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Is Court-Ordered Therapy Over-Used? By Braxton Mounteer, legal assistant.

Whether you believe that everyone needs (or could benefit from) therapy or that it is only for the most dysfunctional families, you, like most people, likely agree some therapy has a place in family law matters. For all the benefits of court-ordered therapy, however, therapy can be misused and abused.

For therapy to be effective in these kinds of settings, if you don’t have willing and earnest participation, it’s not going to work. It is hard work to confront your own faults and the faults of those who may have hurt you. It’s hard to better yourself. It’s hard to reconcile with past abuse, betrayals, and other kinds of mistreatment. One who is forced into therapy will, in most cases, refuse to participate or even actively oppose it. Is it any wonder why?

Courts often order too much therapy, with “too much” meaning either ordering therapy too often, or ordering therapy for too long. There are many reasons for this, but two of the worst are virtue signaling courts and greedy therapists.

Many judges and commissioners order therapy so that they can’t be accused of not being thorough, of not being sufficiently sensitive and caring and protective. This results in therapy being ordered even when it’s not needed or even warranted. It’s easy for courts to order therapy. It feels good. It’s a cheap, easy way for courts to look good. It doesn’t cost the commissioners and judges a penny to order therapy.

The point of ordering family members into therapy is rarely “eh, see if it helps.” Not everyone needs therapy. Some problems aren’t problems (or big enough problems) to warrant therapy. It’s likely a safe bet that most people might benefit from a little therapy. We’re all flawed. “Better safe than sorry” is tempting, but forcing people into therapy who aren’t dysfunctional can itself cause dysfunction.

I am referring to the emotional equivalent to scraping your knee. Those situations wouldn’t require the emergency room or physical therapy. However, when a court orders therapy left, right, and center, is making something that can help a lot of people into a hammer and every potential problem a nail.

You may say, “Well, even if the only benefit that therapy provides is a place to voice your problems, it is still better than nothing.” and you would be wrong. What if a child is handling the divorce well and putting him or her in therapy makes the child falsely feel he or she is being treated for a non-existent problem? Money wasted on needless therapy could leave one unable to pay for other needs in other aspects of one’s life and the life of one’s children.

If you are an aggressive and abusive husband or an emotionally abusive and cheating wife and your children take issue with that, it’s your fault. Therapy isn’t glue to keep your family together. You can’t expect someone to keep a ship afloat if you are constantly drilling holes in the hull. Sometimes you really are the problem and could benefit from facing and fixing your issues. When courts default to ordering therapy as a catch-all cure-all, they’re phoning it in. No one benefits from that. If you’re afraid to oppose therapy because you’re afraid you’ll be labeled anti-child or anti-caring, don’t be. If the court can’t make a cogent case that therapy is truly necessary or clearly warranted, have the gumption and courage to object. If you don’t, then you have no one to blame but yourself, if needless knee-jerk therapy is ordered in your case

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

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Why are child support and custody attorneys so expensive?

Because the work: 

  • requires a lot of knowledge of both the written (and unwritten*) rules that most people don’t have the time, interest, or ability to learn and apply correctly; and 
  • is miserable. 

This is why people with family law disputes either cannot or will not do the work themselves and would rather pay (even when it hurts) to have a skilled attorney (if you don’t hire a skilled attorney you’re just flushing your money and effort and odds of success down the toilet) do the work for them. 

One more factor: 

  • people who represent themselves in their own legal matters (any legal matter, including divorce and family law matters) are often treated shabbily by the courts and by the opposing party’s attorney. Even if you knew your stuff as well as an attorney, the fact that you are not attorney leaves many in the legal profession to look down their noses at you. 
    • In fairness, most people who are not lawyers who try to navigate the legal system make more than a mess of their case; they waste a lot of time and cause a lot of unnecessary trouble. 
    • Many people who represent themselves don’t do so because they are poor but because they are mentally ill. This is another reason why self-represented parties are looked upon with skepticism, suspicion, and distrust by the courts. 

*You’d be forgiven if you read the statutes and rules and then thought you know how they apply. The truth is that 1) the courts have such broad discretion to construe and apply the rules that it’s truly impossible to predict the outcome of your case based upon what the written statutes and rules provide; and 2) many courts twist and violate the statutes and rules (some inadvertently, some intentionally) in the name of “doing what’s right” or by invoking the justification of justifications: “the best interest of the child.” 

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

https://www.quora.com/Why-are-child-support-and-custody-attorneys-so-expensive/answer/Eric-Johnson-311  

 

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How long does it take a divorce to become final if one party is refusing the divorce?

How long does it take a divorce to become final if one party is refusing the divorce?

It can take an amazingly, shockingly long time.

One of the most frustrating things about this experience is that while you clearly have a stake in the expeditious outcome of your divorce action, you are not the only participant in the divorce process, and if the other participants do not share your desire to dispose of your divorce case as promptly as reasonably possible, you can often find the divorce process frustratingly tedious.

I’ve been involved in cases that have, despite my and my clients’ best efforts, dragged out for years beyond when they should have been set for trial.

Here are a few things that you can do to ensure that you are not contributing to the delays in your case:

  • Don’t keep hoping for a perfectly fair settlement;
    • I completely understand the desire to settle the case so that you avoid months or years of protracted litigation and or having to spend scary amounts of money preparing for and going to trial. but once you’ve gone to mediation once or twice, once you’ve exchanged multiple settlement proposals, and have nothing to show for it, then it should be clear that unless you roll over and settle on the terms your spouse dictates, your case will be going to trial. When she reached that realization there’s no point in putting it off any longer.
    • Sometimes it may be your attorney, not you, who is afraid to stop negotiating in a fruitless attempt to reach a settlement. Some lawyers are terrified of going to trial, so they might be the ones slowing the case down in a vain attempt to settle the case so that they don’t have to worry about preparing for and going to trial.
  • Bite the bullet and realize that preparing for and going to trial is expensive. For some people, the financial cost of preparing for and going to trial is more than they can pay. Some people literally cannot afford to go to trial. If you find yourself in that situation, and then make a settlement you know isn’t fair but one that you made because you had no other alternative, that’s a hard pill to swallow, but there’s little point in complaining about it; you did the best you could.
  • Make sure you have an attorney who doesn’t put up with the opposing parties and/or the opposing party’s attorney’s or even the court’s dilatory shenanigans. Your attorney cannot force your case to settle on your terms and timetable but can take steps to ensure that the opposing side and/or the court isn’t/aren’t delaying the progress of the case inexcusably. If your attorney is in this kind of attorney, fire him or her and get one who is.

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

https://www.quora.com/How-long-does-it-take-a-divorce-to-become-final-if-one-party-is-refusing-the-divorce/answer/Eric-Johnson-311?prompt_topic_bio=1

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I was divorced and lied to during my divorce and I am disabled can I take my ex back to court for spousal support?

I was divorced and lied to during my divorce and I am disabled can I take my ex back to court for spousal support?

Can you try? Yes. Will you succeed? Probably not. Unless you can prove (not persuade, but demonstrate by objectively, independently verifiable proof) that your ex-husband defrauded the court, you’re likely stuck with the decree and court orders you’ve got. This is extremely difficult in its own right. This is also extremely expensive and most people don’t have that kind of money.

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

https://www.quora.com/I-was-divorced-and-lied-to-during-my-divorce-and-I-am-disabled-can-I-take-my-ex-back-to-court-for-spousal-support/answer/Eric-Johnson-311

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I was divorced and lied to during my divorce and I am disabled can I take my ex back to court for spousal support?

I was divorced and lied to during my divorce and I am disabled can I take my ex back to court for spousal support?

Can you try? Yes.

Will you succeed? Probably not.

Unless you can prove (not persuade, but demonstrate by objectively, independently verifiable proof) that your ex-husband defrauded the court, you’re likely stuck with the decree and court orders you’ve got. This is extremely difficult in its own right. This is also extremely expensive and most people don’t have that kind of money.

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

https://www.quora.com/I-was-divorced-and-lied-to-during-my-divorce-and-I-am-disabled-can-I-take-my-ex-back-to-court-for-spousal-support/answer/Eric-Johnson-311

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How do I fight a DUI without a lawyer?

How do I fight a DUI without a lawyer?

You don’t. Too much at stake. Too hard to do on your own. I’m a lawyer (a divorce and family law attorney), and although I don’t drink, if I were charged with DUI (even if I knew I was innocent), I wouldn’t try to defend myself without the help of a skilled and experienced criminal defense attorney who knows DUI law and defense backward and forward.

It’s a shame that lawyers are so expensive. I get it. But a DUI can cripple you for years, even for life, sometimes. You have to defend yourself hard because no one else in the system will go to bat for you. The prosecutors and judge aren’t interested in your story (they’ve heard them all and they’re jaded beyond belief).

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

https://www.quora.com/How-do-I-fight-a-DUI-without-a-lawyer/answer/Eric-Johnson-311?prompt_topic_bio=1

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Utah Divorce Case Timeline Summary

Utah Divorce Case Timeline Summary

The greatest influence on how long a divorce case takes is usually how much and how severely the parties fight over the issues. The more they fight and the more things they fight over, the longer and more expensive the divorce process is. But here is a general timeline for a Utah divorce, step by step.

Bottom line: Generally speaking, a contested divorce will likely take between 15 months to 24 months. Bitterly contested divorce cases can take many years. An uncontested divorce can take as little as 45-60 days to complete from the date of filing, if the parties agree on everything.

Timeline

What happens first?

  1. Complaint or petition for divorce is filed (“complaint for divorce” and “petition for divorce” are interchangeable terms). The person who files is the “petitioner”.

What happens next?

  1. Your spouse is served with the summons and a copy of the complaint/petition for divorce. Your spouse is the “respondent”.

When?: The respondent has 21 days to file an “answer” to your complaint. Your spouse will likely not only answer your divorce complaint but also counters through you which is known as a counterclaim.

You will then have 21 days to respond to the counterclaim after it is served on you (and if you have an attorney the counterclaim will be sent to your attorney, and your attorney should provide you with a copy of it).

What happens next?

  1. Financial declaration and initial disclosures. After the complaint have been filed with the court and served on your spouse and after the parties have responded to each other’s respective complaint and counterclaim for divorce they have to exchange what are known as financial declarations and initial disclosures.

Financial declaration. The financial declaration requires you to identify

      • Whether you are employed and if so, by whom and what you earn from employment.
      • Other forms of income other than income from a job (unearned income).
      • Monthly expenses
      • Business interests, if you have any
      • Financial Assets. A description of your financial assets
      • Real Estate. Identifying any interests in real estate that you own
      • Personal Property. A description of your personal property, such as vehicles, boats, trailers, major equipment, furniture, jewelry, and collectibles
      • Debts Owed. A list of your debts and obligations, what you owe, and who your creditors are.

Initial Disclosures. Your initial disclosures require you to disclose:

      • each individual likely to have discoverable information supporting your claims or defenses
      • each fact witness you may call at trial
      • a copy of all documents, data compilations, electronically stored information, and tangible things in your possession or control that you may offer at trial
      • a copy of all documents to which you refer in your pleadings

When?: The petitioner must serve her financial declaration and initial disclosures 14 days after the answer is filed (that’s a lot of work in a fairly short time, so don’t dillydally if you’re the petitioner). The respondent is required to serve his financial declaration and initial disclosures 28 days after the answer is filed.

What happens next?

  1. Temporary orders. After the answer and counterclaim have been filed with the court, it is typical for the parties to request what are known as “temporary orders” from the court. Temporary orders are put in place to ensure that the leaves and affairs of the family are maintained during the pendency of the divorce action. So temporary orders can include things like responsibility for the mortgage and other expenses associated with the house and family. They can include temporary orders of child custody and parent time and child support and spousal support. Temporary orders can include other provisions as well, depending upon the circumstances and needs of your family.

When?: You soonest you could file for temporary orders is when you file your petition/complaint for divorce. Most people file after the petition/complaint for divorce is filed.

After the motions are file the court usually schedules a hearing within 1 to 3 months of the date the motion was filed.

What happens next?

  1. Discovery. Discovery is the process By which the parties request documents and other evidence from each other to help them get a better understanding of the issues, and to determine what issues are really disputed and which ones aren’t or can’t be disputed. Discovery is used to help the parties gain a better understanding of the issues and to help each party build its strongest case against the other party.

When?: You are allowed 180 days for discovery. The discovery period starts the day after the last day that initial disclosures and financial declarations are due from the respondent.

If you have children and you and your spouse are fighting over child custody: a custody evaluation may be ordered. A custody evaluation is supposed to take 4 months. They almost always take longer. Sometimes the custody evaluation won’t be completed by the time discovery closes. Be prepared for this possibility.

What happens next?

  1. Divorce Orientation and Education Courses. If the divorcing couple has minor children then divorce orientation and education courses are mandatory for both parties. You can learn about and sign up for those courses using this link: https://www.utcourts.gov/specproj/dived/

When?: You can take the divorce orientation and education courses any time, even before you file for divorce. Most people sign up for and complete the courses around the time after the answer and the reply to counterclaim have been filed and served.

You cannot obtain a decree of divorce without completing the divorce orientation and education courses or having the requirement to attend them waived (and for most people it’s probably more trouble than it’s worth to try to get the courses waived).

What happens next?

  1. Mediation. You must go to mediation before the case can go trial. Most divorce actions settle and most settle in mediation. If neither party wants to go to mediation or there are circumstances (such as domestic violence) that would not make mediation feasible or worthwhile, the parties can move to waive the mediation requirement.

When?: You can go to mediation any time, even before you file for divorce, although if you go to mediation before you or your spouse file(s) for divorce the court may make you go to mediation again before you will be allowed to go to trial.

So bear in mind that you can go to mediation at any point in the case.

You cannot obtain a decree of divorce without engaging in mediation or having the mediation requirement waived (and for most people it’s probably more trouble than it’s worth to try to get the courses waived).

What happens next?

  1. Trial. If the parties do not settle their case (whether in mediation or on their own), then the case goes to trial.

When?: After discovery has closed (after 180-day discovery period has elapsed), then the case can be certified for trial.

It usually takes at least 2 or 3 months from the time a party requests a trial date to get a trial date. All told, it takes about a year to a year and a half to go from filing for divorce to trial.

It usually takes at least 2 or 3 months from the time a party requests a trial date to get a trial date.

All told, it takes about a year to a year and a half to go from filing for divorce to trial.

What happens next?

  1. After trial, the court will make its decisions as to the issues that were argued over and “tried” in court and then the Decree of Divorce is prepared and the court signs it.

When?: Usually 30 to 60 days after trial.

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

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Putting my money where my mouth is: I now offer half-day mediation services free of charge. No strings attached.

Putting my money where my mouth is: I now offer half-day mediation services free of charge. No strings attached.
Divorce litigation almost always costs too much. Divorce mediation is now getting out of control too.
 
I cannot offer unlimited free mediation sessions, but I offer one slot per week. You don’t have to be poor to qualify. Anyone can request my free divorce mediation services. 
In person or over Zoom (or Skype, Google Meet, or Microsoft Teams), I can accommodate you.
 
If you or someone you know who needs or wants to mediate, you can book a half-day mediation (either 8 to noon or 1 to 4) with me on a first come, first-served basis. 801-466-9277. Or to book by e-mail, send your message to my legal assistant, Brian: brian@divorceutah.com.

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

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Why are divorce attorneys so expensive?

Why are divorce attorneys so expensive?

Because we divorce lawyers (I am a divorce lawyer) generally disappoint the people they serve. Some causes of the disappointment are the lawyer’s fault, some causes are the client’s fault.

Lawyers disappoint so easily because (and in no particular order): A) being a divorce lawyer is largely a thankless job; B) many divorce lawyers are money-grubbing opportunists; and C) virtually everything about the divorce process is miserable and so much of the misery is beyond one’s control to stop or mitigate.

Given all that, is it any wonder a divorce lawyer’s fees usually feel so expensive?

You’ll spend $30,000 for a car without much complaining because that car is so worth it! The car means you get to work safe and warm and dry in the winter and cool and comfortable in the summer. The car means freedom and fun. Sure, you paid $30,000 for the car, and sure, you have get it serviced and make sacrifices of time and other purchases to afford the car, but you got way more than $30,000 worth of benefit from that car. That car wasn’t expensive compared to the utility and joy it brings.

But spend $30,000 on a divorce and what do you have to show for it? Not much you can touch (indeed, you probably end up with less than you started), enjoy, appreciate, or use. The sacrifices you made to get divorced often feel as though they were made in vain. That’s not fair to lawyers who do a good job, but it’s understandable for clients to feel like their divorce lawyers really just made the best of a bad situation.

That’s usually why divorce attorneys are (perceived as) so expensive.

Utah Family Law, LC | divorceutah.com | call us for an appointment at 801-466-9277

https://www.quora.com/Why-are-divorce-attorneys-so-expensive/answer/Eric-Johnson-311

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