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Planning a wedding is a task many couples put months or even years into before walking down the aisle. Finding the perfect venue in which to celebrate with family and friends can take time and careful thought. For a bride, locating the ideal wedding dress can be a daunting task and perhaps requires going to several gown boutiques. Many couples do not realize that, like the wedding day, a divorce also needs thoughtful and strategic planning.
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When children are part of a divorce, parents often want to shield them from the issues of ending the marriage. This might entail sorting through the details in an amicable fashion or being concerned with getting past the divorce efficiently. One of the top goals for divorcing parents is working out the custody and support for the children.
In Salt Lake City, Utah, as in the rest of the state, there are three forms of child custody: legal, split and physical. In legal and physical custody either of these types can be sole or joint. Split custody refers to when a parent is the primary caregiver to a child and the other spouse becomes the custodian to the other child. The decisions on custody are always determined by what is in the best interests of the children.
When parents are having a hard time agreeing on the matters concerning the children, the court may appoint a child custody mediator to help deal with objections and arrive at a resolution. If issues remain contested, a judge will make the official ruling.
In Utah, child support is based upon the type of custody that has been granted. There are three calculation formulas used and the proposed payment amount must be approved by the court system in Utah. Some of the factors that contribute to the amount of child support include:
- The number of overnight stays by each parent
- The combined gross income of both parents
- The number of children
The court may take other criteria into consideration when determining child support payments such as the expenses of each parent or the standard of living the children had during the marriage. Additionally, the costs for health care for the children are factored into the equation to arrive at the correct amount for child support payments.
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Property division can be an area with many contested issues. Spouses may feel emotionally compelled to fight for certain property items. In Utah, debts and assets acquired during the legal partnership belong to both parties. Property is either separate or marital and joint property is divided equitably in Salt Lake City, as well as the rest of Utah.
Division Of Property
Types of separate property may include an inheritance or a birthday gift. In equitable property division the goal is not necessarily to divide everything equally between spouses, but to give each person a portion of the marital items.
Although the court has discretion in allocating property, typically the primary factor is the financial needs of each spouse when dividing assets. The court works hard to achieve a settlement that is fair and reasonable for each party. Some of the assets and debts which are commonly divided include:
- Retirement accounts
- Real estate
- Collectible items
- Household items
- Bank accounts, stocks, bonds and pensions
- Credit card debt
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In Utah, a couple can file for a fault or no-fault divorce. To be eligible for a no-fault divorce, the couple must be in mutual agreement that there are irreconcilable differences or the spouses must have been living separately for three years. A fault divorce requires proof that certain conditions exist, such as adultery or willful neglect in the marriage.
As alternatives to divorce, couples can also get legally separated or file an annulment.
In a legal separation, the same issues of a divorce are handled such as dividing assets and determining child custody; however, the couple remains married. In a sense, being legally separated can be a trial run to divorce. Some spouses may chose to legally separate rather than divorce due to financial, emotional or religious reasons. A legal separation may also give couples time to reconcile the marriage by going to therapy.
Getting an annulment is not an easy process. Unlike filing for divorce where couples can cite irreconcilable differences, an annulment requires proving to the court that certain grounds were present. The conditions for annulment in Utah are:
- A spouse was under the age of 18 when he or she married and without parental permission.
- A spouse was already legally married at the time of the marriage (bigamy).
- A spouse refused to consummate the marriage.
- The spouses are close blood relatives (incest).
- Misrepresentation was committed by a spouse, such as hiding a serious illness or infertility.
- The spouses are the same sex.
Alternative Dispute Resolution
The courts in Utah recognize alternative dispute resolution (ADR) as a helpful and effective way to sort through the issues of divorce. A neutral third party can help you and your spouse come up with solutions and reach agreements. Some of the benefits to ADR include saving time, reducing costs and preserving a relationship with your spouse. ADR is not recommended for spouses with poor communication or a history of abuse.
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The agreements made when finalizing a divorce can affect you for years to come. Ending a marriage can be financially burdensome for divorcing couples, making it crucial to make the right legal steps throughout the process. It can be invaluable to have the reliable advice of a Salt Lake City divorce attorney. Whether you are worried about dividing property or have questions about spousal support, an experienced divorce lawyer can help you understand what choices are right for you.
When looking for a lawyer to represent your interests when ending a marriage, it’s important to search for one with experience in family law, specifically divorce. The lawyer you hire can make a significant difference in the outcome of your situation. During this challenging time, select a lawyer that will take the time to understand your goals and work hard for you in achieving a favorable outcome.
To begin the divorce process or learn more about the legal option available to you, fill out our case review form and we’ll put you in contact with an experienced local attorney.