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A Guide to Right of Refusal in Utah

Utah’s right of first refusal is a long name for a simple but important concept in child custody cases. Utah courts should assume that parent care is better than non-parent care when making child custody decisions. As a result, the right of first refusal means that if the child’s parent cannot watch the child for more than a specific time period, then the parent must offer care to the other parent. The principle behind Utah’s right of first refusal is that parents should provide as much care for their children as possible. The right of the first refusal becomes an essential issue in many child custody and parent-time order cases and disputes.

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Divorce and the Right to Know: A Legal Guide for Utah Residents

During the divorce process, spouses need to deal with important money matters like child support, alimony, and property division. Individuals who file for divorce in Utah must truthfully and accurately disclose a significant amount of financial information on a detailed legal form called the Financial Declaration. As an individual seeking a divorce, you have a right to know an in-depth accounting of the other spouse’s finances. Dividing the property equitably requires the court to have a detailed knowledge of both spouses’ financial situation.

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utahdivorceattorney

December 8, 2021

10 Things to do Before You File for a Divorce

1. Never Threaten to Divorce Until You Are Ready To File
By doing this your partner may start divorce-planning by moving assets, positioning themselves with the children, or hiring an attorney. This could hurt you and/or your partner. Take your time to plan things carefully and then file for divorce when you have your affairs in order.

2. Organize Your Documents
Being organized and efficient will save you money. If you hand over a bunch of messy documents, files, and personal information, your attorney will have to spend more time organizing all that information. This of course means more money to your attorney. Gather every important document that you can find and make copies of each. Look for your past tax returns, bank statements, check registers, investment statements, retirement account statements, employee benefits handbooks, life insurance policies, mortgage documents, financial statements, credit card statements, family trusts, Social Security statements, stock grants, automobile titles, among other documents. If your spouse is self-employed, it is essential to gather as much information as possible about the finances of his or her business. Make copies of any useful financial information stored on your home computer or lying around the house.

3. Make your Children the Focus
Divorce has a major impact divorce has on children, so we advise that you be measured regarding the decisions you make and your behavior throughout the process.Do not involve the children in the battle. Do not talk badly about the other spouse in front of your children, and do not ask them to take sides. It is not fair and will create emotional problems for them. If you are balanced and together, your children will be as well. Plan how you expect to divide the parenting time with the other parent. We can advise on the nuances of raising healthy children through the divorce process.

4. Make Sure You Have Three Months of Financial Resources
Make sure that you have sufficient funds saved to pay for your expenses ideally for at least three months if you are the spouse with limited access to financial resources. Many spouses become spiteful when the divorce starts and may cut you off financially. Although your attorneys can get you financial support, it will take time to do so.

5. Obtain the Best Legal Advice You Can Get
This is not the time to cut corners or to trust everything your spouse tells you. It’s wise to ask friends or family for recommendations. Do your research and read reviews. Research whether your attorney has the skills and reputation to assist you in the divorce. It is critical to have the best representation during this tough time in your life. You should be immediately suspicious if your spouse advises you not to seek legal counsel.

6. Make Sure You Have Available Credit
Apply for your own credit card because your spouse may cut access to your credit card when you file for divorce. Having available credit will allow you to pay for things while your attorneys work to get court orders concerning temporary financial support.

7. Have a Safety Plan If There Is Any History or Risk Of Domestic Violence
Of course we hope it doesn’t happen but violence can escalate when you leave your spouse. However, don’t be encouraged to file a protection order unless it is really necessary. Cases that start out with the filing of a protection order excluding your spouse from the home and children often turn out to be some of the most highly contested cases. Using this as a weapon can sometimes cost you in the long run. Every decision in a divorce will have long-lasting ramifications on your life so you must be sure to obtain the best representation and advice possible. We can help guide you through this thicket of problems.

8. Possession Is 9/10th’s of the Law
Possession can be nine-tenths of the law as to the custody of children. Unless there is a good reason to separate quickly, it is much smarter to remain with possession of the children until you work out a temporary parenting plan. Make sure that you know the children’s teachers, counselors, doctors, and other professionals. The last thing you want is to have the school teacher tell an evaluator that they do not know what you look like and have never met you.

9. Surround Yourself With Supportive Family And Friends
You will need all the help and support you can get. We advise you consider seeing a therapist during and after the divorce.

10. Try to Remain Civil And Treat Your Spouse With Respect
You may have to attend weddings, graduations, and funerals with them in the future. Avoid making statements in anger. Never send emails or text messages when you are angry or upset. These will come back to haunt you in the divorce proceedings. Remember that this will be a tough experience, but you will get through it and will become empowered in the process.

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Utah Child Support Worksheet

In the United States, each state has laws governing how child support should be paid from one parent to another parent. Different states consider different factors when determining how much the parent paying child support will need to pay each month. While every state uses different factors slightly differently, a few significant factors will play a role in calculating child support in Utah. Understanding how child support is calculated will help you defend your right. If you have questions or concerns about how child support will be calculated in your case, we recommend discussing them with one of the experienced Salt Lake City divorce attorneys at Read Law.

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Divorce and Non-Disparagement Agreements

We look forward to passing down traditions from one generation to the next as we approach the holidays. Our families will be celebrated, we will embrace togetherness, and we will hope for the future. Unfortunately, for those who have gone through a divorce or are still in the process of getting divorced, the holidays can be difficult. Many parents struggle to adjust to their new reality as single parents. They may try to hold on to traditions or create new ones to meet their new circumstances. Sadly, sometimes holiday gatherings can now feel like an interrogation into their choices, their lives, or even a public bashing of the person they once loved and were married to. (more…)

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utahdivorceattorney

November 3, 2021

Crossroads: Alimony Equality

“The Supreme Court ruled that alimony is gender neutral in 1979. But, to some, women having to dole out spousal support still comes as a shock.”

This is an interesting article from the New York Times b

When it comes to alimony, the law is blind to gender. “What’s good for the goose is good for the gander, that’s how family law works,” said Laura Wasser, the California lawyer representing the singer Kelly Clarkson in her high-profile divorce.

Even though the Supreme Court ruled that alimony is gender neutral in 1979, Ms. Wasser said that women have still been surprised to find themselves doling out spousal support. “What amazes me is that many bright and sophisticated women don’t realize they will have to pay,” said Ms. Wasser, declining to comment directly on Ms. Clarkson’s case.

Ms. Clarkson and Brandon Blackstock, an entertainment agent, split in 2020 after seven years of marriage. Despite a prenuptial agreement recently upheld in a Los Angeles court, Mr. Blackstock has been awarded temporary monthly spousal support of nearly $150,000, half of his initial ask. (Though he stated that he planned to exit the entertainment industry to become a full-time rancher on a Montana property owned by Ms. Clarkson, the ranch was awarded to her as per the couple’s prenuptial agreement.)

In addition to the monthly spousal support paid by Ms. Clarkson, Mr. Blackstock also receives child support of around $45,000 per month, despite Ms. Clarkson having been awarded primary physical custody of their two children.

This might seem like a lot, but according to documents filed in Los Angeles Superior Court, Ms. Clarkson’s monthly income is $1.9 million. She follows in the wake of other female stars whose settlements were way steeper: Madonna, Elizabeth Taylor, Rosanne Barr, Kirstie Alley and Janet Jackson have all paid hugely in their divorces.

Public response to the breakup has not been favorable to Mr. Blackstock who, on Twitter, has been called out as a “parasite,” and “an opportunist,” among other unprintable names. One sentiment echoed in many comments: “What kind of man sues his ex-wife for spousal support when he’s perfectly capable of maintaining his lifestyle on his own salary?”

Part of the shock over such settlements, according to Alexandra Killewald, a sociology professor at Harvard who studies the effects of unequal earning on relationships, may be influenced by preconceived notions about gender. “Our culture expects men to be the primary breadwinners and there are simply more options for women for part-time work or to take time for child rearing,” Ms. Killewald said.

Another reason that men being awarded alimony can come as a surprise is because it doesn’t happen that often.

According to a 2019 study of census data by the Urban Institute, a nonprofit research group, half of United States households are headed by women, on average. While national statistics on alimony aren’t tracked, Michael Mosberg, a New York-based lawyer and the former chairman of the American Bar Association’s family law section, said that despite an increase in stay-at-home husbands, far more women than men seek and receive spousal support.

“The law is written to be gender neutral and blind, but that it isn’t always the case,” said Mr. Mosberg, speaking on his own behalf. “More women are now working in prestigious positions, and more husbands are staying home with the kids, but men receiving support is still the exception rather than the rule.”

Judges often scrutinize men more harshly during their bid for support, reflecting the bias that assumes men are, or should be, breadwinners, said Brendan Hammer, a Chicago-based lawyer. “Judges may also ask for a job diary, to prove that the husband is trying to earn what he did formerly, or even a living wage,” he said.

Elizabeth Lindsey, the president of the American Association of Matrimonial Lawyers, said in her experience, judges often awarded men less support for shorter durations while expecting them to return to the job market faster than women.

“There is a growing trend away from long-term alimony,” she said, noting that in Georgia, where she currently practices law, courts may still award lifetime support. “Over all, spousal support is meant to rehabilitate and retool the under-earning or out-of-work spouse,” Ms. Lindsey added.

Men who have landed in a dependent position say they’ve found themselves there for various reasons.

When Glenn Smith married in 2014, he became a stepparent to two teenage boys. His wife, a tax lawyer, was the high earner of the couple and he soon gave up his career selling insurance to take care of the boys, he said. The relationship fell apart in 2020 and the divorce was finalized in early 2021. He receives $2,000 in monthly spousal support, something that will continue for two and a half years.

“For seven years I worked hard: I did the shopping, cooking, driving the kids and taking care of the house,” he said. “This small amount of monthly support provides me with wiggle room to relaunch my career.”

Dax Roggio, a video editor and designer, married his longtime girlfriend in 2014, separated in 2019, and finalized his divorce in 2020.

His wife, a lawyer, was positioned to be the high earner of the family, so when she became pregnant with the first of their two children, he was an obvious choice to be the stay-at-home parent. In their divorce, which was mediated, both agreed to 50-50 custody of their children, now 8 and 5, and that Mr. Roggio would receive child support and alimony.

It took some time for the couple to come to an agreement on the duration of the payments, but they settled on Mr. Roggio receiving alimony for three years, a span that “will give me a chance to grow my business while maintaining the flexibility to spend time with my kids,” he said. “I don’t feel shame about receiving alimony, I wouldn’t trade the time I had with my kids for anything, but that’s not to say it was easy.”

Mr. Hammer said that pride can be an issue for men when it comes to seeking alimony because they often view being supported by a former spouse as emasculating. To sidestep the embarrassment of being dependent, equity and assets may be leveled in other ways, including one-time upfront payouts. But such buyouts carry risks.

“You might pay more than what would have been paid over time,” said Kelly Frawley, a lawyer based in New York, who added that monthly spousal support ceases if the payee lives with or remarries a new partner.

Pamela Tracy is a lawyer at the America Divorce Association for Men, a Detroit law firm specializing in defending men’s rights. With her clients she is often on the asking side of support, but in her own divorce, settled in 2009, she was ordered to pay five years of alimony to her former spouse. Throughout her 15-year marriage she was the primary, and often sole, breadwinner.

Her husband cared for their four children, who ranged in age from 4 to 11 at the time of their divorce. But the division of labor was unclear: She said she still managed the bulk of the children’s social, medical and educational needs along with many of the household chores. While the court ordered her to pay five years of spousal support, after two years she took custody of the children full time. She then stopped paying both child and spousal support.

“As hard as it was to write those checks, it was fair, he needed money to get started with his own life,” Ms. Tracy said.

Recent changes in family law have further disrupted the balance of alimony payments. After President Trump’s Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 went into effect, alimony ceased being tax deductible for the paying spouse. Instead, the recipient now receives support as tax-free income.

Some think the entire support system is flawed. “No one wants to pay alimony, but women hate it times 10,” said Emma Johnson, the author of “The Kick-Ass Single Mom” whose blog, Wealthysinglemommy, addresses economic issues for divorced women. Ms. Johnson believes spousal support prolongs problems for everyone involved.

“It’s hard to move on when there’s a monthly reminder of your resentment,” she said. “Equal rights mean equal responsibilities, why is anybody in this day and age paying anyone else’s rent?”

Please contact one of our attorneys at Read Law to receive experienced advice on alimony obligations.

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October 25, 2021

A Guide to Annulment Laws in Utah

In limited circumstances, Utah courts can order an annulment of a marriage. In many respects, seeking an annulment is similar to seeking a divorce, but annulment and divorce are different legal processes. In an annulment, the court states that the marriage never existed in the first place. Annulments are different from divorces, which end a marriage. Utah residents may choose to pursue an annulment rather than a divorce for financial, social, and religious consequences over a divorce. There are many misconceptions surrounding annulments that we hope to clear up in our Utah annulment guide.

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Can a Divorce Attorney Subpoena Snapchat, Facebook, and Text Messages?

If you are considering getting divorced, or you are going through the process of getting divorced, you may be wondering whether your social media accounts and messages will remain private. Many people are surprised to learn that a divorce attorney can subpoena Snapchat, Facebook, and text messages. Divorce lawyers can subpoena information from any application where messages are stored or compelled to obtain this information.

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October 11, 2021

Are Divorce Laws More Favorable to Women? Setting the Facts Straight

If you are considering getting divorced in Utah, you may be wondering if the divorce laws favor women. Perhaps you have started a business, and you are concerned that your soon-to-be ex-wife will automatically take more of your marital property because she is a woman. Asking whether Utah courts favor women or men in divorce is a legitimate question, but the answer has become muddied by commercial interests. Some law firms spend their entire marketing budget attempting to convince anyone who will listen. They target men in their advertising, claiming that men will never get a fair day in court in divorce and child custody matters. In reality, Utah judges are not allowed to treat women more favorably than men or vice versa when deciding family law matters. Most divorces involve two different key parts — dividing the assets and determining child custody.

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What are Fathers’ Rights for Child Visitation in Utah?

In Utah, fathers have rights and privileges, which include being able to spend time with their children through visitation. Husbands are presumed to be the father of any children born to their wives during the marriage. During a divorce, it is necessary for fathers to invoke their rights to enjoy child visitation benefits. Under Utah law, fathers have the exact same rights to child custody and visitation as mothers do. When determining a parenting plan, judges must consider multiple factors and decide what type of plan is in the children’s best interest. 

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