If you are going through a divorce, arranging a prenuptial agreement, or thinking about adopting a child into your family, there are many laws and legal procedures you will need to understand and navigate in order to successfully meet your goals. It can be a difficult time, but our experienced Salt Lake City and Utah family law lawyers will guide you, advocate for you, and aggressively defend your rights at each and every step along the way.
Types of Family Law Matters Our Utah Attorneys Handle
Our Utah family law attorneys can help you through a wide variety of legal matters regarding your family life.
Alimony + Spousal Support
Sometimes called spousal support, alimony is essentially a court order which mandates payments from one spouse to the other following a divorce. There are two stubborn myths about alimony:
- “The husband always pays the wife.” This is simply not true, as alimony can flow in both directions. Spousal support is based on finances, not gender.
- “Alimony is just a punishment.” This is also a myth. Alimony is not punitive, and is simply intended to help divorced spouses maintain the standard of living they were accustomed to during the marriage.
Utah’s spousal support laws are covered by 30-3-5. In accordance with 30-3-5, some of the factors the courts will consider when making alimony determinations include:
- The financial needs of the recipient.
- The recipient’s ability to earn income, and the payor’s ability to furnish support.
- How long the marriage lasted.
- Whether there are children who require additional support.
The law also states, “The court may not modify alimony or issue a new order for alimony to address needs of the recipient… unless the court finds extenuating circumstances that justify that action.” In most cases, Utah law limits the duration of alimony to the duration of the marriage itself. Support may also be terminated if the court determines the recipient spouse is living with someone.
Child Custody Battles
As a parent, nothing is more precious to you than being able to spend time with your children, so needless to say, you want the very best custody arrangement you can get. However, the terms of that arrangement ultimately fall to the courts, which means you need an experienced child custody lawyer who can help you secure the most favorable plan possible.
Custody arrangements can be broken down in two ways:
- What type of custody is it? Custody can be legal, or physical. Physical custody refers to where the child will physically spend the majority of his or her time, whereas legal custody refers to making major decisions about the child’s life, such as their medical care and schooling.
- Who has custody? There are three forms of custody: joint (both parents share input), sole (one parent has input), and split (each parent gets sole custody of one child if there are siblings).
These two forms of custody can be mixed and matched (e.g. sole physical with joint legal).
Custody plans are made with the child’s best wishes in mind. When making a determination, the courts will consider factors such as:
- The financial stability of each parent.
- The distance between the parents’ homes.
- Whether either parent has a criminal history.
- The child’s personal preference, if he or she is of sufficient age.
Child Support Payments + Modifications
In Utah, child support is calculated using a table which compares gross income to the number of children. (To view the full table, refer to 78B-12-301 in the State Legislature.) There are three basic components that factor into making a support determination:
- The base child support, calculated using 78B-12-301.
- Costs of the child’s medical care.
- Costs of general child care.
However, the final calculation partially depends upon the type of child custody arrangement which is reached.
It is also important to point out that nonpayment of child support does not affect visitation rights. In fact, denying a parent visitation rights on the basis of nonpayment is illegal.
Sometimes referred to as a premarital agreement or simply a “prenup,” a prenuptial agreement is a contract spouses enter into before getting married. In simple terms, prenuptial agreements are used to delineate how the couple’s money and property will be divided in the event of a divorce. Depending on the couple, matters addressed therein may include business ownership, inheritances, and assets like stocks and retirement funds.
There are a few important points to understand about Utah’s prenuptial agreement laws:
- Agreements become effective upon marriage (30-8-5).
- In the event of divorce, agreements can be changed or revoked only if both parties sign a written agreement (30-8-5).
- Agreements are not enforceable if they were entered into involuntarily, or if they were fraudulent (30-8-6).
From a legal standpoint, adoption is a notoriously complex and difficult procedure. Working with the support of a Salt Lake City adoption attorney can help keep the process as smooth and efficient as possible, and increase your ultimate chance of success.
Utah’s adoption laws are outlined by 78B-6-101, also known as the Utah Adoption Act. The Adoption Act covers topics such as:
- Who can adopt a minor (Section 117).
- The sort of counseling parents must undergo (Section 119).
- Consent of the birth mother and biological father (Section 125, Section 121).
- Adopting from a foreign country (Section 142).
For a Free Consultation, Call Our Utah Family Law Attorneys
If you need assistance with any of these matters, call our Utah family law attorneys today at (801) 758-2287 or contact our law offices online to schedule a free and private case evaluation.