Tag: family lawyer

What if your client gets custody when they should not have, due to you?

What should you do if you represented a client in a divorce who should not have gotten the kids, but got them due to your ability? 

We have a word for those who do such things, who compromise their principles, who devote their talent and effort to an unworthy purpose for personal gain. 


Many lawyers (more than you likely comfortably believe) come up with all kinds of ways to rationalize and justify it (“everyone deserves a zealous advocate/defense,” “it’s not my place to judge,” “I was just doing what I was trained and paid to do,” etc.), but it’s all prostitution, pure and simple. 

I went through a phase when I sincerely confused being clever with being a “skilled” attorney. There’s a great line from the movie adaptation of John Grisham’s “The Rainmaker”: 

Every lawyer, at least once in every case, feels himself crossing a line that he doesn’t really mean to cross… it just happens… And if you cross it enough times it disappears forever. And then you’re nothin’ but another lawyer joke. Just another shark in the dirty water. 

Fortunately, I quickly realized the error of my ways and just as quickly corrected them as well. I’m not perfect, but I aspire as best I can to do what is right and let the consequence follow. What Hugh Nibley had to say about God’s law applies equally to earthly law: 

The legal aspects of are not what counts — the business of lawyers is to get around the law, but you must have it written in your hearts (Jeremiah 31:33), to keep it “with all thine heart, and with all thy soul,” because you really love the Lord and his law, which begins and ends with the love of God and each other (Deuteronomy 6:5). It must be a natural thing with you, taken for granted, your way of life as you think and talk about it all the time, so that your children grow up breathing it as naturally as air (Deuteronomy 6:7-9). 

I have believed/believed in a client and won cases for clients who I have later learned was in the wrong, who was lying, who shouldn’t have won. I was just as duped as the court in cases like those. I don’t feel guilty or ashamed (I can’t), but I do feel used and demoralized. 

“I’m not upset that you lied to me, I’m upset that from now on I can’t believe you.” –  Friedrich Nietzsche 

“One lie is enough to question all truth.” – Unknown 

Ethical rules prohibit a lawyer from prostituting himself/herself. To cite the two most relevant: 

Rule 3.1: Meritorious Claims & Contentions 

A lawyer shall not bring or defend a proceeding, or assert or controvert an issue therein, unless there is a basis in law and fact for doing so that is not frivolous, which includes a good faith argument for an extension, modification or reversal of existing law. A lawyer for the defendant in a criminal proceeding, or the respondent in a proceeding that could result in incarceration, may nevertheless so defend the proceeding as to require that every element of the case be established. 

Rule 3.3: Candor Toward the Tribunal 

(a) A lawyer shall not knowingly: 

(1) make a false statement of fact or law to a tribunal or fail to correct a false statement of material fact or law previously made to the tribunal by the lawyer; 

(2) fail to disclose to the tribunal legal authority in the controlling jurisdiction known to the lawyer to be directly adverse to the position of the client and not disclosed by opposing counsel; or 

(3) offer evidence that the lawyer knows to be false. If a lawyer, the lawyer’s client, or a witness called by the lawyer, has offered material evidence and the lawyer comes to know of its falsity, the lawyer shall take reasonable remedial measures, including, if necessary, disclosure to the tribunal. A lawyer may refuse to offer evidence, other than the testimony of a defendant in a criminal matter, that the lawyer reasonably believes is false. 

(b) A lawyer who represents a client in an adjudicative proceeding and who knows that a person intends to engage, is engaging or has engaged in criminal or fraudulent conduct related to the proceeding shall take reasonable remedial measures, including, if necessary, disclosure to the tribunal. 

(c) The duties stated in paragraphs (a) and (b) continue to the conclusion of the proceeding, and apply even if compliance requires disclosure of information otherwise protected by Rule 1.6. 

(d) In an ex parte proceeding, a lawyer shall inform the tribunal of all material facts known to the lawyer that will enable the tribunal to make an informed decision, whether or not the facts are adverse. 

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

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Pending divorce spouse has moved out and stopped paying bills.

Pending divorce spouse has moved out and stopped paying bills. Should I report to my attorney or just wait until we go to court? 

Report this to your attorney immediately. There are many things—and at least two specific things—that you and your attorney can do in response in an effort to protect you and your family.  

And the sooner you inform your attorney, the faster your attorney can respond and the more your attorney can do to ensure that your attorney’s actions provide you the greatest benefit and the greatest protection. 

You want to ensure that bills and other important family expenses are being paid for your and your children’s well-being, to prevent losing your home to foreclosure or eviction, ensuring that you have heat and water and electricity, to ensure that the car is not repossessed, etc. 

You want to ensure that bills and other obligations are paid in full and on time to protect your credit rating, which will be even more important to you after the decree of divorce is entered and you are newly single and will need to rely upon your credit alone. 

If there are already temporary orders (also known as orders pendente lite) in place that order your spouse to pay some or all of certain family expenses, bills, and obligations, you and your attorney can file a motion with the court to enforce these orders and too hold your spouse in contempt for failing to pay them and to compel your spouse to pay them. If such orders are not yet in place,, you and your attorney can file a motion to obtain them for the purpose of ensuring that family expenses continue to be paid during the pendency off your divorce action. 

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

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How effective are AMBER Alerts in child custody cases?

It depends upon what criteria define “effective”. 

More child abductions have been prevented with the Amber Alert system in place than without it, yet it’s impossible to say how many abducted children would have been found in the absence of an Amber Alert message being broadcasted. According to the website Protection1, “In nearly 7 in every 10 AMBER Alert cases, children are successfully reunited with their parents. And in just over 17 percent of cases, the recovery is a direct result of the AMBER Alert. Just under 6 percent of cases end up being unfounded, while just over 5 percent are hoaxes.” (emphasis added) 

A 17% success rate isn’t great (and we don’t know if that 17% figure is inflated). 

Compared to how effective it was designed to be, as opposed to how effective it is in practice, it could be deemed ineffective. Amber Alerts were intended to help find missing children within three hours of abduction because approximately 70% of kidnapped children who are murdered are killed within 3 hours of abduction. Research into how often an Amber Alert was issued within 3 hours showed that occurred less than 37% of the time. 

A 2004 article in FCW (Federal Computer Week) (Amber Alerts crossing state lines), stated that federal DOT officials allocated $400,000 to each state for Amber Alert programs. The February 12, 2003 Federal Register ( reported that the DOT would provide up to seven million dollars to facilitate the inclusion of the Intelligent Transportation Systems into the Amber Plan program. I cannot find how much the Amber Alert system costs currently. 

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

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How to Avoid Hiring the Wrong Divorce Lawyer

So you’ve paid your divorce attorney $10,000 or so, it’s been 6 months, and essentially nothing’s getting done. What went wrong?

It could be many things. If you have a bad lawyer (and that’s highly possible) you have my sympathies. Know you’re in good company. So many people choose lawyers the wrong ways. If you realize you picked a bad lawyer, fire and replace that lawyer as soon as you reasonably can, then please share your experiences with as many people as you can, so that they don’t make the same mistakes and suffer as you have.

Most people who hire the wrong lawyer do so by:

1. hiring due to unrealistic fears and expectations which opportunistic lawyers exploit to get people to write such lawyers a blank check (or if not a blank check, a way too big check).

2. hiring too fast (without doing enough searching to find the best lawyer they can afford).

3. hiring too cheap (choosing a lawyer based upon the “lowest bidder” is a recipe for disaster because cheap lawyers are, with rare exception (“so rare it’s not worth so much as hoping for”) lawyers who are incompetent in one way or more. Usually, cheap lawyers are sloppy, lazy, stupid, and/or crooked. That stated, it is not true that the more one pays for a lawyer the better the lawyer will be. You have to find the sweet spot: best value for the money.

a. Good lawyers don’t come cheap, period.

b. A case is rarely won fast and thus rarely won on the cheap.

4. hiring based upon a recommendation. Unless the person who recommended the lawyer to you is someone you know to be so much like you, who has needs and interests, a situation, and a personality so much like you as to be practically indistinguishable from you, taking another’s recommendation on who to hire as an attorney is usually a bad move. **By all means, seek recommendations and seek opinions as to which lawyers to avoid**, **but **make up your own mind by doing your own research and by interviewing the lawyers yourself. Case in point: the lawyer who kicked your best friend’s butt may be the perfect lawyer to kick your spouse’s butt, but your best friend is not likely to tell you that because your best friend likely harbors a grudge against that lawyer.

Utah Family Law, LC | | 801-466-9277

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When do trial lawyers most feel like “they are reading tea leaves”?

In my personal experience, most of the time, with most judges. I’m a divorce and family lawyer in Utah, and family law gives judges such broad discretion that even those to whom their broad discretion has not gone to their heads have the opportunity to decide cases consisting of the same kinds of facts and circumstances in significantly and substantially different ways (fun fact: with the exception of Georgia and Texas, divorce cases are not permitted to be tried to a jury, only to the judge).

It’s an opportunity of which most judges especially avail themselves in divorce and family law cases. This makes it very hard to predict for a client what kind of decision to expect from a judge regarding certain divorce issues. Consequently, reading tea leaves on many issues are what divorce and family lawyers do regularly and frequently.

Utah Family Law, LC | | 801-466-9277

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