Tag: fight

Is it easier to get a divorce if you and your spouse have nothing shared?

Is it easier to get a divorce if you and your spouse have no debts, no shared property, and no children?

Typically, generally, usually, yes. In the overwhelming majority of cases. 

You identified three of the top four reasons, in my opinion, that divorces are acrimonious and bitterly fought over protracted and ruinously expensive periods of time (the fourth big reason is alimony). The fewer the reasons to fight, the faster, less expensively, less physically and emotionally burdensome, and easier the divorce process is. 

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


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Do lawyers ever regret helping a client or obtaining a particular judgment?

Do lawyers ever regret helping a client or obtaining a particular judgment? 

Yes, yes, of course. 

We all know that there are plenty of lawyers who will prostitute their professional skills for money and litigate any case as long as the price is right. Clearly, those lawyers should be regretting taking such cases, but don’t, or more accurately, if they do regret taking the case it’s usually because it ended up being more trouble than it was worth to them, i.e., not profitable. 

But there are other lawyers who are good and decent people, people who want to see justice done and want to be a part of that process. I consider myself one of these kind of attorneys.  

Even these attorneys, who try as best they can to represent clients whose cause they believe is just, can be duped. And I am no exception. 

Good and earnest attorneys can be fooled by people with a good sob story or even a meticulously crafted cover. When these good and earnest attorneys are exploited by such people, these decent attorneys regret it. It reflects badly on their reputations and most of all, it upsets them to know that they were used and exploited to achieve unjust ends, the very thing they got into the profession to fight and prevent. 

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

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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.


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:

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 | | 801-466-9277

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“It’s pretty awful, but do you have a better alternative?”

“It’s pretty awful, but do you have a better alternative?”

I was asked the following question in response to this answer I gave to a question on

Here is my response to that question:

First, do not engage in dirty tricks. it’s tempting, but wrong. Very few people are able to make false allegations stick. They may get a momentary advantage from them, but few enjoy long-term benefits from lying and deceiving. Now I’m not going to claim that some dirty tricks are easy and effective, but that doesn’t make them any more right or justifiable to engage.

Second, live an upstanding life, ESPECIALLY once you become convinced your marriage is headed toward divorce.

Third (and very important, even though easier said than done), to the extent you reasonably can, ensure that you have independently verifiable proof that you are not any of the things of which you could be falsely accused in divorce.

Fourth (and very important, even though easier said than done), fight false accusations with everything you have. Some courts seem to believe a false allegation more the more the false allegation is made and/or the worse the false allegations are.

Fifth, regardless of whether you are falsely accused or not, when you or your spouse file(s) for divorce, get the best attorney you can afford. Divorce law and procedure and the legal system are not what you think they are, and if you don’t know what you’re doing, they can and likely will ruin you before you’re even aware of it or can do anything about it.

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

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Higley v. Buhler – 2019 UT App 96 – civil stalking injunction

Higley v. Buhler – 2019 UT App 96



Per Curiam Opinion No. 20180925-CA

Filed June 6, 2019
First District Court, Logan Department
The Honorable Brian G. Cannell
No. 180100393

Glen R. Thomas, Attorney for Appellant Jedediah Wells Higley, Appellee Pro Se


¶1        Bryan Dean Buhler appeals a permanent civil stalking injunction entered against him in favor of Jedediah Wells Higley. We affirm.

¶2        “On appeal, when a trial court has made findings of fact to support a civil stalking injunction, we will recite the facts in a light most favorable to the trial court’s findings.” Carson v. Barnes, 2016 UT App 214, ¶ 2 n.1, 385 P.3d 744 (quotation simplified).

¶3        On September 28, 2018, Higley requested an ex parte civil stalking injunction against Buhler. Higley listed three stalking events in which Buhler allegedly drove by Higley’s house a number of times on August 16, 2018, September 6, 2018, and September 22, 2018. The request contained allegations regarding Buhler’s earlier alleged assault of Higley, listing a pending assault case involving Higley and Buhler with a court case number. Higley also attached two police reports. One described a call to police about alleged harassment on August 16, 2018. The other police report described the investigation of the alleged assault and demonstrated that the investigation culminated in Buhler’s arrest for assaulting Higley.

¶4        Buhler requested a hearing after the entry of the temporary civil stalking injunction. See Utah Code Ann. § 77-3a­-101(6) (LexisNexis 2017). At the hearing, Buhler conceded that there was a fight on July 7, 2018, between Higley and Buhler and that Higley’s injuries required medical attention. But Buhler challenged the credibility of Higley’s account of the events that led to the fight. Buhler also did not directly dispute that he drove by Higley’s residence on one or more of the dates alleged in the request for a civil stalking injunction and flipped him off.

¶5        Higley testified and also presented the testimony of his mother, who lived next door to him and had seen Buhler drive by her as she was walking and flip her off. Higley’s adult sister testified that she also encountered Buhler, that she heard him refer to her as a “bitch,” and that he flipped her off as he drove away. Higley stated that his family felt threatened, unsafe, and uneasy. They were concerned that they did not know what Buhler was “capable of anymore.”

¶6        Buhler argued that his conduct could not meet the definition of stalking, claiming that flipping someone off is “protected speech” that cannot constitute an act of stalking unless it is accompanied “with fighting words or some sort of threat.” The court inquired about considering the gesture in the context of the fight between the two men. Buhler argued that the events were “so remote in time and place . . . and not even related to the same people. The flipping off would have to put them under some sort of emotional distress, which they didn’t offer any testimony to that effect.”[1] Buhler also argued that there was no proof of significant mental or psychological suffering and that there were credibility issues with Higley’s account.

¶7 The court refocused the parties on the statutory requirements for a civil stalking injunction. In response to the court, Buhler conceded that the fight occurred, that Higley was harmed, and that he had to go to the hospital for treatment. The court then asked Higley about the allegations in the request for a civil stalking injunction “that there were multiple events in which Mr. Buhler drove by your place of residence. . . . How many times did he go by your place where you see him going by and he gave you the finger?” Higley responded that he saw Buhler do this “three or four times” after the July 7 fight, “like a day or two after he got out of jail from being released from the initial arrest for this, . . . a day or two after that.” These three or four additional events after the fight caused him to be in fear of harm. The court inquired whether Buhler wished to reexamine Higley, and his counsel declined.

¶8        The district court found that there was a fight between Higley and Buhler that resulted in some level of harm to Higley. The court found that there was an additional witness—Mr. Higley’s mother—who testified that she witnessed “an event of her own being flipped off.” The district court found that Buhler had options other than driving past Higley’s residence to reach the landfill when he needed to go there for purposes of his work. Buhler also could have driven past the Higley residence without taking the additional action of flipping off Higley (or his mother). The district court found that, regardless of any claim of “free speech,” when considered in the context of the July 7, 2018, fight—“where there apparently was significant harm”—the court was required under the stalking statute to address the later instances as acts “where . . . the respondent directly observed or communicated to this petitioner,” and determine whether those actions “would cause a reasonable person to suffer emotional distress or be afraid for that person’s own safety.” The court considered the ensuring actions in “the context of the fight and the resulting harm to Mr. Higley.” Accordingly, the district court concluded that it was “required . . . at this point to confirm the status associated with that civil stalking injunction and have it remain in place.”

¶9        After the court ruled, Buhler’s counsel inquired about potential issues regarding the school where both men had children attending. The court directed the parties to stay away from each other if they were both at the school. Buhler did not object at that time to the inclusion of other family members in the injunction’s coverage.

¶10 Buhler argues that the district court erred in its interpretation and application of the statutory requirements for a civil stalking injunction. We review the “interpretation and application of a statute” for correctness, “affording no deference to the district court’s legal conclusion.” Baird v. Baird, 2014 UT 08, ¶ 16, 322 P.3d 728 (quotation simplified).

¶11 To obtain a civil stalking injunction, a petitioner must establish the elements necessary to meet the definition of stalking in the criminal code. See Utah Code Ann. § 77-3a-101(1).

(2) A person is guilty of stalking who intentionally or knowingly engages in a course of conduct directed at a specific person and knows or should know that the course of conduct would cause a reasonable person:

(a) to fear for the person’s own safety or the safety of a third person; or

(b) to suffer other emotional distress.

Utah Code Ann. § 76-5-106.5(2) (LexisNexis Supp. 2018). A “reasonable person” is defined as “a reasonable person in the victim’s circumstances.” Id. § 76-5-106.5(1)(e). A course of conduct requires “two or more acts directed toward a specific person, including:”

(i) acts in which the actor follows, monitors, observes, photographs, surveils, threatens, or communicates to or about a person, or interferes with a person’s property:

(A) directly, indirectly, or through any third party; and

(B) by any action, method, device, or means.

Id. § 76-5-106.5(1)(b)(i).

¶12 The inclusion of the phrase “in the victim’s circumstances” in the statutory definition of “reasonable person,” “provides for an individualized objective standard.” Baird, 2014 UT 08, ¶ 26 (quotation simplified). “Under this standard, a court must consider the entire context surrounding [respondent’s] conduct.” Id. Thus, a court may consider whether a respondent “had knowledge of a particular vulnerability of the victim and then acted with full knowledge of the victim’s vulnerability.” Id. ¶ 27 (quotation simplified). “Thus even actions that, viewed in isolation, might be insufficient to cause a reasonable person in the same position to fear for his safety can, taken together, cause fear.” Carson v. Barnes, 2016 UT App 214, ¶ 20, 385 P.3d 744 (quotation simplified); see also Meyer v. Aposhian, 2016 UT App 47, ¶ 13, 369 P.3d 1284 (stating a court does not view the incidents in isolation when determining whether a reasonable person in the petitioner’s position would fear for his safety).

¶13 Buhler claims that the evidence was insufficient to establish a course of conduct that constituted stalking. He first claims that flipping someone off is constitutionally protected speech. This specific argument was not presented to the district court for a ruling. In order to preserve an issue for appeal, it “must be specifically raised in a timely manner and must be supported by evidence and relevant legal authority.” See Meyer, 2016 UT App 47, ¶ 26 (quotation simplified). While Buhler argued in the district court that flipping a person off was protected speech unless combined with other “fighting words,” the specific constitutional argument contained in his appellate brief was not presented to the district court and is not preserved for appeal. We do not consider it further.

¶14 Buhler also argues that the court improperly considered irrelevant evidence and that the evidence was otherwise insufficient to establish a course of conduct under the civil stalking injunction statute. In this case, the district court was required to consider the individual circumstances of the petitioner—Higley—and determined that Buhler’s actions constituted a course of conduct. See Utah Code Ann. § 76-5­-106.5(1)(e) (defining a “reasonable person” as “a reasonable person in the victim’s circumstances”). As such, the court properly considered whether repeatedly driving past Higley’s residence within days of Buhler’s release from jail after his arrest for allegedly assaulting Higley would place a reasonable person in Higley’s circumstances in fear for his and his family’s safety. See Carson, 2016 UT App 214, ¶ 21 (stating that the district court did not err in determining that a threshold incident involving a threat with a gun “impacted all future actions” taken by the respondent directed toward the petitioner (quotation simplified)). In addition, the court properly considered the acts directed toward Higley’s mother as corroborating evidence of the course of conduct, as well as Buhler’s contacts with other members of Higley’s family.

¶15 The district court did not err in determining that Higley demonstrated by a preponderance of the evidence that the civil stalking injunction should remain in place. Considered in context, Buhler’s “pattern of behavior ha[d] a cumulative effect that would cause a reasonable person in [the petitioner’s] position to fear for his safety or the safety of his family.” Id. ¶ 25 (quotation simplified). Buhler’s conduct—flipping off Higley and his family members—was conduct that “communicates to or about a person,” see Utah Code Ann. § 76-5-106.5(1)(b)(i), and it was properly considered by the district court in the context of the earlier fight between the two men and other evidence presented to the district court. The court did not err in concluding that the evidence taken as a whole supported continuation of the civil stalking injunction.

¶16      Accordingly, we affirm the decision to enter a permanent civil stalking injunction.

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

[1] This argument is only pertinent if counsel was referring to the actions of flipping off Higley’s mother and sister.

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Should I always stand up to my spouse in every dispute?


Here is why:

  • No one should defend a position one knows to be wrong;
  • Even if, arguendo, your spouse were always in the right in every dispute:
    • One may occasionally find it better not defend one’s position when the detriments of doing so outweigh the benefits;
    • Some battles are not worth fighting

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

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