Family Law - Divorce

A divorce in Utah is started by filing a Petition in District Court.

Signing Document The person that files the initial Petition is called the Petitioner and the responding party is the Respondent. The Respondent must file an Answer within the time specified in the accompanying summons in order to avoid a default judgment being entered against them. The Respondent may also choose to file a Counter Petition asking for additional things that were not addressed in the initial Petition. A Decree of Divorce can address issues regarding asset divisions, retirement, custody, child support, debts and loans, business interests, parent time, communication means and/or restrictions, restraining orders, child support, alimony, relocations, and even pets.

Clients often feel it is going to hurt them or their case if their spouse serves them before they are able to do so. While there are some particular situations that may make being the first to file important and pros and cons to both sides, often it does not make any real difference one way or the other. The important thing is to do file the necessary paperwork when you have had adequate time to consider and prepare, and in any event under the time lines specified under the rules.

Occasionally I get a client that comes into my office and is completely fine with the end of their marriage, perhaps even relieved and excited for the process. This is not at all the norm, however. Unfortunately, divorce is one of the most difficult and trying times in a person's life. People can experience severe depression, anxiety, insomnia, stress, panic, anger, hurt, confusion, fear, and embarrassment. Going through a divorce and experiencing those types of real feelings and stress is hardly the time to try to go it alone. It is so important to make sure you understand exactly what is going on and resolve the matter on terms that you can live with. Because that is exactly what you will end up doing. I would much rather help a client through the ini`tial process and make sure their needs are met and their interests are protected from start to finish than have a client come to me that has been divorced and their decree is so unworkable that they now need to spend the money and energy on an uphill battle to try to change or undo what has been done. It is always better to do it right the first time than to try to fix problems later on. Even if you think you have real simple issues, not a lot if anything in disagreement, and feel totally sane and able to think clearly, it is a good idea to have an attorney that is experienced in family law look over your divorce before it is finalized to make sure all your ducks are in a row.

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