Family Law FAQS
What can I expect in a divorce?
Divorce is the legal process used to sever a lawful marriage in the United States. Although divorce actions can be very challenging, mentally, physically and emotionally, a good lawyer can greatly ease the pain and protect your rights to a just determination of custody over minor children and a fair and equitable division of assets such as your home, land, cars, boats or ATVs, bank accounts, stocks, bonds, 401(k)s, timeshare interests, etc.
The divorce process begins with a “petition” for divorce. Generally, the Petition is followed a temporary order to govern the relationship until a final decree is obtained. Depending upon the degree of conflict, a divorce can take three to 24 months or longer. Mediation is required in Utah, and when custody is challenged, the court will often require a custody evaluation, too.
When there is a dispute over custody, alimony, child support or the division of real or personal property, it is recommended that each party retain legal counsel to ensure that their rights are protected to the full extent allowable.
Stevens & Gailey, P.C. is well-experienced in contentious divorce actions, and our goal is to assist you through the legal pitfalls associated with divorce actions. Call us today for a free consultation.
Will I lose my children?
The courts abhor the loss of parental rights, and custody is generally a highly contested matter. Either parent can be awarded either sole or joint physical custody and/or sole or joint legal custody, with varying degrees of parental rights associated with each combination. The determination of custody relies on numerous legal factors, centered around the best interest of the minor children. The custody determination will control the amount of time you can spend with the minor children, making this the most challenging legal issue in a divorce action. I will assist you to present your arguments in favor of parental custody in a manner that is most meritorious before the court.
Will I lose my property?
Generally, real and personal property is equitably allocated between the parties. Debts and future obligations are also equitably allocated, weighing the mutual support each party has offered during the marriage. Considerations of alimony, taxes, medical costs, education and child support weigh into the division of property and often the court will require one party to make monthly payments to the other party to offset costs of living and income disparity. Unfortunately, one party may hold title, bank accounts or other assets solely, and often assets and income are hidden from the other party to gain advantage in a divorce. The funding of legal fees can often overwhelm a party who has no access to assets or income. A skilled attorney will ensure that all assets and income are located, secured and equitably divided and will protect your ability to cover future costs of living and costs associated with supporting your children.
Do we have to go to trial and how much is this all going to cost?
No. Only a very small percentage of Utah divorces end up in litigation or trial. Most divorces ultimately settle. Parties with good legal guidance and direction eventually reach a compromise and the divorce is finalized via a stipulated agreement. That can happen fairly quickly with good counsel. Unfortunately, with the many legal factors and varying degrees of contention between the parties, that sometimes only becomes evident later, as the full cost of a divorce cannot be estimated. However, in today’s economy, every penny matters. We will not waste your money with frivolous advice. We will represent you with honesty and integrity, and will be upfront about the costs and expenses.
Will I get child support and if so, how much?
The parent with whom the child does not live, called the “noncustodial parent,” is required to pay child support. The amount to be paid is calculated by using state tables and is dependent on the number of children the parties have together, the custody arrangement (joint or sole) between the parents and the incomes of each parent. If one parent is unemployed, that parent is nevertheless assumed to be earning a minimum wage. Both parents are held responsible to support each child. The Office of Recovery Services (ORS) will assist in collecting child support if the parent responsible for paying is salaried. Otherwise, more extensive collection efforts may be required. If you are not receiving child support, we can help you obtain an interim order to provide you with relief within just a few weeks. Even if the responsible party is out of state, there are federal laws that assist with obtaining child support from a deadbeat parent residing outside of Utah. The action can be filed in Utah, but can be implemented against the responsible parent in another state. We have the legal resources to help you obtain the relief you need.