Utah Family Lawyer - We Are Family Law Experts
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“Family Law” is the category of laws and rules that define the relationships between family members. The Utah family law attorneys at Schmidt & Gladstone provide advice and representation when people desire either to make or break a family relationship. Your family should not be taken lightly. At Schmidt & Gladstone we recognize the emotional aspects involved in family law matters, and we offer clients knowledgeable, compassionate and non-judgmental advice. The Schmidt & Gladstone family attorneys can help in a variety of legal areas.
Family Attorneys in Utah
In determining whether to award alimony, Utah courts consider a variety of factors, including: (i) the financial conditions and needs of the recipient spouse; (ii) the recipient’s earning capacity or ability to produce income; (iii) the ability of the payor spouse to provide support; (iv) the length of the marriage; (v) whether the recipient spouse has custody of minor children requiring support; (vi) whether the recipient spouse worked in a business owned or operated by the payor spouse; and (vii) whether the recipient spouse directly contributed to any increase in the payor spouse’s skill by paying for education or allowing the payor spouse to attend school during the marriage. (Utah Code Ann. §30-3-5(8)(a)). Additionally, Utah courts are instructed to consider “all relevant facts and equitable circumstances.” (Utah Code Ann. §30-3-5(8)(c)) The family law attorneys at Schmidt & Gladstone have the knowledge and experience to apply the relevant factors to your circumstances and offer expert advice as to alimony.
Child Custody and Visitation
When parents divorce or a child is born out of wedlock, a custody order is necessary to ensure that the child has a stable and consistent visitation schedule. It is important to learn about the child custody and visitation options that are available in Utah. There are two types of child custody. “Legal custody,” refers to which parent will have decision-making authority over the child’s education, child care, discipline and other major decisions regarding the child’s welfare. “Physical custody” refers to with which parent the children will reside. Parents may seek joint custody or sole custody. Custody determinations are complex. The courts consider a large variety of factors in determining what custody arrangement is in the best interest of the minor child. The family law attorneys at Schmidt & Gladstone can assist you in navigating your child custody case.
In Utah, child support is the right of the child. A child is entitled to receive financial support from both parents until he/she turns eighteen or graduates from high school, whichever occurs later. Child support is calculated pursuant to the Utah Child Support Guidelines. Parents generally may not agree to waive or alter a child support obligation, unless there is a showing of sufficient extenuating circumstances. Additionally, parents are obligated to pay half of all child care and medical expenses incurred on behalf of a child. The attorneys at Schmidt & Gladstone can review your circumstances and assist you in calculating your child support obligation.
Division of Property
During the course of a relationship, you accumulate real and personal property. In the event that your relationship ends, you will need to divide the property. Utah law provides for an “equitable distribution” of all marital property. Any assets purchased or any debts incurred during a marriage will be deemed marital property, subject to equitable distribution. You will need to protect your separate property from being included in such distribution. Separate property includes assets obtained prior to the marriage, assets excluded from the marital estate through prenuptial agreement, inheritance and gifts. The longer you are married, the more difficult it will be to distinguish marital assets from separate assets. The family law attorneys at Schmidt & Gladstone can assist you in protecting your property interests.
When a marriage is dissolved, the experience can be highly emotional and stressful for everyone involved. The attorneys at Schmidt & Gladstone can guide you through all of the complex and important issues involved in a divorce, including: the division of property, alimony awards, child custody and child support. We understand that each divorce is unique and personal, and we will work with you to achieve the best result possible and enable you to move forward with your life. Although many cases settle prior to trial, we thoroughly investigate and prepare for each case.
If you have children, Utah family law requires you to attend mediation. We often suggest that parties attend mediation even if they do not have children. Mediation provides an alternative to litigation, which can be significantly less expensive. During mediation, you and your spouse work with a neutral third party to reach an agreement as to all or a portion of your issues. Choosing a professional mediator with experience in legal and emotional matters is important to successful resolving your divorce. The attorneys at Schmidt & Gladstone have the resources to assist you in selecting the best mediator for your unique case
Once you file for divorce, many of your private matters will become public record. You will be required to disclose detailed financial records, including tax returns, paycheck stubs, account statements, and asset valuations. The attorneys at Schmidt & Gladstone can assist you in navigating the discovery process
Enforcement of Orders
Enforcement of an order may, at times, be more difficult that obtaining the order. If a party fails to act as the court ordered, a motion may be filed requesting compliance. The motion must be served on the other party and heard before the court. You may also request that the other party be found “in contempt” and that additional sanctions be imposed. The experienced attorneys at Schmidt & Gladstone can assist you in enforcing the court’s orders.
Over time, your needs or the needs of your children may change. If you can establish that there has been a “substantial change in circumstances” you may request that the court modify your divorce decree or custody order. Child support and custody may also be reviewed periodically to ensure that the order continues to comply with the Utah Statutory Guidelines. If your circumstances have changed, the attorneys at Schmidt & Gladstone can assist you in modifying your divorce, custody or support order.
A paternity action is an action whereby a father’s parental rights are legally recognized. Either parent or the state may file a paternity action to determine whether a man fathered a child. If paternity is established, certain legal rights and obligations attach, including the obligation to pay child support and medical expenses and the right to child custody and parent time. If you wish to assert your parental rights or have been named in a paternity action, the attorneys at Schmidt & Gladstone can assist you in protecting your interests.
Marriage is a voluntary contract between two adults. When you decide to enter a marriage, you may want to include other rights and obligations in the marriage contract. Negotiating a prenuptial agreement prior to marriage can save you a significant amount of money and time in the event that your marriage ends. You can use a prenuptial agreement to protect separate assets, keep debts separate, provide for children in the event of divorce or death, designate an alimony award, or protect your business interests. The attorneys at Schmidt & Gladstone can assist you in valuing assets and negotiating a prenuptial agreement.
If you are the victim of abuse or domestic violence, it is imperative that you seek an order protecting you from further violence. The court can remove an abuser from your residence and workplace and can order the abuser not to abuse, harass or contact you. If the abuser violates a protective order, criminal charges may be filed. The attorneys at Schmidt & Gladstone regularly volunteer with Safe Haven to assist victims of domestic violence. We can assist you in ensuring your safety and well-being.
Utah law defines marriage as a legal union between a man and a woman. In Utah, same-sex couples cannot enter into a marriage and are not eligible for the protections that opposite-sex couples are entitled to. Additionally, Utah law prohibits cohabitating unmarried couples from adopting. It is important for gay or LGBT couples to protect themselves legally. The attorneys at Schmidt & Gladstone can assist you in drafting a partnership agreement, estate plan or durable power of attorney to ensure that your partner will be taken care of in the event of death and to govern the division of property in the event that the partnership ends.
Author: Stacy Schmidt