woman looking out window

On Do-It-Yourself Divorce

No two marriages are the same. Likewise, no two divorces are the same. When contemplating divorce, some may attempt to do it themselves (DIY).

The best advice one can give about Do-It-Yourself Divorce, is don’t.

Divorce cases are made up of many legal and financial complications. Irreversible mistakes can easily be made when attempting to do it yourself.

There are many issues that may need to be resolved during a divorce, including but not limited to:

  • Child custody, child support, parent-time
  • Alimony (sometimes called spousal support or maintenance)
  • Division of debt, property, and pension and retirement benefits

Even if a marriage has only lasted two or three years, there are no children, no assets or debts, and comparable incomes and no alimony, doing it yourself is putting yourself at risk. There may be future developments, such as inheritance, lawsuits, bankruptcy, or other matters which could affect custody, pension rights, or other matters. Each case has its own attributes requiring professional analysis and advocacy.

In many cases, the decision to divorce is unilateral, meaning one party wants the divorce and the other does not. It is also very likely that divorces are highly emotionally charged situations which can cloud judgement or alienate children, family members, and employers.

Carefully weigh your divorce options. The bottom line is that every family, and every divorce, is different. When proceeding with a divorce, it is vital to get the legal counsel needed in order to adequately protect yourself.

At The Huntsman Firm in St. George, Utah, we offer legal advice and representation that will give you the options you need along with the assistance you are looking for. We focus on family and divorce law. We are committed to giving each case the attention it needs, and we have the experience and knowledge to help resolve your case and give you the best outcome under the circumstances. To schedule a consultation, contact us today.

 

man eating

Divorcing Over Tuna

In London, a man filed for divorce due to a recurring and unpleasant dinner menu. The man declared that his wife had “maliciously and repeatedly” served him his least favorite dish, tuna casserole.

Peculiar as it may seem, cases such as this one come up all the time in England, which unlike every state in the US, does not have a no-fault divorce law. Couples can only file for divorce under five categories, which include adultery and unreasonable behavior.

The reasons for divorce can vary widely. However, a divorce will only be granted according to certain circumstances. Grounds for divorce are regulations specifying the circumstances under which a person will be granted a divorce. States have their own divorce laws. Most allow what are essentially “no – fault” as grounds, but it may be called by other names such as “irreconcilable differences.” Each state has its own unique set of other grounds as well, such as adultery, cruelty, or desertion. A person must state the reason they want a divorce and be able to prove that this reason is well-founded.

When it comes to petitioning for divorce, things can become complicated. Receiving advice from friends and family can be risky, as every situation is entirely unique. It is essential to get experienced, committed and focused professional help in order to receive educated counsel and protection when going through a divorce.

At The Huntsman Firm in St. George, Utah, we offer legal advice and representation that will give you the options you need along with the assistance you are looking for. We focus on parentage and divorce law, and are committed to giving each case the attention it needs. We have the experience and knowledge to help resolve your case and give you the best outcome under the circumstances. To schedule a consultation, contact us today.

Your Guide to Alimony

In its simplest terms, alimony is spousal financial support. This is not necessarily an automatic thing. It is different than child support or splitting property or debt or other assets. A judge will determine alimony only after the requesting party has officially requested it, and if certain circumstances exist.

The couple’s standard of living at the time of separation is the guiding principle of how much, if any, alimony is awarded the requesting party. Usually, both individuals are unable to maintain this standard of living they enjoyed at the time of separation, so a requestor will usually  have to  prove his or her case with the help of a trusted and competent attorney.  

Courts will consider the following

  • Financial circumstances and needs of requesting spouse
  • Financial circumstances and abilities of spouse paying alimony
  • Earning capacity
  • Duration of marriage
  • Custody of children
  • If one spouse paid for another spouse’s schooling or training.
  • Whether one of the individuals engaged in wrongful actions or habits that led to the divorce

 

Upon clarifying these factors, an amount will be decided upon by the judge. It is difficult to say how much alimony will be awarded every month.  A reasonable award should be  enough to cover reasonable expenses, but income or imputed income of the recipient spouse will be factored in.

Alimony is generally   available to the requesting spouse only for as long as the couple was married. For example, if wife and husband were married for ten years, alimony would  generally  only be paid for a maximum of ten years. Alimony payments will also be terminated if the requesting individual begins to cohabitate with someone else, or remarries, or extenuating circumstances require equitable treatment.  Age of recipient spouse can also be taken into account..

For all of your questions and concerns about divorce and family law, contact the professionals at the Huntsman Firm.  R. Clayton Huntsman focuses exclusively on family law, and has practiced law for over 37 years.

How to Change Custody

 

If you have children and are getting a divorce, you will have to provide  a parenting  plan. Legal custody and physical custody will be awarded to you, to your ex-spouse, or to both of you jointly.. If you feel later on that the custody arrangement is flawed, is not working, and meet the requirements mentioned below,, you may consider filing  a “petition to modify”. This pleading begins a process of responses, settlement discussions, and possibly trial.  The  outcome will require consideration of the following:

  1. Material and substantial changes in circumstances.

If there has been a material and substantial change in the life of either the child or one or both of the parents, then a court may so find.. These changes can range from a new job, religious change, one of the parents getting remarried, or a drastic change in health on either the part of the child or the parent. Also, when a child is 14 years old in Utah, the court will give added weight to the preference of that child.  However, just because one or more material and substantial  changes in circumstances have been made, there is no obligation on the court to change the custody arrangement.

  1. The best interests of the child.

If a party can prove that a substantial change in the life of the child has taken place, then a court will decide if the proposed change will be in the child’s best interests.  But “best interests” can be somewhat subjective.  It is not unusual for both parents to claim the best interests of the child or children can only be with the parent asserting it.  

If you are able to show there has been a substantial and material (i.e., “important”) change in circumstances, and that the proposed parenting plan  is in the child’s best interest,  the court will be more likely  to modify.

For all your needs and questions regarding divorce, parentage, custody, and other family law issues, contact the Huntsman Firm.

same name couple divorces

Same Name Couple Divorces

A couple by the name of Kelly Hildebrandt and Kelly Hildebrandt, filed for divorce after three years of marriage. Needless to say, they did not need to worry about changing their last names.

The Story of Kelly and Kelly Hildebrandt

The fact that they share the same first and last name is one of the reasons they got together in the first place, and it may likely be one of the reasons they decided to split up. Kelly Katrina, from Florida, ran into the Texan, Kelly Carl, after searching on facebook for people who shared her first and last name. Their relationship began long distance with emails and phone calls and then met face to face two months later. After some time, Kelly and Kelly became engaged and immediately their unique situation gained media attention.

Kelly Carl stated that he is unsure if his marriage was negatively affected by the media attention, but that he wouldn’t want a future spouse to deal with everything he had been through before. Ultimately, the couple stated their split was due to irreconcilable differences.

Divorce Cases in General

While this divorce case truly is one-of-a-kind, it is also true that every divorce case is unique. No two divorce cases are exactly the same, nor should they be treated that way. When it comes to getting legal advice, it is vital to seek experienced, committed and focused professional help. Getting legal advice from friends, family, or others who may have also been through a divorce is very risky. Every individual brings unique facts, history, and case circumstances to the court. Application of statutes, cases, and principles of equity requires skills and attention only a well-qualified and experienced attorney can provide.

The Huntsman Firm provides legal advice and representation in court to give you the options you need along with the assistance you are looking for. We focus exclusively on family and divorce law, and are committed to giving each case the attention it needs. We have the experience and knowledge to help resolve your case and give you the best outcome under the circumstances. To schedule a consultation, contact us today.

How to Protect Yourself When Leaving an Abusive Marriage

If you are caught in a violent relationship, your first priority should be to get yourself and your children to safety. To be safe from harm, you need to find housing somewhere the abuser can’t find you, whether it’s a women’s shelter, a hotel or the home of a friend the abuser doesn’t know. Never go to your parents’ house or to stay with a close friend, because he can find you there. The majority of battered spouses or partners are women, but if you are a battered man, the same advice applies to you.

Plan for Safety

Sometimes you have time to plan and you can put aside cash, preferably somewhere other than your house. Leave clothes and other important items with a friend in case you need to leave the house quickly. Document every incident of physical or emotional abuse in your household, whether it involves you or your kids. The National Coalition Against Domestic Violence recommends that you make a list of safe people to contact, memorize phone numbers of people or places to call for help, keep change and cash with you at all times and establish a code word to alert others for help without alerting the abuser.

You should also take important papers with you, such as your credit cards and checkbook, social security cards, birth certificates, copies of deeds, proof of income, copies of bank or credit card statements and any documentation that proves past abuse.

Additional Suggestions from the NCADV

  • If you’re staying in your home, have the locks changed
  • Don’t stay alone
  • Change your routine frequently
  • Think about how you’ll get away if confronted by the abuser
  • Meet the abuser in a public place
  • Contact people you trust at your workplace and your children’s school so they are alert to anything unusual

Child Custody

If you share legal custody of your children with an abusive spouse or partner, you need to make arrangement for neutral pickup sites or for others to pick up and drop off your kids. If you have sole custody of your children, but the judge has ordered some type of visitation rights, ask for conditions to be placed on that right. Consider a restraining order if you don’t think it’s safe to be in the same place as your spouse, and in extreme cases, ask the court to appoint a visitation supervision monitor.

Getting Through the Holidays with Your Ex-Spouse

After a divorce, approaching the holidays becomes difficult. You probably don’t want to spend time with your ex, but it’s important for your children to spend the season with both parents. If you’ve had certain traditions for years, things are going to change after divorce. To enjoy the holidays and create a good experience for your children, be flexible and open to change.

Avoiding Conflict

If you get along well with your ex, a holiday gathering with both of you and your kids makes sense. However, any risk of conflict means it’s better for each parent to have a separate holiday celebration with the children. Another important thing to keep in mind is how much alcohol you drink at these gatherings, as too much could cause you to become argumentative or hostile.

Make Plans in Advance

Discuss your holiday plans and schedules well in advance to prevent any misunderstandings or arguments about who has the kids at what time. Keep your kids in the loop early on so they know who they’ll be with and where they’ll be going.

Let Your Kids Have Influence

Let your children have input into the holiday plans. Think about their favorite traditions as you’re planning. Children need to feel reassured and have some sense of control amidst the family changes. Maintaining traditions in both households gives children a sense that not everything is changing and some things will stay the same.

Create New Traditions

New holiday traditions will make the season special and show that you can embrace the changes in your life. Volunteer work, crafts and community activities are all good ways to celebrate the holiday season with your children.

Reach Out for Support

Take care of yourself during the holidays. Get rest; eat healthy food and exercise, as this gives you more patience to be loving and respectful. Don’t hesitate to reach out to close friends or family members. You can even visit a mental health professional if you’re having a particularly difficult time.

Financial Steps Every Woman Should Take During a Divorce

A divorce is a difficult experience no matter who asks for it. During this emotional crisis, you may want to hide, but there are important steps you need to take if you want to secure your financial future. Divorce always involves a large amount of upheaval, so it’s only natural to feel overwhelmed. If you want to save yourself grief later on, get your finances in order as you prepare for divorce.

Take inventory of financial documents

You immediately need to gather all of your financial records, including bank account information, mortgage statements, credit card bills, wills and trusts. Make copies of all these documents and find a secure place to store them. Never keep these records in your home. Leave them with a reliable friend/family member or use a safe deposit box that your husband can’t access.

Secure funds for legal and other professional fees

It’s possible that your husband controls all the access to family funds, so he can make it difficult for you hire the divorce team that you need. Many husbands often cut off the money supply and force women to sign divorce settlement agreements that are in his favor. Make sure there are secure funds available only to you to avoid this.

Open new accounts in your name

Go to a different bank than the one where you have joint accounts. Open a new checking and savings account in your name. The divorce attorney may tell you to withdraw nearly half of your joint funds and deposit them in your new accounts. Open a new credit card account in your name, but keep in mind that establishing credit on your own will be difficult if you have little or no income.

Get a copy of your credit report

If you keep an eye on your credit report you’ll know if your husband is charging purchases to your joint credit cards. He might also be dissipating marital assets in another way. This also allows you to keep tabs on your credit score.

Open your own post office box

After you hire a divorce team and open new accounts, you want to keep mail confidential. Open a post office box of your own and you’ll never have to worry about your husband reading your mail. Make sure this box is secure, locked and only accessible by you.

Financial Tips during a Divorce

1. Get professional help

Divorce is highly emotional, which means you might not always be thinking clearly. Having a team of experts by your side will help you rationally navigate the divorce process. A divorce attorney, certified divorce financial analyst and mental health counselor are all great resources during this stressful event.

2. Organize your important documents

As soon as you have made a decision about divorce, collect the following:

  • Bank statements
  • Credit card statements
  • Tax returns
  • Retirement account balances
  • Appraisals for valuable items

You should also look for money being secretly withdrawn from bank accounts and double-check tax returns for unrecognized income. Then look for line items on IRS forms that might be worth money and should be factored into the settlement.

3. Get a copy of your credit report

Credit reports should be carefully reviewed and spouses should look for loans or accounts they don’t recognize. If these issues are noticed, your lawyer can help you determine whether or not you’re responsible for any debt that has been incurred without your knowledge.

4. Establish your own credit score

Your credit score can drop after a divorce, especially if you don’t have accounts only in your name. Apply for your own credit card before your divorce is finalized, although your score will take a hit. You can use this card to make a few purchases and immediately pay them off. Just make sure you don’t incur debt and rack up interest charges, as this will make a bad financial situation even worse.

5. Create a new budget

You shouldn’t assume your expenses will be cut in half because you’re divorcing. Housing, transportation and utilities will likely stay the same if you choose not to move. Expenses like insurance can even go up after a divorce. Sometimes divorcees can keep the same standard of living, but most of the time changes need to be made.

6. Review your estate plan

If you’ve listed your ex as a beneficiary, you need to change that before the divorce is final. You don’t want your ex-spouse to get your assets if something happens to you. It also may be necessary to designate a new power of attorney and update your health insurance forms for health decisions. This will ensure that your ex is not left in charge of your finances and medical care if you become incapacitated.

7. Wait on major financial decisions

After a divorce, take time before making big decisions. Many people act rashly during a divorce without considering long-term effects. Don’t make dramatic decisions fueled by emotions during and after a divorce, as this can destroy your finances forever. You’re already losing your marriage; don’t also lose your finances.

Divorce in the United States of America

It is common knowledge that 50 percent of all marriages in America will end in divorce, as the American divorce rate is nearly twice as large as it was in 1960. However, as of this year, studies showed that both marriage and divorce rates have significantly decreased since 2000. According to the most recent study in 2014, marriage rate in the U.S. is currently 6.8 per 1,000 people and the rate of divorce is 3.2 per 1,000 people. Keep in mind that this is a crude divorce rate and does not provide accurate information on the percentage of first marriages ending in divorce.

Reasons Why People Get Divorced

  • Whether it’s for money or to please others, people are still marrying for the wrong reasons. If one partner is wealthy, the other might grow accustomed to a certain quality life and find that difficult to abandon. In other cases, a partner may feel pressured to stay in a marriage because of others’ opinions. Whatever it is, staying in a marriage that you aren’t committed to is a surefire ticket to eventual divorce.
  • Codependency is unhealthy. All human beings need their own lives, interests, hobbies and opportunities to express themselves. If you feel completely reliant on your spouse and don’t know how to live your life alone, this is a sign that you are losing your individuality and need to get out of the marriage.
  • Many people become lost in their marriage and forget their single friends and single interests. When children come into the mix, many parents start neglecting or forgetting the fact that they are a couple. Eventually children grow up and need less care. When this happens many spouses realize that they’ve grown apart and all they have in common is their children.
  • When you and your partner have different expectations of a marriage it’s going to make things difficult. Maybe your spouse expects you to do all of the housework without contributing or you have completely different ideas about spending money. If you’re not on the same page, the marriage is likely going to fail.
  • Sometimes in a marriage, intimacy and romance fades away. Both men and women require sexual and romantic receptivity to feel wanted and fulfilled in a marriage. When these desires lessen on either side, it can cause partners to withdraw due to feeling unloved and unappreciated. When these feelings cannot be repaired it often leads to divorce.