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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.

 

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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.

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 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.

Tips for Ex-Spouses on Successfully Co-Parenting Children

Parenting your children with an ex-spouse is a challenge that involves open communication with someone you don’t get along with, and in some cases, someone you can hardly stand to be in the same room with. Even if this is the case, your children haven’t done anything wrong and they deserve to be cared for by both of their parents in equal measure.

Fortunately the legal team at The Huntsman Firm has some advice for divorced parents on how to successfully co-parent their children without argument or drama:

    • Establish a business-like relationship with your ex
    • Give your ex the benefit of the doubt
    • Do not discuss disputes or speak ill of the other parent around your children
    • Respect the other parent ‘s privacy and don’t tap your children for information about their household, life, friends, income, etc.
    • Both spouses need to acknowledge their children’s sadness, confusion, guilt and feelings of abandonment and talk to them about those feelings
    • Make sure your children know that they are not guilty of anything and both parents love them equally
    • Bury the hatchet, stop being defensive and call a truce
    • Remain a good example for your kids
    • Don’t hesitate to seek professional therapy
    • Keep open communication open with your children

Separate Feelings from Behavior

Being hurt and angry in a divorce is natural, but these feelings shouldn’t dictate your behavior. If you’re upset, don’t vent to your children. Talk to a friend, therapist or another family member if you need to get something off your chest. Always keep your child’s best interests at heart and this might help you keep calm and resist becoming overwhelmed by anger. You can also breathe deeply, practice meditation and exercise to remain stable and collected.

It’s also essential to never, ever put your children into the middle of the situation. Your resentment and bitterness towards an ex is natural, but you need to keep those feelings distanced from your children. Children should never be used as messengers or placed in a mediator position.

Why Hire a Lawyer for an Amicable Divorce?

Handshake man - women

So you are considering a divorce. But you also realize that this is an amicable situation. So why is it necessary to involve lawyers if both parties agree to the terms and conditions of the divorce?

The fact of the matter is, divorces are not usually so cut and dry. And these are the type of things that you will really want to read the small print. Lawyers study for years to be able to understand the wording and significance of different agreements and while you may not want to get anyone else involved, you will most likely be saving yourself future pain and frustration.

Like in most big decisions, you’re agreeing to the terms have some big consequences. You will need the help of someone who can advocate for you for custody rights, the division of property and assets, and other issues. Especially if either party wants to file a modification later on. In that case, you will want to have someone on your side who is familiar with your experience.

Though you may consider the divorce amicable, if it turns out to be not-as-amicable as you thought later on, you are taking some risks. The simple truth of the matter is that in order to protect yourself from being taken advantage of, you need the help of experts. Come to the Huntsman Firm and protect your future.

What is Custody?

In a divorce between two individuals who have children, custody will be determined. In Utah divorce law, there are two types of custodies. Physical and Legal.

Custody can be difficult, but is the result of what is in the child's best interest

Physical Custody

Utah defines physical custody as “where the children live”. This means essentially which parent they spend the majority of their time with, and most “overnights”. There are three distinctions of physical custody.

  1. Sole physical custody

This does not mean one parent has the child or children 100% of the time. In Utah, if you are awarded sole physical custody, you will have the them for at 255 “overnights”. This means that the other parent will still be able to have 110 “overnights” with them as well.

  1. Joint physical custody

Each parent will have the child in their home for at least 111 “overnights” every year. This usually requires that both parents live in close proximity to each other and are able to have an open communication with each other.

  1. Split physical custody

Although rare, split custody is when the court splits children up to live with different parents. For example if a couple gets divorced and they have two kids, one will go with person A, and the other will go with person B. This doesn’t mean the kids will never see each other, it just means they have different permanent addresses.

 

Legal Custody

This type of custody refers to who has the right to make important decisions about the child. Until children are 18 years of age and considered legally adults, there will be plenty of things that need to be addressed by the legal guardian with legal custody. There are two distinct types of legal custody, and they function similarly to physical custody.

  1. Sole legal custody

Sole legal custody is essentially what it sounds like. The court may award sole legal custody to a parent meaning that one parent will be completely responsible for decisions on behalf of the child, and the other parent must defer to them.

  1. Joint legal custody

In this situation, parents must share the right to legal custody. The caveat being that a judge may give one parent the right to make specific decisions for the child, but grant the other parent the right of being the primary caregiver of the child.

This decision will be made by a judge in the best interests of the child.

 

Four Reasons to Get a Divorce Lawyer

Relying on a professional attorney is a necessity

  1. Divorce is stressful enough

Deciding to handle your divorce yourself is a decision bound to bring you unnecessary stress. Not only do you have to deal with the emotional trauma you or your children experience, but you also have to think unemotionally and make sure you are getting a fair deal in the actual divorce. Let a lawyer deal with the legal headaches that come with divorce. They will try to make your experience as pain-free as possible so you can focus more on the important things like taking care of your family.

 

  1. Lawyers are experts

Imagine you are in a plane with your pilot friend who wanted to show off his new flying skills. Suddenly he faints and you are the one in charge of flying the plane. Who would you want to be talking you through landing the plane on the radio? A pilot of course. In the same way, lawyers who have studied and prepared to advocate for years are the people you want giving you advice and guidance. They know the ins and outs of the law and will help you to understand the sensitive issues of your divorce from beginning to end.

 

  1. Little mistakes can have big consequences

If you handle your divorce on your own, there are quite a few risks you are taking. For example, If you accidentally overvalue or undervalue an asset when dividing up property, you may have just unwittingly scheduled more court time in the future to take care of it. Since divorce is a legal agreement, you have to be exact on everything and when you are going through a divorce, there is so much stress attached to it that you might miss little mistakes that will cause you more problems later.

 

  1. Lawyers move the process along.

Going back to lawyers being experts at the law, there is a huge amount of paperwork associated with divorce and you may not understand all of it or be able to fill it all out correctly because of the turmoil caused by the divorce–and life in general. If you accidentally fill something out incorrectly, you will most likely have to extend the courtroom time and allow the divorce process to drag on. Let the experts handle it to insure that your divorce moves as fast as possible.