While divorce can cause a myriad of emotional and psychological effects on a family, it can also become a large financial burden. When either party takes the painful emotions associated with the end of a marriage into divorce proceedings, wasted time and additional costs are often the consequences.
Here are other ways you can save money during a divorce and use your lawyer time effectively:
The best way to save money on your divorce is to avoid divorce court. When you consider court costs, additional attorney fees, and costs that will be connected to any real estate division, a mutual settlement – mediated by a divorce lawyer is the most economical option. A quality divorce attorney knows that court proceedings will cost their clients money and will work to help families solve differences and work towards an agreeable settlement.
Keep in mind that maintaining a working relationship with your ex can be of benefit to settle property division matters and arrange child visitation schedules without a lawyer – to save both parties in costs, time, and additional stress.
Make the most of your lawyer visit by staying on topic and remembering that lawyers aren’t therapists. Bring a list of items of concern you feel are important to discuss to avoid straying into emotional and unproductive discussions. Produce any documentation you have to support your case and if you feel the need, take notes to remember any other items or persons you need to address at a later time. This efficient use of the lawyer/client appointment time will save you money during your divorce.
Be prepared by having any documentation which needed signing and other pertinent information to your case. This could include financial information both assets and liabilities; and a complete disclosure describing any marital problems and what issues you believe will be problematic. Being prepared for meetings with your lawyer is another way to save time and costs. Consider paralegal services to help prepare divorce forms and to follow proper filing procedures – along with where to obtain any state specific applications for alimony or modifying child support.
Choose mediation services to act as a neutral third party, which is offered by many professional divorce lawyers to negotiate a settlement. When using mediation it is smart to be fully prepared with a list of concerns and requests, as these services usually charge an hourly rate. Even so, mediation offers major cost savings over a court trial and has the added benefit of being fully confidential. Therefore no public record will exist concerning the outcome of your divorce proceedings. Speak with your lawyer about the mediation process as an alternative to court proceedings.
Consider an uncontested divorce, where both spouses agree to the financial and legal issues required to finalize the divorce. An uncontested divorce has the added benefit of reducing the stress caused by constant negotiations. Since there is no court hearing and no legal posturing, both parties can work to solve the separation of property and finances in an amicable and mutually agreeable manner. Still, an experienced divorce lawyer is crucial even in an uncontested divorce to ensure an even distribution of property, finances, and businesses – and to ensure you don’t walk away paying too much (or receiving a lot less) in alimony or child support.
In Utah or elsewhere, divorce for any married couple will accomplish two things: severing the marital relationship, and dividing assets and debts. If they have been married for a significant length of time and one of them will be unable to be self-supporting after the divorce, the issue of alimony may also arise. If there are minor children, they will also need to resolve issues of child custody and support.
In order to file for divorce in Utah, the party filing for divorce must be a resident of Utah and the county for at least 3 months. The case must be filed in the District Court in the county where the residency requirement is met.
The simplest procedure is an uncontested divorce where you and your spouse reach an agreement about the division of your property, and, if you have any children, what arrangements will be made for them. You begin the divorce procedure by filing a Complaint for Divorce, along with various supporting documents. For an uncontested divorce, one of these documents will be a marital settlement agreement outlining the division of assets, and your agreement regarding any children. These documents are filed with the court, and copies of them are provided to your spouse. You will attend a court hearing, at which time the judge will make sure that all of your paperwork is in order, perhaps ask you a few questions, and enter your Decree of Divorce.
Utah offers this process where each party hires a lawyer to assist them in trying to reach an agreement on all issues. There may also be a facilitator involved, to help focus the discussion. It is similar to mediation. Both parties must agree to this process, and either may stop it at any time. Any agreement will be signed by the parties and submitted to the court to be incorporated into a judgment or decree.
Grounds for divorce are legally recognized reasons to get a divorce. This is the justification for severing the marital relationship. Utah, like most states, has what are commonly called no-fault grounds for divorce, and several traditional fault-based grounds. To get a no-fault divorce in Utah you need to state in the Complaint for Divorce that “there are irreconcilable differences in the marriage,” or the parties have been living separate and apart without cohabitation for 3 years under a judicial decree of separation.” The fault-based grounds for divorce are: impotence, adultery, willful desertion for more than 1 year, willfully neglecting to provide the plaintiff with the common necessities of life, habitual drunkenness, conviction of a felony, cruel treatment to the extent of “bodily injury or great mental distress,” and incurable insanity. However, in most cases, there is no reason to use any of these, since they add complexity to the process by requiring proof.
A divorce involves dividing property and debts between you and your spouse. Utah divorce law provides that all property is marital property, regardless of how or when it was acquired. Absent an agreement of the parties, the judge is directed to divide the property “equitably.”
Absent an agreement of the parties regarding alimony, the court is directed by Utah alimony law to consider the following factors in determining alimony:
• the financial condition and needs of the party seeking alimony,
• the earning capacity or ability to produce income of the party seeking alimony,
• the ability of the party paying alimony to provide support,
• the length of the marriage,
• whether the party seeking alimony has custody of minor children requiring support,
• whether the party seeking alimony worked in a business owned by the payor,
• whether the party seeking alimony directly contributed to any increase in the payor’s by paying for education, or enabling the payor to attend school during the marriage,
• the parties’ standard of living, and
• the fault of either party.
“Fault” means committing adultery; knowingly and intentionally causing or attempting to cause physical harm to the other party or minor children, knowing and intentionally causing the other party or minor children to reasonably fear life-threatening harm, or substantially undermining the financial stability of the other party or the minor children. If the marriage is of short duration, and there are no children, the court may restore the parties to their condition at the time of marriage. Alimony is limited to a period of time equal to the number of years of marriage, unless the court finds extenuating circumstances. Alimony terminates upon the death or remarriage of the party receiving alimony, or upon evidence that the party receiving alimony is cohabitating with another person.
If you and your spouse have any minor children, there will have to be a custody determination, which basically comes down to figuring out how the children’s time will be divided between the parents, and how decisions will be made. If you and your spouse can reach an agreement on custody, it will be accepted by the judge unless it is determined not to be in the child’s best interest. If you cannot reach a custody agreement, the judge will decide the issue, after considering all relevant factors, including:
• each party’s past conduct and demonstrated moral standards,
• which party is most likely to act in the best interest of the child, including allowing frequent and continuing contact with the other party,
• the extent of bonding between each party and the child,
• whether a party has intentionally exposed the child to pornography or harmful material,
• whether the physical, psychological, and emotional needs and development of the child will benefit from joint legal and physical custody,
• each party’s ability to give priority to the welfare of the child, and reach shared decisions,
• whether each party is capable of encouraging a relationship between the child and the other party,
• whether both parties participated in raising the child before the divorce,
• the geographical proximity of the parties,
• the preference of the child, if the child is of sufficient age and capacity to reason,
• each party’s maturity and willingness and ability to protect the child from any conflict between the parties,
• the past and present ability of the parties to cooperate and make decisions, and
• any history of, or potential for, child abuse, spouse abuse, or kidnapping.
There is a presumption in favor of joint custody, unless it is shown not to be in the child’s best interest, or there is such physical distance between the parties so as to make joint decision-making impractical. In evaluating whether to award joint custody, the court is to consider. A divorce may not be granted until at least 90 days after the Complaint is filed. There is no provision for a name change in connection with a divorce. Filing a divorce can be a complex process, but if you and your spouse can agree on the terms of the divorce you may be able to save time. Following these steps will help you get started with your divorce. If you and your spouse agree on the major issues, an uncontested divorce may be right
Look through the divorce attorney’s resume to find out what degrees he/she has and (more importantly) where they got these degrees from. The next thing is to determine what states he/she is licensed to practice law in. You might be living in one state and your estranged spouse in another, so you need to ensure that the attorney can handle matters related to both states. Qualifications also entail memberships in various law societies, references from judges or senior lawyers, practice history and testimonials from clients.
Along with academic qualities, the attorney must also have experience in dealing with a wide variety of legal cases. He/she should have handled cases of divorce, child custody, distribution of property, alimony and other aspects of family law. This might be visible in the testimonials he/she provides. The longer and wider the experiences, the easier the process will be for the client.
Each case depends heavily on how the attorney builds it and which angle of the case the attorney chooses to draw light upon. The attorney can settle the matter of allocation of assets through mediation and negotiation and when that is unsuccessful through a trial. The lawyer should have several backup plans and a complete idea of the entire scenario if the case, to manage the case.
A divorce attorney’s ability to communicate clearly is critical. During a case, the lawyer has to communicate the client’s concerns, needs and expectations to the judge and the other party. For this, he/she needs complete information about the case and the emotional involvement of the client and the opposite party. The attorney’s ability to communicate with the opposite party and their spouse is also important as that can lead to the settlement of various important issues outside of the court, thus making the process less of a hassle.
The attorney should be calm and composed at all times, even at times of extreme crisis. An attorney who is easily scared can lose his ability to negotiate or argue and thus lose the case. A good divorce attorney should be able to handle himself maturely in the face of the biggest surprise disclosures and be thoroughly professional when representing you in court.
A divorce attorney might handle multiple cases at one time, so it is important for him to be well organized and give time to each client. It is better to get an attorney who has a prompt and organized support staff so that you can reach someone at the office at any time. The attorney should make time for his client and keep up with assigned meetings.
Usually we measure quality with price, but there are great divorce attorneys who are affordable. Keeping unusually high charges is quite unprofessional and discouraging. So look for a professional who has reasonable charges and gives more personal attention to the case.
When you’re getting a divorce, you’ll need an attorney who is experienced in family law matters. Different areas of the law have different rules and requirements. Attorneys in each practice area have different skill sets. Divorce can be a complex process and it’s essential to have an attorney who knows the nuances of family law and is familiar with your local court's rules and judges.
The short answer is “no.” The professional rules of conduct governing lawyers prohibit attorneys from representing both spouses in a divorce. This would create a conflict of interest for the attorney, since your interests, rights, and needs in a divorce are adverse to your spouse’s. A single attorney can’t ethically give good legal advice to two people in adverse positions. While some couples choose to use a single attorney to draw up divorce paperwork, that attorney legally only represents one of the spouses. If your spouse has hired an attorney to prepare paperwork or a settlement agreement, it’s important that you seek advice about your rights from your own attorney before signing anything.
You should interview any prospective attorney just as you would someone who was applying to work for you. You need to like your attorney. It’s also important that you have confidence in your lawyer’s abilities and respond well to communication style. Some lawyers pride themselves on an aggressive demeanor, while others highlight their ability to collaborate and settle most divorces without a drawn-out courtroom battle. Your needs, your personality, and your spouse’s demeanor in the divorce will also affect the type of attorney best suited to your case. For example, if you and your spouse want to compromise and settle your divorce economically and quickly, you may want to avoid a “bulldog” type of attorney, meaning one that never gives in. Additionally, certain attorneys have collaborative law certifications and will commit to helping resolve your case rather than racking up legal fees.
When you are ready to file for Divorce in Utah, please call Ascent Law LLC for your free consultation (801) 676-5506. We want to help you.
Ascent Law LLC
8833 South Redwood Road Suite C
West Jordan Utah 84088
This article was originally posted at https://www.ascentlawfirm.com/utah-divorce-attorneys