Tag: writing

Why All Communications with Your Former Spouse Should be in Writing By Braxton Mounteer, Legal Assistant.

Even if you trust your former spouse to deal with you honestly and in good faith in any matter pertaining to your divorce, why should you communicate in writing with your ex?
Writing down or recapping your conversations in writing (text and/or email) with your spouse creates a verifiable record. If you later present this to your spouse refer back to the record and avoid confusion, refute false claims, and prove real claims.
So if your ex tries to claim you didn’t give him or her notice of the day, time, and place for Timmy’s baseball game, referring back to that text message or email message will vindicate you. If you need to prove you made a timely request for reimbursement for a child health care or daycare expense, written record is essential.
If there is no record, the event or the claim might as well never have existed. If you can’t prove it exists, it doesn’t in the world of law. Phone calls do not exist. Well, to be fair, you may be able to prove a phone call to place, but not what was discussed during the call. Likewise with in-person communications. All the other person would have to do is to claim that the conversation didn’t happen and then it is your word against another’s. To avoid that, create a written record.
Your former spouse may try to get you to discuss (or worse, to agree to) something “off the record,” as it were, and then use that opportunity to take advantage of you. Avoid the hassle; get it in writing.
Utah Family Law, LC | | 801-466-9277
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Law from a legal assistant’s point of view, week 9: Hail, Clarity!

By Quinton Lister, Legal assistant

Before I was a legal assistant, I was an undergraduate in Philosophy at Brigham Young University. One of my logic professors said something to me that I feel is important in both philosophy and in law. In order to avoid logical fallacies in any argument, you need to define your terms. So (and I am paraphrasing this a little bit), my logic professor stated, “It’s not about what you say, it is about what you mean by what you say”. The point being that you must be rigorous in your definitions of the terms you are using. For instance, in an ethical debate one must be clear on what is meant by the terms “good” or “bad” or “moral”. If you do not know what is meant by what you say, it is hard to defend what you say. 

This applies in legal communications directly because I am finding that there is so much jargon and terms of art used in the practice of law. I need to grow accustomed to the fact that at this point, when I am a legal assistant with (so far) no formal legal education, I can’t assume that I know what is meant by what is said or written. My boss, being an experienced attorney, often can call me out when I do not know what I am saying. This has been fascinating because I am not always aware of my incompetence. So, if I cannot define or understand a term or a principle, I am learning that I just need to say, “I don’t know”. This is challenging because I am not accustomed to admitting I do not know something because it feels like a cardinal sin. From kindergarten to college we are rewarded for “knowing the answers” and punished when we don’t. All through my growing up years that held true everywhere else too: not just school, but church, extra-curricular activities, my part-time job as a teen, etc.), but now, at least in the legal profession (though I have reason to believe it’s the same in other professions), it is not about looking or sounding informed, but actually knowing how to solve all or even just part of a given problem. And you can’t solve the problem if you don’t know what it is or how to describe it fully and accurately to other legal professionals and to your judge.  

I need to know what I mean by what I say and ensure those with whom I am communicating know it too. To do that, whether I am writing a simple email or an appellate brief to file with the court, successful, persuasive communication starts with learning to write and speak clearly.  

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

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If my child’s father puts in writing he would never ask for custody of our daughter, would that weight in if later he changed his mind for court? 

Would it have any weight? Yes. Would it, on its own, have weight sufficient to bar him from seeking sole or joint custody of the child in the future? No. Just because a parent may, at one point in time, state that he/she does not now want and would not want/seek sole or joint custody of the child in the future does not and cannot bar that parent from changing his/her mind in the future.  

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

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