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Tag: honesty

What Should I Do if My Divorce Is Not Getting Solved Quickly?

This is a great question.

Go find a good (a good, not just any) retired divorce attorney (a divorce attorney, not some other kind of attorney who has no idea how a divorce case works), or, if you are fortunate to know a good (a good) divorce attorney as a personal friend (whether active or retired), go to that divorce attorney friend and recount for this attorney how long your case has been pending from the day it was filed to the present.

In your consultation answer—honestly and forthrightly and with as few adjective and adverbs as possible the questions the attorney you’re consulting with asks you; just the facts (if you are responsible—either in whole or in part—for delays, be honest about that too). The consulting attorney will ask you these questions to help him/her determine both 1) whether your attorney, the opposing party’s attorney, and the court is unreasonably or outright maliciously delaying the resolution of your case; and 2) what options you may have for getting your case moving and progressing expeditiously.

If the attorney you consulted tells you that your case is not progressing at an unduly slow pace, then consider yourself fortunate (even if you’re surprised to learn your case isn’t moving as slowly as you might have expected). Ask the consulting attorney what he/she sees in the handling of your case to this point that you and your attorney can and should do going forward to ensure the case does not lose momentum.

If the attorney you consulted tells you that your case is moving sluggishly, ask the consulting attorney 1) what the problems are; 2) why they are problems and 3) what to do to solve them. Take notes! Ensure that you cover all three subjects with the consulting attorney, so that you can 1) truly identify and understand the problems, 2) confront your attorney with them, 3) what can be done, and 4) why you expect it to be done going forward, if your attorney wants to continue representing you and being paid well to do it. When you do confront your attorney, don’t be a jerk about it. Don’t be a boob, but don’t be a jerk, either. Be businesslike and discuss the matter in a manner most likely to expose the problems, identify the solutions, and start implementing them.

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

https://www.quora.com/What-should-I-do-if-my-divorce-is-not-getting-solved-quickly/answer/Eric-Johnson-311?prompt_topic_bio=1

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How to prepare for a consultation with a lawyer By Braxton Mounteer, legal assistant

You have just been served with a summons and complaint (or petition) for divorce. Now have to traverse the minefield that is finding a good divorce attorney. It’s harder to find a good lawyer than you think. I wish that weren’t true, but it is.

How do you prepare for initial consultations with the attorneys you are considering? I have found three things that can and will help you during your initial consultation.

You do not need to have clear objectives when you go to your initial consultation, but you should not be lost in the woods. You should have an idea of what you want in your divorce and be able to explain why and why what you want is fair (wanting to take your spouse for everything he or she is worth is not a winning strategy). You will likely have a good idea of what you want regarding custody of the children and the division of marital property and marital debt, so tell the attorney during your initial consultation and ask whether he or she agrees with your positions (and please be on the lookout for attorneys who will tell you what you want to hear, so that you’ll open your wallet and pour its contents into the lawyer’s hands).

All lawyers are not created equal. For far too many divorce lawyers the legal profession is a business, and you are a “sale”. Be wary of lawyers that promise you the moon. They usually want what’s in their best interest, not what’s in your and your children’s best interest.

Come to the consultations with an open mind. What you believe the law is or should be is quite often not that way. Rather than react with disgust, try to understand the law. You may still believe the law is silly once you understand it, but if you don’t understand it, you can’t work within the framework of the law knowledgeably and successfully.

A good lawyer will not sugar-coat the situation for you. He or she will give you a frank, honest opinion, even if that opinion may lead you to choose someone else. I know that’s what my boss does, but I also know that’s not what all lawyers do. Find a lawyer who will give you his or her honest opinion about the merits of your case and what you can realistically expect.

Finally, to maximize the value of your consultation, be prepared. Bring the documents with you that you believe may be relevant and useful for the attorney to review. If your spouse has already filed a divorce action against you and has served you with the complaint or petition for divorce, bring a copy of that with you to the consultation. It is easier to get an accurate look at your case when the lawyer can actually read what has been served on you.

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

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Why You Should Always Order Audio Recordings By Braxton Mounteer

You may be asking yourself, why should I order from the court a copy of the audio recordings of my court hearings? Shouldn’t the court’s own notes in the written record be sufficient? Can’t I just make my own recordings? Not in Utah.

First, the “written record” that the court keeps is more like meeting minutes and is not a word-for-word record of everything that was said by the parties, the lawyers, and the court during a hearing or trial.

Second, Utah does not allow you or your attorney to make your own recordings of your own court proceedings. Such a rule makes absolutely no sense and imposes undue costs and wait times on parties and their attorneys, but it’s the rule nonetheless.

Third, and most importantly, you should order the audio recording of your hearings and other court appearances to ensure that the orders that come out of those proceedings are accurate and complete–to ensure they are faithful to what was actually said and ordered. Most people cannot keep it all correctly remembered in their heads.

When there is a back and forth between the parties and their counsel over the specifics of a judgement or recommendation that was handed down months or years or even days ago, knowing exactly what was said is vitally important. You wouldn’t want a decision in your favor to be forgotten or misstated. Nor would you want to be mistreated due to someone imposing a harsher penalty on you than the court issued simply because no one could remember what the evidence was, what the testimony was, and what the court’s decisions were.

In Utah, you need to pay $15.00 and fill out and submit to the court clerk a form to request an audio recording. It is fast and easy. Your lawyer or opposing counsel may say “You don’t need to do that, I remember the hearing”; do not believe him/her. Human memory is fallible. Lawyers have the reputation that they have for a reason. Do yourself a favor and spend the five minutes that it would take to fill out and pay for an audio recording. Don’t leave your fate to faulty memories.

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Evidence and Honesty By Braxton Mounteer

You have just decided to file for divorce. Or perhaps you have been served with divorce papers. At some point early on in the process you will likely think to yourself, “I have so many text messages that clearly prove my spouse is terrible,” or “I have videos of my spouse behaving badly.” You could be right. But do you know what kind of evidence is relevant and that the court finds persuasive? And have you considered the implications of what your “evidence” actually says about you? For every gotcha text message or video you have, does your spouse have similar dirt on you?

You may think to yourself, “I’ll just delete the messages that cast me in a bad light,” or “I’ll edit the videos a certain way to make myself look better” and engage in other cherry picking. This rarely works. Indeed, it often backfires. Manipulating the facts is a form of lying. And it’s not that hard to spot or expose.

Understand what kinds of evidence the court needs and what is useless to a court. The court’s jobs are clearcut: 1) end the marriage 2) divide the marital assets, 3) divide responsibility for marital debts, 4) deal with custody of the children (if any), parent-time, and child support, and 4) determine whether to award alimony, and if so, how much and for how long based upon the recipient’s need and the payor’s ability to pay. That’s it. It is not the purpose of the divorce court to settle scores between you and your spouse or to declare who’s worse than the other. While spousal or child abuse can be relevant in a divorce case, stories about shouting matches and squabbles are nothing new or compelling in a divorce case.

Take a businesslike approach to your divorce case. You have to work out your feelings in a divorce case, just not in court. Don’t dwell on your feelings too much when dealing with the court; it’s a waste of your time and energy.

What should you do, then? You need to face the truth and deal with the truth. Submit the relevant evidence and concede your flaws and faults along with it. Your credibility is more important than trying to put up a false front. Your credibility is easier to show and maintain when you’re honest. Courts are more sympathetic with honest people than with liars.

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

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Evidence and Honesty By Braxton Mounteer

You have just decided to file for divorce. Or perhaps you have been served with divorce papers. At some point early on in the process you will likely think to yourself, “I have so many text messages that clearly prove my spouse is terrible,” or “I have videos of my spouse behaving badly.” You could be right. But do you know what kind of evidence is relevant and that the court finds persuasive? And have you considered the implications of what your “evidence” actually says about you? For every gotcha text message or video you have, does your spouse have similar dirt on you?

You may think to yourself, “I’ll just delete the messages that cast me in a bad light,” or “I’ll edit the videos a certain way to make myself look better” and engage in other cherry picking. This rarely works. Indeed, it often backfires. Manipulating the facts is a form of lying. And it’s not that hard to spot or expose.

Understand what kinds of evidence the court needs and what is useless to a court. The court’s jobs are clearcut: 1) end the marriage 2) divide the marital assets, 3) divide responsibility for marital debts, 4) deal with custody of the children (if any), parent-time, and child support, and 4) determine whether to award alimony, and if so, how much and for how long based upon the recipient’s need and the payor’s ability to pay. That’s it. It is not the purpose of the divorce court to settle scores between you and your spouse or to declare who’s worse than the other. While spousal or child abuse can be relevant in a divorce case, stories about shouting matches and squabbles are nothing new or compelling in a divorce case.

Take a businesslike approach to your divorce case. You have to work out your feelings in a divorce case, just not in court. Don’t dwell on your feelings too much when dealing with the court; it’s a waste of your time and energy.

What should you do, then? You need to face the truth and deal with the truth. Submit the relevant evidence and concede your flaws and faults along with it. Your credibility is more important than trying to put up a false front. Your credibility is easier to show and maintain when you’re honest. Courts are more sympathetic with honest people than with liars.

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

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Completeness of Documentation By Braxton Mounteer

One of the hardest documents for a Utah divorce litigant to prepare is the financial declaration. I am amazed at the number of clients who don’t take this document and its preparation seriously.

If you file for divorce or your spouse files for divorce, your divorce case will require you to provide a lot of documentation for various purposes as your life (and the life of your spouse and children, if you have minor children) will come under the magnifying glass. To avoid being fried like an ant, you need to produce complete and completely accurate documentation in preparing your financial declaration.

How is this done? It is a little comical, but it really comes down to accounting as best as you possibly can for every penny that comes in and that goes out. Every meal out. Every oil change. Every gasoline fillup. Every utility bill. Every dollar earned from every source.
Why should you worry about every red cent? Because you will be nickeled and dimed by opposing counsel and even by the court. Opposing counsel quite often (more often than not, frankly) wants to misconstrue confuse your income, expenses, and debts for his/her client’s benefit. The court often assumes that you are lying and/or wants to side with your spouse or against you. They are looking for any reason to call your credibility into question. And if you carelessly prepare your financial declaration, fail to provide an accurate financial declaration, and fail to support your numbers with verifiable documentation, you give opposing counsel and/or the court weapons to use against you.

“Ah,” some of you say, “but I want my financial declaration to be inaccurate so that I appear a lot poorer than I really am!” That way, if I’m the one who might pay alimony, I will pay less. And if I’m the one who might receive alimony, I will get more. Truth be told, it’s possible to lie in your financial declaration and get away with it. Truth be told, it’s harder than most people think. Truth be told, most people who lie (or who don’t lie but instead provide a half-baked, crappy financial declaration) get burned by it. Better to take the hit for being honest than risk an even bigger hit for lying. And do bear in mind that being honest is not a matter of “no good deed goes unpunished”. When you are honest, thorough, complete, and accurate in your work, that builds your overall credibility in your case. The person who owns up to his/her sins and sincerely repents gets due credit more often than not. The court thinks, “He/she was scrupulously honest in his/her financial declaration (even when he/she might could have fudged and escaped detection), so he/she is probably honest about the other things he/she tells me.” That’s more valuable than you know.

Now, if being honest always “won,” nobody would lie. You may experience your spouse lying through his/her teeth and getting away with it. It can and does happen. Still, it doesn’t justify you doing wrong or taking the risk of you being the one who gets caught in a lie or who gets hurt by turning in an incomplete and inaccurate financial declaration.
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How to Avoid Being Called a Liar in a Utah Case By Braxton Mounteer

Who would you believe more in a court case: a person who admits to his/her faults, who honestly discloses all of his/her relevant information (even the information that hurts his/her case), and answered questions with “the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth,” or a person who lied (even if just a couple times)?

One of the worst things to happen in a divorce case is for your credibility to come into question. If the court finds you lied about just one matter, it can cite that one lie as reason not to believe you on virtually all matters.

Simply put, to avoid damaging your credibility, always be truthful. This should be obvious, but I am amazed at how often clients of the firm I work for try to get away with lying (and how often they try to get away with lying about stuff that doesn’t really matter anyway, but I digress). The truth is learned and established by facts that are proven to be facts by the evidence in support of those facts. Your judge will not care much, if at all, about how you feel he or she should rule, the judge is (or should be) guided by the truth, by the facts, and then apply the law according to what the facts are.

To ensure your credibility is not questioned, admit when you are wrong. If you try to bend the truth about your sins and mistake or conceal the truth about them, you are a liar. Try to justify it any way you like, lying is lying. Whether by commission (expressly lying) or omission (withholding the whole truth, selectively disclosing the facts, shading the truth, spin, you get the idea), it’s all lying. While there are some situations in which you are not obligated to tell the truth about crime or possible crime you have committed (see the Fifth Amendment), questions of and risk of being convicted of crimes doesn’t arise very often in divorce cases. Honesty is the best policy.

I am amazed at how often client fail to understand that they lose credibility when they provide us with inaccurate information. While you may not be able to remember everything regarding your finances or your personal and family history, that doesn’t give you a license to fudge your answers or give incomplete answers. The “I didn’t understand” and “I don’t recall” excuses don’t inspire confidence in your credibility. They have just the opposite effect; they make you look lazy, scheming, and dishonest. Honest people are not forgetful people. Honest people aren’t afraid to produce their bank statements (all of them). Honest people aren’t afraid to disclose that side job. If you claim to have few or no records of things that normal people usually have records for, the default conclusion is that you have something to hide. While there are limits on what the opposing party can ask of you, when what they request complies with the rules, then answer questions completely and with complete honesty, produce all of the documents that are discoverable. Even if what you answer and what you produce may expose some of your flaws, it will also reveal you as honest and believable.

Once it’s damaged, credibility is hard to repair. Better never to do anything to call your credibility into doubt. Be honest. It’s the right thing to do, and if doing the right thing isn’t enough motivation for you, honesty tends to be the better “strategy” than lying and deception.

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Law from a legal assistant’s point of view, week 26: Lying

By Quinton Lister, legal assistant 

Lying is corrosive. Lying does not allow us to be the best version of ourselves. Lying keeps us in denial about the actual state of our lives. So many of us spend our lives lying because we do not know any better way. We are so thoroughly convinced that if we let the truth out or if we let the truth dominate our lives then we would be miserable or we would lose everything. Maybe it is the case that we have lied ourselves into a corner and to admit the truth now would mean to forfeit some false comfort we have built up for ourselves.  

Whatever fears we may have about telling the truth, the truth is the only way through life. What I mean by that is it is the only way to have any peace in life. So long as I am lying and avoiding the consequences of my actions, I will just be left with chaos either internally or externally. And if you are wondering how this applies to the legal field, in particular divorce law, if you are dishonest you may get what you want, but you cannot do that without taking a toll on your family and your own spiritual well-being.  

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

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Law from a legal assistant’s point of view, week 14: Preparedness and Honesty

By Quinton Lister, Legal Assistant

My new job as a legal assistant to a divorce attorney has opened my eyes to the necessity of preparation. There are emergencies and surprises that come up constantly in the practice of divorce and family law. For instance, sudden motions filed by opposing counsel, accusations from a client’s ex-spouse of abuse, or the sudden death or retirement of a judge. In order to counteract the effect of being caught off guard, it is essential to prepare for the things you have some control over, and to be prepared for emergencies and setbacks. 

“What are those things I have control over in my divorce case?” you might ask. Well, I am not an attorney yet, so I cannot answer that question fully. But one thing I have noticed since I have been working for a divorce and family law attorney is that you need to be completely honest, fully forthcoming, and transparent with your lawyer. The more honest you are with your lawyer, the better prepared the lawyer can be for any curve balls that might come your way. The less honest you are, the harder it is for the attorney to do his or her job well. Hiding the truth is wrong, but if that’s not reason enough to convince you to tell your attorney the truth and the whole truth, hiding or trying to hide the truth usually fails and often backfires. Your credibility is crucial to your divorce and family law case. Damage or lose credibility and you almost surely damage or lose your case. Being completely honest and forthcoming with your attorney best enables your attorney to consider and argue your best defense. That does not mean that you should work with your counsel to escape the consequences of wrongdoing, but one thing is certain: the odds of a better outcome in your case are commensurate with how honest you are with your attorney.  

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

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Am I held to what I said first as a witness, even if I immediately corrected my mistake once I realized it?

It is not merely a question of how quickly the witness corrects his or her answer.

Sometimes a lawyer will ask a witness for precise details simply not because those details crucial to resolving a particular issue but simply because the more details a witness recalls the more the judge or jury may believe the witness has a particularly good memory and can thus be trusted that much more.

If the case depends upon whether an event did or did not take place on a Monday (or a Thursday), and the witness knows that, then a witness can damage his/her credibility by giving contradictory responses to the question. Unfortunately, even if it’s an honest oversight or slip of the tongue, the higher the stakes, the less tolerance there is for errors.

Still, it is better to correct what you stated in error than to stick to a false story to—ironically—avoid looking like a liar. to borrow from Mark Twain, better to tell the truth and risk being branded a liar than to bear false witness knowingly and thus remove all doubt.

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

https://www.quora.com/Is-it-true-or-not-that-when-you-say-as-a-witness-in-court-for-example-it-was-Monday-and-after-1-second-Thusday-it-was-Thusday-that-was-not-an-incongruent-statement-because-it-has-passed-1-second-and-not-more-time/answer/Eric-Johnson-311?prompt_topic_bio=1

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Is it more important for an attorney to have the money or the talent to litigate and win a case (example in the situation of your choosing)?

Is it more important for an attorney to have the money or the talent to litigate and win a case (example in the situation of your choosing)?

There are many factors that bear on whether an attorney will be as successful as possible in handling your case. You asked about money and talent, so I will address those factors.

An attorney obviously needs the talent and skill to handle the case successfully or he/she won’t (can’t) handle the case successfully.

The attorney needs to be solvent and have enough money to keep his/doors open or the attorney can’t handle the case successfully.

Finally, the attorney needs to be paid well enough to do the job well enough.

There are many people in every trade and profession (not just lawyers) whose guiding principle is “get the customer to pay me as much as possible.” Those kinds of people (and lawyers) are to be avoided. Not only because they don’t provide value for the money but because if they have that kind of predatory, self-interested attitude toward you and your needs, they likely don’t have enough intellectual and emotional bandwidth to give your case the attention and work it truly deserves. Which means that kind of lawyer does not have what it takes to handle the case successfully because your success isn’t really that kind of attorney’s goal.

I’m an attorney. I have also been a client. What do I look for when seeking a good attorney for me?:

Honesty and good character. Yes, there are some honest attorneys of good character out there. Yes, they are hard to find, but worth finding, given that being honest is, in my book, the most important trait a lawyer must have.

Skill. A very close second to honesty and good character is skill. No, that’s not quite right. A successful attorney must be as skilled as he/she is honest and of good character. An honest but incompetent attorney isn’t going to do you any good, and an incompetent attorney can often make your situation worse than had you never hired the incompetent attorney.

Diligence/scrappiness. A successful attorney has to be willing to do the work needed. He/she needs to be willing to do the hard things and stay vigilant. This does not mean your attorney is your slave or that your attorney must sacrifice his/her mental and physical health for you, but it does mean your attorney can’t be lazy.

Resourceful and creative, able to improvise when necessary. Litigation and your will throw you curve balls. Your attorney must be able not merely to roll with the punches, but to anticipate as many of them as possible and have the smarts and tools to react to them nimbly and as productively as possible.

One who provides an honest day’s work for an honest day’s pay. In other words, an attorney who delivers value for the money. It’s not always obvious whether your attorney delivers value. Keep your eyes open. Your attorney is not a wizard who can take a sow’s ear of a case and turn it into a silk purse, so don’t expect such a thing. Value is not synonymous with “miracles.” And don’t expect more from your good attorney than value for the money. Pay the attorney what the attorney is worth. No more, no less. If you try to cheat a good attorney, he/she is too wise to allow that, and your attorney will quit.

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

https://www.quora.com/Is-it-more-important-for-an-attorney-to-have-the-money-or-the-talent-to-litigate-and-win-a-case-example-in-the-situation-of-your-choosing/answer/Eric-Johnson-311

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Why do people in the United States get divorced so much? 40-50% sounds so extreme.

Why do people in the United States get divorced so much? A 40-50% divorce rate sounds so extreme.

First, know up front that there are, of course, some people who not only can clearly and in good conscience justify getting divorced. Still, the divorce rate is so high—too high—in the U.S. The main reason why is, in my experienced opinion, because we have a serious character problem in this country that is only getting worse. We drive Judeo Christian values out of virtually every public forum so that virtually no one is taught—let alone held to—public virtues and values of honesty, courage, the work ethic, charity, sacrifice for the greater good, education, humility, love, forgiveness, and personal responsibility. A marriage consisting of one or two people who don’t know and apply these values is doomed.

Of course there are some people who not only can clearly and in good conscience justify getting divorced. Good character does not require that one suffer perpetual violence and/or emotional abuse or put up with a spouse who neglects to care for his/her spouse and children, is unfaithful, habitually drunk or high, a or criminal (to name the most obvious reasons for divorce).

But far, far too many people divorce simply as a matter of personal preference, failing to understand that marriage takes all that good character requires. Honesty, patience, sacrifice, humility, love, forgiveness, and work, both inside and outside the home. A marriage consisting of one or two people who don’t know and apply these values is doomed, and most divorces that aren’t based upon real, serious fault of the other spouse and are instead a matter of seeming convenience don’t leave one (or the children of one’s destroyed family) better off.

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

https://www.quora.com/Why-do-people-in-the-United-States-get-divorced-so-much-A-40-50-divorce-rate-sounds-so-extreme

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Should I be nice to my spouse during a divorce?

That depends on what you mean by “nice”.

Do you mean “with kindness”? Not necessarily kindness, but certainly decency. You are morally obligated to treat your spouse with decency, but you don’t have to go out of your way to make the spouse you are divorcing happy. You don’t have to capitulate to your spouse’s unfair or unreasonable demands.

Do you mean “with honesty and fairness”? If so, then yes: you are morally obligated to be honest and fair with everyone, but again aren’t obligated to capitulate to your spouse’s unfair or unreasonable demands, nor are you in any way obligated to tolerate being treated unfairly by your spouse.

Do you mean “forgiving”? If so, then yes: you are morally obligated to forgive your spouse for the wrong’s he/she did you, but forgiveness does not mean “acceptance”. Forgiving the people who have deceived or betrayed me in the past does not require me to trust them in the future. I forgive them so that I don’t dwell on the hurt done to me, so that I don’t let the injury continue to harm me, so that the one who did me wrong is shown the mercy needed to give him/her the best opportunity to change for the better without eternal regret or shame hampering the repentance process.

Fighting fire with fire will only intensify the pain and misery. Being the better man (or woman, as the case may be), living up to your virtuous values and standards of conduct is the only way to move on with peace and happiness (and you can get back there). Easier said than done, yes, but the only way.

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

https://www.quora.com/Should-I-be-nice-to-my-spouse-during-a-divorce/answer/Eric-Johnson-311

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