Divorce & Child Custody

Less Cost.  Less Time.

You get the best possible outcome in the least amount of time and attorney fees because of my outcome-based approach and because I cut all the fluff.  Generally, your divorce case can be settled in 3-6 months when I help, whereas the average divorce trial takes 1-3 years.

It has been said that Divorce is one of the hardest things you’ll ever go through, second only to death of a close relative. To compound the issue, you’ve just lost your best friend, support system, half your income, half your retirement, and maybe even your home. Don’t add insane amounts of legal fees to the mix.

Not all divorce attorneys are created equally. What you need is an attorney who understands the code (laws) and knows when/what to fight about, and when/what not to fight about, and is willing to explain that to you, so that you can make an informed decision, and so that you can get the best possible outcome in the least amount of time and legal fees. I’m here for you; I promise to take my time to make sure you understand the “who/what/when/where/why/&how” of your case. I also promise that I will focus our efforts on the things that will get you the best possible outcome.

I would love to help you with your:

  • Divorce,
  • Custody,
  • Adoption, and
  • Decree modification cases

FAQ

How long does it take to get divorced?

It can vary depending on whether it is contested or uncontested (whether or not you have to go to court), but on average an uncontested divorce takes about 3–6 months, and a contested divorce take about 1–3 years. Mediation can help speed this process up by helping the parties bridge the gap between their differences.

Can I get alimony?

There are certain elements that have to be met in order for the court to consider granting alimony, including (1) who is at fault for the divorce, (2) whether one party gave up making money/going to school, to support the other while they furthered their career, (3) whether both parties are self-sufficient, and (4) the discrepancy in how much each party can make.

There is no set calculation for how alimony is calculated, and the courts vary widely on how much, if anything is awarded. One method of calculation is to try and make the amount each party makes equal. For example, If one party Makes $2,000 per month, and the other party makes $800 per month, the court would add the two wages together ($2,800) and divide by two ($1,400) and then subtract from that amount the lesser wage ($1,400 – $800 = $600) and require the person who makes more money to pay the person who makes less the $600 (constructively making it so that both parties make $1,400 per month). Again, the courts are not required to use this calculation, and there are a lot of factors the courts consider, but this is one method of calculation.

It’s important to note that Alimony ends at the first of the following events to occur: (1) re-marriage of the receiving party, (2) death of either party, (3) cohabitation of the receiving party with a member of the opposite sex, or (4) the number of years the parties were married (for example, if you were married for three years, you can typically only receive alimony for up to three years).

Who gets the marital home when we get divorced?

Typically the children stay in the home upon divorce, and the person awarded the majority of time with the children will also get to stay. Both parties, no matter who lives with the children, should get one-half of the equity in the home, and the person staying in the home will typically be required to refinance the home solely in their name, and be solely responsible for making the mortgage payments.

Who is required to pay the debts in a divorce?

The courts will typically split debts equally between the parties. The exception being student loan debts, which are typically given to the party who received the benefit of taken out the student loans.

When can I expect to get paid child support?

Child support payments do not typically start until after the court is asked to start them. Usually the parent with whom the children are staying with, will file a motion for temporary orders in which they ask the court for child support. This process usually takes about 1–2 months; however, in some cases the judge will back date child support to the date the parent filed the motion for temporary orders.

How much will I have to pay/will I get in child support?

There is very little wiggle room in how much will be paid in child support. The amount is based on how much money each party makes per hour, and how many over-nights the children stay with each parent. A calculator can be found on the ORS website: https://orscsc.dhs.utah.gov/orscscapp-hs/orscscweb/action/public/custodyWorksheet/show.

What is the difference between joint custody and sole custody?

The real question is actually “what is the difference between physical and legal custody?” This is one of the most confused areas of law, because TV so frequently gets it wrong. Physical custody is with whom the children live. If both parents have more than 111 overnights with the children, it is “joint physical custody, ” and if one parent has less than 111 overnights, then the parent with most of the nights is considered to have “sole physical custody.”

“Legal custody” is who gets to make the big, life-changing decisions, such as where to go to school, what religion the children will attend, and medical decisions. Rarely will a court not award “Joint Legal Custody” meaning the parents need to make these decisions together. To aid in making these decisions, the court will require the parents to make a “parenting plan,” which discusses how the decisions will be made, and what happens if the parents can’t agree.

What if I or my spouse want to move out of the State of Utah?

Utah law has a specific standard for visitation/parent-time anytime either party moves more than 150 miles from the other party. Typically what happens is the non-custodial parent will get less frequent time with the children, but the time they do spend with the children will be for a longer duration. Often more time over the summer is also given to the long-distant parent. You should notify the court at least 60–90 days prior to moving out of the state to allow enough time for the court to make any needed changes and rulings.

Who gets the car/couch/TV/ and other “stuff”?

Property is typically equally split between the parties unless they can agree to who gets what stuff. Each party can be ordered by the court to return certain items or be granted certain items. Property can be determined at a mediation and agreed upon as well to help avoid court hearings, and the cost of going to court.

What is Mediation and Do I Have to Attend?

Mediation is where everyone involved comes to the table with an attorney who mediates the issues not agreed upon. The attorney is neutral and has no prior knowledge of either party, so he/she is not on either side. The mediator will help the parties to give and take and come to a fair resolution of the issues without the need for a judge or court hearing and the costs of going to court. He/she also maintains that what the parties agree to is within the requirements of the law.

What is a Motion for Temporary Orders?

Contested, nasty divorces can take 1–5 years. In the meantime, a court hearing for Temporary Orders can be requested by either party, if they cannot agree between themselves (or mediation) as to who should have temporary custody, the amount of child support, etc…. At this hearing, the judge will determine what the parties are to do for the duration of the divorce action.

Can you file for divorce without an attorney?

The Utah Court website has forms and instructions on how to file divorce without an attorney: https://www.utcourts.gov/selfhelp/, and https://www.utcourts.gov/ocap/. This process can be difficult, but if both parties are willing to work together it can be done; however, if the other side ever gets an attorney involved, DO NOT GO IT ALONE. Attorneys are required by law to act in the best interest of their clients, which in this case would mean taking advantage of the fact you are unrepresented. Do not let a goofy procedural rule be the deciding factor in who gets custody of your children.

Another alternative to hiring an attorney for divorce is to hire a mediator. Before either party has an attorney, you both can hire one mediator to help you resolve the issues in your case. Utah law also allows for a mediator to draft and file all the needed documents to effectuate your divorce if you reach an agreement. This process is often faster, cheaper, and better than hiring attorneys or going it alone. The only downside is that both parties must be willing to participate in an honest, fair discussion.

Can the Original Decree of Divorce be changed? (Modification)

A Decree of Divorce can be changed if there is a “material change of circumstance.” This rule should be explained in your decree. A material change of circumstance would be; i.e. a significant change in income which would increase or decrease the amount of child support owed; a parent moves outside of the State of Utah and parent time needs to be changed to reflect this move; a parent loses their job and no longer has the ability to care for the children and a change in custody needs to be addressed; and a change in alimony due to a change in employment or income.

“Discourage litigation. Persuade your neighbors to compromise whenever you can. Point out to them how the nominal winner is often a real loser, in fees, expenses, and waste of time. As a peacemaker the lawyer has a superior opportunity of being a good man. There will still be business enough.” — President Abraham Lincoln

Family Law Blog Posts

Mediation Child Custody Logan, Utah
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Think of the Children! Mediation To Prevent Trauma

A Must Read Before Anyone Who Wants a Divorce Goes To Court Even when divorce is the best option, it will always be tough on you and even rougher on your children. Statistically speaking, research comparing children of divorced parents to children…
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