Utah Divorce And Family Law Information
In Utah, an individual may represent him or herself (known as pro se representation) and he or she may decide to file for divorce and other family law actions online. We provide limited scope representation, if requested by individuals, related to the preparation or review of specific documents or participation in specific proceedings. For example, we review documents and give advice to clients contemplating online filing of a divorce complaint.
Despite the right or opportunity of individuals to represent themselves, many clients are confronted with a number of decisions at the time of a decision to file for divorce or a paternity action. Decisions may be required regarding custody of your minor children, child support, parent-time (visitation), alimony and property division. Other than custody, parent time and support issues, you will generally be unable to change other decisions you make regarding the terms of the divorce decree unless you can show a change of circumstances from the time the original divorce decree was entered by the court. Attorneys at Tanner Law Office are experienced and available to assist you and other clients in reviewing legal options you may have as you consider the long-term consequences of these decisions.
Choose a topic for more information:
Custody And Parent Time
Courts in Utah may award sole custody to a specific parent. Under this custody arrangement, one parent has physical custody of the children. This parent is allowed to make major decisions about the children, including medical care, schooling, religious training, etc. Another form of custody arrangement is joint custody. Under a joint custody arrangement, parents share in major decisions regarding the children. Joint custody awards include legal and physical custody. Physical custody affects the time the children spend in both homes. Legal custody affects the decision-making of the parents regarding the children. Prior to an order of joint custody, the parents must develop a joint parenting plan. Standard schedules have been passed by the Utah Legislature to ensure at least a minimal level of access to the children, based on their age. The access of the noncustodial parent is not linked to child support that has been paid.
For parents who have never married, the rules of parent time and visitation are determined in the same or similar way to the time set out in divorce actions. The legal action brought by a parent who was not married to the other parent of the child is known as a paternity action. Paternity actions are brought to determine who the parent is, who has parent time or visitation rights and when the time with the child will occur, and who must support the minor child. It is important that fathers of children born outside of marriage file required documents and act to preserve their parent-child relationship, within the time required by the state to do so.
Child Support, Medical Care And Child Care
In Utah, parents have a duty to support a minor child who is not emancipated. A court may require child support for a disabled child who remains dependent after the age of 18. A Utah statute provides the authority and method of calculation of the specific support amount based on the income of the parties and the number of minor children from the parents. Child support determinations are made as part of divorce proceedings, as well as paternity proceedings. The support amount includes a base child support amount. In addition, the parents must provide for medical care and child care expenses. Although the support amount calculated by the child support worksheets is used, either party may demonstrate to the court a good reason to deviate from the child support guidelines.
In addition, decisions need to be made regarding health insurance, child care expense and the claiming of the child as a dependent for income tax purposes. Under Utah rules, if a health insurance policy is reasonably available, the cost of the minor children’s portion of the premium is expected to be shared equally by the parents, including deductibles and co-payments.
The issue of which parent will be able to list the child as a dependent for state and federal income tax purposes is related to the general support issue. In regard to the child care issue, parents are required to share work-related child care expenses equally.
Post-Decree Modification Proceedings
When individuals subject to divorce decrees or other family law court orders fail to obey the order, the opposing party may file a motion requesting the court to enforce the order. The disobeying party may be ordered to pay the support or money owed, in addition to being found in contempt of court (through a motion for an Order to Show Cause) and being ordered to pay a fine or serve time in jail.
Modification Of Support Order
After an original order has been entered, a parent may file a motion with the court to increase or decrease the child support obligation. To be successful, the parent must show that there has been a significant change in income or other circumstances since the support order was entered by the court.
Adoptions And Guardianships
Attorneys at our firm have assisted clients in a number of adoptions of minor children. We have advised, assisted and represented in guardianship proceedings. Attorneys at Tanner Law Office PLLC are available to assist in representing you and other clients in contested and noncontested adoptions and guardianship proceedings involving minor children or disabled individuals.