The Utah Uniform Premarital Act (Utah Code 30-8-1) governs Utah prenuptial agreements. In shortest form, a prenuptial agreement is a contract that protects assets upon divorce. Prenuptial agreements add clarity and protection for the unfortunate possibility that although one enters marriage intending to stay married, divorce occurs.
There are different rules for different types of property, although the overarching rule is equity. For personal property, i.e., cars, furniture, they are to be divided equally. Real property, i.e. land, house, if there are children, the primary caretaker may retain the house and the other spouse may be bought out of their portion of the equity. If there is no equity then both individuals may be responsible for the debt. If there are not children, the house may be sold with both individuals receiving their portion of the profit. For retirement accounts, each are entitled to one-half of any retirement benefits earned during the marriage. A signed and approved qualified domestic relations order is needed in order to split the retirement benefits.
If alimony is awarded, it is generally for as many years as the individuals were married. Alimony ends upon remarriage, cohabitation, and does not continue after death of the receiving spouse. In determining the amount, the court will analyze the financial ability of both parties to support themselves, the length of the marriage, whether there are children, fault, and education levels of both individuals.
Parents who are not able to arrange visitation are subject to a minimum visitation guideline. If a child is under age five, visits are shorter and more frequent, and if the child is older than five years old, the visits typically include one weekday evening, and rotating holidays and weekends.
It is important to note that one cannot withhold parent-time even if the other parent does not pay child-support. Further, if you suspect abuse or neglect, you may request supervised visits. Because visitation depends on the best interest of the child, grandparents of a divorced spouse may petition the court to visit
To determine child support, the court determines an amount based on the gross incomes of both parents and factors whether custody will be sole or joint. Child support may not be waived because it belongs to the child and not the parent, which might require a primary caretaker work to provide for their child or children. Further, once an order is issued by the court, change can only be made if there is a substantial change in circumstances.
More precisely, under Utah Code 78B-12-202the court will establish support after considering all relevant factors, including but not limited to:
(a) the standard of living and situation of the parties;
(b) the relative wealth and income of the parties;
(c) the ability of the obligor to earn;
(d) the ability of the obligee to earn;
(e) the ability of an incapacitated adult child to earn, or other benefits received by the adult child or on the adult child’s behalf including Supplemental Security Income;
(f) the needs of the obligee, the obligor, and the child;
(g) the ages of the parties; and
(h) the responsibilities of the obligor and the obligee for the support of others.
More precisely, under Utah Code §78B-12-210(9) if the court finds a substantial change in circumstances the child support order can be adjusted. A substantial change in circumstances may include:
(i) material changes in custody;
(ii) material changes in the relative wealth or assets of the parties;
(iii) material changes of 30% or more in the income of a parent;
(iv) material changes in the employment potential and ability of a parent to earn;
(v) material changes in the medical needs of the child; or
(vi) material changes in the legal responsibilities of either parent for the support of others.
The deciding factor in child custody is determined using the best interest of the child standard. A custody evaluation may be ordered by the court. The court ultimately looks at several factors in determining the best interest of the child, but the individual who takes care of the child, gets him or her ready for school, helps with school work, i.e., the primary caretaker is usually given some preference.
Custody may be sole, joint, or split. Sole custody results in legal and physical control given to one parent while the other parent has visitation rights. Joint custody results in both parents being able to make important decisions for the child and the child has to stay over at least 110 nights at the other parents home. A court will rarely award split custody, as split custody orders one child to live with their father, while the other lives with their mother.
Divorce creates a sensitive situation for all parties involved. There is no way to stop a divorce from proceeding if one spouse wants it and the other does not because Utah law allows residents to divorce on the grounds of irreconcilable differences or a no-fault divorce.
However, unless a mandatory divorce education course is completed, Utah has a 90-day waiting period after one files for divorce, which means that no hearing for a divorce decree can be held until 90 days after the complaint has been filed.
When spouses cannot agree on the terms of the divorce, a Utah Divorce Attorney can help. Typical legal issues when children are involved include child custody, child support, child visitation (parent-time), spousal maintenance (alimony), and property division. If children are not involved, then spousal maintenance (alimony) and property division are involved.
Annulment is the legal process of voiding a marriage and returning the individuals to pre-marital status. Some of the factors considered in determining whether there are grounds for an annulment are whether there was a fraudulent inducement to marry, breach of an antenuptial agreement, mistake in identity, and sexual incapacity. §30-1-17.1(2). Annulments are complicated when there are children and property involved.
With annulment, divorce, and legal separation issues, at Integrity Law, a Utah Family Lawyer can help.
Adopting a child is a life changing experience for biological parents and adopting parents. In order to adopt, one has to be an adult with permission from his or her spouse or single and not living with someone. The court will look at the best interest of the child and the individual adopted must be at least ten years younger than the individual(s) adopting.
Procedurally, adoptions typically occur in district court though if there is a petition to terminate parental rights in juvenile court, a petition may be filed in juvenile court. In some cases, adoptions can be contested when a biological parent tries to prevent the termination of their parental rights.
It is important to note that one considering adoption may pay for reasonable legal, maternity, medical, and maternity expenses of the mother before and during the pregnancy as an act of charity but cannot make payments to induce the mother to place the child up for adoption. §76-7-203with the complexities of an adoption, an Integrity Law, Utah Adoption Lawyer can help