Legal matters involving families can be emotional and painful for all parties. Whether the issue involves child custody, spousal support, or paternity suits, family law is fraught with difficult questions that must be handled with sensitivity. If you live in Sandy, Utah and are considering a divorce, it is important to contact an experienced Sandy divorce attorney who can help ensure that your interests are protected.
We also help individuals who are involved any other family law dispute to ensure you have qualified representation for any other legal matter your family may be involved in.
What We Do as Sandy Divorce Attorneys
In Utah, divorce is defined as a separation of marital and legal ties that ends all of the relationships between two people. When a couple decides to separate, there are many concerns which both parties have and which the State imposes on divorcing individuals. From financial concerns to child and spousal support, there are many aspects of a separation that can make both sides feel anxious or frustrated. As divorce attorneys in Sandy, we are there to help settle disputes for either side and ensure you are able to achieve the best possible outcome as a result of your separation. Whether you are pursuing alimony, child support, or custody of your children, all of these matters involve complicated intricacies of the law. When you hire us as your professional divorce representation, you are securing a more favorable outcome when it comes to your children, your finances, and your future.
The Divorce Process
Sandy divorce follows a specific process which we help you navigate, regardless the side you are on. The process starts when the petitioner – the spouse first filing for divorce – submits papers with the court. The respondent – the other spouse – has to respond within 21 days (if living in the State of Utah) with an answer and counter petition, at which point they are both required to file final declarations. If the respondent doesn’t answer within the allotted time frame, the case goes into what is called a “default judgement” where the court automatically makes legal decisions without representation of the respondent. If the papers are mutually signed, however, there is a minimal 90 day waiting period during which the couple is expected to resolve matters such as property and debt division, child and spousal support, custody of children, and child support. Utah also requires mandatory divorce education classes for those going through divorce with children.
If any of this process sounded complex or complicated, it is because it is, and this is why we highly recommend obtaining legal counsel and representation from one of our divorce attorneys. There are complicating filings associated with the paperwork for petitioning and answering a lawsuit. When declaring assets and debts, it is vital that everything is accounted for to make you look reputable to the courts. There are specific traits the courts look for to determine child or spouse support and custody of your children. If you miss any of these steps, it could result in you losing a great deal of what is valuable to you, or at the very least hurt your chances of obtaining the most favorable outcomes. Our divorce lawyers in Sandy know the ins and outs of all the laws and paperwork surrounding Utah laws, and we are skilled negotiators so you don’t lose valuable assets or your children.
One of the more difficult aspects of family law involves determining child custody. Ideally, a couple choosing to separate would work together to come up with a joint parenting plan outlining who would have physical as well as legal custody of a child. However, when a couple is unable to reach an amicable agreement, the court will step in and design a custody arrangement that is in the best interests of the child. The factors that determine child custody include some of the following:
- The parent who has been the primary caretaker of the children (i.e. homework, cooks dinner, school activities, doctor appoints etc.)
- The geographic proximity of the parties’ homes
- The child’s preferences (which is taken at greater weight when the child is 14 years and older);
- Whether there is any history of child abuse or domestic violence;
- The physical, psychological, and emotional needs of the child;
- Which parent is most likely to act in the child’s best interests, which includes allowing the child to have frequent contact with the non-custodial parent;
- Whether a pattern of missing, canceling, or denying scheduled parenting time exists;
- The financial abilities of both parties; and
- Each parent’s ability to prioritize the child’s welfare.
There are several custody arrangements which can be made after a divorce, which are generally divided into two categories: 1) physical custody and 2) legal custody. Physical custody, which most people think of in terms of child custody, refers to the physical living location of their children and technically is figured out by how many overnight’s you have the children each year. In Utah to have Joint Physical Custody you must have at least 111 overnights per year. Legal custody, on the other hand, is a parent’s ability to make big life decisions on behalf of their children. Joint Legal Custody is the presumption unless a moving party chooses to provide evidence to the court that Joint Legal Custody is not in the best interest of the children. Depending on the judge’s determination, the court will assign one of the following types of custody arrangements:
- Sole legal and sole physical custody
- Joint legal and joint physical custody
- Joint legal and sole physical custody
- Joint legal and split physical custody. (Each parent has primary custody of at least one of their children).
After considering both parents’ qualifications and willingness to be custodians, the courts will make a final decision in the best interest of the children involved. A divorce lawyer in Sandy will be able to help you gather evidence that corroborates your ability to parent and will be able to negotiate with the other party’s legal counsel to ensure this happens.
Spousal support, also known as alimony, is another important legal issue that often stems from divorce proceedings. Either partner may ask the court for alimony, which may be awarded temporarily or for a longer period of time after the divorce is granted. In determining the amount of alimony to be awarded, the court considers a series of factors, including:
- The financial status of the party who would receive alimony, including any debts;
- The recipient’s earning capacity, which includes a review of past employment history and ability to work;
- The ability of the other spouse to provide support;
- The length of the marriage;
- Which party has custody of any minor children;
- Whether the recipient worked in a business owned by his or her spouse;
- Whether one spouse contributed to increase the other’s skill by paying for his or her education; and
- The fault of the parties in the marriage’s dissolution.
When setting the amount of alimony, the court considers the couple’s standard of living at the time of separation. The award MAY be ordered for a length of time equal to the duration of the marriage. However, the court can make findings to shorten the length of alimony based on several factors.
Other Practice Areas
In addition to divorce representation, our legal team also handles a variety of family-related legal processes or disputes. These include, but are not limited to:
- Child Custody
- Child Support
- Criminal Defense (Adult and Juvenile)
- Department of Child and Family Services (DCFS) Actions
- Domestic Litigation
- Domestic Partnership
- Domestic Violence (Protective Orders)
- Family Law Proceedings
- Juvenile Defense
- Paternity Suits
- Post-Judgment Modifications
- Pre & Postnuptial Agreements
Family law matters can be complex and emotional, so if you live in the Sandy area and are involved in a legal dispute concerning child custody, spousal support, or another family law-related matter, it is vital to retain the services of an experienced attorney. Please contact Jill L. Coil at Coil Law, LLC by calling (801) 876-5808 to schedule an initial consultation.