Category: Divorce Causes

Should You Stay Friends with Your Former Spouse? By Braxton Mounteer

Whether you should be or try to be friends with your spouse after a divorce is a tough question to answer. Many divorced people continue to care about each other after divorce. Some even find their personal relationship between each other improves. Most maintain an icy distance from each other. I won’t say that being truly friendly can’t be accomplished after divorce, but the question really is: should it?

If you have children, at the very least you must maintain a respectful relationship with the children’s co-parent (even if you have to fake it, in my opinion). Just because you and your former spouse have differences does not mean that your children must share in those differences. Maintaining a co-parenting relationship that doesn’t burden the children is in their best interest. They deserve it. It’s the least you can do for them.

Side note here: I know there are those of you reading this who were innocent victims of a spiteful spouse in your divorce. That you were the class act all along and continue to be, while your ex-spouse remains antagonistic toward you. I know about those of you treat your ex-spouse by Golden Rule post-divorce, while your ex-spouse does not reciprocate. As a legal assistant, I see the ex-spouses who hypocritically hold you to a standard they themselves do not follow. This is not fair, not even close, but for the sake of your children’s well-being, you need to know that sinking to the same level as your petty, spiteful, even malicious ex-spouse would benefit no one and only make life harder for the kids. Doing the right thing matters most when doing the right thing is hard.

Sometimes it may be unavoidable to have some kind of continuing relationship with your ex-spouse. Are you coworkers? Do you have mutual friends or engage in the same activities that neither of you is willing to give up? If so, you must determine mutual friends and activities are worth making the effort to get along with your ex-spouse. If they aren’t, you can’t complain about having to give those things up for the sake of achieving your goal of having nothing to do with your ex-spouse post-divorce.

We have all heard a story of an “ ugly divorce”. Most people burn whatever bridge that they had or may have had with their spouses over the course of that process.

The fact is that the right thing to do, if only for your own sake and without consideration for your ex-spouse, is to recognize your own failings that contributed to the failed marriage (and don’t misunderstand me; if you’re not at fault, you’re under no obligation to apologize falsely) and to forgive your ex for his or her faults and the hurt he or she caused you, so that you can put your troubled past behind you as best you can as you move on with life after divorce. “Hate is a poison more deadly to the hater than the hated.” If all you can do is make peace with the pre-divorce past, that’s invaluable. If you can do one better and bury the hatchet, becoming friends, though no longer spouses, don’t let your pride stand in the way of that. If you do, you’ll regret it.

Utah Family Law, LC | | 801-466-9277

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My Wife Is Divorcing Me Because I Am Not Rich Enough. She Said It Will Take Me Years to Make Her Feel Financially Secure. I Was There for Her When She Had Mental Breakdowns. What Should I Do?

If your wife really is divorcing you, and not merely threatening to divorce you, because 1) you are not rich enough to suit her, and 2) you are not a lazy bum and you are doing your best to support her financially as a spouse, then rejoice–good riddance to bad rubbish. Cut your losses now. You will be better off without her. I know you may think “I’ll never find someone as wonderful as she is again,” but a woman who would divorce you for not being rich enough is a woman who does not love you, who will not be the support you need and deserve, and who will only be a burden and a detriment to you and your children (if and when they would come along).

If your wife is not really divorcing you, but is threatening to divorce you, and claiming it is because 1) you are not rich enough to suit her, and 2) you are not a lazy bum and you are doing your best to support her financially as a spouse, then you should ask yourself the following questions:

  1. Is she really that shallow? Or is the “you’re not rich enough” perhaps a pretext for other feelings and concerns of hers? You mentioned that you were there for her mental breakdowns–is the “your not rich enough” symptomatic of a mental or emotional disorder?
  2. Is this perhaps a matter of youthful inexperience and naivete? A lack of maturity?
  3. Did she grow up rich and doesn’t understand that it’s not the norm?
  4. Did she grow up poor and goes through life terrified of staying poor?
  5. Is she deluded?

If her “I’m going to divorce you because you’re not rich” is not really what she’s thinking of feeling, it’s worth talking with her and with a minister and/or someone whose lifestyle you both wish to emulate and find out what’s realistic and what’s not, what’s achievable and what’s not. If your wife can’t accept reality, then see my answer above. It’s tragic that she would chuck a good man just because he’s not rich enough, but that’s not your problem nor is it a problem you can solve for her.

Utah Family Law, LC | | 801-466-9277

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Have You Heard That Fathers Defeat Mothers’ Claims of DV and Child Abuse by Claiming Parental Alienation?

We all know the aphorism, “If it looks/sounds to good to be true, it probably is [not true].” This also means, however, that if it looks/sounds too 𝙗𝙖𝙙 to be true, it probably is [not true] too.

Can we all agree that the following claim looks, on its face, too bad to be true?:

A George Washington University Law School article shows that mothers are statistically up to 90% more likely to lose custody of their children when they go on record about abuse. Abusive fathers, who claim parental alienation are almost always granted custody.

So, is the claim true?

I found the article: Child Custody Outcomes in Cases Involving Parental Alienation and Abuse Allegations, by Joan S. Meier George Washington University Law School.

Here is what that article actually claims (this is not the entire article, of course, and I have my doubts about the methodology and the resulting accuracy of the claims themselves, but I digress):

Spoiler alert: the article does not make any “women lose custody 90% of the time when they report abuse” claim.

Quotations directly from the article itself:

“Focusing on cases where it was determined that mothers started with possession of the children, and alleged some type of abuse by the father, the data show mothers losing custody in 26% (284/1111) of cases.”


It is also notable that when mothers report mixed types of child abuse (sexual and physical) their custody losses skyrocket (from under 30% (39/135) up to 50%)(11/22).


• When Fathers cross-claim alienation, courts are more than twice as likely to disbelieve Mothers’ claims of (any) abuse than if fathers made no alienation claim; and

• When Fathers cross-claim alienation, courts are almost 4 (3.9) times more likely to disbelieve Mothers’ claims of child abuse than if fathers made no alienation claim.


As the chart indicates, when fathers claim alienation, the rate at which mothers lose custody shoots up from over 25% to over 50%. That is, fathers’ alienation claims roughly double mothers’ rates of losing custody. When courts credit the alienation claim, rates of maternal losses of custody increase more drastically:

Mothers’ Custody Losses When Courts Credit Fathers’ Alienation Claims

Type of Abuse Alleged Mother Lost Custody:

DV (domestic violence): 60% (15/25)
CPA (child physical abuse): 59% (10/17)
CSA (child sexual abuse): 68% (13/19)
DVCh (domestic violence and child physical abuse): 79% (19/24)
CACSA (child physical abuse and child sexual abuse): 100% (6/6)
Any abuse: 73% (60/82)


“AKA” cases: those in which a court viewed a mother as alienating in her behavior but did not use the term “alienation.”

Mothers’ Custody Losses when Found to have Committed AKA


Custody Losses by Type of Abuse Alleged

Custody Losses When Abuse was Proven

DV  62% (24/39) DV  60% (3/5)
CPA  61% (17/28) CPA  50% (1/2)
CSA  58% (25/43) CSA  –
DVCh  55% (16/29) DVCh  –
CACSA  78% (7/9) CACSA  100% (1/1)
Any  60% (89/148) Any  63% (5/8)


The article is definitely food for thought, but clearly does not find that mothers who allege abuse are 90% more likely to lose/not win custody.

Additionally, one of my critiques of the article is this: it does not reveal whether the abuse-alleging mothers who lost/did not win custody was due purely to their alleging abuse or purely because they were found to have engaged in parental alienation or something like it. For example, if these mothers were themselves child abusers or were found to be unfit parents for other reasons (i.e., child neglect, substance abuse, lacking sufficient housing, ability to provide financially, practicing poor hygiene, insufficient bonding, etc.), how many of them would have lost/not won custody anyway? The article does not address this.

But even if the only reason these mothers lost/did not win custody was due to the court finding them to have engaged in parental alienation, would that not be reason enough? Now, I’m not asserting that all cases of actual parental alienation should cause a mother (or father committing alienation) to lose/not win custody (level of severity must be considered), but parental alienation would be, in my professional opinion, sufficient grounds for awarding custody of children to the other parent, assuming the other parent were found, on balance to be 1) sufficiently fit as a parent; and 2) the more fit of the two parents.

Utah Family Law, LC | | 801-466-9277

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What Assumptions Can You Make About Someone Who Has Been Divorced Twice?

You can assume whatever you want about anyone or anything, but that does not mean your assumptions are accurate.

And there is this from Merriam-Webster: “Although presume and assume both mean “to take something as true,” “presume” implies more confidence or evidence backed reasoning. An “assumption” suggests there is little evidence supporting your guess.

People make assumptions all the time, often (but not always) to their detriment and the detriment of the people of whom they make assumptions. You know what they say about people who assume.

That stated, assumptions based upon sufficient evidence are not only reasonable but often warranted or even wholly justified. If you see someone turning red and then blue and appearing to be unable to breathe while making the sign of choking, you can assume he/she is choking. But it’s still an assumption. You didn’t see the would-be choking victim actually swallow anything, after all.

So, what can you safely assume about someone of whom you know nothing other than the fact that he/she has been divorced twice? In fairness to one contemplating making an assumption and to the person twice divorced:

  • It’s fair to wonder why someone has been divorced twice and whether the divorcee may not be “marriage material”—especially if you are contemplating marrying the twice-divorced person.

o   It’s fair to assume (assuming—see what I did there?—you want your marriage to last) that if you intend to marry the twice-divorced person, your marriage will have a lower chance of success than a marriage to someone who has never been divorced. Statistics indicate that in the U.S., just under 50% percent of first-time marriages end in divorce, while 65-67% of second marriages, and about 74% of third marriages end in divorce.

  • It’s unfair to assume that the divorce was the twice-divorced person’s fault either or both times. It’s fair to “wonder if”, but not to “assume that”.
  • It’s also fair to fair to “wonder if”, but not to “assume that”:

o   the twice-divorced person was the cause of one or both of the divorces and whether the divorcee has poor judgment in selecting spouses.

o   the twice-divorced person is either a sucker or someone who marries suckers.

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I Am Going through a Custody Battle and the Other Parent Is Making False Statements About Me in Court. What Can I Do to Protect Myself and My Child?

If you want just my direct answer to this question, skip to the last paragraph, but I submit that you’ll have a much better understanding of the answer if you read all of this first.

This is and has been a major, serious problem in family law for as long as I can remember. It’s not getting better. It victimizes far too many innocent people who naively trust the legal system to value truth and justice above all.

Guilt by accusation. Accuse your spouse of being an abusive parent, and immediately the accused finds himself or herself in a position of guilty until proven innocent.

Judges (and that includes the domestic relations commissioner) are, with due respect to them, quite often (so often; more often than you’d expect or hope, frankly) suckers for substituting and accepting the seriousness of the allegations over the substance of the evidence. Why?

Many people innately know, but struggle to articulate it, either because it’s subconscious or too shameful to admit: the cowardly, lazy allure of “better safe than sorry” and “abundance of caution”. “Treat all allegations of spousal or child abuse as true,” so the “reasoning” goes, “and that way we prevent abuse, whether real or imagined.” Why go to all the trouble of investigating, factfinding, and truth seeking when abusers might lie and get away with it? No, better to treat pretty much every abuse claim as true. And if innocent parents (mostly men, but a fair and growing number of women too) are the victims of such a policy (ruined reputations, loss of standing in the community, loss of friends, loss of employment, being persecuted), it’s a price worth paying (especially when the judges and commissioners themselves don’t pay that price themselves) “if it saves just one life.” It’s obvious nonsense (no judge who treats people this way would ever want to be treated that way), but that is culture of the modern legal system. I wish I could deny it, but I’d be lying, if I did.

“It is more important that innocence be protected than it is that guilt be punished, for guilt and crimes are so frequent in this world that they cannot all be punished.

But if innocence itself is brought to the bar and condemned, perhaps to die, then the citizen will say, ‘whether I do good or whether I do evil is immaterial, for innocence itself is no protection,’ and if such an idea as that were to take hold in the mind of the citizen that would be the end of security whatsoever.”

― John Adams

When it comes to accusations of abuse (or even danger of being abusive), it’s terrifyingly far too often the opposite of the “Better that a hundred guilty men go free than to convict one innocent man.”

So, if you are being falsely accused, don’t rely on “I can’t prove a negative,” “accuser has the burden of proof,” or “innocent until proven guilty.” If you can prove you’re innocent, do it. Do everything in your power to prove your innocence. Spend the money and the time and the effort to fight for and to prove your innocence. Strive to hold the courts to being competent and impartial because when it comes to allegations of spousal or child abuse, many courts will not exercise the courage to dismiss such claims for a lack of proof.

Utah Family Law, LC | | 801-466-9277

(65) Eric Johnson’s answer to I am going through a custody battle and the other parent is making false statements about me in court. What can I do to protect myself and my child? – Quora

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46% of divorced couples say this was the No. 1 conflict in their relationship—and it isn’t money


46% of divorced couples say this was the No. 1 conflict in their relationship—and it isn’t money

(Published Tuesday, August 15, 2023 2:23 PM EDT; Updated Tue, August 15, 2023 8:23 PM EDT)

Utah Family Law, LC | | 801-466-9277

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H.B. 20 “Parental Rights Amendments”

Today’s blog post treats House Bill 20, one of several proposed family law-related pieces of legislation for the 2024 Utah legislative session.

H.B. 20 is entitled “Parental Rights Amendments”

According the bill’s own “General Description,” this bill:

  • addresses the voluntary relinquishment of parental rights.
  • clarifies the requirements and procedure for an individual to consent to the termination of parental rights or voluntarily relinquish parental rights.

Utah Code Sections Affected (if passed): It would amend Utah Code § 80-4-307

Here is the proposed text:

24          80-4-307. Voluntary relinquishment — Irrevocable.
25          (1) The individual consenting to termination of parental rights or voluntarily

26     relinquishing parental rights shall sign [or confirm] the consent or relinquishment, or confirm a
27     consent or relinquishment previously signed by the individual, under oath before:
28          (a) a judge of any court that has jurisdiction over proceedings for termination of
29     parental rights in this state or any other state, or a public officer appointed by that court for the
30     purpose of taking consents or relinquishments; or
31          (b) except as provided in Subsection (2), any person authorized to take consents or
32     relinquishments under Subsections 78B-6-124(1) and (2).
33          (2) Only the juvenile court is authorized to take consents or relinquishments from a
34     parent who has any child who is in the custody of a state agency or who has a child who is
35     otherwise under the jurisdiction of the juvenile court.
36          (3) (a) The court, appointed officer, or other authorized person shall certify to the best
37     of that person’s information and belief that the individual executing the consent or
38     relinquishment, or confirming a consent or relinquishment previously signed by the individual,
39     has read and understands the consent or relinquishment and has signed the consent or
40     relinquishment freely and voluntarily.
41          (b) A consent or relinquishment is not effective until the consent or relinquishment is
42     certified pursuant to Subsection (3)(a).
43          (4) [A voluntary relinquishment or consent for termination of parental rights is
44     effective when the voluntary relinquishment or consent is signed and may not be revoked.A
45     consent or relinquishment that has been certified pursuant to Subsection (3)(a) is effective
46     against the consenting or relinquishing individual and may not be revoked.
47          (5) (a) The requirements and processes described in Section 80-4-104, Sections
48     80-4-301 through 80-4-304, and Part 2, Petition for Termination of Parental Rights, do not
49     apply to a voluntary relinquishment or consent for termination of parental rights.
50          (b) When determining voluntary relinquishment or consent for termination of parental
51     rights, the juvenile court need only find that the relinquishment or termination is in the child’s
52     best interest.
53          (6) (a) There is a presumption that voluntary relinquishment or consent for termination
54     of parental rights is not in the child’s best interest where it appears to the juvenile court that the
55     primary purpose for relinquishment or consent for termination is to avoid a financial support
56     obligation.

57          (b) The presumption described in Subsection (6)(a) may be rebutted if the juvenile
58     court finds the relinquishment or consent to termination of parental rights will facilitate the
59     establishment of stability and permanency for the child.
60          (7) Upon granting a voluntary relinquishment the juvenile court may make orders
61     relating to the child’s care and welfare that the juvenile court considers to be in the child’s best
62     interest.

The main reason for H.B. 20 is the questions that the recent Utah Court of Appeals case of State in Interest of A.G. (2022 UT App 126) raised about it. In that case,



Statute outlining steps for voluntary relinquishment of parental rights requires relinquishing parent to sign a document effectuating the relinquishment and if no such document is signed by the parent, the relinquishment is incomplete and ineffective. Utah Code Ann. § 80-4-307.

The Utah Court of Appeals described the issue this way:

¶1 This case requires us to determine whether, under the language of the governing statute [§ 80-4-307], parents who intend to relinquish their parental rights in connection with a child welfare proceeding may effectuate that relinquishment under oath orally in court, without ever signing anything, or whether they must at some point sign a document effectuating that relinquishment.

¶2 In this case, S.A. (Mother)—while under oath—told the juvenile court that she wanted to relinquish her parental rights to A.G., J.K., and D.K. (collectively, the Children), and that she was doing so knowingly and voluntarily. Relying on those sworn representations, the court accepted Mother’s relinquishment, and later entered an order terminating Mother’s parental rights. But Mother did not sign any document indicating that she was relinquishing her rights, and on that basis she challenged her relinquishment as incomplete and invalid. The juvenile court rejected that challenge, interpreting the governing statute as allowing relinquishment, under certain circumstances, without a signed document from the parent.

¶3 Mother now appeals that determination, asserting that the juvenile court’s interpretation of the governing statute was incorrect. We agree with Mother that the statute requires the relinquishing parent to—at some point—sign a document effectuating the relinquishment. Accordingly, we reverse the termination order and remand this case for further proceedings.

In describing the requirements of § 80-4-307, the court stated:

[T]to summarize, all relinquishments regarding children “in the custody of a state agency” or “under the jurisdiction of the juvenile court” must involve a juvenile court judge. See id. § 80-4-307(2). A parent who is relinquishing rights to any such children must “sign or confirm the consent or relinquishment under oath before” that judge. Id. § 80-4-307(1). The judge, in turn, must “certify to the best of [his or her] information and belief” that the parent who is “executing the consent or relinquishment” understands it and has “signed [it] freely and voluntarily.” Id. § 80-4-307(3). And the relinquishment “is effective when the voluntary relinquishment or consent is signed.” Id. § 80-4-307(4).

In its concluding paragraph, the Utah Court of Appeals stated:


¶25 The statute at issue here requires a person relinquishing parental rights to—at some point—sign a document effectuating the relinquishment. Even though Mother appeared in court and, under oath, indicated her willingness to relinquish her parental rights, she never signed a document to that effect. Accordingly, her relinquishment did not become effective, and the juvenile court erred by declining to set aside that nascent relinquishment and by proceeding to terminate her parental rights. We therefore reverse the juvenile court’s termination order and remand the case for further proceedings, which may include a rescheduled termination trial.

H.B. 20 was proposed to prevent future confusion by parents, attorneys, and judges in the future when confronting questions of whether a parent does in fact voluntarily relinquishment of parental rights.

Is H.B.20 a good idea, then? Yes, yes it is.

Utah Family Law, LC | | 801-466-9277.

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Family Law Legislation for the 2024 Utah State Legislative Session

Here is a list of the current proposed family law legislation for the 2024 Utah State Legislative session, along with a (very) brief description of the proposed legislation. If you want to read the complete bill, I have provided the links each of them.

Next month, I will provide my comments and those of others who have expressed their opinions on whether and why these bills should or should not be passed into law.

House Bills

House Bill 20

Title:  Parental Rights Amendments

Purpose: This bill: clarifies the requirements and procedure for an individual to consent to the termination of parental rights or voluntarily relinquish parental rights.

House Bill 81

Title: Domestic Violence Modifications

Purpose: This bill adds the crime of propelling a bodily substance or material to the list of crimes that qualify as a domestic violence offense in certain circumstances; and makes technical and conforming changes.

House Bill 110

Title:  Sex and Kidnap Offender Registry Amendments

Purpose: This bill changes references from the Department of Corrections to the Department of Public Safety; clarifies the purpose of the Department of Public Safety keeping certain information for individuals on the Sex and Kidnap Offender Registry; and clarifies the requirements the Bureau of Criminal Identification and the Department of Corrections must check for when an individual petitions to be removed from the registry.

House Bill  129

Title:  Child Support Requirements

Purpose: This bill provides that a parent or other obligated individual is not responsible for child support for a child who is in the custody of the Division of Child and Family Services; and makes technical and conforming changes.

House Bill  131

Title:  Clergy Child Abuse Reporting Requirements

Purpose:  This bill clarifies that a member of the clergy may report suspected child abuse or neglect in certain circumstances; and makes technical corrections.

House Bill  134

Title:  Marriage Amendments

Purpose: This bill addresses the validation and recognition of a marriage regardless of the race, ethnicity, or national original of the parties to the marriage; repeals a provision on interracial marriage; and makes technical and conforming changes

House Bill  140

Title:  Parental Notification Amendments

Purpose: This bill amends the advisory guidelines for a custody and parent-time arrangement to allow for parental notification when a parent is residing with an individual, or providing the individual access to the parent’s child, and the individual has been convicted of certain crimes; amends the advisory guidelines for a custody and parent-time arrangement in regard to notification of a parent in the event of a medical emergency; and makes technical and conforming changes.

House Bill  157

Title:  Child Custody Factors Amendments

Purpose: This bill provides that a parent’s approval or disapproval, in itself, of a child’s gender identity, is not a factor to be considered: in a Division of Child and Family Services determination regarding removal of a child from parental custody; and when determining child custody as part of a divorce or other family law proceeding.

House Bill  194

Title:  Child Placement Amendments

Purpose: This bill amends the definition of “relative” for purposes of child placement, including adoption; and addresses when a court holds a hearing concerning a contested adoption.

House Bill  198

Title:  Child Welfare Placement Review Amendments

Purpose: This bill addresses the analysis a juvenile court undertakes when evaluating whether to terminate parental rights; and makes technical and conforming changes.

House Bill  199

Title: Child Welfare Revisions

Purpose: This bill amends definitions related to child welfare in the Utah Juvenile Code

House Bill  200

Title:  Order for Life Sustaining Treatment

Purpose: This bill modifies professional conduct standards for physicians, advance practice registered nurses, and physician assistants to include obtaining a parent or guardian signature when completing an order for life sustaining treatment for a minor; and makes technical and conforming changes.

House Bill  219

Title:  Divorce Imputed Income Requirements

Purpose: This bill provides standards for imputing income to a spouse who will be receiving alimony payments from another spouse; provides potential limitations on imputation of income for alimony purposes in some circumstances where the recipient spouse has no recent full-time work history or has been diagnosed with a disability; excludes situations where the recipient spouse has been determined to be at fault; and makes technical and conforming changes.

House Bill  220

Title:  Divorce Amendments

Purpose: This bill adds factors to be considered when determining the standard of living that existed during a marriage; requires a specific look-back period for information provided to demonstrate the financial conditions and needs of a spouse seeking to be awarded alimony; places restrictions on when a court can reduce a showing of need related to alimony; provides alternative means for demonstrating income and the standard of living during a marriage; and  modifies provisions related to when a court may elect to equalize income between parties by means of an alimony award.

House Bill  234

Title:  Birth Certificate Modifications

Purpose: This bill requires an individual when petitioning the court for a name or sex designation change on the birth certificate to indicate on the petition whether the individual is registered with the Sex and Kidnap Offender Registry; and authorizes the court to obtain additional information from an individual that is registered with the Sex and Kidnap Offender Registry to determine whether to grant a name or sex designation change petition.

House Bill  272

Title:  Child Custody Proceedings Amendments

Purpose: This bill defines terms; in certain proceedings involving child custody: specifies requirements for the admission of expert evidence; and  requires a court to consider evidence relating to domestic violence or abuse by a parent; imposes certain requirements and limitations regarding orders to improve the relationship between a parent and a child; requires the state court administrator to make recommendations regarding the education and training of court personnel involving child custody and related proceedings;  requires that certain protective order proceedings comply with specific standards; and makes technical and conforming changes.


Senate Bill 70

Title:  Judiciary Amendments

Purpose: This bill increases the number of district court judges in the Third Judicial District, Fourth Judicial District, and Fifth Judicial District; increases the number of juvenile court judges in the Third Judicial District and the 15 Fourth Judicial District; and makes technical and conforming changes.

Senate Bill 88

Title:  Juvenile Justice Amendments

Purpose: This bill defines terms; clarifies requirements regarding the collection of a DNA specimen from a minor adjudicated by the juvenile court; provides that a minor may not be placed in a correctional facility as an alternative to detention; provides a time period in which an agency is required to send an affidavit to an individual who is the subject of an expungement order by the juvenile court; and makes technical and conforming changes.

Senate Bill 95

Title:  Domestic Relations Recodification

Purpose: This bill recodifies Title 30, Husband and Wife, to Title 81, Utah Domestic Relations Code; recodifies Title 78B, Chapter 12, Utah Child Support Act, to Title 81, Chapter 6, Child Support; defines terms; clarifies provisions related to a claim of a creditor when the joint debtors divorce or are living separately under an order of separate maintenance; clarifies the validation of a marriage to an individual subject to chronic epileptic fits who had not been sterilized; clarifies the validation of an interracial marriage; clarifies the validation of a marriage to an individual with acquired immune deficiency syndrome or other sexually transmitted disease; clarifies provisions regarding the rights and obligations during a marriage; clarifies provisions regarding the dissolution of a marriage, including: an order for separate maintenance; an annulment; and a divorce; clarifies provisions regarding child support, including: the requirements for a child support order; the general requirements for calculating child support; and the requirements for calculating child support for a sole physical custody case, a joint physical custody case, and a split physical custody case; clarifies provisions regarding custody, parent-time, and visitation; repeals statutes related to domestic relations, including a statute on the appointment of counsel for a child; and makes technical and conforming changes.

Utah Family Law, LC | | 801-466-9277

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Divorce and Social Media By Braxton Mounteer

Most people fundamentally misunderstand what the Internet and social media are. Many believe that social media is a web of interconnections where you can send and receive updates about your life or the lives of people you are involved in with those who are connected to you. This is completely true, but not truly complete. Social media is like what happens when groups of people chat around campfires in the dark in close proximity to each other. The sound travels. Every other group can hear what you and your friends are discussing around your campfire. So can the things hiding in the woods.

Another thing that people misunderstand is that what is posted on social media is a nearly permanent record. Every post you make might as well be etched into stone. There will almost always be a record of it somewhere, whether you delete it from your personal account.

What does this have to do with divorce? Your social media activity isn’t a tiny echo chamber of your inner circle or your personal diary. You aren’t screaming into the void. If you air your dirty laundry on social media, there will likely be a permanent record of it, and—for anyone who tries hard enough—for prying eyes and ears to access.

What you do and say online can be used against you. And it likely will be used against you.

You would be best served by keeping your online “mouth” shut. Keep your social media “business as usual,” post the updates about your children’s milestones and major life achievements that you normally would. Post the funny meme. But don’t bash your spouse online. Don’t pour your heart out about your personal vices and demons online. Don’t discuss your divorce or subjects that can affect your divorce online. Some things are better left unsaid.

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Should mutual friends choose sides in a divorce?

There’s more to consider than just the mutual friendship.

Such as whether someone is seriously in the wrong. You wouldn’t (or shouldn’t) fail to report a friend for committing murder. Hard as it would be to do the right thing, doing the wrong thing is much worse. Likewise, sitting on the fence in a divorce case involving mutual friends would be wrong if you are a witness to one of the two spouses abusing the other spouse or the couple’s children, or wasting the family funds on drugs or a paramour, for example.

But if you are not a witness to any wrongdoing by either spouse that is relevant to the divorce action, and if there is nothing in either spouse’s conduct that gives you cause to terminate your friendship or to dislike either one of them, it’s likely the wisest course of action to inform your mutual friends that the divorce action does not change your friendship with either of them, that you wish to remain friends with both of them, and that you would appreciate it if neither of them would try to have you give testimony for or against either of them.

Utah Family Law, LC | | 801-466-9277

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If I Get Married and Divorce Laws Change, Then Can I End the Marriage Before a New Divorce Law Applies Mentioning the Same as the Reason for Divorce?

My answer to your question is going to be a generalized answer to a hypothetical question. Before you take any real-life legal action in relation to real, existing laws, you will need to ensure you understand now the real, existing laws are construed and applied. And you would likely benefit from consulting with an attorney in your jurisdiction who is familiar with the law there. With that stated:

If I understand your question correctly, you are asking a question involving this scenario:

  1. A divorce law currently exists.
  1. The law may change or you know it is going to change.
  1. Under the current law, you could benefit from its provisions.
  1. You want to take advantage of the benefits that the current law provides before those benefits disappear after the change to the law goes into effect.

So, your question is, can you file for divorce now to take advantage of the benefits of an existing law before the law changes? You certainly could. It is not uncommon for people to take action under the provisions of laws that are about to change, so that they can take advantage of the provisions in the old law that will no longer exist after the changes go into effect. This happens with tax law frequently.

If you filed for divorce under an old law’s provisions to obtain the benefits the old law bestows and if your decree of divorce was granted before the law changed, it is likely that the new laws would not apply to your case. You would, however, still want to ensure that the changes to the law do not operate such that the changes are not retroactive or invalidate any pending divorce actions filed under the old law.

Utah Family Law, LC | | 801-466-9277

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Divorce Is Often a “Cure” Worse Than the Disease

In response to this question, “Have you ever thought someone was making a mistake by getting a divorce?,” I stated (and I summarize here) some people need to divorce. It’s good that the option for divorce exists for their protection, but those who think divorce is the solution to their problem(s) are sadly mistaken. For these people divorce does not solve any problem and just creates a host of new problems.

Recently, someone left a comment on my answer stating that taking the position that most dating and marriage partnerships should stay together consigns both spouses to misery for no reason. Instead, she argued, we need to change divorce culture so that divorce isn’t seen as a failure automatically leading to bitter feuding. It can be, she concluded, a great source of growth for both people, if we just treat it as the next chapter of our lives.

I’ve never claimed that most dating and marriage partnerships should stay together. Some relationships (dating and marriage alike) are so dangerous and/or toxic that they need to end and end without delay. But comparing dating to marriage is a false equivalence.

Besides, for most people, the purpose of dating is finding someone you want as a spouse and who wants you as a spouse, so that you can form a family together.

Ending a dating relationship can be at least disappointing at worst and painful (even extremely painful), but the level of commitment in a dating relationship is nowhere near (or at least should be nowhere near) the level of commitment in a marriage (especially once children are born and become a part of the family).

People who marry should do so (and most do so) with the intent that marriage and family are not only a life-long commitment, but the most important commitment of their lives. When a spouse betrays that commitment, the consequences are much graver than when two people stop dating.

Divorce also involves having to divide a household and custody of children. At least one spouse loses his/her home. Assets and personal property get divided. Plans for “growing old together” in retirement are usually blown to smithereens, and both spouses have to re-adjust, usually by having to work many years longer than they originally planned to make up for the financial hit divorce causes. Spouses who were financially dependent on their spouses, now find themselves having to enter the workforce after years-long absences from the workforce making a meager income to get by. Kids are devastated by their parents’ divorce, and so the parents find themselves having to deal with that crisis on top of their own individual personal crises their going through at the same time.

The family is the necessary, indispensable foundation of a peaceful, prosperous society. We don’t make people happier by discouraging marriage or making divorce too easy to get.

Those whose marriages aren’t plagued by violence or mental or emotional cruelty, but who believe divorce is the solution to their problem(s) are sadly mistaken. For these people divorce does not solve any problem and just creates a host of new problems.

Most people who divorce not only didn’t need to, it was the worst thing they could have done to themselves and their family. If they would work on bettering themselves (both of them trying to be the kind of spouse they want and need) and then turn their attention to bettering the marriage, most marriages could be happy and fulfilling ones. Not perfect ones (there is no such thing), but happy, worthwhile marriages. This takes effort and sacrifice, and patience and trial and error, but the results are still better than a needless divorce.

The idea that we can make divorce easier on people by acting as though “it’s not a failure” on some many levels and to such a great degree cannot change the reality of the situation. To suggest that we “change divorce culture” to be seen as “a great source of growth” for the divorcing spouses would not only grossly cheapen marriage, it would be perpetrating a cruel, destructive fraud on both individuals and society at large.

Utah Family Law, LC | | 801-466-9277

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U.S. Marriage and Divorce Statistics

My name is Stephanie from and honestly, I usually wouldn’t bother emailing about this, but I researched and gathered as much data and stats as I could about various divorce statistics and put it all together in a massive blog post (84 stats to be precise).

This is it here:

I thought it might be useful to you and your readers as a reference in your blog.


Utah Family Law, LC | | 801-466-9277

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Are Divorce Lawyers Ethically Supposed to at Least Attempt to Dissuade a Client From Divorcing?

Great question. Thank you for asking.

The answer (at least for the jurisdiction where I practice divorce law (Utah)) is: no, a lawyer has no ethical obligation to dissuade a client from seeking a divorce. That does not mean, however, that a lawyer is ethically barred from urging a client to explore the possibility of salvaging a strained or broken marriage instead of ending it, if the lawyer feels that divorce may not be in the client’s and/or the client’s family’s (and the client is a member of his/her own family) best interest.

Indeed, there have been times when I’ve met with a client or potential client who is contemplating divorce and I have, based upon what information the client has provided to me, concluded that while there may be serious problems in the marriage and family, divorce is not or may not be the best response to those problems.

Divorce is a very difficult thing to recover from or reverse. Often, when a spouse seeks and obtains a divorce, he/she is shocked and devastated to learn that divorce wasn’t the answer to the spouse’s troubles. If a marriage can be repaired and healed, that is usually far better (especially when a married couple has children) than divorce. It’s always worth considering and pursuing reasonable efforts to save a marriage before contemplating divorce.

Utah Family Law, LC | | 801-466-9277

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What are your thoughts on a second marriage?

My answer comes from the perspective of a divorce lawyer who’s been in practice for 26 years. Note that I believe in marriage. Although I am a divorce lawyer myself, I am not divorced, and God willing, I never will be. I would like nothing better than for everyone to be so happily married that I need to find another line of work. I support and advocate for marriage. And under the right circumstances, I believe in remarriage. While there are plenty of fun, satisfying, and fulfilling things one can and should do as an unmarried person, my life would be comparatively empty without my wife, my children, and the incomparable joys of being a husband and father. For all the people who tell you how glad they are to be unmarried and childless, few really mean it.  

If you found your first marriage to be difficult, the odds are that a second marriage will be harder than your first. This is not always the case, but it usually is. This is not to say that if your first marriage failed you should not want or try to remarry to seek and enjoy the blessings of marriage for yourself and to be a blessing to your spouse. If, however, you caused your first divorce or even struggled in your first marriage because of your own demons, you’ve likely got some serious character and personality flaws to correct before you can remarry successfully. Resolving your personal issues and correcting course not insurmountable, but it is unavoidable, if you want a second marriage to work. But take heart: it can be done, it’s worth doing.  

I was once asked what I believe the three main causes of divorce are. I answered that question with this: While there are many reasons one may need or feel the need to divorce, the “top 3” reasons are, in my experience: 1. Broken trust (whether that is caused by infidelity or hiding a substance abuse problem or failing to “pull one’s own weight” in the marriage relationship, etc.); 2. Placing self-interest ahead of fostering the marriage partnership (which usually takes the form of expecting your spouse to be perfect and to be solely or primarily responsible for your happiness); and 3. Immaturity and/or some kind of mental health disorder.  

Thus, while nobody can ensure a marriage never ends in divorce it is crucial to your marriage (whether it’s your first or second) that you and your spouse be and want to be trustworthy, be devoted, be responsible, be sober, and that you care and want to for your individual and your spouse’s mental and physical health. If you or your prospective spouse feel that’s asking too much, don’t marry for the second (or even for the first) time.  

Utah Family Law, LC | | 801-466-9277  

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What are some ways to make the divorce rate drop?

First, some marriages need to end in divorce. That is why divorce exists. But divorce is not always the answer when one or both spouses is/are miserable. Far too many divorces are not only unnecessary, but take things from bad to worse. For those marriages that need not end in divorce, teach and exemplify: 

  • belief in God; 
  • trust—humbly—in God; 
  • that God’s plan for His children includes marriage and family (so He will help you when you and your spouse turn to Him for guidance and strength to overcome); 
  • love for and service to God;
    • Loving and serving God leads us to loving and serving others (especially your spouse and children). Loving and serving others leads us to love and to serve God. You cannot sustainably have one without the other; 
    • Go to church together and with your children. Associate with other families and learn from and support each other. It’s soothing and encouraging to see you’re not alone in the struggles couples and families face. It’s good to have others in your community to whom you can turn for support in good times and bad. 
  • mercy and forgiveness for human faults and frailties; 
    • Don’t demand perfection from your spouse or yourself—that’s impossible—but strive to be your best. Don’t exploit your spouse. 
    • This does not mean that wrongs go unpunished and unrestituted, but it does mean that “the punishment fit the crime,” as the saying goes; 
    • This does not mean that punishment be “curative”; See C.S. Lewis’s “The Humanitarian Theory of Punishment 
  • specifically in marriage and family: 
    • Marriage and family is a major purpose of our lives—it’s part of God’s plan for each of us; 
    • Marry because you want “us” to be happy, supported, and fulfilled together. If you marry merely for “what’s in it for me,” you’re not ready or worthy to marry; 
      • Being equals in marriage does not mean that you and your spouse are the same in every respect. Accept it. Adapt to it. Celebrate it. Don’t forget it. 
    • Be honest in your dealings with your spouse and worthy of trust. 
    • Accept that certain aspects of a good married life and of single life are incompatible, so those aspects of single life must be left behind and replaced to serve your role as a spouse and parent; 
    • Accept the bitter aspects of married and family life with the sweet; 
      • “Anyone who imagines that bliss is normal is going to waste a lot of time running around shouting that he’s been robbed. The fact is that most putts don’t drop, most beef is tough, most children grow up to just be people, most successful marriages require a high degree of mutual toleration, most jobs are more often dull than otherwise. Life is like an old time rail journey…delays…sidetracks, smoke, dust, cinders and jolts, interspersed only occasionally by beautiful vistas and thrilling burst of speed.” — Gordon B. Hinckley 
    • Learn to make the compromises in your habits and lifestyle that marriage requires. 
      • Don’t die on the hill of whose responsibility it is to take out the trash, whether “breakfast for dinner” is untenable, etc. Go to movies and restaurants you don’t like sometimes, if going is something your spouse enjoys (he/she needs to make the same accommodations for you too). 
      • It will seem as though you are “making sacrifices” when in reality you are continuing to grow and mature as a person. You are developing dormant talents and new skills that a successful marriage needs to thrive. 

Utah Family Law, LC | | 801-466-9277 

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Why are so many attorneys seemingly against legal separation?

Why are so many attorneys seemingly against legal separation? I truly feel in my circumstance its best for me/us. Is it because they wont make as much money? We have already started the divorce process. Can it be switched? 

I can’t speak for all divorce attorneys, and I am not an attorney licensed to practice law in Illinois (I practice divorce and family law in Utah), but I can tell you why I personally don’t like going the temporary separation route. 

Too many people divorce needlessly. Too many people divorce only to discover that their spouses and marriages weren’t their problem and/or that divorce wasn’t the solution. I support desires and efforts to save marriage. While legal separation may sound to some like a good way to “get some space” to contemplate whether one should stay married or should divorce, I’ve found that: 

legal separation tends to damage a marriage far more than fostering its survival; and  

by the time one wants a legal separation, he or she really wants a divorce and is only postponing divorce out of fear or laziness or for the sake of appeasing the other spouse or “letter him/her down easy”.  

While I am sure there are people out there whose legal separation proved that “absence makes the hear grow fonder” and helped them “wake up” and realize that their marriage is worth saving, I know no such people. 

If I recall correctly, I’ve seen one legal separation end with the couple later reconciling. In every other legal separation situation, the couple has eventually divorced. So you can see where this is going: why go to the additional trouble, expense, and emotional ordeal of obtaining a legal separation order if you’re going to end up divorcing anyway and having to go through more of the same kind of effort, wait, expense, and pain again? 

I understand the desire to give the marriage every last reasonable opportunity to survive. I understand the desire to take every reasonable effort to save it. But at the same time, I don’t see the point in pouring time, effort, care, and money into what is for most a hopeless cause. **That stated,** I would much rather “waste” time, effort, care, and money on taking every reasonable effort to save my marriage if it meant having the peace of mind that I gave saving my marriage everything I could in an effort to save it before deciding that it was not worth saving or that I alone could not save it and concluding that divorce was the only remaining option. 

Are there divorce lawyers who discourage legal separation because they make (or believe they make) less money working on a legal separation instead of a divorce? I’m sure there are. But not all of us are out to take the client for all he or she is worth (you’d be wise to ensure you don’t hire a greedy lawyer, but there are some among us who are decent, caring, trustworthy professionals worth seeking out). In my experience, if one wants to do all he or she can to save his or her marriage, then working to improve yourself as a spouse, making changes in your family environment, and giving your best efforts to some good marriage counseling are certainly worthwhile. Legal separation rarely, if ever, helps improve a marriage. It tends to weaken and destroy a marriage.  

Utah Family Law, LC | | 801-466-9277 

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What are the 3 main issues that lead to divorce these days?

Every time you hear about divorce, what are the 3 main issues that lead to divorce these days? 

I have been a divorce and family law attorney for 26 years. In that time I have spoken to thousands of people about divorce and their reasons for seeking a divorce. While there are many reasons one may need or feel the need to divorce, the “top 3” reasons are, in my experience: 

  1. Broken trust (whether that is caused by infidelity or hiding a substance abuse problem or failing to “pull one’s own weight” in the marriage relationship, etc.) 
  2. Placing self-interest ahead of fostering the marriage partnership (which usually takes the form of expecting your spouse to be perfect and to be solely or primarily responsible for your happiness) 
  3. Immaturity and/or some kind of mental health disorder 

Utah Family Law, LC | | 801-466-9277 

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So I want to ask my dad to divorce my mom.

So I want to ask my dad to divorce my mom. She has a troublesome personality, to say. I’m currently 16 and the relationship between not just me and my mother, but also the one between her and my father, is not good in the slightest. Should I ask him? 

Before answering this question myself, I looked at the other answers that have already been provided because I was expecting at least one of them to be along the lines of, “Whether your parents divorce is their choice, and thus none of your business.” And indeed I did. 

It’s a comforting, and thus attempting, position to adopt. But it’s utterly false. 

Given that you are now 16 years old and have, according to you, lived a life in the company of two enemies who happen to be spouses clearly makes your parents’ marriage and the possibility of divorce “your business.” 

Being 16 years old, you are at a unique point in your life where you are starting to think and act more like an adult, but you are still a child. Unless you are unusually mature and wise for your age, there are still many things about adulthood and marriage and family life you don’t completely understand, so you need to respect your parents’ history and experience and thinking on the subject of divorce, if their positions on the subject differ from your own. At the same time, however, given that you have been living in a dysfunctional family for 16 years, your experience, observations, desires, and opinions clearly have weight as well. 

If you determine that you have, in fairness and objectivity, determined in your own mind that your parents would be better off divorced, and you can persuasively articulate why, I can’t think of any reason why you wouldn’t have not only good reason, but the right as well, to argue the case for divorce to your parents. 

If your parents refused to divorce, and you cannot bear to spend another moment of an acrimony-filled existence at home, another option you might consider would be having your parents permit you to leave their custody to live with grandparents or an aunt or uncle or older sibling who might be willing to take you in, if such an option exists. Depending upon the circumstances, that could be done on an informal basis without having to go through a guardianship proceeding, or it may require court action. 

Finally, and as I mentioned before, if you happen to be mature and wise beyond your years, if you are able to support yourself financially (meaning that you can earn enough income to house, feed, and close yourself without contribution from your parents or the government), you might have the option of petitioning a court to declare you legally emancipated before you turn 18 years of age. 

Either way, if your parents don’t want to divorce and you can stand being enmeshed in their dysfunctional marriage another moment, living away from them could be the right thing for you, if circumstances are conducive to it. 

Utah Family Law, LC | | 801-466-9277  

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