What Can a Utah Divorce Attorney Do For Me?
Let’s say you’re the one who wants to file for divorce. I’ll discuss how the events usually play out in a typical divorce, from the moment you enter the law office of the divorce attorney up until you reach the divorce court.
Preparing Your Divorce Paperwork
After your initial consultation, our legal team at Boyack Christiansen Legal Solutions will get the information from you about your family and assets that are needed to create the documents to start your case. Our St George divorce lawyer will prepare what’s called a petition for divorce, which is the document used to express your intent to file for divorce and lays out how you want it to look like.
Your divorce petition will then be served to the other party by a process server. A summons is filed along with the petition, and this document basically puts them on notice that they’re being sued for divorce and that this is what you’d like the outcome to be.
Our St George divorce attorneys will make sure that the legalese of paperwork is accurate to the letter. Any mistakes could cost you time and waste your money. If you’re thinking of going through a divorce, contact us now by calling 435-375-3960!
Responding to a Divorce Petition
Under Utah divorce law, the other party has some time to reply or answer the petition. They can file an answer stating whether they agree or disagree with the various provisions of the petition as we have laid them out.
If they choose, they can do what’s called an answer and counterclaim where they either agree, admit, or deny the provisions as laid out, and propose provisions or desired outcome. They can then make their allegations of what they want and how they think that the divorce case should look.
At that point, you would need to respond to their counterclaim and agree or disagree, and admit or deny their allegations and the things that they want. This sets the stage. We know each other’s starting points. We know where the battle lines are. The next step is initial disclosures and some limited discovery.
The law requires that both parties exchange financial data. In the financial declaration, you set out your income, your expenses, and your assets and liabilities. You’ll need to attach the following documents to your financial declaration:
- Loan application;
- Bank statements;
- Tax returns;
- Leases; and
- Pay stubs.
At this point, each party has a financial snapshot of the other, which means we have a clear idea of what we need to divide in the marriage. Our experienced family law and divorce lawyers at Boyack Christiansen Legal Solutions will work to get you the most favorable results possible. Call us now!
Divorce Mediation in St. George
In Utah, it’s required to go through mediation, with only a few exceptions. In our experience, 90% of cases settle at mediation. The mediation process, if we’re doing it at my office, will look something like this. You and I are going to be in my office. I’m going to have my computer up and I’m going to have a draft settlement agreement ready to go.
During the mediation process, you’ll be in an office with our divorce attorney, preparing a draft settlement. The other party and their attorney are going to be down the hall in another room. We’ll hire an experienced mediator, who are often retired judges or other people that have been involved in the legal system, to facilitate the process.
What a mediator basically does is shuttle diplomacy. They’ll go back and forth between the two rooms and talk about each party’s offer, and help those offers go back and forth. Mediation allows both parties to come up with creative solutions to arrive at a settlement.
There are two advantages in going through mediation to resolve divorce cases. First, you have control over the outcome. You don’t have to agree to anything you don’t want to agree to. Second, it costs a lot less to solve a case at mediation than to go through the next steps in a divorce proceeding.
If the disputes between both parties get resolved during mediation, our St George divorce lawyer can then draft the final documents and submit them to the court for signature. This means that the case is over – you’re divorced!
Mediation is a way of resolving disputes with minimal stress and consternation. Our St George UT divorce attorneys at Boyack Christiansen Legal Solutions can help you with the divorce mediation process in Utah.
Custody Evaluation in UT
If we do not settle at mediation, and there are kids involved, the next step in most cases is to do a custody evaluation or a home study. In this process we hire, by agreement, someone to do the home study. If we can’t, the court will find someone for us who has specialized training in psychology; usually a master’s degree or a PhD in psychology.
The evaluator will look at the factors in the code and meet with you, meet with the other side, meet with the kids, do home visits, have you come and do observations in their offices. Many of them will actually do full blown psychological evaluations and make a recommendation based on their findings in what they call a 4-903 meeting or another settlement conference, or mediation that’s facilitated by the custody evaluator to try and get the custody issue settled.
If you’re unable to resolve the custody issues at this point, the next step is very often that one side may have the resources to do another custody evaluation on their own. You typically will then have to pay to get a written report from the custody evaluator. At this point, you’re basically heading down a trial track.
Call our St. George law firm for the family law practice for any legal issues regarding your custody evaluation or home study.
Divorce Trial in St George, Utah
When preparing for a divorce trial, our experienced Utah divorce lawyers will do a second round of discovery where we’re going to have to disclose who our potential witnesses are including their names, addresses, and what we believe would be a summary of their testimony. We have to prepare exhibits, diagrams, photos, witness questions, gather all the evidence and witnesses to get ready to do a trial.
Now, trials can be very expensive. We might have to do depositions in getting ready for trial. There may be more discovery. It’s going to get much more invasive into your personal life and the lives of you and the children, if you have children.
At Boyack Christiansen Legal Solutions, we’ve done custody trials that have been a week. We’ve done trials in half a day, a day, two days, and that whole time you’re paying bills, both sides, for attorneys. It can get expensive. That’s one of the reasons we try very hard to work things out at mediation.
If there are substantial assets, we may not be able to solve the asset question at mediation. Oftentimes, we’ll agree to hire a forensic accountant or CPA who has had some additional training and experience in divorce law and investigating what people have. They will work with appraisers to help nail down the value of assets. They will help us find out if an asset was acquired before the marriage, during the marriage, or maybe after separation. This will help to decide if an asset is really marital property or not.
Based on their information, hopefully we can then maybe reconvene mediation and resolve those property issues, which can incur additional costs. If we’re still unable to make a settlement out of what the forensic expert has given us, now we’re looking at a trial situation about the marital assets.
When it comes to divorce, you can think of it in terms of school grades from “A” to “F.” If you go to trial, you are shooting for the “A,” but if you don’t get the A, you may very well end up with the “F.”
We’ve actually had a trial before where both parties walked out thinking they had the “F” outcome. Both attorneys and the litigants were stunned. For most divorce cases, you’re better off to take that “B-“ at mediation, which you can live with for a lot less money, time, stress, and expense than to shoot for that “A” knowing you may not get it. Because if you are going to put your whole financial life and the lives of your children in the hands of the judge, you have given up all control since at that point the only thing you control is the evidence that you can present to the court under the rules of evidence and that’s it. That is what you can tell the court.
Nobody knows how the judge is going to interpret the evidence you present in court. The judges that we’ve talked to have said that they really prefer people to settle divorce cases, because they can never know enough about you and your family’s life in a day trial or week-long trial to make a perfect decision. They can only promise to do their best and take their best shot at crafting a solution that is going to work.
If you’re filing for divorce, you may be better off settling disputes at mediation – finding a solution that is going to work at mediation to take care of your case.
If the other part is contentious and you can’t reach a settlement, consult with our St George, Utah family law attorneys at Boyack Christiansen Legal Solutions. We’ll help you get a favorable outcome in your divorce case!
Our Experienced St George Utah Divorce Attorneys Can Help!
Going through a divorce on your own is not an easy feat, and one mistake can cost you and your family. If you want to find an attorney with extensive experience who is the epitome of professionalism, who will look for solutions to your divorce process with efficiency and compassion, call our St George divorce attorneys at Boyack Christiansen Legal Solutions. Our experienced Utah divorce attorneys have your best interest at heart and will make the legal process of divorce as least stressful as possible. If you want to get a divorce, call us now to get the best lawyers you can find in St. George, Utah.