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Is there a difference between hearings and trials in Utah divorce cases?

Yes. A hearing is not the same as a trial. While there may be some similarities, they are not the same thing and do not accomplish the same objectives.

The primary difference between a trial and a hearing is that a trial disposes of the law suit after the parties present evidence to the judge for a final ruling on the case. The trial is the end of the case (unless there is an appeal after trial, but that’s a different subject for another blog).

Hearings take place before trial, are usually shorter than a trial, and are used to resolve issues that arise during the pendency of the case before trial. You can and likely will have multiple hearings in your case, while there is just one trial.

Hearings usually take minutes or hours. Trials take longer, usually several days or weeks.

Hearings take place before trial.

Your first experience with the courtroom (whether in the courtroom or whether you participate via remote video conference) will almost surely be in a hearing, not trial.

Utah Family Law, LC | divorceutah.com | 801-466-9277

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What happens in court if I file for divorce but my husband has an active case on me for child support? Will I get the child?

Whether you “get the child” (meaning whether you will be awarded physical custody of the child) has little to no relevance to the fact that your spouse is seeking child support from you.

My guess is, based upon the way you phrased your question, that 1) you and your husband are separated and were separated before you filed, or before you have contemplated filing, for divorce; 2) the children have been, on an informal basis (i.e., no court order) your spouse has been exercising sole or primary custody of the children for a while since the separation occurred; and 3) your spouse has applied for an administrative order or court order for child support without having filed for a divorce. Under such circumstances, what would weaken your case for awarding custody to you would be the fact that the children have been in the sole or primary custody of your spouse during separation (and thus, the argument would go, that is the way it should stay, if and when a court issues a decree of divorce), not that he/she has sought child support from you.

If the children have been in the sole or primary custody of your spouse since separation and this is not due to your spouse having concealed the children from you, having absconded with the children, or having otherwise not obtained and exercised this de facto sole/primary custody wrongfully, then it’s not the fact that your spouse is seeking child support from you that hurts your case for custody. What hurts your case for custody being awarded to you is the fact that your spouse stepped up to take care of the kids and you did not.

Utah Family Law, LC | divorceutah.com | 801-466-9277

Eric Johnson’s answer to What happens in court if I file for divorce but my husband has an active case on me for child support? Will I get the child? – Quora

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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 | divorceutah.com | 801-466-9277  

https://www.quora.com/So-I-want-to-ask-my-dad-to-divorce-my-mom-She-has-a-troublesome-personality-to-say-Im-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-1/answer/Eric-Johnson-311  

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Is there anything that can surprise a judge during a divorce proceeding?

Is there anything that can surprise a judge during a contested divorce proceeding?  

Of course.  

We’ve all read about cases where all of the circumstantial evidence indicated the defendant is guilty, only to be surprised in the eleventh hour some piece of evidence that conclusively proves he couldn’t be guilty, but that someone else is the perpetrator.  

We know, sadly, of people mistakenly or wrongfully convicted, which often comes as a surprise (because we hate the idea that the justice system can be and in such cases is corrupt at one or more levels): 

https://nypost.com/2021/12/01/alice-sebold-apologizes-to-man-wrongly-convicted-of-her-rape/  

https://innocenceproject.org/all-cases/ 

And we’ve all, unfortunately, learned of cases where the defendant was falsely accused, which surprises some. See: 

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Duke_lacrosse_case 

Of course. I will describe one common way a judge can be surprised (especially in divorce and family law cases): like all of us, judges have their own worldviews based upon their individual personal experiences, what they were taught as they grew up, their own beliefs and biases. A good judge tries to be as aware as possible of these things, so that he/she will not take a subject approach to the case but will follow where the evidence leads according to what the law dictates.  

One of the things that many subjective-minded judges tend to do in divorce and child custody disputes is believe the woman/mother to be: 

  • honest 
  • the better parent of the two 
  • financially dependent on her husband 
  • under the husband’s explicit or implicit control (whether that be financially, emotionally/psychologically, physically, or both) 
    • victimized in some way (whether great or small) by the husband, if the wife claims to have been. Extremely common examples: “He controlled all the money, wouldn’t tell me how much/how little we had, and wouldn’t give me any to spend,” and/or “He forbade me from having a job,” and/or “He physically/sexually/emotionally abused me and/or the children,” and/or “He forced me to engage in sexual acts that I found objectionable/humiliating,” and/or “He never shared in the household chores and childrearing.” 

Don’t get me wrong; many wives/mothers are all of these things, but not always. But 25 years as a divorce and family lawyer I can tell you that in my experiences some judges presume the women to be some of these things simply by virtue of them being women, and if the wife/mother makes claims to being any of these things, the judge will often treat such claims as “prima facie” established until the husband/father refutes/rebuts them.  

Consequently, it often surprises some such judges when a husband/father proves* that, while he is not perfect: 

  • he is honest and/or the wife/mother has been lying about him or on the subject of other issues in the divorce and/or child custody case. 
  • he is either just as good a parent as his wife or the better parent of the two 
    • and if he proves he’s the better parent, that often comes as so big of a shock to some courts that the court cannot/will not bring itself to accept such a concept, let alone such a fact 
  • that if the wife/mother is in fact financially dependent on him (as many wives often are, though decreasingly so in modern society), he has been forthright and transparent about financial matters with his wife  
  • that he does not exercise any kind of force or control over his wife and/or children but is decent, loving, and treats all of his family members fairly and well 

*Getting over that bar is often extremely difficult, sometimes impossible for some husbands/fathers with some judges.  

Utah Family Law, LC | divorceutah.com | 801-466-9277  

https://www.quora.com/Is-there-anything-that-can-surprise-a-judge-during-a-contested-divorce-proceeding/answer/Eric-Johnson-311  

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What are the biggest mistakes lawyers make when presenting their case?

What are some of the biggest mistakes lawyers make when presenting their case to a jury?

  1. Being long-winded, repetitive, rambling, imprecise, boring.

But here’s the kicker: if you are clear and concise, then what you think are “in the bag” issues may not be, what you think are minor points may be major points in the court’s opinion. And so if you ignore the “in the bag” or “minor” points, then the court might hold that against you. In other words, it’s impossible to know if you’ve said too much or too little. You’re damned if you do, damned if you don’t. Closing arguments can drive you mad, sometimes.

  1. Believing the court didn’t make up its mind long before closing argument.

But here’s the kicker: if the court really hasn’t made up its mind already (it has been known to happen), then you can’t in good conscience “phone in” your closing argument because i) that’s unprofessional and unethical; and ii) you don’t want to wonder what might have been had you tried your best.

Utah Family Law, LC | divorceutah.com | 801-466-9277

https://www.quora.com/What-are-some-of-the-biggest-mistakes-lawyers-make-when-presenting-their-case-to-a-jury/answer/Eric-Johnson-311?prompt_topic_bio=1

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Does a spouse have the right to see a DUI report?

First, if you are referring to a police report of a DUI citation and/or arrest, in most jurisdictions such records are public record, and thus available not only to your spouse, but to any other member of the public.

Second, if the question of whether you were cited and/or convicted of DUI arises in a divorce or child custody case because your spouse and/or the court has determined that alcohol or other substance abuse concerns are relevant to the child custody award or alimony award or other issues, then even if your DUI report were not already public record, it would likely be discoverable in the course of litigating the case and preparing for trial, so that both your spouse and the court would have that information available to them when arguing over which parent should receive child custody and/or how much time each parent should spend with the parties’ children, whether alimony should be tempered by your substance and/or spousal abuse history, etc.

Bottom line: records of a citation for, arrest for, conviction of, and or incarceration resulting from DUI are almost certainly discoverable in most divorce and child custody cases.

Utah Family Law, LC | divorceutah.com | 801-466-9277

https://www.quora.com/Does-a-spouse-have-the-right-to-see-a-DUI-report/answer/Eric-Johnson-311?prompt_topic_bio=1

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Does a spouse have the right to see a DUI report?

Does a spouse have the right to see a DUI report?

First, if you are referring to a police report of a DUI citation and/or arrest, in most jurisdictions such records are public record, and thus available not only to your spouse, but to any other member of the public.

Second, if the question of whether you were cited and/or convicted of DUI arises in a divorce or child custody case because your spouse and/or the court has determined that alcohol or other substance abuse concerns are relevant to the child custody award or alimony award or other issues, then even if your DUI report were not already public record, it would likely be discoverable in the course of litigating the case and preparing for trial, so that both your spouse and the court would have that information available to them when arguing over which parent should receive child custody and/or how much time each parent should spend with the parties’ children, whether alimony should be tempered by your substance and/or spousal abuse history, etc.

Bottom line: records of a citation for, arrest for, conviction of, and or incarceration resulting from DUI are almost certainly discoverable in most divorce and child custody cases.

Utah Family Law, LC | divorceutah.com | 801-466-9277

https://www.quora.com/Does-a-spouse-have-the-right-to-see-a-DUI-report/answer/Eric-Johnson-311?prompt_topic_bio=1

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In court cases, how does taking an oath make any difference?

In court cases, how does taking an oath make any difference?

From what I can tell, yes, it appears that taking an oath or affirming to tell the truth before being questioned as a witness in a legal proceeding (whether in court or whether the testimony is being given in relation to the court proceedings) does make a difference because lying under oath or affirmation is an element of the crime of perjury. No oath or affirmation, no perjury.

Lying without being under oath or affirmation can still be a crime or otherwise punished by law in other settings other than a court proceeding (for example, lying a law enforcement officer), so bear that in mind.

Clearly, the purpose of questioning a witness in a court proceeding is to gather factual and/or honest (truthful) information to help the court decide the case. Some information is factual, meaning it is not in dispute, it can be independently verified as true. Other information is “honest,” meaning that it may not be true but the witness believes what he or she is saying is true and is doing his/her best to testify as to what he/she remembers.

If one can be convicted of lying in court or in relation to court proceedings without having sworn an oath or affirmed to tell the truth I do not know of such a law (but that’s not to say such a law does not exist). Why one cannot be convicted of lying in court without having sworn an oath or affirmed to tell the truth I do not know.

I see no good reason why a law could simply be passed that any witness is guilty of perjury if the witness, when, after first being notified that the witness is questioned in the course of or in relation to the court proceedings, the witness makes a false statement of a material fact; and knowledge of the falsity made in a proceeding, or in relation to a matter, within the jurisdiction of the tribunal or officer before whom the proceeding was held or by whom the matter was considered.

Utah Family Law, LC | divorceutah.com | 801-466-9277

https://www.quora.com/In-court-cases-how-does-taking-an-oath-make-any-difference/answer/Eric-Johnson-311?prompt_topic_bio=1

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Why do lawyers get paid no matter the results?

Why do lawyers get paid no matter the results?

Your question assumes a false fact. Lawyers are not always paid no matter the results.

One example is a contingency fee case. A contingency fee case is one in which the lawyer’s fee is contingent, i.e., conditioned, upon a particular outcome, usually the recovery of money damages, with the attorney receiving a portion of the damages awarded to the client), if the client does not win or settle, and thus if no money is recovered, then the lawyer does not get paid).

Another example is when a lawyer voluntarily works without getting paid. Lawyers who provide legal services free of charge usually do so when a client needs help but cannot pay, or if the lawyer wants to support a cause he/she cares about by donating his/her services without charge. This is known as pro bono publico (“for the public good”) or just “pro bono” service.

Another good old-fashioned example of a situation in which the lawyer is not paid, no matter the results, is when the lawyer does work for the client first, then bills the client for the work performed, but the client refuses to pay. When I was young and stupid, I encountered this problem on occasion. After a while (too long a while), I got tired of getting stiffed and I changed the way I billed and collected.

Utah Family Law, LC | divorceutah.com | 801-466-9277

https://www.quora.com/Why-do-lawyers-get-paid-no-matter-the-results/answer/Eric-Johnson-311

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If I can’t find an attorney, can it honestly be said I got a fair trial?

If I can’t find an attorney, can it honestly be said I got a fair trial?

If a person seeks legal representation in a court, and every attorney they tries to hire refuses to represent them, can he receive a “fair trial”?

That depends upon how you define a “fair trial”. Some people mistakenly believe that in the United States every litigant is guaranteed representation by an attorney in any lawsuit. This is not true. Defendants in criminal cases that involve the risk of substantial jail time are entitled to appointment of counsel, free of charge to the defendant, if the defendant so desires.

In some jurisdictions, a parent is entitled to appointed counsel if the state petitions to terminate that parents parental rights.

There is no right to appointed counsel in civil cases. so there is no right to appointed counsel in divorce actions or personal injury actions or other cases that do not involve serious, jailable criminal charges. So, if you were to claim you could not find any lawyer to represent me and to help me in my civil suit, you could not claim that your rights were somehow violated. It could thus be said that you received a fair trial, even if you were unable to find a lawyer to represent you at trial.

But if the case was a complex one, and one where a knowledge of the laws and/or regulations, as well as the procedural rules of court, makes the difference between winning or losing, having no attorney to represent you, that isn’t a fair fight. unfair, but not illegal. You have no legal recourse in those circumstances.

I have met people who have claimed that they cannot find an attorney to represent them in a particular civil action. More often than not, the reasons why are fairly clear: the person seeking representation can’t afford to pay the attorney and/or the person does not have a winning legal argument (either because that person is clearly in the wrong or because that person doesn’t have enough evidence to win or to win in the manner that person desires).

Utah Family Law, LC | divorceutah.com | 801-466-9277

https://www.quora.com/If-a-person-seeks-legal-representation-in-a-court-and-every-attorney-they-tries-to-hire-refuses-to-represent-them-can-he-receive-a-fair-trial/answer/Eric-Johnson-311

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The Difference Between a Case Dismissed “with Prejudice” and a Case Dismissed “without Prejudice”

I’m going to explain confusing and counter intuitive legalese by explaining the meaning of case dismissed “with prejudice” versus “without prejudice.” These are the formal legal terms for the different ways cases can be disposed of. Dismissing a case “with prejudice” sounds like it got dismissed because a judge’s bias or racism, but that’s not what it means. Not even close.

A court case that is dismissed with prejudice means that it is dismissed permanently. A case dismissed with prejudice is over and done with, once and for all, and can’t be brought back to court to argue the same dispute again. A case dismissed without prejudice means the opposite. It’s not dismissed forever. That cause of action can be re-filed with the court. When a lawsuit is dismissed without prejudice it signifies that none of the rights or privileges of the individual involved are considered to be lost or waived. The inclusion of the term without prejudice reflects the absence of a decision on the merits and leaves the parties free to litigate the matter in a subsequent action. Folks, the modern world of law is just too complex for the average guy or gal to understand. Unscrupulous lawyers and judges know this, and they can and do use your ignorance to take advantage of you. Knowledge is power, forewarned is forearmed.

Utah Family Law, LC | divorceutah.com | 801-466-9277

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