Q & A

There are a lot of resources available to you on your journey through your personal legal matter. Free and low cost alternatives are available if you need or desire. However, while these can be a great starting point and resource, in order to truly protect your rights and ensure you do everything you can do, hiring the right attorney to join your team truly is the first step and wisest choice you can make.

That being said, in our experience, family and elder law clients tend to have some general questions that seem to recur fairly regularly. Please click below for some common questions and answers. Remember, these are general questions and not specific legal advice based on specific facts and circumstances.

Family Law

Again, we provided this as a general starting point for some broad questions. This is not intended to be specific legal advice for your very specific situation. Although we would love to offer whatever assistance we can through the many emotional situations elder law entails, we can only offer specific legal advice on specific facts for clients. If you need specific legal advice, please seek the actual advice of an attorney of your choosing.

Elder Law

Divorce, Custody, Support etc.

I have included some common questions that many people call or email me seeking answers to. I do want to inform you that the answers to these questions are general and hopefully to help you gather some general and initial answers, but NOT intended to be specific answers for your specific situation and facts. Based upon the diversity and specificity of your personal family situation, the answers below may or may not fit, but they are a good starting point. The law can be complex and lawyers can always find a way to argue something otherwise - so if in doubt, please seek specific legal advice based upon your specific situation. That being said, I hope I can help alleviate some of the unknown...

1. How do I file for divorce?

A: In Utah you file a Petition for Decree of Divorce. The filing fee with the court is $310.00. You can fill out a form - available for free on line or at the court house seeking to have this fee waived for impecuniosity (i.e. you don't have enough money to pay it).

2. Do I have to hire an attorney?

A: No, but it is highly recommended - and not just because I am a divorce attorney. A lot of my practice is working to help client's fix their "do it themselves" divorces or divorces that their former spouse had an attorney and they did not. It is MUCH harder to fix after the court has entered the final Decree. However, the court's website - under the Links tab has a great program called OCAP with all of the forms necessary to do your divorce yourself. Some attorneys - myself included - will agree to look over your documents in light of your personal family situation to ensure that every t is crossed and I dotted. If you can't afford an attorney and your divorce is not contested this may be a great way to ensure you are protecting yourself during this emotional time.

3. What if my spouse does not want a divorce?

A: Utah recognizes no fault divorce and one party cannot prevent a divorce. However, they can waste a lot of your time, energy and perhaps money trying. Rest assured, that if they are doing so, there is a light at the end of the tunnel and if you do want to get divorced, you can and will be able to do so.

4. What is mediation?

A: Mediation is when you, your spouse and each of your attorney's if you have them sit down and work to resolve any and all contested issues in your divorce with an unbiased, trained negotiator. It can be a great opportunity to settle your entire case. One of the wonderful things about mediation is that if you do not reach a settlement, nothing said in mediation can be held against you in court. This helps both husband and wife feel more comfortable opening up and truly working to find a solution. Even better, mediation is a chance for you and your spouse to find solutions to particular issues such as parent-time or property division. If you go to court and litigate, which don't get me wrong sometimes is necessary; a judge has all of the power to decide these intimate personal decisions. Mediation allows the people these issues involve in charge of fashioning solutions that work for them personally. If settlement is not reached on one or any of the issues, you still have the same right you did before walking in the door to mediation - go to court.

5. Do I have to mediate?

A: In Utah, if custody and parent-time is in issue, yes. Mediators can be great or....not so great. The variance in experience, approach, and cost is astronomical. There are several options for mediation and you should shop wisely to ensure the best fit for this serious situation. If you would like recommendations I would suggest you contact the Utah State Bar, or the Court, someone you know and trust that has been through it, or me. I would be happy to help you find the right person for you. Finding the right mediator can be almost as important a decision as finding the right attorney.

6. How long does it take to get divorced?

A: After filing the Petition for Divorce, your spouse typically has 20 days from the date they were served to file an answer. If they do not, you can file default paperwork. If all the necessary documents have been filed with the court your divorce could then be finalized as soon as it comes across the judges desk for signature. Please note that there are many more documents than just the Petition that needs to be filed in order to ask the court to enter a default. These can be found on the court's website if you choose not to have an attorney assist you. Also, if you have children there are courses you need to attend or ask the court to not require you to attend prior to entry of the divorce. Finally, there is a waiting period for divorce in Utah, but you can also file a motion requesting the court to waive the waiting period.

7. How can I afford to support myself/my children?

A: Utah law allows for temporary support, temporary child support, temporary daycare reimbursement, and even attorney's fees and costs under the right circumstances. Further, if you are afraid your spouse may sell assets, hide things, close accounts, or even stop paying bills your can request temporary orders, a restraining order, or a protective order preventing them from doing so.

8. What is an annulment? Is annulment an option instead of divorce?

A: An annulment is basically a finding from the court making a statement that in essence the marriage never happened. Often people misunderstand annulments. They are not a fast, cheap alternative to divorce. In order to get an annulment you have to meet VERY specific legislatively proscribed factors like your wife was already married at the time you got married or your husband was underage. Although there are circumstances to seek an annulment, more often than not a divorce is your best bet.

9. Do I have any other options other than just doing it all myself or hiring an attorney I don't think I can afford?

A: Absolutely! You have several options. You can do it yourself by going to court and getting the forms or filling out the paperwork on-line on the court's website. You can also go to the FREE family law clinics. The information for this is also available on line including dates and times. You have the option of going to a paralegal services company. You can also shop around for an attorney that will agree to meet with you on a limited scope representation. There are several options within this spectrum from just answer a few questions and give me the information I need to do the divorce myself, all the way up to having an attorney help you through the entire process. Shop around for what meets your particular needs and situation.

10. What are some good resources for me to find out more information?

A: Under the Links tab on our website I have some very useful links. There is a wealth of resources and information available to you. Court clerks can also be a great help. A simple phone call and kindness go a very long way still today. Although court clerks are not attorneys and therefore are not supposed to give legal advice, they may be able to help you with certain things - especially if you are humble, respectful and kind.

11. What if I am afraid my spouse will freak out when they find out I am really going to seek a divorce?

A: Divorce is a very trying, very emotional time. It may be hard for both you and your spouse to remain calm and civil at all times. If your spouse simply cannot, you have several options. Regardless, focusing on trying to stay calm and remain the voice of reason may diffuse the situation and assist you to work with your spouse to keep communication open and negotiate as calmly and civilly as possible. My dad always said "kill them with kindness" and I have found sometimes that really does work. Unfortunately, sometimes no matter how calm and fair we are, our spouse just is not willing to play nice. In that event a restraining order or even protective order may be necessary options. Whatever you do, stay calm and know that you are not a helpless victim. There are resources and options available.

12. Can I just get a legal separation?

A: I do not recommend it. It may end up costing you almost twice as much money, because if you do all the paperwork for a legal separation, you have to essentially start the entire process over and do all new papers for a divorce. It may be best to just file for divorce, but not push it along if you want to take time to sort things out or even attempt to reconcile. Believe me, a judge is not going to rush the process along and push you into getting your divorce finalized.

13. Why haven't I hired Bradford Law Office already?

A: That is one question I actually cannot answer :-) Again, I provided this Q & A as a general starting point for some broad questions. I do not want to beat a dead horse with a stick, but this is not intended to be specific legal advice for a specific situation. Although I would love to offer whatever assistance I can through the difficult situations divorce entails, I can only offer specific legal advice on specific facts for clients. If you need specific legal advice, please seek the actual advice of an attorney of your choosing. If you would like to talk with me further, just fill out the form available on each page of this website and I'll be in touch. You may also pick up the phone and call 801-518-3623 or email me at bradfordlawoffice@gmail.com to reach me directly.

Lets Just Talk


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