Utah’s District Court was busy last year, they handled 182,138 cases in 2013, There were 56,555 criminal law and family law cases. There were 71,676 debt collection cases, and 21,944 traffic citations issued. With so many cases being filed it is important to have an experienced attorney on your side that can help you navigate the legal process. TR Spencer & Associates, P.C. has experienced attorneys that can help you.
- anyone who has filed a paternity action for the child and filed a notice of that action with the Department of Vital Statistics;
- any legally appointed guardian or custodian;
- your spouse, if applicable;
- a parent listed on the birth certificate; and
- a person who lives with the child and acts like the child’s parent.
- the person being adopted if he or she is over 12 years of age and mentally competent;
- both parents of a minor child if born within a marriage;
- the mother of a minor child if born outside of a marriage, and the father if:
- a court has ruled that he is the father,
- he has filed a voluntary declaration of paternity prior to the mother signing the consent of adoption,
- he has developed a strong relationship with the child and has taken some responsibility and/or shown some commitment for the child, or
- he has lived with the child for 6 months within the child’s first year and acted as though the child was his own.
- the adoption agency.
What You Need to Know
First, realize that short of the death of a parent or spouse, going through a custody battle for your child is one of the most stressful events a person can go through. Many parents often find themselves driven more by emotion than by reason when it comes to the custody of their child. Some parents go so far as to convince themselves that either they are the perfect parent and the child cannot live without their daily guidance, or that the other parent is somehow evil or mentally ill and unable to care for the child. The truth is often somewhere in the middle.
Second, don’t try to represent yourself in a custody battle. Although an attorney may be expensive, an attorney brings a wealth of knowledge to your custody case, including how best to use available court procedures and how to best present the facts of your case. It is often far less expensive to hire an attorney up front, rather than hiring an attorney after the fact to fix problems you have created while representing yourself.
Third, be honest with your attorney and tell him or her about your positive attributes as well as the negative ones. Certain types of criminal convictions and/or administrative findings can be used to demonstrate a parent is not necessarily fit to be awarded custody. The last thing that you want is to lose a custody battle because your attorney learns for the first time at trial that you or someone in your household has a domestic violence or drug conviction in another state.
Fourth, realize that there are two kinds of custody, “legal custody” and “physical custody.” Legal custody is the right to be involved in the legal decision making when it comes to the needs of a child. Physical custody is where the child resides. Parents can share joint legal custody over a child, even where one parent is awarded sole physical custody. It is important in your discussion with your attorney to understand both types of custody.
Fifth, Utah Court Commissioners and Judges have a set of statutory and court rule factors they must use when determining which parent or parents should receive legal and/or physical custody over a minor child. The first and most important of these factors is who has been the child’s primary caretaker. If you want to be named as the primary caretaker, make sure you keep track of the days and times you have spent with your child on child centered activities such as meal preparation, laundry, helping little Bobby with his homework, and taking little Suzy to the dentist, and so on. The Court will often give these types of calendars or summaries additional weight when determining physical custody.
SALT LAKE CITY — Utah continued to see steady job growth as the state's unemployment rate dipped to a five-year low the past month.
April’s rate dropped three tenths of a percentage point from March to 3.8 percent, the Utah Department of Workforce Services reported Friday. About 55,200 Utahns were unemployed in the month and actively seeking work, according to the report. The unemployment rate is at its lowest since hitting 3.4 percent in November 2008. "This is good news for us not only today but is extremely good news for us going forward," Gov. Gary Herbert said. "I expect our best days are ahead of us."
The state's nonfarm payroll employment for April grew by an estimated 2.9 percent, adding 36,800 jobs to the economy as compared to April 2013, the report says. Currently, 1,323,400 Utahns are working.
Although, some feel that the jobs being produced are not equal to the jobs that were lost.
Handcuffed but not obeying police commands, Pikes was tasered 7 times in just a 14 minitute period. Pikes began showing signs of distress a short time after officers dragged him into the police department building in the central Louisiana town of Winnfield. A little over an hour later, on a January day in 2008, he was pronounced dead at a hospital.
The Supreme Court is being asked to review Pikes' case as part of a civil rights lawsuit filed on behalf of his young son against a former Winnfield police officer. If the justices agree to hear the case, it would be the court's first look at police use of stun guns after turning away appeals from both recipients of the high-voltage shocks and from police officers.The cause of death is not at issue in the suit. Rather, the question is whether the police used excessive force against Pikes. You be the judge...
With the uncertainty of the economy many have turned to precious metals. The advertisements are very appealing and would have you believe that your money is safe if you invest “now”. Scam artists who use promises of riches if retirees invest in precious metals have defrauded an estimated 10,000 Americans of some $300 million since 2001, according to a report produced for a U.S. Senate Committee. The scam usually begins with a telemarketer phone call, often directed at a retiree, and gives what is purported to be privileged information about a likely rise in the future price of gold, or silver, or other metals.
The end result is often that the retiree may borrow money at a high rate of interest to invest in the metal, pays commissions and storage fees and then loses his or her stake, often thousands of dollars, the report says.
In simpler cases, customers are sold coins that are usually priced at considerably more than their market value. I am sure you have seen these advertisements; they usually come on about the same time late night television begins.
Both the Commodities Futures Trading Commission, which regulates U.S. derivatives trading, and the Federal Trade Commission, which enforces laws against false advertising, have investigated and shut down such companies.
However in one case the company merely changed its name and began scamming again. Many of the fraudulent precious metal companies come from Florida, so do your homework before you become the target of a scam.
 U.S. Senate report shows seniors targeted in metals investment scams, See also: Diane Bartz, Ros Krasny and Ken Wills, U.S. Senate report shows seniors targeted in metals investment scams, Reuters News, (April 30,2014).
- Have or fear bodily harm to either him/herself or his/her immediate family; or
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW BEFORE HIRING AN ATTORNEY
The decision to hire an attorney is one of the most frightening decisions a person can make. This decision is often made while the person is in turmoil, either with a criminal charge or civil matter pending, of the need to immediately file a civil matter to address an urgent concern. Now is not the time to put your head in the sand and try to wish away the circumstances. Meeting with an attorney can help you get your head around the issues at hand and move you toward a positive resolution.
Identifying Your Goals
Before you call our law firm, or any law firm for that matter, it will be helpful for you to formulate some specific goals. Depending on your situation, some goals you may want to accomplish are:
- You may want an evaluation of a legal claim against you.
- You may want an evaluation of your legal claim against another.
- You may need legal advice about the consequences of a particular counsel of action.
- You may need help with the creation of a Will or Trust.
- You may need help with formation issues inherent in business formation.
In planning to accomplish your goals, you should ask yourself about the following:
- Does this attorney practice in the area of law from which my problem arises?
- How much experience does this attorney have?
- What is the track record of this attorney in my type of matter?
Knowing the answers to these three questions will help you narrow your search and allow you to select the attorney who can quickly and competently focus on your issues. Now, further organize your thoughts. Be prepared to tell the attorney what your specific goals are and ask the attorney how he would propose to meet those goals.
Why You Should Choose Our Firm
Attorneys come with a variety of experience, both in years and in the courtroom. You should look for someone who has the experience to handle your specific type of matter. In this firm, Terry R. Spencer has been practicing 23 years and is licensed to represent clients in both Utah and Idaho. He has substantial litigation experience in representing clients in administrative hearings, in both district and justice court and before the Utah Court of Appeals. He has handled cases in almost every county in the State of Utah and in several Idaho counties. His areas of practice include family law (divorce, child custody, wills and trusts), criminal law, real estate disputes, business disputes and general business advice. Jeff Rifleman has four years of experience with a heavy emphasis in domestic and criminal matters. Jeff is well known by most family law practitioners, prosecutors and Judges along the Wasatch Front.
In addition to experience, there are three additional reasons why you should choose our firm: First, we will give the personal touch, as you work with one of our attorneys and not some miscellaneous staff member. Second, because you will work one-on-one with one of our attorneys, the details of your case will not “slip through the cracks,” as they might in some large impersonal law firm. Finally, with a small firm, such as ours, you also have the advantage of lower overhead which translates into lower fees. Our fees are generally 20% to 30% below the fees charged by large Salt Lake firms.
Initial Telephone Contact
Most attorneys, including the attorneys in this firm, will answer questions posed by a potential client over the telephone without charging a fee. These initial contracts generally last between five and fifteen minutes. It is during this telephone call that you, as a potential client, have the ability to assess whether one of our attorneys has both the time and experience to assist you with your legal matter. It is during this telephone call that you should ask questions about the scope and expected cost of your legal matter.
Think of a retainer as a down payment against which future costs are billed. It is from this retainer that costs such as filing fees, service fees and the preparation of initial paperwork are paid. The costs of services are deducted from the retainer as they accrue. Many attorneys will not do additional work for a client unless there is money in the retainer account or other payment arrangements have been made. Along the Wasatch Front, attorney retainers generally rung from $1,500.00 to $10,000.00, depending on the type of matter involved and the experience of the particular attorney. Your retainer amount will depend on estimated time needed to address your issues, the assets or debts involved, and other case specific factors.
Most legal matters are completed with an attorney charging an hourly rate. An attorney will bill for each hour (or portion of an hour) when work is completed on the file. An attorney with more years of experience will charge a higher rate, but that attorney will need to spend less time on an issue than an inexperienced attorney. Along the Wasatch Front, hourly billing rates are generally $200.00 to $375.00 per hour, depending on the type of case and the experience of the attorney. In this office, Terry R. Spencer has 23 years of experience and charges $225.00 to $300.00 per hour, depending on the type of matter. Jeff Rifleman has 4 years of experience and charges $200.00 per hour.
Preparing for an Initial Face to Face Meeting
In order to make the most out of your initial face-to-face meeting with your attorney, it is a good idea to gather materials that would be helpful to the attorney before your meeting. Spend some time thinking about the kind of documentation that might be helpful, and how you can logically explain your situation to the attorney. A list of initial face-to-face materials for particular types of cases can be found elsewhere on this website.
Client Contact Information
Be prepared to provide your attorney with all of your contact information, including an email address, and an alternative number, such as the number of a parent co-worker. For many types of cases, identifying information, such as Social Security Numbers, will also be requested by your attorney, as they must be provided to the Court or to the Government agencies as part of the litigation process.
Organizing Your Thoughts
During your initial face-to-face meeting, plan to get all of your questions answered. Depending on your situation, you should consider asking the following questions:
- What kind of cases do you normally handle?
- What percentage of your practice is devoted to this area of law?
- How many situations similar to mine have you handled in the past year?
- How many of these types of cases are resolved short of trial? (Either through mediation or other means of settlement)
- What aspects of my case are the most difficult to resolve?
- How do you keep in touch with your clients?
- Are you available after hours?
- Will other attorneys be working on my case?
- How do you bill your clients?
- Do you require a retainer? If so, how much?
- What do you think are the strengths and weaknesses of my case?
Topic # 4
During the pretrial stage of a court case there is an important step called “discovery.” During discovery, both sides collect and exchange information about the case and prepare for trial. Each party has the opportunity to find out about the strengths and weaknesses of the other parties’ case. Some information must be provided to the opposing party without being asked for it. Other information must be discovered, which means the party with the information must provide it, but only if asked for it.
Disclosure and discovery are mixed in time, in approximately the following order:
- Initial disclosures;
- Fact discovery;
- Expert disclosures;
- Expert discovery; and
- Pretrial disclosures.
The Plaintiff must make initial disclosures within 14 days after service of the first answer; and by the defendant within 42 days after filing of the first answer to the Complaint or within 28 days after that defendant’s appearance, whichever is later.
In dealing with domestic relations actions such as: divorce; temporary separation; separate maintenance; parentage; custody; child support; and modification it is necessary to gather certain information about your case and its parties. Follow the hyperlinks below and fill out the appropriate forms to begin your case and then call us at: (801)-566-1884 to set up an appointment.
- Client Information Form -This document is our standard client information sheet that includes contact and personal information needed for court documents.
- Financial Statements -This is the standard document Financial Statement using the courts to calculate the income, expenses, assets and liabilities.
- Certificate of divorce, dissolution of marriage, or annulment -Utah Department of Health Certificate required. Complete the relevant information requested on this form.
- Affidavit of Military Service- You must complete and sign affidavit indicating whether you have or are currently serving in the military.
- Child Support Obligation Worksheet and Location information is required. (Download and complete only if you have children from your marriage or relationship.) - As required by the technical amendments to welfare reform section 653 (h) (2) (federal law) and UCA 62A-11-103 (14). You are required to submit for each child the information requested on this form.
Depending on the amount of damages claimed, a party is entitled to a certain amount of standard discovery, meaning the number of depositions, interrogatories, requests for admission, and requests for the production of documents. If a party needs more than the standard amount, the parties can stipulate to extraordinary discovery or file a motion asking the judge to order extraordinary discovery. In Utah a tier system is used to determine the depth and time for discovery in a case. Fact discovery must be completed 120, 180 or 210 days from the date of the defendant’s initial disclosures. Of course the number of days allotted for your case will depend on the tier that your case falls within.
Expert disclosure and discovery
Within 7 days after the close of fact discovery, the party who has the burden of proof on any issue must disclose to the other party information about the expert. Once the information about the expert has been provided to opposing parties the opposing party may elect to depose the expert or require a written report. The party offering the expert pays for the report; the party opposing the expert pays for the deposition. The deposition may not exceed 4 hours.
A party must make disclosures and respond to discovery requests based on information known or reasonably available to the party. If a party fails to disclose or supplement a discovery response that party may not use the undisclosed witness , document or material at any trial or hearing unless the failure is harmless or the party shows good cause for the failure.
There are four types of formal discovery tools that are frequently used in lawsuits. They are:
- Depositions. In a deposition, one party or that party's lawyer conducts face-to-face questioning of the other party or a witness to the dispute. The person being questioned (the "deponent") must answer under oath, and the answers are recorded for later use at trial. If the deponent cannot testify at trial, the questions and answers might be read to the jury as evidence. If the deponent does testify and gives different answers at trial from those he gave during the deposition, the questions and answers can be used to show the jury that the witness changed his story.
- Requests for production of evidence. In a request for production of evidence, one party asks the other for physical evidence related to the dispute. Requests for production are usually used to gather pertinent documents, such as contracts, employment files, billing records, or documents related to real estate. However, these requests can also be used to inspect physical objects or property -- for example, in a dispute about whether a contractor properly repaired a homeowner's plumbing; the contractor's lawyer might ask to have a plumbing expert inspect the work.
- Interrogatories. Interrogatories are written questions one party sends to the other to be answered under oath. The answers can be used at trial in the same way as deposition answers -- to challenge a party who changes her story later.
- Requests for admission. In a request for admission, one party asks the other party to admit, under oath, that certain facts are true or certain documents are genuine. These requests are generally used to save time and to narrow the issues that have to be proved at trial.
Most courts do not allow the parties to set a trial date until all discovery is completed by all parties. Given the schedules of the parties, the legal delays for providing answers, the number of parties involved, the discovery phase is the longest phase of any litigation. It may last for years depending on the complexity of the case. Generally, the more sophisticated the case, the longer the discovery phase will take.
Discovery is very complicated and often requires knowledge of evidence rules and other legal strategies. It is extremely beneficial to have an experienced lawyer that can help you during this complicated process. Attorneys at TR Spencer & Associates, P.C. can help you. After the close of discovery, the parties must tell the court that discovery is complete. This is done by filing the “Certificate of Readiness for Trial.”
I hope that this information has helped you to understand some of the complexities associated with the legal system. If you have any questions an attorney at TR Spencer & Associates, P.C. can help you. The legal process is very procedural and for this reason an attorney is absolutely necessary in order to navigate the complexities of the legal system. If you fail to comply with the Courts procedure then you will be penalized in a manner that affects your case.
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