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Contested Divorce Cases

Contested Divorces

A divorce or other Domestic matter is considered contested if one or both parties are in disagreement over the terms. For example, if you and your spouse cannot agree on a major item such as debt division, property division, custody, etc., you will probably need to have an attorney represent you in a contested divorce action. For contested matters, Utah Legal Clinic requires a minimum initial non-refundable retainer of $2,000.00. Unless other arrangements are made in advance, the full retainer must be paid before any work is begun on your case. Utah Legal Clinic bills against the retainer at an hourly rate of $175.00-$200.00 per hour for attorney time and $75.00-$100.00 per hour for paralegal or law clerk time, plus costs. Once the retainer is exhausted, another retainer may be required. If there are funds remaining after all work have been completed, the remainder of the retainer will be refunded promptly. Going through any type of divorce in Utah can be one of the most difficult times in a person’s life. Not only are you forced to admit that the relationship that you previously depended on didn’t quite work out, but you also have to go through the process of dividing assets and all of the other legal ramifications that go along with such an act.

The process can intensify dramatically both emotionally and monetarily if kids are involved, as well. When the divorce process begins in earnest, you will at some point need to make a very important decision. You’ll need to decide if you and your soon to be former spouse can come to an amicable agreement and settle your divorce or if you’ll need to litigate to get not only what you want, but what you feel you deserve. These two types of divorces are called uncontested divorces and contested divorces, respectively. They have a number of clear differences that shouldn’t be ignored, regardless of whether you’re just beginning the divorce process or if you think that you’re reaching that light at the end of the proverbial tunnel.

The main difference between an uncontested and a contested divorce is that in the former type of scenario, the two parties will go to trial and will present their case to the court to decide the outcome of the divorce proceedings. If you and your former spouse (and both sets of attorneys) were able to reach an agreement that all parties found mutually beneficial and that everyone was happy with, there would be no need to even consider going to trial at any point during the process. If you’re unable to come to an agreement for whatever reason, however, a trial will begin looking more and more likely. One of the most common reasons why two parties would be unable to come to an agreement in this type of situation is because one party doesn’t actually want a divorce at all.

If your spouse previously believed that he or she was part of a happy marriage that had a normal level of ups and downs, they may have been blindsided by your request for separation and then to begin the divorce proceedings. The reverse can also be true: maybe you’re the one that doesn’t actually want a divorce at all, which can make the “come to a mutually beneficial agreement” part of the proceedings exceedingly difficult. For whatever the reason, a court may need to step in during a trial and settle the dispute once and for all. Remember that just because you’re going to trial in this type of situation doesn’t mean that you won’t be getting a divorce if the court rules in favor of the person who didn’t want to begin the process in the first place. Nobody will be forced to stay married even if they don’t want to. What it does mean, however, is that the court will decide how assets are split, what happens to any children who may be a part of the equation and more.

Family Law Court System

Another important thing to understand about taking your divorce to trial is that the court systems won’t always be fair in the strictest sense of the word. Your definition of fair and the definition that the court uses to decide the ultimate fate of your relationship could be two completely different things. One of the many things that a court will consider during a contested divorce is what happens to any children that you may have had with your soon to be ex-spouse in that regard, the courts will delve into the past of each of the two people involved to try to find the best situation possible not for the husband or for the wife, but for the kids. Even if both parents are deemed completely fit to raise kids, for example, one spouse may be awarded primary custody of the children if it is determined that he or she can provide them with a significantly better lifestyle. A number of factors will also be considered by the court when it comes to determining when or even if you will get partial custody of those children. Courts can subpoena documents about your employment history, your criminal background history, your income taxes and more all in an attempt to definitively determine how capable you will be with regards to raising kids either on your own or through sharing custody with your ex spouse. Utah divorce courts can choose to give full custody of kids to one of the parents and refuse to even award visitation rights to the other if they determine that is the best course of action to take. Though you may not necessarily think that is fair, the court doesn’t necessarily hold your opinion in high regard when it comes to the safety and well being of minors in our society.

Asset Distribution

Another important thing that the courts will consider during a contested divorce is asset distribution. This is especially true if one of the people in the marriage makes a significantly larger amount of money than the other. Consider a scenario where you make several hundred thousand dollars a year more than your soon to be ex wife. If you were the primary source of income in a particular household, the court will determine that your wife has a right to continue to live up to the lifestyle standards that she had previously enjoyed while you two were together. They will consider the standard of living for both parties at the time of either trial separation, marriage or the beginning of the contested divorce trial depending on the specifics of the situation in question. As a result, your alimony payments may be larger than average to close that income gap between the two parties. Even if you don’t necessarily think this is fair, it is well within the court’s power to do so. The caveat in this scenario, however, has to do with when that income was actually earned. If you made a significant amount of money in your life prior to your marriage and haven’t made quite as much per year since, the amount of yearly income that will be used to determine alimony payments is normally only those years where the marriage is in full effect. This is true on both sides of a divorce. If you suddenly come into a huge amount of money by way of a new job position, a huge raise or even the lottery after the divorce is finalized, the court cannot retroactively decide to raise your monthly alimony payments as a result.

What if One Party Doesn’t Want a Divorce in Utah?

It is an unfortunate fact of life that sometimes two people just won’t work out together. Just because you don’t want a divorce doesn’t mean that you can somehow force the other party to stop the proceedings – not even the court can prevent someone from divorcing you if they don’t want to be married anymore. No-fault divorces mean that it isn’t up to just you – it’s up to your spouse as well. It’s also important to consider that contesting a divorce could be more costly in the long run, regardless of how much you want the process to stop as quickly as possible. Contesting a divorce means that you’ll be paying a divorce lawyer for a significantly larger amount of time than if you had just tried to work out a settlement as quickly as possible. If the divorce ends up going to trial, you’ll also be looking at a huge amount of money to that divorce lawyer for the normal costs associated with trying that type of case. Even if you don’t want a divorce, it is sometimes better to just embrace the inevitable and try to help the process along as quickly and as smoothly as possible. This is especially true if you don’t have the money to spend on the process to begin with.

What Can a Divorce Lawyer Do to Help Me?

When entering the divorce process, one of the most invaluable tools that you will have at your disposal is an experienced divorce lawyer. Divorce attorneys are there to help you navigate the rough waters of the divorce process using all of their experience and expertise in the subject matter. Statistically speaking, you are likely looking at the first divorce you’ve ever been a part of. A divorce lawyer, on the other hand, will have been intimately involved in hundreds of different cases with nearly every configuration that you can imagine. Your divorce lawyer knows what it takes to get you exactly what you want and what you deserve. He or she can help get you thought the process as quickly and as reasonably as possible without spending too much of your hard earned money or giving up a significant portion of it to a soon to be ex spouse that doesn’t actually deserve it for whatever reason. Utah divorce lawyers are truly here to help.

How Long Will It Take to Finalize a Divorce in Utah?

It may seem like an easy question. But the answer is hardly simple. The truth is no two divorces are the same. Each case and the parties involved have their own unique set of characteristics and circumstances. However, the question does become easier to answer once several factors are taken into consideration.

Factors Determining the Length of Divorce in Utah

Although divorce may seem complex, it can be narrowed down to two categories—contested and uncontested divorce. Uncontested divorce cases are generally the easiest marriages to terminate. Both parties are able to come to mutual agreements on important issues, such as alimony, child support and the division of marital assets. But when it comes contested divorce, the situation becomes more complicated.

Here are some important factors that will ultimately decide the length of your divorce.
• Are you willing to waive minimum waiting period?
• Does your spouse plan to file an appeal after divorce?
• Are you able to obtain a default judgment?
• Are there any children involved?
Facts about the Minimum Waiting Period
In most Utah divorce cases, there is a 90 day minimum waiting period before a divorce can be finalized. However, it can be waived if either party can prove if there are relevant circumstances that are needed to be addressed by the court. To waive the waiting period, a divorce attorney from either party will have to file a petition with the court. Although 90 days is the minimum requirement to terminate a marriage in Utah, some contested divorces can take several years to resolve.

What If My Spouse Does Not Respond to a Divorce Request?

Contested divorce can often get messy from the beginning. In some instances, one spouse may refuse to sign divorce papers. The recipient spouse has 21 days to respond to a divorce request initiated by the petitioner. Should the respondent spouse fail to respond to a divorce request, the petitioner may be awarded a default judgment from the court.

How Children Affect the Divorce Process

When it comes to divorce in Utah, children are an extremely important factor. The ultimate goal of Utah family courts is to decide what is in the best interest of the children. If both parties have children less than 18 years of age, they will be required to attend a divorce orientation and education classes.

Don’t Forget the Appeal Process

Divorce does not end with a decree from the court. Although a settlement may initially signify a finalized divorce, both parties have the opportunity to file for an appeal. Keep in mind, all appeals must be filed within 30 days of the court’s divorce decree. Contested divorce Utah is a divorce where some aspect of the divorce is disputed by one of the spouses. Often these disputes are over the division of property, debt, or other marital assets; however, the dispute can be over the divorce itself. Contested divorce is much more complicated than uncontested divorce because an entire trial is needed in order for the court to resolve disputes. Contested divorce comes with other consequences such as a much longer divorce period, higher legal fees and court fees, and increased stress. Whenever possible, it is recommended that spouses try to resolve conflicts out of court through an Uncontested Divorce

Contested Divorce In Utah

Much of the same basic information provided for uncontested divorce applies to divorce cases that are “contested”. That is, a divorce petition is filed by one spouse and served upon the other spouse by a constable or the Sheriff’s office. Along with that petition is a document called a Summons. The Summons gives directions to the person being served about what they need to do if they do not agree with what is in the petition served upon him or her. If that person does not agree they must file a written “Answer” to the petition with the court clerk and send a copy to the attorney for the person filing the petition.

Temporary Orders

Between the time the divorce action is commenced and the time it is completed the court has the authority to make and enforce Temporary Orders regarding such matters as child support, child custody, alimony, possession of the house, visitation, payment of bills, possession of personal property, etc. These orders are temporary because such matters will be reviewed again at the time of the divorce hearing or trial. Final orders regarding these matters will be entered as part of the divorce decree. If you want to seek custody of your child or children, the time of the divorce action is the time to seek custody, as opposed to seeking custody later after the divorce is completed. The fundamental basis for determining custody is what is in the “best interest of the child”. This can involve numerous elements, and quite often it is necessary to obtain a “Custody Evaluation”. This is almost always required by the court in custody cases. These evaluations are generally performed by psychologists, usually with a Ph.D. degree in psychology. The prices can vary depending upon the evaluator, the number of children involved, the amount of time to be spent, etc. The cost can range from around $1,800.00 up to $5,000.00, with the average running between $3,000.00 to $3,500.00. Obviously, they are expensive, but they are an essential part of a custody case.

Contested Divorce Case Lawyer Free Consultation

When you need legal help for a Contested Divorce Case in Utah, please call Ascent Law LLC for your free consultation (801) 676-5506. We want to help you with your contested divorce.

Michael R. Anderson, JD

Ascent Law LLC
8833 S. Redwood Road, Suite C
West Jordan, Utah
84088 United States
Telephone: (801) 676-5506

Ascent Law LLC

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