Posts

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.

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.

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.

Should I Opt for a Prenuptial Agreement?

We often associate prenuptial agreements with the short-lived marriages of Hollywood stars, but nowadays many “regular” couples are choosing to sign prenuptial agreements. In 2013, 1,600 members of the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers were surveyed and 63 percent reported an increase in prenuptial agreements over the course of three years.

The Pros of a Prenuptial Agreement

Though, a prenup is not the most romantic thing in the world, this document can protect both parties in the event of a divorce, or the death of a spouse. Prenuptial agreements can prevent nasty, expensive court battles and protect each spouse’s premarital assets from being claimed by the other spouse. It was also protects the income and assets that are acquired during the course of the marriage. Without prenuptial agreements, a party may have to pay child support or alimony, but a prenuptial agreement can establish an agreed amount or eliminate it completely from becoming a cause for litigation in the future.

A prenuptial agreement can, of course, be difficult emotionally. However, it is nowhere near as emotionally corrosive as the pain that can be caused by an ugly divorce, especially when there are children involved. Enduring this emotional discomfort early on can prevent years of devastating later on. Prenuptial agreements have been suggested to strengthen a marriage, since it allows each spouse to become aware of where they stand financially. This benefits an individual by providing them with some protection against the unknown of the future. The rights of children from the marriage or relationship can be protected through a prenuptial agreement, and you can even decide how to handle individual financial debts like student loans or credit card bills.

The Cons of a Prenuptial Agreement

In a first marriage, a prenuptial can create permanent friction between spouses and families. Some prenuptial agreements are unnecessary, too broad and mean-spirited, often welcoming marital selfishness and creating a destructive atmosphere. Prenuptial agreements often occur on an uneven playing field, where one spouse has significantly more money or assets than the other. This can lead one spouse to feel selfish and unkind and the other to feel like the victim of an unfair agreement.

The initial prenuptial agreements can be harsh, most state the each party’s past and future assets and income belong to the party alone, except for intentional joint property. This agreement has no inheritance requirement if the couple is still married when one partner dies and there is also often an alimony waiver. Furthermore, a prenuptial agreement can increase the belief that you and your spouse aren’t fully committed to making the marriage work even when things get difficult.

Do I Need a Prenuptial Agreement?

Approximately 75 percent of American marriages end in divorce, so a prenuptial agreement is a realistic decision to make rather than a romantic one. If you want to protect your assets and finances and avoid heartbreak, grief and stress, a prenuptial agreement is an extremely wise decision to make. Keep in mind that both parties must voluntarily enter into the agreement in order for it to be valid and that no prenuptial agreement can violate criminal law or public policy.

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.

How Debt is Divided Up

 

When thinking about how to divide assets and property, it is easy to overlook debt, and how it will be divided between the individuals.

If both parties in the divorce are able to come to an agreement about how they will split their debt, the court will usually honor that agreement. However, if they cannot come to agreement about how to divide it, the judge will determine how it is to be divided.

Equitable division

When debt is equitably divided, the judge considers all aspects of the debt, of the divorce, of each individual and their circumstances. It is important to know that debts will most likely not be split down the middle if the judge is the one who has to divide it; it is equitable, not equal. For example, if the item or service is used exclusively by one person, generally, the other will not be forced to pay the debt for it.

Debts entered into during marriage

All debt entered into after the marriage is usually deemed marital debt. The house, a boat, or a car are all things that may have debt attributed to them, and will often  be split between the two parties. However, there are some exceptions. For example, if you and your spouse bought a boat together during marriage, and then you kept it for yourself afterward, you would also be primarily responsible for the debt associated with the boat.  Medical expenses on behalf of any minor children will also be split between the couple.  If one party keeps an item with debt, such as a vehicle with a payment, then both asset and debt may be awarded accordingly.  Parties need to remember that there is usually no benefit without the accompanying burden, and visa-versa.

Debts entered into before marriage, and personal debts

Any debts either party entered into before marriage will generally stay with the individual whose debt it is, so long as it has not been commingled. The same may also apply to debts entered into for solely one person, especially if it is not used as a marital asset. For example, if (while married) you went into debt to buy an expensive personal computer for your own private use, you will likely hold onto that debt upon divorce. Proving this can be difficult sometimes, because it is not always completely clear who had sole use of a product or service.

Legal issues are not  simple.  There is not an easy, bright-line on every issue, espite what a relative or bar-buddy may tell you.  You should get excellent  representation, and you will  at the Huntsman Firm.

 

How Property is Divided in a Divorce

In any divorce, both parties have property that must be divided. In Utah, the general rule for dividing property is equitable, not necessarily equal. There are two types of properties, both of which are divisible in some way: marital property and separate property.

Marital Property

This is property that belongs to the marriage, or in other words, the property that belongs to both parties essentially. This includes things like income earned after marriage, and any property acquired after the marriage. Property that is used to support the marriage in someway that started out as individual property of one party can also be classified as marital property.

Separate Property

This is property that wholly belongs to one party or the other. This can be anything that belonged to one party before marriage, or something that belonged to one party and kept separate throughout the course of the marriage. This can even include things like inheritances given to only one person, or gifts given exclusively to one person.

The most common property divided during a divorce are the home, jewelry, vehicles, and other personal property. Other property can include intangible financial items like income, shares in stocks, and retirement benefits. An important note is that any debt incurred by both parties during the duration of the marriage must also be divided. Marital property must be divided, and separate property will be retained by the respective party.

Utah judges have the benefit of considering several factors in deciding how the property will be divided. These factors considered are the length of the marriage, how the property was attained, the future of each person (who will be raising the children, where they will be living, etc.) and the background of both parties (education level and money earning potential) to name a few. Therefore, the property division may be unequal, but it will be equitable.

If you have any questions on the division of property or anything related to family law, or divorce law in general, don’t hesitate to call the Huntsman Firm at (435) 628-2846.

 

A LICENSE TO PARENT

In our society, we need a license to drive a car on a public street. We need a license to practice law or medicine, to be a professional contractor, electrician or plumber, to hunt deer or to fish a public stream. Even a dog or cat needs a license to survive these days. You need a license to marry.

But you do not need a license to have or raise our precious children.

The law generally assumes that children born into a valid marriage “belong” to the parties to that marriage. Custody, parent time and related legal rights between lawfully married parents generally do not need to be proven, unless there is a divorce or legal separation.

If you choose to sire, conceive, bear, and raise up these treasures, do it right. Love them. Take quality time with them, and lots of it. Choose their other parent with care before creating this important life. Be kind to the other parent.

Kids are damaged when parents fight. It’s not about you. It’s about them. And they know when there is undue stress or abuse of any kind in the home. They rarely, if ever, recover from it.

Children are your trust. Their needs must come before your own, despite the noise you may hear from “modern” counselors of the joys of a self-centered life.

For a better marriage, or when serious strains appear, good professional counseling from a clinical psychologist or a licensed therapist is often helpful. But if all fails, hire a good lawyer to protect yourself and your children.

See our blog “Choose Your Lawyer Well”.