Consulting With a Divorce Attorney in Ogden Utah Can Help Make the Decision on How Best to Proceed
Just as each state has slightly different procedures for attaining a marriage license, each has a unique process for the termination of marriage. In Utah, the process is not complicated or difficult, but it must be followed to avoid delay or denial of a final decree. Hiring a divorce attorney is not a requirement although successfully completing all the necessary forms can be laborious and tedious for those not familiar with the terminology, the statutes, or the provisions of each. Money and resources expended acquiring professional legal representation are usually worth the investment.
Divorce in Utah can only be granted to those who have met the state residency requirements. At least one of the married couple must reside in a Utah county for at least three months before qualifying to file for divorce. If one or more minor children are involved, the requirement is six months of continuous residency. The spouse seeking a divorce (known as the petitioner) must file a petition in the district court serving the county where at least one of the couple resides. The forms are available online and may be filled out by the petitioner or by his or her attorney if represented. There are fees involved which must be paid by the petitioner.
In Utah, it is possible to obtain a divorce decree, in some cases, where the parties are not married. Relationships qualifying as common-law can be recognized as marriages for purposes of child custody and support, debt and property division, and alimony. This is one of the situations where legal representation is most valuable.
The other spouse (the respondent) must be served with all required paperwork within 120 days after filing. He or she then has 21 days to respond to the petition or 30 days if served outside Utah. If no answer is forthcoming, the judge may issue a default judgment granting the petitioner a divorce as requested without input from the other spouse. If an answer is filed, the entire process may quickly become complicated unless all points in the filing are agreed to by both parties. If there is disagreement, retaining a divorce attorney may be the best solution for either or both parties as Utah requires all issues be referred to mediation.
A list of state-approved mediators is provided online and must be utilized. The cost involved can be considerable and is usually equally divided between the couple. At least one mediation session is mandatory although, in some cases, multiple attempts are made to resolve all outstanding issues. Failure to agree on all issues means the divorce will not go forward or that the case will be adjudicated in court. Utah strongly supports mediation as a means of bringing all parties together in an informal and flexible atmosphere to work in a collaborative fashion to forge the path ahead for all, including both parties and any children affected by the pending divorce.
Divorce cases can easily devolve into emotionally charged adversarial confrontations. Issues such as custody of children, support agreements, parenting plans, and visitation are difficult to find agreement on in the best of times. Mediation attempts to address these types of issues in the manner that is most likely to succeed and to avoid having such personal decisions made by a judge, who can only act upon the information presented in a brief court session.
Utah requires parents of minor children to attend a divorce orientation and divorce education class before issuing a final decree. Classes for children on how to cope with divorce are offered as well, but attendance is not mandatory.
If agreement cannot be reached through mediation, the case is referred to trial. A pretrial conference is required as a final, more formal attempt to resolve outstanding issues without the expense and added complications of the court process. The pretrial conference will include a representative of the court in most cases. For those cases where the parties are still unable to reach an accord, a trial will be scheduled to address the issues at stake. Those who have not retained a divorce attorney before this point can find themselves at a disadvantage if they are not familiar with the proceedings.
The outcome of a divorce trial may include more than just a partitioning of property, custody determination, and support agreement. A Divorce attorney in Ogden Utah can assist with the other possible provisions as well. For instance, a marriage can be annulled meaning that for all intents and purposes it never existed. In some cases, that may be advantageous, particularly for reasons having to do with one’s religious beliefs. Instead of a divorce, a separate maintenance agreement can be issued, clearly delineating all issues such as custody, visitation, property and debt division, and others while not ending the marriage altogether.
Although the process of being granted a divorce in Utah is fully explained online with all of the required forms posted with instructions on their completion and submission, most people will benefit from consulting a legal professional for advice and assistance either before or while in the process of seeking an end to their marriage. There are alternatives to engaging the services of an attorney. Free legal clinics in the state can give advice and information, but are not available for full-time representation. Other firms can offer discounted rates for those needing assistance but unable to pay the full costs. In some cases, an attorney can be retained for just one or more tasks in the process. Macfarlane Law is a firm in Ogden that specializes in divorce law and cases as well as offering consultations geared to individual case needs.