A divorce proceeding starts with one party serving a petition for divorce on his or her spouse. Either the husband or wife may file a divorce proceeding. Utah, as well as most other states, allows for “no fault” divorce, which means that parties may be divorced due to no fault or specific action of the other – simply not wanting to be married anymore is sufficient grounds to seek divorce. Not surprisingly, irreconcilable differences is often the grounds or basis for the divorce as a result.
Child Custody and Parenting Plans
Although the actual divorce may be simple, complicated issues usually arise pertaining to all that comes with ending a marriage. Child custody determinations are understandably issues that parties fear the most. In Utah, a determination of both physical custody and legal custody is made whenever minor children are involved. Legal custody is the right to make legal decisions for the minor children, and often, the father and mother are awarded joint legal custody. Physical custody is the party with whom the child or children will live. Although a variety of factors come in to play, physical custody is typically based on a findings as to whom is the child or children’s primary caregiver.
Once custody is determined by the Court, a parenting plan will be issued. A parenting plan is usually a welcome relief to divorcing parents, as it serves to clarify the parent’s respective rights and obligations once the divorce is final. Weekend and vacation visits are established. Guidelines for schooling, discipline, and other issues will also be resolved, removing much of the uncertainty that parents may experience when their child or children are with their former spouse. Issues such as wealth, having a large enough house, and religion do not play a part in the court’s formation of a parenting plan. Rather, the focus is on allowing parents to maintain relationships with their child or children after the divorce is final.
Alimony and Child Support
In Utah, either the husband or wife may collect alimony, depending on determination of the parties’ respective earning potentials and customary standard of living during the marriage. Likewise, the party with whom the child or children reside is entitled to support payments, which again depend on the non-custodial parent’s income as well as the custodial parent’s ability to support the children.
Modification of Divorce Decrees
While a court’s divorce decree attempts to anticipate issues that will likely arise in the future, parties often find themselves in a situation needing to revise or modify the court’s original decree. Common issues resulting in a modification include changes of income, changes in custody, and relocation of either parent. If significant changes have occurred since the time of a divorce decree, we recommend you consult one of our lawyers to determine whether a modification to your divorce is appropriate.
If you or someone you know is considering a divorce, do not hesitate to call us at 801.365.1030 with specific questions.