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Divorces in Utah

Divorces in Utah

Initially Utah did not allow no fault divorce. However, in 1987, the State of Utah passed a law allowing couples with irreconcilable differences to file for a divorce thereby paving way for the introduction of no fault
divorce in Utah.

Grounds for Divorces in Utah

In Utah, you can file for a divorce on the grounds of irreconcilable differences – no fault. Besides this ground, Utah law permits divorce on the following grounds:
• The husband was impotent at the time of marriage and this was not known to the wife at the time of marriage
• Either spouse engaged in adultery during the marriage.
• One of the spouses has deserted and hasn’t come back for more than a year.
• Failure to provide the other spouse with common necessities of life.
• Other spouse is a habitual drunkard
• Other spouse has been convicted of a felony offence
• The spouse seeking divorce has been subject to cruel treatment resulting in mental distress of bodily injury.
• The spouses have been living separately for at least three years under a separate maintenance decree.
• The other spouse is suffering from permanent and incurable insanity. This must be proved through expert medical testimony.
An experienced Utah divorce attorney can help you determine the grounds for your divorce.

Residency Requirements for Divorce

Utah like many other states has residency requirements for filing a divorce petition. There is a three month residency requirement in Utah. Under this rule either spouse must be residing in a Utah county continuously for at least three months. Speak to an experienced Utah divorce attorney to know if you or your spouse satisfy the Utah residency requirement for filing a divorce petition in Utah.

It’s not what you see on TV

It is a standard scene familiar to all viewers of the gritty, life-in-the‐ urban-jungle police drama….A suspect is arrested and hustled into the interrogation room. Down the hall, detectives huddle, concocting a strategy to coerce, cajole, or trick the suspect into confessing before he “lawyers up.” A competent attorney, the police know, will force them to honor the suspect’s right to avoid self-incrimination and block their attempts to use the suspect’s fears and ignorance of the law against him. The early involvement of a lawyer moves the issue of the suspect’s guilt or innocence out of the volatile pressure cooker of the interrogation room into the highly structured rules-oriented arena of the judiciary—where it belongs.

Divorce is not a criminal matter, but there is an important lesson for divorcing individuals at the core of the “lawyering-up” concept. Instead of making commitments you will deeply regret later, “lawyer up” before you agree to anything. Early consultation with a competent Utah divorce attorney is vital to the protection of their rights. Knowledgeable legal advice can save you years of frustration and thousands of dollars.

Although some marriages shatter suddenly, with literally no warning, the end of most troubled unions comes only after a grueling, arduous ordeal spanning months, or years. Don’t wait for the death rattle. Don’t become a target looking for an arrow. As soon as you realize that your marriage is in danger of coming apart, speak to an experienced Utah divorce attorney.

Discovery Process in Divorces

Pretrial discovery is an important, often critical phase of divorce litigation. If used effectively, the tools of discovery will yield valuable insights into your opponent’s case and unearth vital information supporting your position. An early and aggressive discovery effort can severely restrict your spouse’s ability to raise new allegations later. Also, the discovery phase may intimidate your opponent by making clear the size and shape of the ordeal that lies ahead. And the truckloads of paper rolling back and forth could cause the other side considerable expense.

Interrogatories in a Divorce case

Interrogatories are written questions that your attorney prepares and sends to your spouse’s lawyer. Your spouse is required to answer each of these questions in writing and under oath. Because your spouse’s replies to your interrogatories are the equivalent of sworn testimony, any contradictions between these answers and your spouse’s later statements for the record can be used to attack her credibility.

If your spouse’s divorce petition is vague or misleading, a well‐ crafted set of interrogatories can clarify and crystallize her complaints against you. Additionally, your lawyer will be able to ask for the names, addresses, and the “extent of knowledge” of every witness your spouse plans to call.

Answers to your interrogatories will usually provide your attorney with a valuable preview of your opponent’s case—an essential understanding of what (and who) you are likely to encounter at trial. What you learn in this initial discovery stage will play a significant role in the formulation of your litigation strategy. To expedite the receipt of replies to your interrogatories, your attorney will usually confine the questions posed to a manageable number of specific—and pointed—queries that your spouse should be able to answer simply and directly. A court is much more likely to compel responses to straightforward, relevant interrogatories than to complex, multipart questions.

Requests for Production of Documents in Divorce

Early in the pretrial phase, your attorney will send opposing counsel a formal notice requiring your spouse to produce all documents she has that are relevant to your custody dispute. While the primary function of the request for production is to examine and analyze the documentary evidence your opponent has, you may find material useful to your case as well.

Depositions in Divorce

A deposition is simply the questioning of a subject under oath. The purpose of a deposition is to discover what the subject knows and/or to accumulate evidence designed to impeach (discredit) his or her testimony at trial. The subject of a deposition can be questioned in person or in writing.

Prior to your spouse’s deposition date, you must participate actively in the preparation of questions. Tell your attorney all you know about your former mate’s personality, parental history, blind spots, and vulnerabilities. During your spouse deposition, your role should be limited to assisting your lawyer in reacting to any new information that arises. Your only other duty is to behave yourself.

Prepare yourself in advance to listen silently and dispassionately to bitter attacks on your character and behavior. Remember that a court reporter is recording the proceedings. If your spouse says something vicious, false, or outrageous, do not blow up or come apart. Unless your spouse is its source, you don’t want an abusive emotional outburst to become part of the case’s record.

There is really no reason to become involved in any conversation with your spouse during her deposition. Allow your lawyer to conduct the examination without interruptions.

Finding a Divorce Attorney in Utah

There are attorneys and attorneys. But you want an attorney who specializes in divorce matters. Think of it this way – if you have a kidney problem would you consult an ENT doctor or would you consult a Nephrologist? Both are doctors but a Nephrologist specializes in kidney problems. Likewise a divorce attorney specializes in divorce matters.

There is no foolproof method for locating and choosing an attorney, so plan to spend some time in research and interviews. Because it is an important decision, very likely to shape your future, be thorough, and careful.

One of the most common methods for finding qualified counsel is the use of personal referrals. Ask divorced friends to rate their attorney’s capabilities and performance, especially in custody matters. Ask these friends about their spouse’s attorneys, too. Find out who seemed to have the upper hand in court and in negotiations.

A lawyer who currently represents you personally or in your business, or a friend who is an attorney, may be able to offer useful recommendations. Be aware, however, that a social or business relationship between the recommender and the recommendee may provide the impetus for the referral.

Discussions with Your divorce lawyer

The lawyer will probably ask you to describe your marriage briefly—its length, number of children (and their ages), the state of the family finances, your job, your wife’s job, and so forth. Then the attorney will want a concise history of the events and feelings that led to the decision to divorce. He’ll want to know what both you and your spouse have contributed to the breakup. It’s important that you answer the attorney’s questions as completely and as frankly as possible.

To accurately assess the strengths and weaknesses of what will become your case, the lawyer needs to know all the facts, favorable and unfavorable. The natural tendency to “rewrite” the past must be avoided. Your self-delusion will distort the attorney’s perception of what needs to be done and how easy or difficult it will be to do it.

Be sure to tell the attorney something about your spouse’s character and personality. (In divorce cases, psychological profiles are almost as important as facts.) Also, discuss the children’s personalities, and how you think the divorce will affect them. Make your desire for custody or meaningful parental contact known.

Financial aspects of the impending dissolution must also be examined briefly in the initial interview. Be prepared to answer questions about your income, pension, profit sharing, stock options, property, and other assets.

All competent attorneys are attentive and responsive listeners. Unfortunately, many not-so-competent lawyers are good listeners, too. Don’t evaluate a potential advocate on his listening skills—unless he has none. If the attorney you are interviewing cuts you off in midsentence to launch a heavy-handed lecture about what you and your children really need, cross him off your list immediately.

You don’t want a lawyer who decides unilaterally what to do and then pushes you into doing it. You’ll be much better off with an attorney who understands your goals and offers all feasible legal options for reaching them. Also be wary of lawyers who react to your narrative by not reacting at all. You want an attorney capable of at least professional empathy for your situation.

After the attorney has a basic understanding of your situation, it’s your turn to ask some questions. Your objective is to find out all you can about the attorney’s competence, style, knowledge of the local family courts, availability, and success rate. Ask what percentage of the lawyer’s practice involves domestic relations. Be wary if the total is less than half. Ask what percentage of the lawyer’s cases are settled out of court. If the number is less than 80 percent, it’s possible that the attorney is a bit too fond of combat—and the fees that accrue during prolonged litigation. Conversely, if none of the lawyer’s cases are ever decided at trial, the attorney may be prone to bargaining away your rights rather than asserting them in court.

A lawyer’s availability and accessibility are vital elements of the attorney-client relationship. Try to gauge the size of the lawyer’s workload and determine how frequently the attorney anticipates communicating with you. Because most domestic crises occur late at night or during weekends, find out if the lawyer offers twenty‐ four-hour availability for emergencies.

Near the end of the interview, ask the attorney for a preliminary evaluation of your situation. Beware of the lawyer who assures swift and total victory on all fronts, who declares you doomed as doomed can be, or who has no opinion at all about potential outcomes. Prefer a lawyer who is willing to offer you realistic estimates of your chances of prevailing in the resolution of the various issues expected to be in dispute. These initial impressions will necessarily be general, but they should reflect an understanding of your case and an informed prediction of how local court policies, practices, and attitudes will affect your goals. You need a lawyer who is competent, trustworthy, and reliable.

Why you need an experienced Utah Divorce Attorney

A divorce proceeding can be emotionally stressful. You may not be in a frame of mind to fight the battle alone. Divorce law is complex. A simple slip up can result in serious consequences. Remember ignorance of the law is no excuse. Make sure you are well represented in your divorce proceedings. Seek the assistance of an experienced Utah divorce attorney.

Utah Divorce Attorney Free Consultation

If you have a question about divorce law or if you need to start or defend against a divorce case in Utah call Ascent Law at (801) 676-5506. We will help you.

Michael R. Anderson, JD

Ascent Law LLC
8833 S. Redwood Road, Suite C
West Jordan, Utah
84088 United States

Telephone: (801) 676-5506