Business Law. I love the thrill of helping clients secure their future, leaving a real legacy to their children. Unfortunately when problems arise with families. I also practice Family Law, with a focus on keeping relationships between the soon to be Ex’s civil for the benefit of their children and allowing both to walk away quickly with their heads held high. Before you worry too much about losing everything that you have worked for, before you permit yourself to be bullied by your soon to be ex, before you shed one more tear in silence, call me. I’m the Lawyer you can trust.