Tag: family attorney

Is it a good idea to major in sociology, social work, community, and health? I want to become a family lawyer.

Family law is, for most lawyers, a miserable practice area. You have to have the right personality and constitution for it. If you want to be a family lawyer to “help families,” be prepared for a mostly frustrating (highly frustrating) career. If you want to be a family lawyer to help protect people from the family court system, you will also experience a mostly frustrating career, but not as much as for those who go into family law with the intention of “helping families”—family law is not the best place to expend one’s time, effort, and care, if helping families is your goal. Better to be an excellent pastor, teacher, coach, therapist, social worker (good luck being an excellent social worker if you’re employed by the government—you’ll need it), or something like that. Don’t get me wrong; the world needs good family lawyers, but family lawyers do little to preserve and protect families (and those who try rarely succeed). Family lawyers are there either to victimize through the legal system or to protect people from being victimized by or in the system.

OK, now on to your question. This just my opinion, but I submit it is an educated one:

Law school is intellectually demanding in terms of difficulty, intensity, and volume. Sociology, social work, other areas of study like them are generally and comparatively intellectually lightweight (notice I stated “generally”; there are surely some exceptions, I concede). While it is not impossible for a sociology or social work majors to succeed in law school, I would suggest you major in something that will better equip you for the rigors of law school. English, Philosophy (both the fun and the hard stuff), or hard sciences—disciplines that develop your ability to think, to analyze, and to synthesize. And take classes that teach you to research and write well.

Sociology, social work, and public health treat some of the subjects that family law treats, but not as much as you might believe. In my personal opinion, the sociological, social work, and public health evidence that the courts consider isn’t very reliable or consistent or even all that accurate. You can find a “study” to support any position. Which is a shame because it tars the truly scientific and accurate studies with the broad brush of hackery characteristic of so much of the rubbish.

One thing that might be of extreme value, however, would be to major in sociology or social work in the most intellectually and scientifically rigorous program you can get into, get a master’s degree in it, then go to law school, and then become a family lawyer who stays apprised of and specializes as an expert in the science that is relevant to family law issues. That would be a hard, expensive, time-consuming pathway to becoming a family lawyer, but you’d be one of the best as a result.

Utah Family Law, LC | | 801-466-9277

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How easy is it to change your child’s last name?

I cannot answer this question as it applies in all jurisdictions, but I can answer the question as it applies in the jurisdiction where I practice divorce and family law (Utah): 

Here are the applicable Utah Code sections: 

42-1-1. By petition to district court — Contents. 

Any natural person, desiring to change his name, may file a petition therefor in the district court of the county where he resides, setting forth: 

(1) The cause for which the change of name is sought. 

(2) The name proposed. 

(3) That he has been a bona fide resident of the county for the year immediately prior to the filing of the petition. 

42-1-2. Notice of hearing — Order of change. 

The court shall order what, if any, notice shall be given of the hearing, and after the giving of such notice, if any, may order the change of name as requested, upon proof in open court of the allegations of the petition and that there exists proper cause for granting the same. 

42-1-3. Effect of proceedings. 

Such proceedings shall in no manner affect any legal action or proceeding then pending, or any right, title or interest whatsoever. 

That seems fairly easy, right? I agree, it does seem easy (it deceptively seems easy), and if all you needed to do was go by what the Utah Code says is required of you to get a name change, you’d be right. But for reasons I do not understand, there are many “unwritten rules” governing a name change in Utah, whether for an adult or a minor child. Otherwise stated, if all you did was: 

  • file a petition in the court stating: 
    • the cause for which the change of name is sought; 
    • the name proposed; 
    • that you or your minor child have/has been a bona fide resident of the county for the year immediately prior to the filing of the petition. 
  • schedule the hearing on the petition; 
    • prove three allegations that you were required to make in the petition; 
    • prove that there exists “proper cause” (whatever that means) for granting the petition for change of name;

that should be all you need to do, according to the Utah Code. But if that is all you did, there is a good chance your petition would be denied. So what are the “unwritten rules” you need to abide by to get a name change for yourself or your minor child? A good place to find out is here: 

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

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What happens to a restraining order respondent who misses the hearing?

What happens if you’re a restraining order respondent and you miss the hearing?

There are a few possibilities, and I will address them in the order of what I think would be most likely to occur if A) the restraining order can legally and lawfully be extended; B) the request to extend the restraining order was properly made in compliance with the applicable laws and rules; C) you received proper notice of the hearing; D) you did not appear at your hearing; and E) you are unable to prove that your absence was due to circumstances utterly beyond your control: 

  • the request to extend the restraining order would be granted; or 
  • the court may (but likely won’t) continue the hearing to a later date to give you a second chance to appear; 
  • if you are ordered to appear at the hearing and don’t appear, that could constitute contempt of court, which would Authorize the court to issue a warrant for your arrest to compel you to appear at the hearing (After it is rescheduled to a later date). I’ve never seen a court issue a warrant to compel someone to appear at a hearing for a restraining order or to renew or extend a restraining order because it’s easier for the court simply to renew and extend the protective order than to go to the trouble of having a warrant issued to track you down and compel you to appear in court. And the court can easily justify the decision to extend the protective order due to your failure to appear: 1) you didn’t appear to challenge the request, so one can infer that you have no objection the request; and 2) if you don’t appear in court to defend yourself and/or make objections to the request, then you’ve forfeited that opportunity, and you can’t be surprised if and when the court grants the request. 

I am amazed at the number of people who believe missing hearings is no big deal. If I were ordered or directed to appear in court for a hearing that could have as profound an effect upon me as a restraining order, wild horses couldn’t drag me away from appearing in court, and not just on time, but appearing a few minutes early, to ensure that nothing happened or happened to me in my absence. For two reasons: 

  • A restraining order can have dire effects on your rights to free association and travel and other rights. You want to ensure that you defend those rights to the extent that the state has no valid basis to infringe and interfere with them. 
  • If the restraining order is not only extended but also modified or amended in ways you’re not aware of (because you weren’t there to hear about it), you could innocently find yourself violating the modified/amended order but still being sanctioned or even criminally prosecuted for doing so. You wouldn’t be able to use ignorance of the law (or in this case ignorance of the court’s orders provisions) as a defense.

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

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