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Payson Utah Divorce Attorney

Payson Utah Divorce Attorney

Payson, Utah County is located about sixty miles south of Salt Lake City and nestles against the foothills of the southern Wasatch Range. It was colonized by a group of sixteen Mormon pioneers who settled near Peteetneet Creek in October 1850. They included James Pace, Andrew Jackson Stewart, John Courtland Searle, and their families. The settlement, which had been known as Peteetneet Creek, was renamed Payson in 1851 after James Pace. Payson was incorporated as a city on 21 January 1853. The settlement at that time included Spring Lake Villa to the south and Summit (Santaquin) to the southwest. There were two major breaches of the peace between the native Ute Indians and the settlers during the early years. In July 1853 what became known as the Walker War began when an Indian shot and killed a guard outside of the fort at Payson.

Skirmishes and encounters between the factions continued until May 1854 when a treaty of peace was entered into with Chief Wakara. Ten years of comparative peace followed. In June 1865 a treaty was established which stipulated that the Utes would be relocated on a reservation that had been established in Uintah County in eastern Utah. Chief Black Hawk and his followers were not willing to move and remained in Sanpete County. Conflict resulted and the ensuing Black Hawk War lasted for two years until a peace treaty was negotiated. Payson primarily has been a farming community. Principal crops have always been grass hay, which the pioneers found growing wild when they arrived, lucerne (alfalfa), and grains such as wheat, barley, oats, and corn; beets, potatoes, and onions have also been grown. Cattle, sheep, and hogs are also raised in the area. As the area grew, the supply of water became inadequate. However, additional water that became available following the construction and development of the Strawberry Reservoir brought new life to the area, with an increase in population and industrial development.

Payson, like other Mormon communities in Utah Territory, was nearly self-supporting. The people produced their own food and clothing, milled their own flour, operated their own sawmills, manufactured their own shingles, adobe bricks, and furniture. A millinery shop was established in 1906 and a floral shop in 1917. New industries continued to be established over the years, including manufacturing plants of motor homes, campers and trailers, and fiberglass boats. While Mormons still predominate, religious diversity is found in Payson. The early settlers were members of the original Payson Ward, organized in 1851. There are now four LDS stakes in the Payson area, with a total of twenty-seven wards within these stakes. The Presbyterian Church established a mission and school in 1877. The school became known as one of the organization’s best and largest schools, with pupils attending from both Presbyterian and Mormon homes. The school continued in operation until 1910, but church services were continued long after that. The population of Payson has grown from 427 persons in 1851 to 3,998 in 1950, 4,501 in 1970, and 9,510 in 1990. Payson’s largest private employer is Mountain View Hospital, with over 400 employees, followed by Rayloc with more than one hundred. There are two elementary schools, a junior high school, middle school, and high school in the city.

Property and Debt in a Divorce or Legal Separation

The property and debts part of a divorce or legal separation is often so complicated and the cost of making a mistake is so high that you should talk to a lawyer before you file your papers, especially if you have anything of value (or if you have significant debt). Keep in mind you may not need to hire a lawyer to take on your entire divorce or legal separation, just the property and debt portion of your case.

Understanding Property

Property is anything that can be bought or sold, like:
• A house,
• Cars,
• Furniture, or
• Clothing.
Property is also anything that has value, like:
• Bank accounts and cash,
• Security deposits on apartments,
• Pension plans,
• 401(k) plans,
• Stocks,
• Life insurance that has cash value,
• A business, or
• A patent.

When you get divorced or legally separated, the court makes decisions about how to divide the property that the spouses or domestic partners bought during the marriage. Even if you do not want to deal with these issues or if you divided your property informally when you separated, the court still needs to make a formal order about these issues. This does not mean that you have to go in front of a judge to decide these issues. Often, couples are able to divide their property (and their debts) by agreement. But when you get divorced, the judge has to sign off on that agreement. Until that happens, the property you got during the marriage or domestic partnership belongs to the 2 of you, no matter who is using it or who has control of it. The same is true of debts. If you divide them between you without a court order (or without a judge signing off on your agreement), the debt continues to belong to the 2 of you and you are both responsible for it, even if the 2 of you split it up informally. To understand how to divide your property and debt so you can finalize your divorce or legal separation, you have to understand how property laws work in Utah when a couple is married or in a domestic partnership.

Community Property and Separate Property

Property that the couple acquires during marriage/partnership is “community property.” And debt that the couple acquires during the marriage/partnership also belongs to the “community debt.” Community property generally is everything that spouses or domestic partners own together. It includes everything you bought or got while you were married or in a domestic partnership — including debt — that is not a gift or inheritance. Community property also includes all the earnings that either spouse or partner (or both of you) earned during the marriage and everything bought with those earnings. You can usually tell if property belongs to the community by looking at the source of the money that was used to buy it. If the purchase money was earned during the marriage, the property belongs to the community. Community property includes all financial obligations (debts) accumulated during your marriage or domestic partnership. This is true even if the debt was incurred by only 1 of you, or even if a credit card was in the name of 1 spouse or partner only. In Utah, each spouse or partner owns one-half of the community property. And, each spouse or partner is responsible for one-half of the debt. Community property and community debts are usually divided equally. You may have more community property than you realize. For example, you may not know that if your spouse or partner has a pension plan, you have the right to part of the money in that plan if any of it was earned during your marriage or domestic partnership. You may also have more community debts than you realize. Your spouse or partner may have gotten into debt in his or her own name that you are not aware of. If the debt was incurred during your marriage or domestic partnership, it belongs to you too.
Quasi-community property is any type of property that was acquired by either one or both spouses or domestic partners when living in another state that, had it been acquired while living in any county, it would have been considered community property. In other words, if you or your spouse or partner were living outside of Utah during your marriage or partnership, and you had any earnings, bought any real estate, or acquired any other type of property that in Utah would be community property, that property is called quasi-community property. And, in a divorce or legal separation in Utah, it will be treated as community property.

Separate Property

Separate property is anything you have that you owned before you were married or before you registered your domestic partnership. Inheritances and gifts to 1 spouse or domestic partner, even during the marriage or domestic partnership, are also separate property. Rents, profits, or other money you earn from your separate property is also separate property. And property you buy with separate property is also separate property. Separate property is also anything that you acquire after the date of separation, including money you earn. This is one of the reasons why the date of separation is so important. It can determine whether certain property or debt is community or separate property. If you have separate property, it belongs only to you, as long as it was kept separately. Debts can be separate property too, such as credit cards you might get after the date of separation. Always look at the source of the money used to buy an item. In this way, you can decide if the item is separate property or community property. Sometimes things are part separate property and part community property. This is called “commingling” because the separate property and community property have become mixed together. When property is a combination of separate or community property, it can get very complicated to figure out how to divide it.

A common situation is when one party owned a house before the marriage or domestic partnership and then sold it and used the proceeds as a down payment on another house after getting married, or after registering a domestic partnership. The down payment for this new house would be considered separate property (since the money came from selling a house that one person owned before the marriage or partnership). But, if the mortgage payments on the new house are made during the marriage or partnership using the earnings of either one of you, the equity (value) resulting from paying down the house loan is community property. The result is that the equity in the house is commingled. Another common situation happens when you or your spouse/partner has a pension or retirement benefit from a job held before and during the marriage. The contributions you each made to your pension before the marriage or registered domestic partnership are separate property. The contributions made after the date of marriage or registration of the domestic partnership and before you separated are community property. After you separate, those contributions go back to being separate property. Exactly how the pension is divided is complicated and you may need an expert in pension plans to help you figure it out. In some situations, if you each have a pension, you both may be able to keep your own pension. But you need to be sure of the value of each pension. In general, when either spouse/partner has a pension, a lawyer’s help is necessary. First, a pension can be one of the most valuable assets you have from your marriage or domestic partnership. Second, the special rules that apply to pensions are very technical and do not apply to any other kind of asset. A pension plan must be “joined” as a party in your divorce case before a judge will issue an order about how the pension will be divided. That court order is called a qualified domestic relations order, or QDRO. If you make an error, there could be harmful results. It is worth paying a lawyer to correctly prepare the QDRO for you.

Annulments and Divorces In Payson, Utah

An annulment is a court order that declares a marriage void. The legal effect is that the marriage is deemed to have never occurred. Divorce is the legal mechanism for terminating a marriage. In a divorce, there is community property that the court will divide between the spouses. In an annulment, there is no community property because there was no valid marriage. The court will still, if necessary, decide which individual is the rightful owner of any property that was held or acquired during the voided marriage.

Grounds For An Annulment

Utah is a no fault divorce state which means that divorce is available to either spouse at any time for any reason. However, annulments are only available in limited circumstances.

Annulments are available in Payson for the following reasons:
I. The marriage involved someone between the ages of 16 and 18 and it occurred without parental consent.
II. The person seeking the annulment was under the influence of alcohol or drugs and did not possess the requisite mental capacity to consent to the marriage.
III. Either party was impotent at the time of the marriage or the person seeking the annulment was unaware at the time of the marriage.
IV. The person seeking the annulment was subject to fraud, duress, or force in entering into the marriage.
V. The person seeking the annulment did not have the mental capacity to enter into a marriage relationship.
VI. If the other party concealed a divorce that was final within 30 days of the date of the marriage and the party seeking the annulment files within the first year of marriage.
VII. If the marriage occurred within 72 hours of the issuance of the marriage license and the party seeking annulment files within the first 30 days of the marriage.

Free Initial Consultation with Lawyer

It’s not a matter of if, it’s a matter of when. Legal problems come to everyone. Whether it’s your son who gets in a car wreck, your uncle who loses his job and needs to file for bankruptcy, your sister’s brother who’s getting divorced, or a grandparent that passes away without a will -all of us have legal issues and questions that arise. So when you have a law question, call Ascent Law for your free consultation (801) 676-5506. We want to 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

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