Ten Frequently Asked Questions by People Getting Divorced
1. Do you offer free consultations?
Yes. We offer a free phone consultation for new clients. Give us a call at 801-542-1820.
2. Why should I hire Ben for my divorce?
In addition to being an excellent trail lawyer, Ben understands that in divorce cases, acting as an advisor is often his most important role. Ben understands that every case and every client is different, and in addition to protecting your legal rights, Ben gives you solid, candid advice and guidance throughout the divorce process. Ben also has a Masters in Business Administration, making him able to evaluate and address issues in complex asset division cases. Additionally, Ben keeps his fees lower than most other lawyers so that clients receive the maximum value.
3. How long will my divorce take?
From the initial filing of a divorce petition to the end of a trial, a divorce case may take one to two years, though some take longer. If the case is appealed, it may take a year or more to complete the appeal. Most cases are settled prior to trial, with final settlement often coming in three to nine months. It just depends on how motivated the divorcing parties to settle.
4. What happens if one spouse wants a divorce and the other does not?
If one spouse wants a divorce, that spouse will get a divorce. A judge cannot order that spouse to remain married to the objecting spouse.
5. How do Utah courts divide assets in a divorce?
Courts in Utah employ a two-step process to divide property. First, the courts determine what is marital property and what is non-marital property. Second, the courts will divide marital property among the parties by way of “equitable distribution.” “Equitable” means “fair” and does not necessarily mean equal. What is fair to one person may be very different than what is fair to another, and the trial judges have extremely broad discretion to decide what is equitable.
6. How do Utah courts determine who gets physical custody of children?
Family court’s decide make custody decisions based upon what is in the best interest of the children. Factors that guide the Court in making this determination include: (1) the past conduct and demonstrated moral standards of each of the parties; (2) which parent is most likely to act in the best interest of the child, including allowing the child frequent and continuing contact with the noncustodial parent; (3) the extent of bonding between the parent and child, meaning the depth, quality, and nature of the relationship between a parent and child; (4) whether the physical, psychological, and emotional needs and development of the child will benefit from joint legal or physical custody; (5) 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; (6) 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; (7) whether both parents participated in raising the child before the divorce; (8) the geographical proximity of the homes of the parents; (9) 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; (10) the maturity of the parents and their willingness and ability to protect the child from conflict that may arise between the parents; (11) the past and present ability of the parents to cooperate with each other and make decisions jointly; (12) any history of, or potential for, child abuse, spouse abuse, or kidnapping; and (13) any other factors the court finds relevant.
7. What is the difference between physical custody and legal custody?
Physical custody deals with time. Parties with joint physical custody of a child each have at least 111 overnights per year with the child. Joint physical custody does not necessarily mean the parent-time is equal. If a parent has sole physical custody of a child, the other parent has fewer than 111 overnights with that child per year.
Legal custody deals with decision-making. Parties with joint legal custody of a child must make important decisions like schooling, religion, and medical care together. If a parent has sole legal custody of a child, he or she does not need to consult the other parent when making these important decisions.
8. I’ve heard that kids can decide for themselves which parent to live with when they reach age 12. Is this true?
No. This is a common myth. In Utah, here is no set age where children have a legal right to choose which parent to live with. A child’s preference is given more weight by the judge as that child gets older, but ultimately, the judge may decide to go against that preference.
9. How much will my child support be and how is it calculated?
Child support is determined by inputting the incomes of the parents into a “calculator” designed to compute child support based upon whatever physical custody situation the parties have. The calculator can be found online at http://www.utcourts.gov/childsupport/calculator.
10. How do Utah courts determine whether alimony will be awarded or in what amounts?
A court will order alimony on the basis of one spouse’s need or entitlement and the other spouse’s ability to pay. Although most alimony payments are made from men to women, it is possible that a well-off woman could be required to pay support to her economically dependent husband. Utah courts look to the following factors when determining alimony: (1) the financial condition and needs of the recipient spouse; (2) the recipient’s earning capacity or ability to produce income; (3) the ability of the payor spouse to provide support; (4) the length of the marriage; (5) whether the recipient spouse has custody of minor children requiring support; (6) whether the recipient spouse worked in a business owned or operated by the payor spouse; and (7) whether the recipient spouse directly contributed to any increase in the payor spouse’s skill by paying for education received by the payor spouse or allowing the payor spouse to attend school during the marriage; and (8) the fault of the parties.
Do you have other questions? Contact us today to learn more about hiring Ben to represent your interests.