Salt Lake City Divorce Lawyer Represents Clients Throughout Utah
Reports show that someone who gets married in Utah is less likely to get divorced than someone in any other state. Still, more than 15 percent of Utah marriages end in divorce and many people stay in unhealthy relationships because they are wary of the legal process. However, with an experienced, trustworthy divorce lawyer by your side, you can protect your interests as you go through an important transition. In Salt Lake City, Victoria Cramer, a member of the Pia Hoyt firm, stands out as a proven, ethical and highly professional divorce lawyer. She understands that going through a divorce can be the toughest challenge of your life, and therefore strives to meet your needs by listening intently to your questions and concerns, and offering advice that is sound and tailored to your situation.
What are grounds for divorce in Salt Lake City, Utah?
To file for divorce in Utah, you must meet the residency requirement. You or your spouse are required to live in one of several Utah counties for at least three months prior to filing the petition for divorce. There are several fault-based grounds for divorce, such as adultery, cruelty and desertion. Petitioners who allege marital misconduct must be prepared to prove their allegations in court, which increases the cost of the case. Typically, the easier and less contentious path is to file a no-fault petition, requesting that the marriage be dissolved based on irreconcilable differences between the spouses.
The divorce process in Utah
Before a court can issue an order dissolving a marriage, the spouses must either reach a marital settlement agreement or go to trial to obtain a decision on or more of these issues: alimony, child custody, child support and the division of marital property. The legal marriage dissolution process can include the following stages:
- Divorce petition — To obtain a divorce in Utah, one spouse must file a Petition for Divorce in district court. Attorneys usually draw up these documents for the Petitioner (also known as the Plaintiff). The Petition requests a dissolution of the marriage along with certain terms for alimony, child custody, child support and property distribution. The initial petition is usually a wish list from which to begin negotiations. The Petitioner must arrange for someone to serve the Respondent spouse with a copy of the Petition and a court summons.
- Answer — The Respondent (also known as the Defendant) has 21 days to file an Answer if Respondent resides in Utah. The Answer is generally a counteroffer of terms for dissolving the marriage. Some parties are able to reach a settlement agreement quickly, which they can present to the court to avoid a trial. If there are areas of dispute, the court will require you to go through mediation before trial.
- Temporary motions — Parties may request a temporary court order addressing child custody, visitation, child support and the allocation of marital assets while the divorce is pending. The court holds a hearing before ruling on the motion.
- Discovery — Once a lawsuit is filed, parties must exchange information pertinent to the case. Discovery empowers you to demand answers to questions and documents you don’t have access to. Rule 26.1 of the Utah Rules of Civil Procedure requires mandatory disclosures of income and production of two years of tax returns.
- Mediation — In Utah, all contested cases have to be mediated before a licensed mediator. Many divorces are settled at this stage.
- Pre-trial conferences — If your case is not resolved in mediation, the court schedules a pre-trial conference. At this conference, if there is still no settlement, the judge sets the trial date.
- Trial — Only a very small percentage of divorce cases go to trial. You might require a trial on a single issue, in which case, the hearing may only last a few hours. Or you might have several complex issues that require weeks to be heard. The Petitioner presents evidence first by calling witnesses and submitting evidence. Once the Petitioner rests, it is the Respondent’s turn to make his or her case. After both sides have presented their side, the court may permit the Petitioner to present a rebuttal to the Respondent’s evidence. Most lawyers do not use opening or closing arguments in divorce trials, but some courts do allow them.
After trial, the judge considers the evidence and issues a ruling. The judge will then issue a final divorce decree, dissolving the marriage.
Utah child custody matters
If parents cannot agree on child custody terms in settlement negotiations or mediation, the court will make a decision based on the best interests of the child. The judge considers many factors in making this determination, including the age of the child, the physical and mental health of the parents and any history of domestic violence. The result may be the awarding of full or primary custody to one parent or joint custody between the two parties. It is important to be represented by a skilled and knowledgeable Salt Lake City family law attorney capable of arguing persuasively for the result you seek.
Child support information
Parents are required by law to support their minor children regardless of the relationship between them. The Utah Child Support Guidelines determine the amount of a parent’s support obligation. The three key components of the guidelines are:
- Base child support
- Medical care costs
- Childcare expenses
Diligent legal representation from a careful and attentive Salt Lake City divorce lawyer will help you pursue a proper determination of support. Care must be taken to ensure that both parties are accurately reporting their income, particularly in complex situations where one spouse is self-employed, owns part of a business or has complicated assets such as stock options and profit-sharing plans.
How long do you have to be separated before you can file for divorce in Utah?
There is no separation requirement prior to filing for divorce in Utah. However, there is a 30-day waiting period after the filing.
How many years do you have to be married to get alimony in Utah?
Under Utah law, alimony can be ordered no matter how long the marriage lasted. Some courts generally award one year of alimony for each year of the marriage as a guideline, but several circumstances can alter that calculation. Along with the duration of the marriage, other important factors used by judges when deciding how long spousal support lasts include the supporting spouse’s ability to pay and ability to earn as well as the dependent spouse’s needs and ability to earn a living or unavailability to work due to child care responsibilities.
How much is a divorce lawyer in Utah?
Like any type of professional, lawyers charge different rates for their services, based on numerous factors. Ms. Cramer’s rates are very reasonable in light of her experience and standing in the legal community. At your initial consultation, you can discuss the fee structure with your prospective Salt Lake City family lawyer.
Contact an experienced divorce attorney in Salt Lake City
If divorce is a solution you are contemplating, Utah family lawyer Victoria Cramer offers knowledgeable, compassionate counsel. Located in Salt Lake City, Utah, her office serves clients in Utah, Salt Lake, Davis, Weber and Tooele counties. Please call (801) 872-8633 or contact her office online to make an appointment.