Divorce Lawyer in Utah
Family law disputes, especially divorce, are among the most stressful and challenging legal issues someone can encounter. When certain issues arise as part of a divorce – for example, child support, custody, asset division, and alimony – the divorce may take several months or longer. When these factors arise Eric works with his clients to ensure they receive aggressive and candid representation regardless of the divorce’s complexity.
When divorcing parties have children, custody-related matters are often the most important topics to resolve. “Physical custody” refers to the allocation of time a child spends with his or her parents. “Joint physical custody” refers to the common situation in which both parents are entitled to spend at least 111 nights with the child. Joint physical custody does not necessarily mean an equal division of parent time with the child. A parent holds “sole physical custody” when he or she is awarded more than 254 nights with the child. Courts consider many factors of varying significance when assessing custody scenarios. It is important to assess the applicability of these factors and evaluate which ones will lead to a favorable outcome for the parent. Examples of these factors include keeping siblings together, the stability of the child’s environment, and considering which parent was primarily responsible for taking care of the child.
Unlike physical custody, “legal custody” refers to a parent’s decision-making authority and access to information regarding the child. Joint legal custody is presumed in most cases. Legal custody empowers parents to participate in decisions regarding religious worship, medical treatment, education, and extracurricular activities. On the other hand, day-to-day decisions (for example, what the child eats or wears) are usually determined by the parent taking care of the child at the time. A dispute resolution process should always be included in parenting plans to ensure parents can reach a final decision in the event of disagreement.
Whether you’ve decided to divorce or are still considering your options, call Eric for a no-obligation 30-minute consultation at: (801) 850-9740
Alimony in Utah
“Alimony” refers to payments made from one party to his or her former spouse. Alimony is not automatic. It is awarded only after considering the recipient spouse’s financial need and both parties’ ability to produce income. The primary goal of an alimony award is to ensure the parties continue to enjoy, as much as possible, the standard of living experienced during the marriage. Whether alimony is awarded is highly dependent on the individual factors of a case. Alimony is most likely awarded in cases in which one party is capable of earning a higher income than the other. Considering these awards can exceed hundreds of thousands of dollars, neither party can ignore the importance of alimony.
Utah Child Support
Utah courts routinely order parents to make regular “child support” payments to the other parent. Child support is not a fixed amount; instead, child support is determined by applying specific guidelines to the parties’ unique situation. Specifically, child support is calculated by considering the number of children involved, the number nights spent with each parent, and the parties’ respective incomes. The child support amount can be adjusted as any of these factors change. For instance, if the noncustodial parent’s income decreases then his or her child support obligation will likely decrease as a result. In addition, child support payments decrease or discontinue entirely when a child turns 18 or graduates from high school, whichever occurs later.
Property and Debt Division
Divorcing parties must regularly examine their situation in order to determine the best way to divide ownership of property and responsibility for debt after the marriage. If the property is deemed non-marital property, then it is easier for the owner to retain the property after the divorce. The same principle applies to whether a debt is the responsibility of one or both of the parties. Assets and debts included the marital estate must be divided among the parties “equitably.” This often requires a combination of mediation or litigation to determine the exact method that assets and debts will be allocated. Marital assets often have both economic and sentimental value, which means that disputes over these assets can be frustrating for parties without an attorney.
Utah Divorce Lawyer FAQ
An uncontested divorce is a divorce proceeding in which all parties agree on all issues. In Utah, both spouses must agree on:
- Division of real property (for instance, who gets the house),
- Division of all other assets and debts,
- Child custody and visitation schedules for the non-custodial parent, if the children are minors,
- Child support, again, for minor children
- Health insurance coverage for both spouses and the children, and
- Any other issues related to the dissolution of the marriage.
In Utah, alimony, which is sometimes called spousal support, is not decided until the divorce is final. However, the spouses in an uncontested divorce typically will also have decided this issue before their divorce.
The short answer to the question “How long does a divorce take in Utah?” is that the law requires the couple to wait at least 90 days after their papers are filed for the divorce to be final. However, if there are errors in the filing, finalizing the divorce can take much longer. Filing a petition for divorce isn’t a do-it-yourself project. You need a Utah divorce attorney who is very familiar with the requirements of the courts in Utah.
Utah law requires that at least one spouse must have lived in one county in Utah for at least three months immediately before filing the petition for divorce. If a minor child is involved, usually the child must have resided with one of the parents in Utah for at least six months (although there are exceptions to this rule). If your spouse has never lived in Utah and doesn’t have a connection to Utah, you can get a divorce, but a Utah court may be unable to enforce an agreement to pay child support, alimony, or attorney fees, or an agreement concerning the division of property outside Utah.
In Utah, “irreconcilable differences” that make it impossible for the spouses to “pursue the legitimate purposes of the marriage” are grounds for divorce. It is not necessary to blame one spouse for the failure of the marriage. Under the prior law, the spouse that “caused” the divorce would lose rights and property but that is no longer the case.
In an uncontested divorce, the spouses decide how assets are divided. If the matter has to be decided by a judge, division of assets is “equitable but not necessarily equal.” Maintaining the home is considered to be a contribution to the marriage as is earning money from a job.
The filing fee for a divorce in Utah is $318. However, the legal fees you will pay any divorce lawyer in Utah will be considerably more. One important thing to remember about how to get a divorce in Utah is that the more issues you can settle for yourselves, the less you will be charged by your lawyer. Keep in mind, having an experienced Utah divorce attorney by your side ensures your rights will be protected.
In Utah, “legal separation” isn’t just a description of where two spouses live. A couple that is still married is not “legally separated” until a Utah court has entered a decree of “separate maintenance.” The court will make sure that the spouses take care of each other until such time as they are divorced. Divorce and legal separation are different processes, and couples who choose to become legally separated before they get divorced will pay legal fees twice.
Have you asked yourself, “How can a divorce lawyer help me?”. We can guarantee that you will benefit greatly from the expertise of SLC divorce lawyer and Provo divorce attorney Eric Swinyard. He has the legal experience to guide you through the complicated legal requirements of the process, and the interpersonal experience to help both spouses reach the best resolution of your differences. Don’t go through divorce alone. Hire an experienced Utah divorce attorney to help you reach the best result for your family and yourself.