Tag: legal

What Can I Legally Do if My Child’s Mother Refuses to Use Car Seat When Traveling With Our Little Child?

What can I legally do if my child’s mother picks up our child in an Uber without a car seat? She is 5 years old, about 50 lbs. She is also the custodial parent with full custody rights, so she feels she can do anything she wants. Can I call the cops?

I’m old enough to remember when it was not illegal to wear a seatbelt. I’m old enough to remember when it was not illegal to permit a child to ride in a car without a seatbelt. I remember when there were no laws that children under a certain weight or height must ride in car seats when riding in cars. Most jurisdictions now have laws that require children of a certain age, weight, or height be strapped into a car seat when riding in a car.

So, the first thing you will need to do is find out whether it is illegal for your ex-wife to have your five-year-old, 50 pound child ride in a car without a car seat. You’ve mentioned that your ex-wife will often have your child picked up by Uber (a ridesharing service), and so you will want to ensure that even if there are laws that require a child to ride in a car seat when writing in a car, there are no exceptions for ridesharing services, taxicabs, buses, etc.

If, after conducting your research, you learn that it is illegal for your ex-wife to have your child ride in a car or when using a ridesharing service without having the child strapped into a car seat, then you would be well within your rights to report this to the police. just because you could do this, however, does not mean that you should, at least without first notifying your ex-wife that what she is doing is illegal and places your child in danger, and that if she refuses to comply with the law you will then report her to the police and perhaps even take the matter up with the court to get an order that requires her to secure the child in a car seat when traveling by car under circumstances when the law requires a car seat be utilized.

Utah Family Law, LC | | 801-466-9277

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Do attorneys ever have to represent relatives?

Do attorneys ever have to represent relatives or is that a conflict of interest?

I will give my personal opinion (as a lawyer, but not as a lawyer giving anyone any particular legal advice) as it applies in the jurisdiction where I practice divorce and family law (Utah).  

There is no inherent conflict of interest in an attorney representing a relative simply by virtue of the client being a relative. There is no inherent conflict of interest in an attorney representing a relative against another relative either simply by virtue of the client being a relative.  

If you learn that the opposing party’s attorney is a relative of that party, that is not a conflict of interest that would disqualify that attorney from representing that party.   

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

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What’s it called when a judge gives a party an illegal advantage?

I believe one term you may be thinking of is “prejudice.” The word “prejudice” has a particular meaning in the law. According to Black’s Law Dictionary (the bible of legal definitions): 

2. A preconceived judgment or opinion formed with
little or no factual basis; a strong and unreasonable dislike or distrust. —
Also termed preconception. — prejudice, vb. 

Prejudice literally means “pre judge”. According to 

prejudice (n.)

c. 1300, “despite, contempt,” from Old French prejudice ”a prejudice, prejudgment; damage” (13c.) and directly from Medieval Latin prejudicium ”injustice,” from Latin praeiudicium ”prior judgment, judicial examination before trial; damage, harm,” from prae- ”before” (see pre-) + iudicium ”judgment,” from iudex (genitive iudicis) “a judge” (see judge (n.)).

Meaning “injury, physical harm” is mid-14c., as is the legal sense of “detriment or damage caused by the violation of a legal right.” Meaning “preconceived opinion” (especially but not necessarily unfavorable) is from late 14c. in English; now usually “decision formed without due examination of the facts or arguments necessary to a just and impartial decision.” To terminate with extreme prejudice ”kill” is by 1972, said to be CIA jargon. 

prejudice (v.) 

mid-15c., prejudicen, “to injure or be detrimental to,” from prejudice (n.) and from Old French prejudiciier. The meaning “to affect or fill with prejudice, create a prejudice (against)” is from c. 1600. Related: Prejudiced; prejudicing. 

Entries linking to prejudice 


word-forming element meaning “before,” from Old French pre- and Medieval Latin pre-, both from Latin prae (adverb and preposition) “before in time or place,” from PIE *peri- (source also of Oscan prai, Umbrian pre, Sanskrit pare ”thereupon,” Greek parai ”at,” Gaulish are- ”at, before,” Lithuanian prie ”at,” Old Church Slavonic pri ”at,” Gothic faura, Old English fore ”before”), extended form of root *per- (1) “forward,” hence “beyond, in front of, before.” 

The Latin word was active in forming verbs. Also see prae-. Sometimes in Middle English muddled with words in pro- or per-. 

judge (n.) 

mid-14c., “public officer appointed to administer the law” (early 13c. as a surname), also judge-man; from Old French juge, from Latin iudex ”one who declares the law” (source also of Spanish juez, Italian giudice), a compound of ius ”right, law” (see just (adj.)) + root of dicere ”to say” (from PIE root *deik- ”to show,” also “pronounce solemnly”).

Extended from late 14c. to persons to decide any sort of contest; from 1550s as “one qualified to pronounce opinion.” In Jewish history, it refers to a war leader vested with temporary power (as in Book of Judges), from Latin iudex being used to translate Hebrew shophet. 

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

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Can you go back to your ex-spouse after a divorce?

Yes, there is no law (I know of in any jurisdiction of which I am aware, but check in your jurisdiction to be sure) against a divorced couple resuming a romantic relationship or from remarrying. 

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

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Law from a legal assistant’s point of view, week 40

Law from a legal assistant’s point of view, week 40: Recording family law hearings

By Quinton Lister, legal assistant

My time as a legal assistant to a divorce and family law attorney in Utah has shown me a side of the legal system that has broken some ideals I had before starting the job. I liked to believe that all judges were wise people and that they always had the public’s best interest at heart. I am not implying that all judges are wholly corrupt, but prejudice and mediocrity is a more common occurrence than I believed and hoped.

One example of the mediocrity I am speaking of has been how most judges across the state of Utah treat the YouTube channel Utah Family Law TV (UFLTV). UFLTV is a YouTube channel my boss runs in his spare time. He does not profit from it, nor does he use it as a tool for promoting his legal practice. It is merely a channel he runs to help those who are going through divorce and other domestic relations cases educate themselves about the workings of the legal system by broadcasting the public proceedings of Utah domestic relations cases, like divorce and child custody disputes. These hearings and trials are open to the public. There is no law that prohibits these proceedings from being broadcast to the public. In fact, Utah’s court system proudly announced, about 8 years ago, a rule to make public court proceedings more open and accessible to the public by—purportedly—making them more open and accessible to the news media. While the rules allow a court to deny access to some public hearings under certain circumstances, more often than not UFLTV is denied access for no good reason. For instance, UFLTV coverage requests are routinely denied because the judge or commissioner merely believes UFLTV not to be a legitimate news reporter, yet these same judges refuse to give UFLTV any opportunity to provide evidence that it is clearly a news reporter as that term is defined in the rule.

Situations like this (and others) lead me to conclude that either the judges and commissioners don’t understand—or don’t care to understand—the very rules they are sworn and employed to obey or they simply want to prevent media coverage of public domestic relations proceedings, so they twist the facts and the rules to reach the desired outcome. You don’t need to be a lawyer to see that the so-called “reasons” given for denying UFLTV media coverage requests just don’t hold factual or legal water.

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

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Law from a legal assistant’s point of view, week 17: Fairness

By Quinton Lister, legal assistant

Before I started working as a legal assistant I was a philosophy major at BYU. During that time I read a portion of John Rawls treatise on justice. Mr. Rawls sought to equate justice with fairness. I would try and summarize what he meant by that, but unfortunately, I am far enough removed from my studies in philosophy that I could not give an accurate representation of what Rawls was saying in his writings. The reason that I bring it up now is that I have recently been contemplating what it means for an outcome to be fair. 

One issue I have seen since I started my current job is that many clients and potential clients have an idea of what they think is fair, but they do not see that their view does not align with what is fair according to the law. They have a specific expectation in mind about what should happen in their case, but when that expectation is not met, it means that what they did receive from the court is, in their view, not fair. Not getting what one wants is not an objective standard by which one can deem a particular effect as unfair. We all experience disappointment in life. In that sense, the fact that all of us experience some type of “unfairness” in our lives is, frankly, fair. I am not sure what constitutes fairness, I am not sure anyone does. But I know that it cannot just be getting what one wants. 

Utah Family Law, LC | | 801-466-9277 

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Child refuses to leave noncustodial parent’s house. What happens now?

I am the noncustodial parent. Our child came to my house for parent-time and now refuses to leave because he wants to live with me. What happens now?

I will answer this question in the context of my experience as a lawyer in the jurisdiction where I practice divorce and family law, which is Utah.

This is a weird area of Utah law because you’ll hear the legislature and the courts tell you that children don’t get to choose where they live, and then when children do that very thing (i.e., refuse to live where the court orders them to live), the courts find themselves essentially powerless to change anything. At least that’s my experience over the 24 years I’ve been in practice.

Now before some of you start licking your lips and scheming, thinking, “I’m the noncustodial parent, but I can change that by simply telling our child to choose to refuse to return to the custodial parent’s house,” you need to be aware of the realities.

If you’re the noncustodial parent and your child or children are under the age of 14 or so, and they claim that they don’t want to live with the custodial parent, there’s a very good chance that the court is going to believe that you are a puppet master who coached the children or otherwise induced or coerced them into claiming they want to live with you. That may not be true, but you’re going to be met with that kind of skeptical presumption. So if you are the noncustodial parent with young children who you assert claim they don’t want to live with the custodial parent, you have an uphill battle ahead of you. If you are the noncustodial parent and a father, you have an almost impossibly uphill battle ahead of you.

If, however, your children are 14 years or older, and you are the noncustodial parent with whom your children say they want to live, it will be harder for your ex and/or the court to presume that the children are lying and/or don’t have good reasons for wanting to live with you. Again, if you are the father making this claim, your claim will be met with more skepticism than if you were the noncustodial mother making such a claim. Why is this? Because there is a pernicious belief in the legal system that fathers are generally worse parents than our mothers, that fathers don’t want custody of their children, and that the only reason fathers would seek custody of their children is to avoid paying child support. As a result of these beliefs, fathers who seek custody of their children are met with not just skepticism, but often derisive skepticism. Forewarned is forearmed.

So, if you are a noncustodial parent who is good and decent, and your child honestly and sincerely comes to you saying, “mom/dad, I can’t stand living with the custodial parent anymore, and I want to live with you,” how do you proceed?

First, if the child refusing to live with the custodial parent because the child just wants to spend more time with you and/or less time with the custodial parent, and the custodial parent is not neglecting or abusing the child in any way, then you as the noncustodial parent have both a legal and moral obligation to talk the child into going back to the custodial parent’s home, or if persuasion doesn’t work, imposing limitations and restrictions and punishments upon the child so that the child won’t get the impression that he or she is in charge. At the same time, the custodial parent needs to acknowledge the child’s desires to spend more time with the noncustodial parent as being a legitimate concern that needs to be addressed and resolved, and that usually means the custodial parent agreeing to give the child and the noncustodial parent more time together. If the custodial parent refuses to do the right thing, you may ask whether it’s wise to petition the court for a modification of the child custody award, so that you and the child get more time together. Unfortunately, odds are that if you file a petition to modify child custody and the only basis for your petition is the child’s desire to spend more time with you, you will probably lose. While it is technically and conceivably possible to win such a petition, usually the courts in Utah require more than just the child’s desire as the basis for a modification. And what form does this “more” take? Typically, you would have to show that the custodial parent is neglecting and/or abusing the child to get a modification of the child custody award.

Second, if the child is refusing to reside with the custodial parent because the custodial parent is truly neglectful and/or abusive, and if you have independently verifiable proof of this, you have the option of petitioning the court to modify the child custody award, changing the custodial parent from your ex to you. While that petition is pending, your child may refuse to return to the custodial parent’s home, and for reasons at least you and the child know to be valid. Whether the court allows your child to stay with you depends upon how your court views the situation and what is best for the child.

If you find yourself in this kind of situation, whether you are the custodial parent or the noncustodial parent, this is one of those situations where you need to seek good legal advice immediately, to help ensure that neither you nor the child is victimized.

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

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Why are so many Latin terms used in legal (English)?

Why are so many Latin terms used in legal (English)?

Law is (or was) a learned profession and before information and education was available to everyone, the language of the learned was Latin, which is why there are still many Latin terms and phrases and maxims that are still in use in the contemporary practice of law. These terms and phrases remain in use today because 1) they make for great mental and written shorthand for complex concepts and arguments that that would otherwise needlessly take many minutes or lines of text to articulate; and 2) using them (even when used erroneously) makes those who use them look smart and cool.

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

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Can you legally allow a relative to live in a property you own, rent-free, for years?

Can you legally allow a relative to live in a property you own, rent-free, for years?

Today’s question is (and I’m serious, it’s a real question from a real person; I didn’t make this up): Can you legally allow a relative to live in a property you own, rent-free, for years?

My answer: Yes, of course. How could that be illegal? How could you wonder that it might be illegal?

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Is bigamy legal in America?

No, not yet. Why do I state “not yet”? Because now that the right of marriage has been extended to same-sex couples, it’s easy to imagine a logical and legally valid argument for plural marriage. I even think I might live long enough to see it happen (and I’m 51 years old as of the date I write this). I don’t like the idea of plural marriage myself, but only fools and the disingenuous would claim that there’s no argument for it. It’s practiced all over the world today and has been practiced by humans going back thousands of years.

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

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Can I protect marital assets from my spouse by “temporarily gifting” them?

Can I protect marital assets from my spouse by “temporarily gifting” assets to somebody else until after the divorce is final?

Can you? Like is it doable? Sure, you can do it. And many divorcing people do this very thing successfully (meaning they get away with it).

But is it legal? No.

Translated, your question really means: “Can I hide or hog marital assets from my spouse by falsely claiming to have “gifted” the assets to someone without ever intending to give the assets away but in fact intending to get them back after falsely claiming to have gifted them away?”

As you might imagine, this has been tried before. Courts and legislatures have noticed this kind of thing is tried all the time, which is why it’s illegal.

There’s even a term for it: fraudulent transfer. A fraudulent transfer in divorce occurs when one spouse someone knowingly transfers ownership of marital property in an attempt to deprive the other spouse of his/her portion of the ownership or value of the marital property.

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

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What is the hardest part about a divorce?

What is the hardest part about a divorce?

We’re all different, and divorce affects each of us in different ways, but generally speaking:

Legal Standpoint

If you’re the one wanting a divorce, the hardest part is usually: how miserable the process is, especially if you’re going about it with honor and dignity, but your spouse is not.

If you’re the one who was surprised by your spouse wanting a divorce, the hardest part is usually: coming to grips with the fact that the facts and events you think should be important to the court in rendering its judgment are almost never legally relevant.

Psychological Standpoint (and this is the opinion of one who is not a mental health professional)

If your marriage has been a long-term one, then one of the hardest parts about divorce is having your circle of friends and relations, the connections that define you and anchor you, your identity, your world turned upside down. It can be so disorienting as to terrify and paralyze you.

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

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