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Salt Lake City Family Law Blog

A review of Utah's grounds for divorce

Any person who chooses to end their marriage may have their own rationale for why they believe that their life will be better as a single person. However, to secure a divorce, a person must alleged that their grounds for divorce fit into those accepted by the courts. In Utah, a person may base their divorce on one of two no fault grounds, or one of eight separate fault-based grounds.

The first no fault grounds for divorce is a claim of irreconcilable differences. This is the broadest basis for ending a marriage that courts recognize and may be used by individuals who do not have a fault grounds or who prefer not to allege fault. The second no fault grounds for divorce is a legal separation between two people who have not lived in the same home for at least three years.

Understanding when a child support modification may be possible

Parents may find over the course of their child's childhood that they need to modify a child custody or child support order. Parents should be aware that just because they have changed jobs, their child support does not also immediately change based on their new salary. The family law process provides resources to help parents seek a child support modification when needed.

Both the paying parent and the custodial parent receiving child support can request a child support modification. If the paying parent changes jobs and has substantially less earnings, they may request a child support modification. Likewise, if the parent begins earning a higher salary, the custodial parent may request a child support modification to increase the amount of child support received. A change in income may warrant a child support modification.

Utah girl overjoyed when she learns of her adoption

Adoption can be a long and challenging process for all of the parties involved. It can also be a tremendously rewarding process. An 11-year old girl in Utah was recently overjoyed when she learned of her adoption. The girl, along with her two younger siblings, were recently adopted by their foster parents. After the family law court judge approved the foster parents' adoption of the 11-year old girl and her two siblings, the girl noted it was the best thing that had ever happened to her.

Adoption is an important aspect of the family law system and family law resources are available to help children and families regardless of what type of adoption process they are considering. The process can sometimes feel complex, confusing and emotional which is why family law resources are available to help guide potential parents considering adoption, and children, through the adoption process in Utah.

What can a prenuptial agreement do?

Sometimes prenuptial agreements are regarded as something for the wealthy or for those marrying for the second time or with children. While it is true prenuptial agreements can be beneficial for individuals and couples in those circumstances, prenuptial agreements can offer benefits for individuals in any circumstances. Couples considering one may wonder what prenuptial agreements do. Prenuptial agreements provide legal protections in circumstances of death and divorce.

Prenuptial agreements can address a variety of issues important to a couple entering marriage. It can address division of property should the couple divorce and also address what assets are considered marital property and will be divided and what assets are considered separate property and are not subject to division. In the absence of a prenuptial agreement, state laws will control property division concerns in the event the couple divorces.

Child custody visitation schedules should be well thought out

Child custody and child visitation can be one of the most important aspects of any divorce. Child custody and visitation agreements, of course, have an impact on the relationship the parents have with their children which is why it is important for it to be carefully considered. The family law system seeks to help couples reach a divorce settlement that is best for their futures and in the best interests of their children following divorce which is why child custody is an important long-term consideration for both parents and children.

An effective visitation schedule will look as far ahead into the future as possible. It is important for divorcing parents to evaluate their present needs, as well as consider future needs when negotiating a child custody agreement and visitation arrangement. Though child custody changes may be possible, they do not have to be granted by the court and may not be agreed to by the parents down the road to it is important to think as far ahead as possible when developing a visitation plan.

Steps in the Utah divorce process

The decision to divorce can be an overwhelming one, as couples contemplate a different future than the one they may have planned. The family law process provides important resources to help divorcing couples navigate both their divorce and the future following divorce. The divorce process begins when the spouse petitioning for the divorce files the necessary documents to initiate the divorce process.

The documents are then served on the other spouse who then responds with an answer to the divorce petition filed by the other spouse. The responding party has 21 days if served in Utah and 30 days if served outside of Utah to respond. In Utah, there is a 90-day waiting period for a divorce which may be waived in extraordinary circumstances. Once the petition for divorce has been filed, several things can happen.

What is the impact of medical expenses on child support?

Parents are responsible for child support expenses but are also obligated to pay for the uninsured or unreimbursed medical expenses of their children for the medical care they receive. Uninsured medical expenses include medical expenses that are not covered by insurance and can include deductibles, co-pays, prescriptions and other uncovered costs. Medical expenses parents are responsible for can include medical, dental or vision costs that are incurred as a result of medically necessary treatments or procedures.

Unpaid medical expenses are referred to as extraordinary medical expenses that exceed health care costs that is covered under the health insurance plan of the parent. Child support orders may state how uninsured and unreimbursed out-of-pocket medical expenses will be paid for and what party is responsible for the medical expenses. In the absence of a provision addressing extraordinary medical expenses, the child support order may need to be modified to address them.

What are parental relocation laws?

Parental relocation can be a significant child custody concern and many parents may have questions about it. Parents may wonder in what circumstances parental relocation that impacts custody will be allowed. Without an agreement, a custodial parent's desire to relocate with the child can be a significant concern if the non-custodial parent opposes the relocation. If the parents are unable to agree on the request to relocate with the child, the family law court will determine if the relocation is in the best interests of the child.

The family law court always seeks to determine what is in the best interests of the child including when evaluating child custody, visitation and relocation. There are a variety of considerations that may be taken into account based on a request for a parent to relocate with a child. In some circumstances, express consent will be provided for the relocation and may be a part of the original child custody agreement. Alternately, the court may consider the distance of the proposed move and its impact on the best interests of the child; out-of-state moves may be regarded with scrutiny and the custodial parent may be required to remain in the state if the out-of-state move is determined to not be in the best interests of the child.

Child support enforcement options for failure to pay

This blog recently discussed options for parents to consider through the family law system if they need to seek a child support modification. Child support enforcement measures are designed to help parents seeking to enforce a child support order obtain the court-ordered child support they should be receiving. It is important not to ignore a valid child support order and to seek family law resources when a child support modification may be needed. Otherwise the parent who has failed to pay child support can face serious consequences and penalties.

Potential penalties and consequences for failure to pay child support include wage garnishment; seizure of property; withholding of federal tax refunds; suspending a business or occupational license; driver's license revocation; and the denial of a passport. In addition, though it is reserved for extreme circumstances, jail time is also possible as a potential penalty for failure to pay child support.

Making changes to child custody or child support

Life changes following a divorce and circumstances change as children grow and develop. As a result, parents may find that they need post-divorce modifications related to child support and child custody. Child support modifications and child custody modifications may be possible in certain circumstances. Until a child support or child custody modification has been granted by the family law court, however, it is important to abide by all child support and child custody orders.

Parents can seek a modification of child support or a modification of child custody and visitation from the family law court. In circumstances of child support, either the paying parent or the recipient parent can request a modification. Child support or child custody may be changed based on a significant change in circumstances. If a parent has lost a job or had a significant change to their job or health, a child support modification may be possible. In general, either a significant change in circumstances for the parent or the child may warrant a modification.

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