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Guide to Succeeding in Divorce While Reducing the Time and Costs

Contents

  1. If you are the victim of serious or escalating domestic violence, get help and get to safety first. 2
  2. Advance Planning, If You Have That Option. 2
  3. Gather in one place the information needed to prepare your divorce case, and keep a backup copy. 6

3b. Talk with a Bankruptcy attorney to see if you need to file for bankruptcy before or during the divorce process. 12

  1. Familiarize yourself with the divorce process. 12
  2. Save up some money for your divorce battle. 13
  3. Consult a financial advisor. 13
  4. Play it cool and play it smart. 14
  5. Clearing the skeletons out of your closet (or at least Get Your House in Order, if you don’t have any skeletons): 14
  6. Hope for the best, but prepare for the worst. 16
  7. Take Advantage of Flat/Fixed Fees, Limited Scope Representation, and Using a Lawyer Consultant. 18
  8. Seek Second Opinions and Advice at Every Turn. 19
  9. Let Time Work for You. 19
  10. Stay Engaged and Persevere. 19
  11. Last Word.. 20
  12. Utah Divorce Preparation Forms. 21

Financial Declaration form… 21

Information You or Your Lawyer Need to Prepare Divorce Pleadings form… 21

Parenting Plan Points. 21

 

1.  If you are the victim of serious or escalating domestic violence, get help and get to safety first.

You cannot think clearly or focus on getting a divorce if you are preoccupied with fear for the life or safety of yourself or your children.

  • If you are tempted to accuse your spouse falsely of child and/or spousal abuse to get a leg up in a divorce case, the truth is that usually works, especially if you are a woman (we prefer clarity to political correctness here, and so should you, if you want to go into divorce with your eyes open). Courts are extremely risk averse, and in most cases if they so much as wonder whether there may be a threat of physical violence, they will “shoot first and ask questions later” by issuing protective orders and supervised parent-time/visitation orders out of caution, even when there’s little to no proof to support it. These protective orders and supervised parent-time orders can set the tone for the entire case and often solidify into permanent orders, if the party against whom the orders are issued cannot disprove the allegations of abuse.
  • So does this mean you should lie to obtain these kinds of orders? No. Is it because you risk being caught? Well, if that’s the reason you choose to do the right thing, then yes, but frankly, there is rarely a penalty for being caught lying about these things. So why be honest? Because it’s the right thing to do, and we believe in the Golden Rule and in karma here.
  • So if you are the one who is falsely accused of abuse, prepare to spend a lot of time and money to make things right, and get a very good lawyer. Your odds of vindicating yourself without a very good lawyer’s help are slim to none. Just ask around and you’ll see. Ask people who were falsely accused in a protective order case who didn’t get a lawyer to defend them, see how they fared. See for yourself.

2. Advance Planning, If You Have That Option.

OK, now that you’ve gotten to safety, you need to get informed and educated.  You cannot think clearly or decide accurately in ignorance.

Next, if you were served with a divorce summons before you read this, then advance planning is not in the cards for you. You will, however, still benefit from reading this article, including this advance planning section. Keep reading either way.

I know for many of you preparing for divorce and planning for it “behind your spouse’s back” makes you feel guilty or dishonest. Good for you. It shows you have a conscience, and as long as you continue to let your conscience be your guide you need not and will not feel guilty or dishonest about trying to make the best of a bad situation.  But planning for divorce doesn’t mean you must “plan” to take advantage of your spouse.

If your idea of planning for a divorce includes opening secret bank accounts to hide assets from your wife, persuading your husband to pay for facelift and breast augmentation as a “gift” to him, running up big credit card balances, draining your savings and retirement, or arranging to get “fired” to avoid alimony and child support, and other such underhanded shenanigans, you are not planning for divorce, you are plotting against your spouse (Matthew 12:26).

Take a principled approach to divorce planning and preparation. It will serve you best.

The good and right kind of advance planning for divorce is this kind:

Before you do anything else:

  • Reset your phone to factory defaults to ensure that there’s no software on your phone that enables your spouse to spy on you and your phone and Internet usage. Check your phone regularly to ensure your phone stays clean.

 

  • Change the password on ALL of your email and social media accounts. Don’t pick a password your spouse can easily guess.
  • Password protect ALL of your computers and phones that you use exclusively.

 

  • Don’t use phones and computers that are accessible to your spouse and other family members to research divorce, transfer money, set up new accounts, or to discuss divorce.

 

  • Don’t do illegal or bad things with your phone and computer, and don’t think you can hide your illegal/bad things by password protecting them.

 

  • Make sure the new passwords aren’t something your spouse can easily guess.

 

  • Copy or take possession of family computer hard drives, removable storage, and cloud-stored data. You don’t want this data to be lost or “lost” (meaning erased) by your spouse.

 

  • DON’T go snooping around your spouse’s computers, e-mail, and social media accounts without first consulting a lawyer and private investigator to know how to do it right, if it can be done at all. You don’t inadvertently want to violate any state or federal privacy and wiretapping laws.

 

  • If you have any financial accounts in your name only (and that your spouse doesn’t use historically or routinely for family expenses), but you have authorized your spouse to access the balance information or make withdrawals from the account, remove the authorizations. Protect the account from being drained by your spouse.

 

  • Get a post office box.

 

  • Get another e-mail address for divorce purposes exclusively (e., to communicate with your lawyer and for other divorce-specific purposes).

 

  • Your post office box and new e-mail address are where you can have communications sent to you that you don’t want your spouse to know about, such as correspondence between you and your lawyer, your private investigator, and other professionals you may be consulting.

 

  • Open a new checking and savings account in your name only. You want to have your own account accessible only to you, so that you have funds available when you need them, without worrying about whether your spouse will try to block access or withdraw all the money from a joint account.

 

  • This is not a secret account, just a safe account. Don’t lie about or conceal its existence if and when you are called upon to disclose your financial accounts (and you will be required to do so at some point, so be ready).

 

  • Open a new credit card account in your name only. A credit card in your name, like a checking and savings account, helps you have access to credit in an emergency and helps you build credit in your own name too. Open the account before you file for divorce if you wouldn’t qualify for a credit card without taking your household income into account; if your income and credit history is scanty, you may qualify on your own.

 

  • This is not a secret account, just a secure account. Don’t lie about or conceal its existence if and when you are called upon to disclose your credit card accounts (and you will be required to do so at some point, so be ready).

 

  • Think about changing your will and living will/medical directives. While in Utah you cannot completely disinherit a spouse (while you’re married), you can take steps to ensure your soon to be ex-spouse does not inherit through your will or through intestate succession if you die before your divorce is finalized.

 

  • If you have minor children who have passports, make sure they are secure, so that your spouse cannot leave or attempt to leave the country with the children.

Next:

  • Make an appointment to meet with an excellent divorce lawyer now.

 

  • Even if you decide against seeking a divorce, talk to an excellent attorney now (not just any attorney, an excellent attorney; talking to any old attorney is just chancing it), while time is on your side. Learn about how divorce works. Dispel all the myths and lies you’ve been told by well-meaning friends and family members or by your self-absorbed/abusive spouse. Learn where you may be vulnerable and how to use time to strengthen yourself and your case.

 

  • Even if you decide against seeking hiring a divorce lawyer, talk to an excellent attorney now (not just any attorney, an excellent attorney; talking to any old attorney is just chancing it) to understand how divorce law works. IT’S NOT WHAT YOU THINK IT IS.

 

  • Don’t settle for interviewing 2 or 3 divorce lawyers. Interview 6 or more. Seriously.

 

  • Lots of divorce lawyers are mediocre, and if you don’t shop around earnestly, you’ll end up settling for (and wasting your precious money and opportunities on) a lawyer you don’t particularly trust, like, want, or who can do the job you need done.

 

  • Don’t be afraid to pay a consultation fee either. “Free consultations” are anything but. Attorneys cannot afford to give free consultations, so the good ones charge for their time and advice. The bad ones simply tell you at the end of your “free” consultation that—surprise, surprise—need to hire them.

 

  • Nail down the facts. And how do you do that? See paragraph 3, below.

3. Gather in one place the information needed to prepare your divorce case, and keep a backup copy.

Keeping everything together in one place helps ensure that you do not overlook the facts, assets, debts, and issues involved in the divorce case. Once you get all of this information down on paper and on a couple of hard drives, your attorney will be much better prepared to answer your questions and advise you on how to proceed in your specific divorce case.

  • Gather and keep current identifying, asset, debt, and other financial information on yourself.
  • Gather and keep current identifying, asset, debt, and other financial information on your spouse. This may be even more important than gathering the information on yourself, because once the divorce process starts, your spouse may start to hide or destroy this information to prevent you from having complete and accurate information; don’t give your spouse that chance. Even if you think “it can never happen to me,” don’t leave it to chance.
  • Gather and keep current important information about you and your spouse’s business or employment.
    • Know the name, supervisors, address, and contact information for you and your spouse’s employer.
    • If you or your spouse has/have his/her own business, find out what assets, liabilities, and accounts the business has. Gather the information necessary to value your spouse’s business rule and get your own business appraised.
    • Report all business earnings, expenses, and losses properly; don’t “cook the books” or engage in any illegal or even suspicious business activities; it’s easier to discover and unravel than you might think.
    • Don’t pay personal expenses or your lawyer’s fees from your business. Mixing personal and business expenses can risk your business being penalized by the government and makes it easier to consider your business a marital asset.
  • To make sure you are gathering a complete list of important documents, keep track of the mail when it arrives at your house, so that you know what bills you have, what financial, investment, retirement accounts, and insurance policies there are.
    • Record account numbers, balances, addresses, names, and contact information from the statements, bills, and other documents you receive in the mail and by e-mail.
    • If mail is also addressed to you or to you and your spouse, make copies of these documents for future reference and to review with your attorney.
  • Gather together as many of these documents as you can possibly find (it may be hard, but the law will require it of you):

FINANCIAL AND ASSET DOCUMENTS

  • tax returns going back as many years as you can (but not less than the last three years of filed or prepared returns);
    • The tax returns need to be complete federal and state income tax returns, including Forms W-2 and supporting tax schedules and attachments, filed by or on behalf of that party or by or on behalf of any entity in which the party has a majority or controlling interest, including, but not limited to, Forms 1099 and Form K-1.
  • pay stubs for and other evidence you and your spouse of all earned and un-earned income for the at least 12 months before your complaint for divorce is filed, or a work history report from the Department of Workforce Services;
  • all loan applications and financial statements prepared or used within at least the 12 months before the complaint for divorce is filed;
  • any and all documents verifying the value of all your real estate interests, including, but not limited to, the most recent appraisal, tax valuation and refinance documents, mortgage statements, loan documents, etc.;
  • your bank, credit union, and checking account statements, contracts, and other evidence of your financial assets going back at least three years;
  • any and all statements for at least the 3 months before your complaint for divorce is filed for all financial accounts, including, but not limited to checking, savings, money market funds, certificates of deposit, brokerage, investment, retirement, regardless of whether the account has been closed including those held in your name, jointly with another person or entity, or as a trustee or guardian, or in someone else’s name on that party’s behalf;
  • credit card statements, loan documents, leases, receipts and billing statements to verify your household expenses and your personal expenses;
  • certificates of title to your house, your vacation timeshare, your cars, trailer, motorcycles, watercraft, major equipment, etc., and evidence of these items, such as receipts, loan documents, etc.);
  • creditor statements regarding your debts and liabilities, such as credit card statements, your student loan statements, home equity line of credit, etc.
  • Start keeping track of all of your expenses by keeping your receipts and jotting down expenses for which you don’t have receipts in a ledger.

 

  • Keep all your receipts for EVERYTHING you purchase. Start keeping track of all of your expenses by keeping your receipts and jotting down expenses for which you don’t have receipts in a ledger.

 

You need to prove to the divorce court what your needs and expenses are. Keep the register tape when you buy groceries. Keep receipts for gasoline. Keep copies of your utility bills, clothing purchases, extracurricular activities, business and employment-related expenses, gift purchases, donations, EVERYTHING. When I say everything, I mean, literally, everything. Every expense of yours. Use your credit card to help track purchases. If you purchase something from a merchant who does not normally give you a receipt, ask for one. If you cannot get a receipt, write down the expense in a ledger you keep with you at all times for this purpose.

 

Do not reduce your spending, if you can manage it. If you think that being frugal before and during the pendency of your divorce case is the responsible thing to do, think again. Being frugal and economical in your spending is one of those “no good deed goes unpunished” situations. Suppose you gross $6,500 per month, and have a net income of $4,000 per month. Suppose your lifestyle pre-divorce filing had you spending $4,000 per month on your housing and food and clothing and even your hobbies and entertainment. Suppose that you then decide to reduce your spending by $1,000 a month so that you could afford to hire a divorce lawyer. The problem is that the divorce court and your spouse will almost certainly conclude that your lifestyle costs you $3,000 per month, not $4,000 (because you will not always be paying for a lawyer every month for the rest of your life). So now the court and your spouse will say you have an extra thousand dollars every month you don’t spend, and your spouse can now claim you should pay that to him or her as alimony, or on your kids in the form of extra child support.

 

So even though you might think saving money on your lifestyle will help you make divorce more affordable, it could actually cost you in the long run by resulting in the court concluding you have extra money to pay alimony and other family expenses for years to come.

  • Get a copy of your credit report, andmonitor your credit report, and monitor your credit report.
  • Makesure your spouse is not running up debt in your name or spending marital funds on a lover.
  • Use your credit report to help you determine and quantify and prove the amount of debt you and your spouse have incurred and see if there are debts that were hidden from you. If you worry your spouse might run up debts, or try to borrow money in your name, or try to damage your credit, then enroll in a credit monitoring service to notify you of any suspicious activity. You might also call the credit reporting agencies report fraud on your credit report.(No, I do not profit from these links in any way.)
    • To obtain a copy of your credit report, click on the following link: Annual Credit Report
    • To report fraud on your credit report, click any of these links:
  • To enroll in credit monitoring, click any of these links (no, I do not profit from this link in any way):
  • To enroll in identity theft protection, click on the following link:

(If you were wondering, no, I do not profit from these links in any way.)

  • Keep track of your outstanding and ongoing bills and obligations. If your spouse has historically been the one who kept track of and paid the household bills, that may change once a divorce is filed. Don’t assume that the bills will still get paid on time or in full. Money gets tight, and your spouse may stop paying the bills, bills for which you are jointly liable. Even if a temporary court order requires your spouse to pay some or all of the bills, that does not prevent your creditors from pursuing collection actions against you. Partial payment or non-payment of bills can damage your credit rating, making life after divorce difficult if you apply for a new credit card, a car loan, or a home loan.
    • If your home or other real estate is mortgaged, make sure the payments get made in full and on time for the sake of protecting your credit. Tell the lender that you need a statement sent to your new address. Monitor the monthly payments online, and if payments fall behind, tell your lawyer immediately.
    • If your car is financed, make sure the payments get made in full and on time for the sake of protecting your credit. Tell the lender that you need a statement sent to your new address. Monitor the monthly payments online, and if payments fall behind, tell your lawyer immediately. If your car is title or lease in your spouse’s name, prepare yourself for the possibility of borrowing a car, purchasing, or leasing a car of your own, to ensure you can still get to work and have transportation to meet your personal needs.
  • Inspect, inventory, and document your personal property.It is common for spouses to remove stuff from the home and then to hide it, give it away, sell it, or even destroy it just to be spiteful. To get a complete, detailed inventory of the personal property in your house and in any shed or outbuilding on your property, go through your house room by room with a video camera and a friend. Make sure the camera records the time and date of the inventory. Identify the furniture in every room. Film each wall to show the artwork on the walls and the crystal chandelier on the ceiling. Open closets, pull out the contents and get a good shot of each item in it. As you go, take a regular camera and get still shots of everything too (Make sure the camera records the time and date of the inventory). Should your spouse later claim that things have mysteriously gone missing, you will have rock-solid proof to the contrary.
    • Secure big ticket items and property that has sentimental value. If you fear that cars, boats, motorcycles, watercraft, paintings, coin or gun collections and other big ticket items may be taken, sold, given away, or otherwise disposed of during your divorce, take them some place safe and secure them. You will eventually have to disclose where they are, but you won’t get in trouble for keeping them safe from your spouse selling or stealing them out from under you.
    • If you transfer any property, then after you transfer the property, have your attorney notify your spouse or your spouse’s attorney of the transfer immediately.

OTHER DOCUMENTS AND EVIDENCE THAT MAY PERTAIN TO YOUR DIVORCE

  • family photographs and videos

 

  • drug and alcohol screenings (if you get screened at work) to show you aren’t the drunk or junkie your spouse accuses you of being

 

  • police reports and records of criminal convictions, if you’ve been the victim or perpetrator (or accused perpetrator) of violence or other criminal behavior

 

  • evidence of your and your spouse’s ability to earn income

 

  • evidence of your efforts to be a good and engaged parent; evidence that your spouse is not a good and engaged parent

 

  • Identify by name, address, and contact information witnesses to your good character, treatment of your spouse and children, your parental fitness, etc. Also identify witnesses to your spouse’s misconduct, abuse, infidelity, etc.

Once you’re safe, have met with an attorney, and have all your documents gathered, then:

3b. Talk with a Bankruptcy attorney to see if you need to file for bankruptcy before or during the divorce process.

Often times financial ruin (or impending financial ruin) can cause a divorce. And sadly, divorce can often cause one to file for bankruptcy. If you don’t know how divorce and bankruptcy law overlap and potentially conflict, you can get burned needlessly. Whether you should file a bankruptcy before or after filing for divorce depends on state and federal laws, how much property you have, how much debt you have, which kind of bankruptcy relief you want or qualify for, whether you and your spouse should file jointly or separately. You don’t have to hire a bankruptcy attorney to consult with one. If you wonder whether both divorce and bankruptcy are in your future, consult a bankruptcy attorney, now.

4. Familiarize yourself with the divorce process.

Talk to an attorney—you don’t have to hire one, just pay for a consultation or two or even three—who: a) focuses his/her practice on divorce and b) who is willing and eager to help you understand the laws and the procedures involved in a divorce, so that you are not constantly surprised, anxious, or frustrated by ignorance of the process.

Educate yourself. The more you know up front, the less money you’ll spend paying an attorney to educate you later or get you out of the mess you unknowingly created.

Start by reading the divorce statutes in the Utah Code. State with Chapter 3 of Title 30 of the Utah Code (this is the Divorce section of the Code), then read Chapter 12 of Title 78B of the Utah Code (the Utah Child Support Act) if you have minor children. Even you don’t fully understand it all, at least you know where this information is and what it covers.

Go to your local library and browse the books in the “divorce” section. Check out those titles that interest you. Believe about half of what the books tell you.

Our website, divorceutah.com also has some of the best, clearest, most useful information about Utah divorce. Scouring divorceutah.com will dramatically improve your confidence, your sense of purpose, your effectiveness, and your efficiency in interacting with your lawyer and negotiating with your spouse.

Other links you may want to browse online include:

5. Save up some money for your divorce battle.

Even a simple divorce can be expensive, and unexpected expenses are, frankly, to be expected.

You’ll need money for the court filing fee. You may miss a few days of work to be in court or in a deposition or examination. You may need to hire a babysitter on those days too.

Then there’s the cost of a lawyer. I know you don’t want to pay for a lawyer, but don’t trip over dollars to pick up dimes. If you believe divorce law is simple and straightforward, by all means please try to do it yourself; there’s no more conclusive (or tragic) way for you to learn how wrong that is.

Once you have determined that a good lawyer pays for himself or herself, find the best lawyer you can afford. If the best lawyer you can afford is incompetent, don’t hire that lawyer. Incompetent lawyers cost you money.

Don’t run out and hire a divorce lawyer unless you can afford to go the distance. If that means sticking around in the marriage a while to save up some lawyer fee money, complete your education, get a good job, etc., so be it.

Of course, if you are in an abusive marriage where staying put risks your life or safety, that’s a different matter; if comes down to your money or your life, spare your life and worry about money later. Live (literally) to fight another day.

6. Consult a financial advisor.

I know that you’re not made of money and that consulting professionals is expensive, but I’m telling you that if you can, you should avail yourself of sound advice. It pays for itself.

A good financial advisor and a good accountant will help you identify and plan for the tax and credit consequences of divorce as you refinance or sell your house, divide retirement, investments, and business assets. Your advisor(s) can help you understand how divorce affects Social Security health, and life insurance benefits. A good financial advisor or accountant can also help you prepare a financial plan and a budget during the divorce action and for life as a newly single person again.

7. Play it cool and play it smart.

The fight or flight instinct is pushed to its limits in divorce. The tendency to overreact is strong; you alternate between the idea of surrendering unconditionally and the desire for scorched earth as your case drags on. Your goal (and best course of action) is to stay in stay frosty. It’s hard, but far better than spiraling out of control. Don’t fall prey to conduct that can be used against you in court. Conduct yourself with dignity, grace, and class (and the fringe benefit is that nothing will drive your spouse crazier than you staying cool, no matter what he/she throws at you).

8. Clearing the skeletons out of your closet (or at least Get Your House in Order, if you don’t have any skeletons):

  • Stay away from drugs, alcohol, pornography, gambling, and any other addictive behavior. Divorce can drive almost anyone to drink, smoke, snort, shoot, snack—anything to ease or dull the pain. Don’t start. So call your mom or your best friend instead (every day, if you have to until you’re back in control). Take a brisk walk. Read your scriptures. Pray. Join a softball or bowling team. Volunteer at a school or hospital. Take the focus off yourself—it works (and don’t tell me it doesn’t until you try it). It keeps you out of trouble, it helps you get your perspective back, and it lets the sun peek through the clouds of doom just a little bit more.
    • If you abuse alcohol or drugs, if you have a gambling, overeating, or pornography problem, etc., change course immediately. Being branded a drunk, an addict or a reckless, irresponsible libertine is the last thing you need in a divorce. Get professional treatment, if needed. You’ll not only be improving your own well-being, but also showing the divorce court that you deal with trials and adversity in a mature, productive manner.
    • If you are an alcoholic or abuse pain medication or other drugs, get clean and sober and fast (but in a medically sound manner), or you will may lose contact with your kids.
    • If you’re having an extramarital affair, break it off and keep it off. If your spouse discovers the affair and confronts you about it, come clean immediately, no more, no less (don’t beat yourself up over it or try to “buy” your spouse’s forgiveness by offering damn fool concessions as fast as your lips can move or your hands can type or sign extortionate agreements).

 

  • If you’re a petty criminal, stop committing crimes, now.

 

  • If you like porn, stop viewing it. Yes, I know it’s legal (except kiddie porn), but it’s more trouble than it’s worth in divorce. Don’t think you can fly under the radar. Your spouse will find out and thus, so will the court. Again, pornography is legal, but that’s not the point. Viewing pornography makes you a sitting duck for allegations that you’re a dirty old man (or woman) who might molest the kids. I know that sounds crazy to some, but that’s the perception. Don’t fight it, just dump the pornography and get in the clear. Pick your battles.

 

  • If you actually are a dirty old man or woman who has a pornography addiction, get into treatment now. You don’t have to shout the fact from the rooftops. You can keep this kind of thing to yourself, but do get sincere treatment before you hurt yourself or your family.

 

  • If you have gambling debts or have been engaged in other shady dealings, set things right, stay away from bad influences, don’t fall back into bad habits or start running with the wrong crowd again;

 

  • Get acquainted with your children’s teachers and coaches at school, at church, in Cub Scouts/Girl Scouts, sports teams, and in other extracurricular activities. Get to know your children’s friends and the parents of their friends. Find out what your children like to do, what they like to watch on TV, to read, what video games they enjoy, what they want to be when they grow up, etc.

 

  • If you haven’t been a good neighbor in the past, now is the time to make amends and to straighten up and fly right;

 

  • If you have been physically or emotionally abusive toward your children and/or spouse:

 

  • Stop abusing;

 

  • Seek counseling and/or therapy (even if you don’t think you need it, the judge will look upon it favorably);

 

  • Ask your counselor for a reading list of books and articles about being a less violent/critical spouse and parent, then buy them and read them and mark them up to remember what they taught;

 

  • Go back to church (as long as you’re sincere about it);

 

  • If you are a spendthrift, get your spending under control, vow never to return to your profligate ways, and practice fiscal discipline;

 

  • If you don’t know what to do or where to start, try one (or several) or these free offerings:

 

 

 

  • If you are a tightwad, loosen the purse strings and do right financially by your spouse and/or children

 

  • Keep a detailed, honest account of your time spent caring for the children and interacting with them. This will become important when a child custody award is made. Keep a calendar and make notes of every hour you spend with the children. Keep movie and game ticket stubs, copies of homework you helped with. Take some candid photographs when you’re out with the kids. If your account doesn’t make you look like a very good parent, then work on being a better parent, immediately. Don’t fake good parenting, but don’t be afraid to improve as a parent now. It can’t hurt.

 

  • Do not move out of the house, if you can avoid it.Moving out of the marital home is ill-advised, unless you have overriding interests, such as avoiding domestic violence. In that case, protect yourself first. You’re no good to your children if you are dead or hospitalized due to domestic violence. As you can imagine, if you are not living with your children on a daily basis, but your spouse is (and in the family home to boot), your claim to being a primary caregiver or the primary caregiver is substantially, if not fatally weakened. If you move out, your spouse can accuse you of “abandoning” the family. If you have already moved out of the house, move back in if you can do so without causing trouble for your spouse or the children.

9. Hope for the best, but prepare for the worst.

  • Avoid the very appearance of evil. Your spouse may be the type who will cast everything you do in a bad light. If you exercise, you’re a narcissist. If you work hard, you’re ignoring your family. Are you frugal?  No, you’re a miser!  Are you generous?  No, you’re a spendthrift!  Stay the night at a friend’s house and you’re gay. ‘Love spending time with your kids?  Well, that’s just creepy  . . . The point is this:  keep your nose clean and don’t do anything—even if it’s totally innocent—that can raise suspicion. Act as if your every move is being watched and recorded to play back for the court. Yes, it’s unfair, but it’s smart and a heck of a lot cheaper than having to defend yourself against cheap accusations and innuendo.
  • So keep a regular, detailed record of your day-to-day activities.
    • Make sure you can account for where you went, who was with you, what you did (what it cost), and for how long. If you have children, keep track of when you see or call them, what you do with them when you’re together, and what you talk about (do not coach them or disparage your spouse to them, but do keep notes on how they’re feeling, what makes them happy or sad, how they’re doing in school, what they’re thoughts of the future are).
    • Note each potentially negative rumor or fact, then consult candidly with your attorney as to what steps you can take to mitigate any possible damage.
    • If child custody is an issue, document the good you do and the bad your spouse does. Be honest and don’t exaggerate the good or the bad, just keep a record that reflects who takes care of the kids and in what ways.
  • Become a model citizen. Just as staying away from drugs, alcohol, pornography, gambling, and any other addictive behavior keeps you out of trouble, it also makes you look good to the court. Even if it sounds cynical to you, go to your church, synagogue, or mosque. Take time to help the less fortunate by donating your time and money (within reason). Coach your kids’ team. Volunteer at school and with the Boy or Girl Scouts. Make friends with those in your religious organization and in the good causes you support, so they can be character witnesses for you. Feel good because you are doing good and being good. And document your good works.
  • If you can’t say anything good about your spouse, don’t say anything. Tearing your spouse down does not build you up in the eyes of the court. That’s a shame because the court should be open to truth no matter how ugly or distasteful it might be, but judges are human beings who don’t like raking through muck any more than you do. They will listen more to the good than to the disparaging. Disparaging, defamatory remarks about your spouse—even if based in fact—usually boomerang and draw negative attention you. When you sling mud, it not only ends up dirtying your own hands, but you lose ground too.
  • As I’ve noted above, if you have some skeletons in your closet, clean them out. For those indiscretions and faults you cannot dispose of or fix up, don’t draw unnecessary attention to them. If you are confronted with them, do not lie to cover them, just don’t start singing like a canary about them either. Good P.R. is a useful tool in divorce.
  • Keep a low profile in other areas. Don’t antagonize your spouse, and don’t rise to his/her bait. In a divorce setting, your spouse is not happy with you, and discussion between you will likely not be pleasant or on pleasant subjects. So limit contact with your spouse. Don’t give him/her the silent treatment, just avoid confrontations. Stay calm.
  • Be courteous to your spouse no matter how hard that may be. It keeps you from being branded the bad guy, and helps build good will for settlement. Let your lawyer be the bad cop where necessary. And while few things can match the pleasure of a good zinger, rubbing your spouse’s nose in misfortune (even if it’s well-deserved) will come back to bite you, oft times repeatedly. If it’s you who is being insulted and smeared, don’t fight fire with fire. For reasons I still do not fully understand (Murphy’s Law, perhaps), it always seems that the court punishes your reaction, not your spouse’s bad acts that led you to react. Don’t attract attention to yourself by getting into or causing trouble.
  • Control your temper. Do not engage in violence or threats of violence. Any violent act you commit against your spouse, no matter the circumstances (self-defense included), can and likely will reflect badly on you in a divorce case. If your spouse is coming at you with a knife, and you have the option of standing and defending yourself or running away to safety, consider running away to safety (then calling the police to have your spouse arrested). Justifying any physical harm to your spouse by claiming it was self-defense is a hard argument to make stick, regardless of whether it’s true.
  • Don’t do anything illegal. Committing crimes makes you look unfit as a parent and not credible as a witness.

11. Take Advantage of Flat/Fixed Fees, Limited Scope Representation, and Using a Lawyer Consultant.

Paying an attorney by the hour is handing your lawyer a blank check. It’s not required by law, it’s just what lawyers and clients have gotten used to. I recommend hiring a lawyer who charges flat fees, also known as fixed fees. That way you know in advance you’re your costs will be. You can budget for your divorce. You have greater control.

Limited scope representation allows you to utilize the services of a lawyer when you want or need to use an attorney, rather than hiring an attorney on full-time basis. Limited scope may in some cases let you communicate with spouse and opposing counsel more by making it harder for them to erect barriers to communication and impose costly wastes of time or busy work.

Don’t get me wrong, some divorce cases are so acrimonious and complex that you may need a full-time attorney’s assistance, but for simpler cases, or in situations where you simply cannot afford full-time representation, limited scope representation allows you hire a lawyer when you want. For example, if you want to prepare your own documents, but want a lawyer to appear in court to make your arguments, you can do that. Or if you want a lawyer to help draft your documents without appearing in court, you can do that too.  There are many other options with limited scope representation. It’s not the best option for everyone, but it’s worth exploring.

11. Seek Second Opinions and Advice at Every Turn.

Determine your objectives, and stick to them, being flexible enough to change when change is needed.

You do your worst thinking when contemplating divorce or going through it. I’m not telling you to second-guess yourself at every turn, but remember when you’re going through divorce your perceptions of reality can—and likely will—get warped. If that weren’t enough, what you believe divorce law is and how it actually functions are two very different things.

Ensure that you are making informed and sensible decisions when your reasoning and willpower are compromised. Ask for and listen to advice. Don’t be afraid to question your lawyer and seek second opinions (good lawyers aren’t afraid of this). Be willing to rethink your positions. Bounce your ideas off of people who aren’t as close to your divorce as you are. Seek out expert analysis and recommendations.

12. Let Time Work for You.

Time lost is never found, so knowing how to manage time and use it wisely is key. Whether it means being patient or being the one with your foot on the gas, understand how time affects your case and how to make it work for you, in your favor. Preparing yourself as outline in this article will enable you to leverage your limited time and resources for maximum benefit.

13. Stay Engaged and Persevere.

“When you’re going through hell, keep going.” – Winston Churchill

14. Last Word

Most divorces are hard, even the ones people might describe as “amicable” and quick—they still take their toll.  Divorce is emotionally and even physically exhausting. It is oh so tempting to just say “to hell with it” and give up, give in. Don’t.

You can’t make a bad deal now and expect to come back a few months or years later and “renegotiate”. That’s not the way divorce law works. Court orders or final, and in most circumstances can only be changed in rare situations where you can show material and substantial changes in circumstances necessitate a modification of your decree of divorce. Harsh though it may sound, when you give up you deserve your fate. A quitter never wins. And by “win” I don’t mean that a winner gets total and unconditional surrender, I mean that a winner comes out of divorce treated fairly; you may not be completely satisfied, but you didn’t let the divorce process steamroller you. The court will not look out for you when it comes to getting fair treatment in divorce. You have to fight for and defend your rights, and you have to do so vigilantly from beginning to end. The more you prepare by staying engaged and involved, the better you’ll fare.  Godspeed.

 

 

15. Utah Divorce Preparation Forms

Financial Declaration form

Information You or Your Lawyer Need to Prepare Divorce Pleadings form

Parenting Plan Points

 

 

 

Name:

Address:

Telephone:

E-mail:

 

 

IN THE ______ JUDICIAL DISTRICT COURT,

____________________ COUNTY,

STATE OF UTAH

 

 

,

 

Petitioner,

vs.

 

,

 

Respondent.

 

 

FINANCIAL DECLARATION OF

 

Case No.

 

Judge:

 

Commissioner:

 

Instructions:

Except as required by court rules or requested by the court, do not file this form with the court. File only a certificate of service stating that the Financial Declaration has been served on the other parties and the date of service. The judicial services representative cannot complete this form for you. Use the Checklist to help you understand and complete this form.

  • You must update this information if it changes.
  • Keep a copy of all documents for your records.
  • Attend all court hearings.
  • Attach the following to the completed Financial Declaration. Check all boxes that apply:

☐ Additional pages as needed to complete paragraphs that don’t have enough space. Write the paragraph number on the additional page.

☐ Any documents referred to in this document.

☐ The following documents required by Utah Rule of Civil Procedure 26.1 to be attached to this Financial Declaration:

☐ For the two tax years before the petition in this case was filed, complete federal and state income tax returns, including Form W-2, Form 1099, and Form K-1, and supporting tax schedules and attachments filed by you and by any entity in which you have a majority or controlling interest.

☐ Pay stubs and other evidence of all earned and un-earned income for the 12 months before the petition in this case was filed.

☐ All loan applications and financial statements prepared or used by the party completing the financial declaration within the 12 months before the petition in this case was filed.

☐ Documents verifying the value of all real estate in which the party has an interest, including the most recent appraisal, tax valuation and refinance documents.

☐ All statements for the 3 months before the petition in this case was filed for all financial accounts, including checking, savings, money market funds, certificates of deposit, brokerage, investment, and retirement.

☐ If any of the documents required to be attached to this Financial Declaration are not reasonably available or are in the possession of the other party, then estimate the amounts entered on this Financial Declaration, and complete Paragraph (13) explaining the basis for the estimation and why the documents are not available.

I say as follows:

(1)          Social Security Number.  My Social Security Number is (last four digits only):

(2)          Employment Status.

(A)          My occupation is:

(B)          ☐ I am unemployed.    ☐ I am employed by:

Name of Employer Doing Business As (DBA) Address & Telephone Number

 

(3)          Gross Monthly Income. (Print your pre-tax income in the appropriate boxes below. Attach evidence of items listed, such as most recent pay stubs, federal and state tax returns for past 2 years, W-2 forms, or a work history report from the Department of Workforce Services. For income that changes from month to month, calculate the annual total and divide by 12 months to list a monthly average.)

My Gross Monthly Income Source of Income
$ Work (Including self-employment, wages, salaries, commissions, bonuses, tips and overtime)
$ Rental Income
$ Business Income
$ Interest Income
$ Dividends
$ Retirement Income (Including pensions, 401(k), IRA, etc.)
$ Worker’s Compensation
$ Social Security Disability (SSDI and SSI)
$ Private Disability Insurance
$ Social Security (Do not include SSDI or SSI)
$ Unemployment Benefits
$ Education Benefits
$ Veteran’s Benefits
$ Alimony (from a prior marriage)
$ Child Support (from a prior order)
$ Payments from Civil Litigation
$ Victim Restitution
$ Public Assistance (Including FEP, welfare, etc.)
$ Support from household members
$ Support from non-household members
$ Other (Describe)
$ Other (Describe)
$ Total Gross Monthly Income

☐ If I have no income it is because:

(4)          Monthly Tax Deductions. (These are deductions required by law and which you do not make voluntarily. There may be other funds withheld from your paycheck that you will report in Paragraph (11), Monthly Expenses. Attach evidence of claims, such as most recent pay stubs, federal and state tax returns for past 2 years, W-2 forms, or a work history report from the Department of Workforce Services.)

My Monthly Tax Deductions Type of Tax Deduction
$ Federal Income Tax
$ State Income Tax
$ Municipal Income Tax
$ FICA
$ Medicare
$ Total Monthly Tax Deductions

 

(5)          Net Monthly Income.

$ Gross Monthly Income from (3)
– $ Monthly Tax Deductions from (4)
= $ Net Income

 

(6)          Real Property. (Attach evidence of items listed, such as mortgage statements, loan documents, most recent appraisal, basis of valuation, etc.)

(A)
Home Address
☐ Petitioner

☐ Respondent

☐ Other

$ $
Date Acquired In Whose Name? Original Cost Current Value
$ $
First Mortgage or Lien Holder (Name & Address) Amount Owed Monthly Payments
$ $
Second Mortgage or Lien Holder (Name & Address) Amount Owed Monthly Payments
(B)
Other Real Property Address
☐ Petitioner

☐ Respondent

☐ Other

$ $
Date Acquired In Whose Name? Original Cost Current Value
$ $
First Mortgage or Lien Holder (Name & Address) Amount Owed Monthly Payments
$ $
Second Mortgage or Lien Holder (Name & Address) Amount Owed Monthly Payments

(7)          Personal Property. (Attach evidence of items listed, such as receipts, loan documents, basis of current value, etc.)

Property (Such as vehicles, boats, trailers, major equipment, etc.)

 

Lien Holder

(Name & Address)

In Whose Name? Current Value Amount Owed Monthly Payments
Vehicle (Year, Make, Model):

 

☐ Petitioner

☐ Respondent

$ $ $
Vehicle (Year, Make, Model):

 

☐ Petitioner

☐ Respondent

$ $ $
Other (Describe) ☐ Petitioner

☐ Respondent

$ $ $
Other (Describe) ☐ Petitioner

☐ Respondent

$ $ $
Other (Describe) ☐ Petitioner

☐ Respondent

$ $ $

 

(8)          Business interests. (Attach evidence of items listed.)

Business Name Address & Phone Nature of Business Percent Owned By Current Value
Petitioner owns %

 

Respondent owns %

$
Petitioner owns %

 

Respondent owns %

$

 

(9)          Financial Assets. (Attach evidence of items listed, including last 3 months of bank statements, contracts, etc.)

Asset Name of Institution

(Name & Address)

Names on Account Current Balance
Bank or Credit Union Account

Last 4 digits of acct number:

☐ Petitioner

☐ Respondent

☐ Other

 

$
Bank or Credit Union Account

Last 4 digits of acct number:

☐ Petitioner

☐ Respondent

☐ Other

 

$
Stocks, Bonds, Securities, Money Market Fund

Last 4 digits of acct number:

☐ Petitioner

☐ Respondent

☐ Other

 

$
Stocks, Bonds, Securities, Money Market Fund

Last 4 digits of acct number:

☐ Petitioner

☐ Respondent

☐ Other

 

$
Retirement Account (Pension, 401(k), IRA, etc.)

Last 4 digits of acct number:

Plan Name:

Plan Representative:

☐ Petitioner

☐ Respondent

☐ Other

 

$
Retirement Account (Pension, 401(k), IRA, etc.)

Last 4 digits of acct number:

Plan Name:

Plan Representative:

☐ Petitioner

☐ Respondent

☐ Other

 

$
Profit Sharing Plan

Last 4 digits of acct number:

☐ Petitioner

☐ Respondent

☐ Other

 

$
Profit Sharing Plan

Last 4 digits of acct number:

☐ Petitioner

☐ Respondent

☐ Other

 

$
Annuity

Last 4 digits of acct number:

☐ Petitioner

☐ Respondent

☐ Other

 

$
Annuity

Last 4 digits of acct number:

☐ Petitioner

☐ Respondent

☐ Other

$
Money Owed to Parties ☐ Petitioner

☐ Respondent

☐ Other

$
Cash ☐ Petitioner

☐ Respondent

☐ Other

$
Life Insurance

Last 4 digits of acct number:

☐ Petitioner

☐ Respondent

☐ Other

Face Value

$

Cash Value

$

Life Insurance

Last 4 digits of acct number:

☐ Petitioner

☐ Respondent

☐ Other

Face Value

$

Cash Value

$

Other (Describe): ☐ Petitioner

☐ Respondent

☐ Other

$

(10)        Debts. (Do not include amount owed on property reported in Paragraphs (7) and (8). (Attach evidence of items listed, such as credit card statements, loan documents, leases, bills, etc.)

Debt Owed To

(Name & Address of Creditor)

Purpose of Debt (Such as credit card, cash loan, installment payment, etc.) In Whose Name? Amount Owed Monthly Payments
☐ Petitioner

☐ Respondent

$ $
☐ Petitioner

☐ Respondent

$ $
☐ Petitioner

☐ Respondent

$ $
☐ Petitioner

☐ Respondent

$ $
☐ Petitioner

☐ Respondent

$ $
☐ Petitioner

☐ Respondent

$ $

(11)        Monthly Expenses. (Include amounts other than taxes withheld from your paycheck. For expenses that change from month to month, calculate the annual total and divide by 12 months to list a monthly average. Include amounts you pay for yourself and any children or other dependents in your household.)

(continued on next page)

Paragraph 11 – Monthly Expenses

My Monthly Expenses Type of Expense
$ Rent or mortgage
$ Real property taxes
$ Real property insurance
$ Real property maintenance
$ Food and household supplies
$ Clothing
$ Laundry and dry cleaning
$ Automobile loan
$ Automobile insurance
$ Automobile gasoline
$ Automobile maintenance
$ Public transportation
$ Electricity
$ Gas
$ Water, sewer and garbage
$ Telephone
$ Paid television (Cable, Satellite, Etc.)
$ Internet
$ Garnishments
$ Alimony (from prior marriage)
$ Child support (from prior order)
$ Child care
$ Education (children)
$ Education (self)
$ Extra-curricular activities (children)
$ Health care insurance premiums
$ Health care expenses
$ Other insurance (Describe)
$ Credit cards
$ Union or other dues
$ 401K or other retirement or pension fund contribution
$ Savings plan contribution
$ Entertainment
$ Donations
$ Gifts
$ Other (Describe)
$ Total

(12)        Estimated Amounts. I have estimated all or some of the amounts entered in the Paragraphs above.

Paragraph Item estimated Amount estimated Basis for estimation

(13)        Unavailable Documents. I have not attached all or some of the documents required by Utah Rule of Civil Procedure 26.1 to support this Financial Declaration. They are not available to me.

The following documents are not available to me because

I declare under criminal penalty of Utah Code Section 78B-5-705 that:

 

  • the information in this Financial Declaration about myself is true and correct;

 

  • any information about the other party is true and correct or is an estimate to the best of my information and belief;

 

  • I have disclosed everything that is relevant to my financial status; and

 

  • I understand that if I fail to fully disclose all assets and income in the Financial Declaration and attachments I may be subjected to sanctions under Utah Rule of Civil Procedure 37 including an award of non-disclosed assets to the other party, attorney’s fees or other sanctions deemed appropriate by the court.

 

Click here to enter a date. Sign here ► /s/
Date Typed or Printed Name  

 

DIVORCE QUESTIONNAIRE
INSTRUCTIONS:  Don’t let the length of this questionnaire scare you.  Not every question will apply to you, but please, when you skip a question that does not apply to you, write “N/A” in the blank, so that it’s clear that the question got a response and that the question does not apply to you.

 

  1. Personal Information (Yourself)                  Please write the information requested in this column
Full Name
Other names you are known by (former, maiden, alias)
Address
State, City & Zip
County
Mailing Address
Home Telephone
Cellular Telephone
Fax Number
E-mail Address
Social Security Number
Drive License – state of issuance and license number: State:

License Number:

Date of Birth
Name someone who can always contact you
     His/Her Address
     State, City & Zip
     His/Her Telephone

 

  1. Personal Information about Your Spouse Please write the information requested in this column

 

Full Name
Other names they are known by (former, maiden, alias)
Address
State, City & Zip
County
Telephone Number
Social Security Number
Drive License – state of issuance and license number: State:

License Number:

Date of Birth

 

If you do not know your spouse’s current address list His/Her last known address:

 

His/Her Name
His/Her Address
State, City & Zip
His/Her Telephone Number

 

  1. Your Household Information

 

List all people living with you regardless of age or relationship to you.

 

Names Birth Date Relationship to you His/Her Income

 

  1. Status of your case and marriage background

 

Has a case been filed?  Yes  No If yes, year filed:
Have you been served with legal papers?  Yes  No If yes, date served:

 

Has a hearing been scheduled?  Yes  No If yes, date and time:

 

Do you already have an attorney in this matter?  Yes  No If yes, name of attorney:

 

Is there a court order of custody?  Yes  No If yes, enter the date(s) entered and identify the state and county in which the order was filed:
If so, list the state and county the order was filed:
Did you and your spouse enter into a pre-nuptial agreement (also known as an antenuptial agreement) before marriage?   Yes   No
If YES, do you have the original prenuptial agreement or a copy of it?   Yes   No
After your wedding ceremony/marriage, did you and your spouse enter into any kind of agreement that was intended to govern you in the even to of a divorce (also known as an post-nuptial agreement)?   Yes   No
If YES, do you have the original post-nuptial agreement or a copy of it?   Yes   No
  1. Residence/Jurisdiction Information

 

Have you lived in Salt Lake County for the last 3 months?  Yes

No

If yes, how long?
      If no, what county did you live in?
Has your spouse live in Salt Lake County for the last 3 months?  Yes  No

 

      If no, what county did you live in?
Did you and your spouse reside in Utah during your marriage?  Yes  No

 

     If yes,   From (when, what date (month, day, year?)):

To (when, what date (month, day, year)?):

Date of your marriage (month, day, year):
Place of marriage (City, County & State):
Date of your separation (month, day, year):
  1. Grounds for Divorce Information

 

State (briefly) why you feel that your marriage cannot continue (this box will expand to be as large as you need to write your statements, so do not worry about running out of space):

 

 

 

 

 

 

  1. Minor Children BORN OR ADOPTED of this Marriage

List all minor children born between you and the opposing party, state where each of the minor children have lived for the last six months, and with whom the children have lived.

 

Child’s Full Name Birth Date Social Security Number

 

List all the names and relationships of all persons with whom the children have lived within the last six months, include the addresses and dates (time period) the children lived there.

 

Full Name Relationship Address Dates
Are you or the opposing party pregnant?   Yes   No Due Date:
    Who is the father? Full Name:
  1. Child Jurisdiction Information

 

Are there any other court proceedings regarding the minor children in juvenile court?   Yes   No Court Name:

State:

County:

Are there any other court proceedings regarding the minor children in another state?

 

  Yes   No Court Name:

State:

County:

Do the children currently live in Utah?   Yes   No Address:
If not, when were they removed from Utah? Date:
Is there a person, other than you and your spouse, who have physical custody of the minor children and who claims to have custody or visitation rights with the children?   Yes   No His/Her Name:

Relationship to the children:

  1. Custody and Parent-Time (Visitation) of Minor Children

 

With which parent should the children live?  You  Your Spouse Both Parents
What Parent-Time arrangements are appropriate for the parent with whom the children will not live?
We can agree on a Parent-Time schedule without a court order  Yes  No
We need a regular Parent-Time schedule  Yes  No
Parent-Time should be supervised  Yes  No
Reason for supervised Parent-Time:
Who should supervise the Parent-Time? Name:
Are there any Child Protective Services Reports?  Yes  No
Are there any police reports regarding the children?  Yes  No
Has the child’s therapist or counselor recommended supervised Parent-Time?   Yes   No
From where should the children be picked up to begin Parent-Time?

daycare   preschool   school   custodial parent’s home

other (please identify here):

  1. Child Support Information

 

Your Spouse’s Current Income Information:
Name of employer
Work address
City, state & ZIP
What type of work
Work hours
Work phone #
*Hourly wage
Hours worked per week
*Gross monthly salary
*Net monthly salary
*If you don’t know the exact hourly wage or salary put your best guess.

 

If your spouse is unemployed, list your spouse’s most recent employment:
Name of employer
Work address
City, state & ZIP
What type of work
Work hours
Work phone #
*Hourly wage
Hours worked per week
*Gross monthly salary
*Net monthly salary
*If you don’t know the exact information, please give your best guess (be honest).

 

Check how you want child support paid:
Withheld by the Office of Recovery Services
Direct payment by spouse or you

 

  1. Health Insurance Information

 

Do you have health insurance available to you?  Yes  No
Does your spouse have health insurance available?  Yes  No
Who should maintain health insurance for the children?  Me  Spouse

 

  1. Life Insurance Information

 

                                                                                                                                                           Amount
Does your spouse have life insurance?  Yes  No $
Does your spouse work for a company that offers life insurance?  Yes  No $

 

  1. Marital Debts

 

List all debts acquired during the marriage, the amount, and who should pay the debt.

(Note: your request for division of debts needs to be realistic and fair)

 

Name of debt

Total Amount Still Owing  

Monthly Payment

Who Should Pay?

(Self or Spouse)

$ $    Self    Spouse
$ $    Self    Spouse
$ $    Self    Spouse
$ $    Self    Spouse
$ $    Self    Spouse
$ $    Self    Spouse
$ $    Self    Spouse
$ $    Self    Spouse
$ $    Self    Spouse

 

  1. Personal Property

 

The court will divide personal property acquired during the marriage.

(Note: your request for division of marital property needs to be realistic and fair)

Has the property already been split between you and your spouse in a way agreeable to you?
 No      Yes
(If you answered yes, you do not need to complete the rest of the Personal Property section)
Property that should be awarded to you: (Be specific in your descriptions)
List your personal property you acquired BEFORE to the marriage:

 

Property that should be awarded to your Spouse: (Be specific in your descriptions)
List your spouse’s personal property acquired BEFORE to the marriage:

 

 

 

  1. Real Property (Real Estate, Marital Home, other land or buildings)

 

Have you and your spouse purchased a house and/or other real property (land) during the marriage?                   No       Yes
House address:

State, City & Zip:

Legal Description of the real property (you can usually find this on your county tax assessment or on the deed):

 

Name of mortgage holder:
Amount still owing: $
Monthly payment: $
Date of Purchase:
What do you want done with the house?

Keep it myself

Let my spouse keep it

How will you make the mortgage payments?
  Sell it now and divide the equity

I will keep it until children are grown

  Other:

Other Land:

Address:

State, City & Zip:

Name of mortgage holder
Amount still owing $
Monthly payment $
Date of Purchase
What do you want done with the land?
 Keep it myself    Let my spouse keep it
How will you make the payments?
  Sell it now and divide the equity

I will keep it until children are grown

Other:

 

  1. Alimony Information (Spousal support)

 

                                                                                                                                       Amount
Should alimony be awarded to you?  Yes  No $
Why do you believe alimony should be awarded?

 

 

 

  1. Pension/Retirement Plan Information

 

You:     Yes     No Your Spouse:     Yes     No
Name of Plan Name of Plan
Plan Administrator Plan Administrator
Address Address
City, State, & Zip City, State, & Zip
Date started employment Date started employment

 

  1. Taxes & Deduction Information

 

State the number of the children of this marriage you and your spouse should each be able to claim as tax deductions on your income tax returns: # for you # for spouse
Should you and your spouse alternate claiming the children every year?   Yes     No
Have you filed income tax returns for this year?   Yes     No
If not, how should income taxes be filed for this year?  Separately

Jointly

 

  1. Former Name Information

 

Do you want your former/maiden name awarded back to you?  Yes     No
If yes, put the your full exact spelling of your name:

 

  1. Other Information

 

If there are any other issues, not contained in this application form, that you feel need to be addressed in your divorce, please describe the issues here:
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  1. YOUR PROPOSED SETTLEMENT OF THE ISSUES IN YOUR CASE

 

ISSUE MY POSITION
CUSTODY
VISITATION
CHILD SUPPORT
ALIMONY
CHILD CARE
HEALTH INSURANCE
LIFE INSURANCE
REAL PROPERTY
VEHICLES
PERSONAL PROPERTY
FINANCIAL ACCOUNTS
RETIREMENT
DEBTS
TAX EXEMPTIONS
RESTRAINING ORDER
NAME CHANGE
ATTORNEY’S FEES
OTHER

 

 

 

 

 

STATE OF UTAH – DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH

CERTIFICATE OF DIVORCE, DISSOLUTION OF MARRIAGE, OR ANNULMENT

 

COURT FILE NUMBER                                                                            STATE FILE NUMBER

 

1.             HUSBAND’S NAME (First, Middle, Last)

 

2a. RESIDENCE (City, Town or Location) 2b. COUNTY

 

HUSBAND 2c. STATE 3. BIRTHPLACE (STATE OR FOREIGN COUNTRY)

 

4. DATE OF BIRTH (Month, Day, Year)
5. NUMBER OF THIS MARRIAGE 6. IF NOT FIRST MARRIAGE, LAST MARRIAGE ENDED: 7.  RACE:

 

8. EDUCATION –
By Death, Divorce, Dissolution, or Annulment DATE (Month, Day, Year) Elementary/Secon-dary

 

College
9a. WIFE’S NAME (First, Middle, Last) 9b MAIDEN LAST NAME
10a. RESIDENCE (City, Town or Location)

 

10b. COUNTY
WIFE 10c. STATE 11. BIRTHPLACE (STATE OR FOREIGN COUNTRY)

 

12. DATE OF BIRTH (Month, Day, Year)
13. NUMBER OF THIS MARRIAGE 14. IF NOT FIRST MARRIAGE, LAST MARRIAGE ENDED: 15.  RACE: 16. EDUCATION
By Death, Divorce, Dissolution, or Annulment DATE (Month, Day, Year) Elementary/Secondary

 

College
17a. PLACE OF THIS MARRIAGE – CITY , TOWN OR LOCATION 17b. COUNTY 17c. STATE OR FOREIGN COUNTRY 18. DATE OF THIS MARRIAGE (Month, Day, Year)

 

MARRIAGE 19. DATE COUPLE LAST RESIDED IN SAME HOUSEHOLD 20. NUMBER OF CHILDREN UNDER 18 IN THIS HOUSEHOLD AS OF THE DATE in ITEM 19.

Number:                   none

21. PETITIONER

husband  wife  both

other (specify):

ATTORNEY 22a. NAME OF PETITIONER’S ATTORNEY 22b. ADDRESS
23. I CERTIFY THAT THE MARRIAGE OF THE ABOVE NAMED PERSONS WAS DISSOLVED ON

(Month, Day, Year)

 

24. TYPE OF DECREE (Divorce, Dissolution, or Annulment) 25. DATE RECORDED (Month, Day, Year)

 

DECREE 26. NUMBER OF CHILDREN UNDER 18 WHOSE PHYSICAL CUSTODY WAS AWARDED TO:

Husband:               Wife:              Joint:         Other:

no children

 

27. COUNTY OF DECREE

 

28. TITLE OF COURT
29. SIGNATURE OF CERTIFYING OFFICIAL 30. TITLE OF CERTIFYING OFFICIAL 31. DATE SIGNED

 

 

 

 

INITIAL DISCLOSURES

 

Divorcing couples are required by Rule 26 and 26.1 of the Utah Rules of Civil Procedure to make what a known as “initial disclosures” to the opposing side of a divorce case.

 

Failure to make these disclosures can result in sanctions against you (including, but not limited to, entry of judgment against you) for non-compliance.

 

These initial disclosures can be an inconvenience, but they must be made and be made timely.  With rare exception, people put off preparing these initial disclosures, and do so to their detriment.

 

Your list of witnesses need not be a long one, but it needs to be complete—a list of all of the people who have knowledge about the facts of the case that work in your favor and who can establish and testify as to the allegations and defense you make in your case.  If you are in doubt as to whether to include a person as a witness, include that person.  Your witness list must contain, for each witness you identify:

 

  • the name and, if known, the address and telephone number of each individual likely to have information supporting your claims or defenses.

 

(this means that if there is a dispute over child custody, you want to identify witnesses who can testify as to your character, your parental fitness, your interaction with the children.  If division of property or responsibility for debt is an issue, you need to identify witnesses who can support your claims with facts and documents and memories of theirs)

 

  • a useful, plain, forthright, non-evasive statement of the subject(s) on which the witness has knowledge and can testify; and

 

  • a summary of each witness’s testimony

 

You must also a copy of all documents and any other information and things in your possession, custody, or control that support your claims and that support the defenses against the claims of the opposing party against you (compiling all of these documents is cumbersome, but it is essential to preparing your case.  Do not procrastinate in gathering and organizing this information).

 

Documents can include, but are not necessarily limited to:

 

  1. historical documents;
  2. source documents;
  3. certificates of title and ownership;
  4. receipts;
  5. financial statements;
  6. loan applications;
  7. bank/credit union monthly statements;
  8.        credit card statements;
  9.        pension/retirement/401(k)/investment statements;
  10.      medical and health care records (mental health, physical health, emotional health);

 

  1. school records;
  2. financial documents;
  3. Most recent tax return.
  4. Most recent pay stubs;
  5. Start collecting receipts and proof of payment for all (every single one) of your monthly expenses, no matter how small

 

  1. receipts and documents of title for both your house and cars and other big ticket items;

 

  1. other family records.
  2. photographs;
  3. awards;
  4. school work.

Compile the complete, entire documentDO NOT alter the document, change any data in the document, or white out or obliterate any portion of the document with a black magic marker. Some information is considered non-public and private, but don’t provide your attorney with anything other than the complete, unredacted document.

 

If you know of any other documents that support your case, but you do not have access to them, you must describe them in sufficient detail, and identify where you know or believe them to be located and the name, address, and telephone number of the person who possesses these documents.

 

INITIAL DISCLOSURES INFORMATION GATHERING SHEET

 

  1. The name and, if known, the address and telephone number of each individual likely to have discoverable information supporting its claims or defenses, unless solely for impeachment, identifying the subjects of the information.

 

  1. The name and, if known, the address and telephone number of each fact witness the party may call in its case-in-chief and, except for an adverse party, a summary of the expected testimony.

 

  1. Name:

 

Address:

Telephone Number:

Phone:

Summary of expected testimony of this witness:

 

  1. Name:

 

Address:

Telephone Number:

Phone:

Summary of expected testimony of this witness:

 

  1. Name:

 

Address:

Telephone Number:

Phone:

Summary of expected testimony of this witness:

 

  1. Name:

 

Address:

Telephone Number:

Phone:

Summary of expected testimony of this witness:

 

  1. Name:

 

Address:

Telephone Number:

Phone:

Summary of expected testimony of this witness:

 

  1. A copy of all documents, data compilations, electronically stored information, and tangible things in the possession or control of the party that the party may offer in its case-in-chief, except charts, summaries and demonstrative exhibits that have not yet been prepared and must be disclosed in accordance with paragraph 26(a)(5) of the Utah Rules of Civil Procedure.

 

  1. A copy of all documents to which a party refers in its pleadings.

 

Such documents are attached hereto, if they were not already attached to the pleadings themselves.

 

 

 

 

Non-public Information – Parent Identification and Location Case Number
Notice: This information is required by the U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services. If the information changes, you must complete and file another form.

(Utah Code Section 62A-11-304.4.)

Name

 

Telephone Numbers (Include area code.)
Day

 

Evening

 

Cell

 

Residential Address

 

 Keep my residential address private and do not provide it to the other party because there is reason to believe that releasing the information may result in physical or emotional harm to me or to my child. (If you check this box, omit your residential address from this document and from all other papers filed with the court. Include it on the Safeguarded Address form.)
Mailing Address (if different from residential address)
Date of Birth

 

Social Security Number

 

Driver’s License
State

 

Number

 

Employer Name, Address and Telephone Number

 

Employer Name, Address and Telephone Number
I am: (check all that apply)

Petitioner    Respondent    Custodial Parent    Non-custodial Parent

Filing this information about myself    Filing this information about the other party

 

I declare under penalty of Utah Code Section 78B-5-705 that everything stated in this document is true and correct.

 

 

Non-public Information – Minors Case Number

Use this document to provide non-public information to the court. Write the information here, and omit it from the public document. Complete as many forms as needed. Serve this form on the other party.

I swear or affirm that the following information is true.

 * Keep the residential address private and do not provide it to the other party because there is reason to believe that releasing the information may result in physical or emotional harm to me or to my child. (If you check this box, omit the child’s residential address from this document and from all other papers filed with the court. Include it on the Safeguarded Address form.)

 

Name of Minor

 

 

Residential Address*

 

Date of Birth

 

 

Sex

 

 

Social Security Number

 

 

The following information is required only if custody or parent time is part of the case.
Places the minor has lived in the last 5 years Dates Name & current address of the person the minor lived with

 

Name of Minor

 

 

Residential Address*

 

Date of Birth

 

 

Sex

 

Social Security Number
The following information is required only if custody or parent time is part of the case.
Places the minor has lived in the last 5 years Dates Name & current address of the person the minor lived with
 

Name of Minor

 

 

Residential Address*

 

Date of Birth

 

 

Sex

 

 

Social Security Number

 

 

The following information is required only if custody or parent time is part of the case.
Places the minor has lived in the last 5 years Dates Name & current address of the person the minor lived with

 

Name of Minor

 

 

Residential Address*

 

Date of Birth

 

Sex

 

 

Social Security Number

 

The following information is required only if custody or parent time is part of the case.
Places the minor has lived in the last 5 years Dates Name & current address of the person the minor lived with

 

I declare that under penalty of Utah Code Section 78B-5-705 that everything stated in this document is true and correct.

CHILD SUPPORT OBLIGATION WORKSHEET

REQUIRED LOCATION INFORMATION

 

_______ District Court, _______ County, Civil No. __________

 

For Petitioner:                             For Respondent:

 

As required by 62A-11-304.4 U.C.A., UPON the entry of an order in a proceeding to establish, modify, or enforce a support order, each party shall file identifying information and shall update that information as changes occur: (I) with the court or administrative agency that conducted the proceeding, and (ii) after October 1, 2002, with the state case registry.

 

THE FOLLOWING INFORMATION MUST BE SUBMITTED AT THE TIME THE CHILD SUPPORT OBLIGATION CALCULATION IS SUBMITTED.  IF ANY INFORMATION IS UNKNOWN, PLEASE SO INDICATE. DO NOT LEAVE ANY SPACE BLANK.

 

PETITIONER:       Social Security Number:

Driver License Number:                                State:

Residential Address:

Mailing Address (if different than residential address 🙂

Telephone Number:                       Date of Birth:

Employer:

Employer’s Address:

Employer’s Phone Number:

RESPONDENT:   Social Security Number:

                                                Driver License Number:                                State:

Residential Address:

Mailing Address (if different than residential address 🙂

Telephone Number:                       Date of Birth:

Employer:

Employer’s Address:

Employer’s Phone Number:

 

THIS INFORMATION IS CURRENT AS OF __________________ _______ 20_______

 

 

 

CHILD SUPPORT OBLIGATION WORKSHEET

REQUIRED CHILD IDENTIFICATION INFORMATION

 

_______ District Court, _______ County, Civil No. __________

 

For Petitioner:                             For Respondent:

 

AS REQUIRED BY THE FEDERAL WELFARE REFORM ACT, SECTION 653(h) (2) and U.C.A. 62a-11-103(14), THE FOLLOWING INFORMATION MUST BE SUBMITTED FOR EACH CHILD FOR WHICH A SUPPORT ORDER IS ENTERED.

 

Name:

Date of Birth:

Social Security Number:

 

Name:

Date of Birth:

Social Security Number:

 

Name:

Date of Birth:

Social Security Number:

 

Name:

Date of Birth:

Social Security Number:

 

Name:

Date of Birth:

Social Security Number:

 

 

 

 

 

Parenting Plan Points

In any proceeding under this chapter, including actions for paternity, any party requesting joint custody, joint legal or physical custody, or any other type of shared parenting arrangement, shall file and serve a proposed parenting plan at the time of the filing of their original petition or at the time of filing their answer or counterclaim. (Utah Code § 30-3-10.8(1)  Parenting plan—Filing—Modifications)

 

A party who files a proposed parenting plan in compliance § 30-3-10.8 may move the court for an order of default to adopt the plan if the other party fails to file a proposed parenting plan as required by this section. If the parents file inconsistent parenting plans, the court may appoint a guardian ad litem to represent the best interests of the child, who may, if necessary, file a separate parenting plan reflecting the best interests of the child.

 

“Parenting plan” means a plan for parenting a child, including allocation of parenting functions, which is incorporated in any final decree or decree of modification including an action for dissolution of marriage, annulment, legal separation, or paternity. (Utah Code § 30-3-10.7.  Parenting plan—Definitions.)

 

“Parenting functions” means those aspects of the parent-child relationship in which the parent makes decisions and performs functions necessary for the care and growth of the child. Parenting functions include:

 

(a)       maintaining a loving, stable, consistent, and nurturing relationship with the child;

(b)       attending to the daily needs of the child, such as feeding, clothing, physical care, grooming, supervision, health care, day care, and engaging in other activities which are appropriate to the developmental level of the child and that are within the social and economic circumstances of the particular family;

(c)       attending to adequate education for the child, including remedial or other education essential to the best interest of the child;

(d)       assisting the child in developing and maintaining appropriate interpersonal relationships;

(e)       exercising appropriate judgment regarding the child’s welfare, consistent with the child’s developmental level and family social and economic circumstances; and

(f)        providing for the financial support of the child.

 

(Utah Code § 30-3-10.7(3).  Parenting plan—Definitions.)

 

The objectives of a parenting plan are to:

 

(a)       provide for the child’s physical care;

(b)       maintain the child’s emotional stability;

(c)       provide for the child’s changing needs as the child grows and matures in a way that minimizes the need for future modifications to the parenting plan;

(d)       set forth the authority and responsibilities of each parent with respect to the child consistent with the definitions outlined in this chapter;

(e)       minimize the child’s exposure to harmful parental conflict;

(f)        encourage the parents, where appropriate, to meet the responsibilities to their minor children through agreements in the parenting plan rather than relying on judicial intervention; and

(g)       protect the best interests of the child.

 

(Utah Code § 30-3-10.9(1)  Parenting plan—Objectives—Required provisions—Dispute resolution)

 

The parenting plan shall contain provisions for resolution of future disputes between the parents, allocation of decision-making authority, and residential provisions for the child, and provisions addressing notice and parent-time responsibilities in the event of the relocation of either party. It may contain other provisions comparable to those in Utah Code Sections 30-3-5 and 30-3-10.3 regarding the welfare of the child. (Utah Code § 30-3-10.9(2))

 

Each parenting plan must contain:

 

A process for resolving disputes shall be provided unless precluded or limited by statute. A dispute resolution process may include:

 

(a)       counseling;

(b)       mediation or arbitration by a specified individual or agency; or

(c)       court action.

 

(Utah Code § 30-3-10.9(4))

 

Every decree in which joint legal and/or joint physical custody has been awarded must include these provisions as to the dispute resolution process:

 

(a)       preference shall be given to the provisions in the parenting plan;

(b)       parents shall use the designated process to resolve disputes relating to implementation of the plan, except those related to financial support, unless an emergency exists;

(c)       a written record shall be prepared of any agreement reached in counseling or mediation and provided to each party;

(d)       if arbitration becomes necessary, a written record shall be prepared and a copy of the arbitration award shall be provided to each party;

(e)       if the court finds that a parent has used or frustrated the dispute resolution process without good reason, the court may award attorney’s fees and financial sanctions to the prevailing parent;

(f)        the district court shall have the right of review from the dispute resolution process; and

 

(Utah Code § 30-3-10.9(4))

 

The plan shall include a residential schedule which designates in which parent’s home each minor child shall reside on given days of the year, including provisions for holidays, birthdays of family members, vacations, and other special occasions. (Utah Code § 30-3-10.9(8))

 

The parenting plan shall allocate decision-making authority to one or both parties regarding the children’s education, health care, and religious upbringing. The parties may incorporate an agreement related to the care and growth of the children in these specified areas or in other areas into their plan, consistent with the criteria outlined in Utah Code § 30-3-10.7(2) and Utah Code § 30-3-10.9(1). Regardless of the allocation of decision-making in the parenting plan, either parent may make emergency decisions affecting the health or safety of the child. (Utah Code § 30-3-10.9(5))

 

Each parent may make decisions regarding the day-to-day care and control of the child while the child is residing with that parent. (Utah Code § 30-3-10.9(6))

 

When mutual decision-making is designated but cannot be achieved, the parties shall make a good faith effort to resolve the issue through the dispute resolution process. (Utah Code § 30-3-10.9(7))

 

If a parent fails to comply with a provision of the parenting plan or a child support order, the other parent’s obligations under the parenting plan or the child support order are not affected. Failure to comply with a provision of the parenting plan or a child support order may result in a finding of contempt of court. (Utah Code § 30-3-10.9(9))

 

Utah Code § 30-3-10.10.  Parenting plan—Domestic violence.

 

In any proceeding regarding a parenting plan, the court shall consider evidence of domestic violence, if presented. (Utah Code § 30-3-10.10(1).  Parenting plan—Domestic violence.) If there is a protective order, civil stalking injunction, or the court finds that a parent has committed domestic violence, the court shall consider the impact of domestic violence in awarding parent-time, and make specific findings regarding the award of parent-time. (Utah Code § 30-3-10.10(2)  If the court orders parent-time and a protective order or civil stalking injunction is still in place, it shall consider whether to order the parents to conduct parent-time pick-up and transfer through a third party. The parent who is the stated victim in the order or injunction may submit to the court, and the court shall consider, the name of a person considered suitable to act as the third party. (Utah Code § 30-3-10.10(3) If the court orders the parents to conduct parent-time through a third party, the parenting plan shall specify the time, day, place, manner, and the third party to be used to implement the exchange. (Utah Code § 30-3-10.10(4)

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