Men and women, who are contemplating divorce, often have a lot of questions about the effects a family breakup will have on their children and family finances. Men most often wonder how they will maintain a relationship with their children if they are only permitted to see them on a court approved schedule. Women most often wonder how they will maintain a standard of living without the primary breadwinner in the house.
A large number of studies have shown the parents who can work out a joint physical custody arrangement, where both parents have a substantial amount of time with their children, escape most of the negative side-effects of divorce, as engaged fathers are much more likely to fulfill their obligations to their former spouse and to their children.
TIP 1: DO YOUR PART
The more you do yourself, the less you’ll have to pay an attorney to do. Prior to your first consultation, ask what information you should bring to help the attorney understand your situation. For a child custody case, you will need to bring documents such as: (a) tax return for the past three years, and (b) three most recent pay stubs or other documents demonstrating current income. If there are issues other than custody and support, you should bring copies of documents demonstrating your current monthly expenses, such as utility statements, and documents related to your assets, such as property tax notices. Attorneys charge by the hour, so the better prepared you are, the more work can get done during your initial meeting.
It is also a good idea to write down your questions and concerns in advance. This way you can cover everything you need to talk about without having to schedule numerous meetings or repeatedly call back with questions.
If you happen to have an existing case with the court and you are consulting with an attorney to modify existing orders of the court, bring copies of any documents that have been filed. If you have misplaced these documents, you can go to the court to obtain a copy from your file. Providing this information at your consultation will go a long way toward an effective and efficient consultation.
TIP 2: DETERMINE YOUR PRIORITIES AND SET REALISTIC GOALS
It’s always helpful to begin the divorce process with a realistic end in sight. Before you meet with an attorney, take time to list your priorities and goals. A family law attorney can then help you understand state law and answer your questions. For instance, will you have to sell your home? Can your spouse move out of state with your children? How do you divide retirement accounts?
TIP 3: CONSULT WITH AN EXPERIENCED DIVORCE ATTORNEY
Many attorney who do not practice in this area of divorce believe that it is easy to handle a divorce matter because they experience in complex business litigation. Rules which govern divorce proceedings, in many cases, are completely different from other types of proceedings because the court's goal is to find an equitable resolution to the divorce matter. Consult with a law firm, such as TR Spencer & Associates, P.C, in which there are attorneys with substantial trial experience in domestic matters.
TIP 4: COMMUNICATE WITH YOUR SPOUSE RESPECTFULLY
It’s common for divorcing couples to feel anger and pain at the beginning of the divorce process, but it’s important to understand that Utah is a "no-fault" divorce state. That means that whatever your spouse did during your marriage has no bearing on the outcome of your case, except under certain circumstances where child custody, visitation and alimony are at issue.
Typically, communicating respectfully helps facilitate the divorce process. This may seem like a pipe dream, but it is possible. Most people do not want to fight and do not want to spend money unnecessarily that they now need to support two households and their children. By making the choice early to work together, you will set the standard for co-parenting in the best interest of your children and spare them from added tension and grief.
TIP 5: WORK TOGETHER WITH YOUR SPOUSE
The average divorce in America costs $43,000. And this figure doesn’t include couples with very high incomes—their divorces cost more—or the cost of returning to court later to modify child support payments or settle other disputes.
Fortunately, you can control the costs by working together. Even though divorce is painful and you may not feel inclined to cooperate, it’s usually in your best interests. You will save a large amount of money—money that you need to start a new life—if you and your spouse (or the can work together.
TIP 6: DON'T WITHHOLD INFORMATION FROM YOUR SPOUSE
In order to achieve a complete and fair agreement, it is essential that you both fully disclose all of the assets and debts of the marriage. Hiding assets is against the law and will hurt you in the long run.
TIP 7: DON'T PAY LAWYERS TO DIVIDE YOUR POTS AND PANS
If attorneys have to help you work out who will get the furniture and the wedding china, they may charge more than it would cost to replace everything. Here are some ideas on how to divide your personal property:
Meet Halfway Method: Divide financial assets (bank accounts, stocks and bonds, etc.) equally between each party.
Balanced Method: One party takes an entire lot of furniture while the other party takes the car.
Easy As Pie Method: One party prepares two lists that divide the assets equally and then the other party gets to choose which list he or she wants. It is important to try to keep sets together (furniture, tables and chairs, bedroom sets, etc.). This approach can be very helpful for short-term marriages where wedding gifts need to be divided.
Divide And Conquer Method: One party places a monetary value on each item of personal property and the other chooses which one they will take at the stated value up to one-half the total value.
Alternating Method: Both parties take turns choosing one community item at a time.
Equalizing Payment Method: One party agrees to receive less property (furniture, dishes, etc.) in exchange for a payment from the other party.
Take It Or Leave It Method: One party places a value on an asset and the other party can either let the first party have the asset, or take it themselves as part of their share.
Appraise It Method: The parties choose an appraiser to value certain items. The parties then alternate selecting these items until they have acquired their share.
Closeout Sale Method: If there are items that cannot be agreed upon, sell the items and divide the proceeds to achieve an equal distribution.
The Envelope Please Method: Each party enters a bid for particular items. Each bid is opened at the same time and the highest bidder gets the items. The item’s dollar value is then added to the winning bidder’s total.
TIP 8: TRANSITION FROM MARRIAGE PARTNERS TO PARENT PARTNERS
Making the change from a husband-wife relationship to a co-parent relationship requires focusing on the present and on your child’s needs. Start by letting go of past resentments, regrets and blame. Look for solutions!
Once you change your mindset, this may help to open doors in reaching agreement on the issues in your case. To aid this transition:
Keep agreements and promises you make to help rebuild trust with your former spouse.
Keep money issues and parent-child relationship issues separate so that children are not burdened with support or other financial issues.
Do not say degrading things about each other in front of the children.
Don’t be overly critical or try to control the other parent.
Respect the other parent’s privacy.
Set up periodic meetings to discuss the children and the children’s progress only.
Continued love and concern from both parents will help a child’s self-esteem. It is important for the parent who does not have physical custody to maintain consistent and routine contact with the children. A more harmonious co-parent relationship will go a long way towards minimizing and healing the pain experienced by children during a divorce.
TIP 9: USE MEDIATION
In a traditional divorce, each party retains an attorney and the attorneys negotiate the divorce—either privately or, if necessary, in front of a judge. This process can be expensive, time-consuming and emotionally draining. Alternative divorce options such as mediation, collaborative divorce, and cooperative divorce are designed to allow you to make the decisions in your case instead of the court, saving you time, money and stress.
TIP 10: USE A SPECIAL MASTER
In those cases where litigation is the chosen method for resolving the parties' disputes, consider the use of a Special Master, or private judge, to resolve disputes. This will be much less expensive and allow the parties to resolve differences more quickly and less expensively.
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Protective Order $500.00 for 1 hour consultation and representation at the Protective Order Hearing
If You Are Seeking A Protective Order: If you have been the subject of physical abuse or threats of physical abuse. The Utah Legislature has provided you with an avenue to seek immediate protection for you and your children. You may approach the Court directly through a Legal Aid office in your County, or come in to our office to see one of our experienced attorneys to assist you with the preparation of the necessary Protective Order paperwork and represent you at the hearing of this matter before a Court Commissioner or a Judge.
A Protective Order can:
- Order the Respondent not to harm the Petitioner, the Petitioners children or anyone who lives with the Petitioner.
- Order the Respondent to stay away from the Petitioner and the Petitioners home, job, vehicle or school, and not to contact or harass the Petitioner in any way.
- Order the Respondent not to have any guns or other weapons.
- Order temporary possession of the home, car and essential personal property.
- Order temporary custody, part-time and support for the children.
- Order temporary spousal support if the Petitioner and Respondent are married.
- Order the children not to be removed from Utah.
The police can arrest the Respondent for not obeying the Protective Order. Then the judge can order the Respondent to pay a fine or go to jail or both.
A Protective Order is not a substitute for divorce. Permanent child custody, parent time and support and permanent division of property require a divorce decree.
If You Are Responding to a Protective Order: As you are aware, if you have been served with an "Ex Parte Protective Order," these Court Orders are entered without the ability of the person served with such an order to provide any input to the Court. This system, which was set up to protect those persons in real danger of physical abuse with a way to receive immediate protection.
This system of immediate protection is, however, often used to force one parent out of the marital residence and gain an unfair advantage in a custody dispute between the parents. It is at this critical juncture that the advise of a seasoned professional, such as the attorneys at T.R. Spencer & Associates, P.C., can be most beneficial to you, a potential client. The staff and attorneys at T.R. Spencer & Associates, P.C., have significant legislative and courtroom experience in Protective Order cases, and can help you and your children get through this process.
It is important for your case that you bring with you as much information as possible concerning your relationship with your former spouse or significant other. Documents such as tax returns, pay stubs. children school and medical records, the parties criminal history records and other information which will shine a light on the parent's relationship can be extremely valuable responding to an Ex Parte Protective Order.
Please call our office today with the specifics of your case, as time limits to respond are often short. One of our attorneys can be reached at 801-566-1884.