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What You Should Know If You are Getting Divorced

In order to get the best outcome available, it is important that you are honest with your attorney and follow his or her advice with the following:


  1. Abuse: Any allegation of abuse is not to be taken lightly. Divorce often involves “he said/ she said” situations so it is important that we gather evidence that is available to support any allegation. The court system is reactive and not proactive. If you suspect your spouse is physically abusing your child, contact the Division of Child and Family Services so they can conduct an investigation. This decision should not be entered into lightly as your child will be interviewed by the Division which can be traumatic on the child as well as ruin your co-parent relationship.

  2. Corporal Punishment: You should not use corporal punishment on your child during the divorce. Corporal punishment or any type of physical contact that may leave marks on your child subjects you to the risk of being charged with child abuse. Even if your household has a history of spanking your child, your soon-to-be ex-spouse may use this against you in the form of a Child Protective Order or criminal child abuse charges that can impact your custody rights.

  3. Sexual Abuse of a Child: Our firm takes this allegation very serious and as such we need supporting evidence before we raise the issue before the court. You should take your child to his or her pediatrician and ask for any necessary professional services to evaluate the child.

  4. Emotional Abuse of a Spouse: Emotional abuse can be threats, swearing, or constant belittling of one spouse to the other. The perpetrator of emotional abuse may not know that he or she is emotionally abusive. In order to have a health co-parenting relationship, all emotional abuse must stop and a functional parenting plan must be in place.

  5. Domestic Violence in the Presence of Your Child: If you and your spouse constantly yell and fight in the presence of your child, this can be considered child abuse. If one or both parents belittle, swear, or threaten a child this can also be found to be emotional abuse. We recommend stopping these heated arguments immediately, especially in the presence of your child.

  6. Domestic Violence: Domestic violence is broader than you think. Domestic violence means any criminal offense involving violence or physical harm or threat of violence or physical harm, or any attempt, conspiracy, or solicitation to commit a criminal offense involving violence or physical harm, when committed by one cohabitant against another. This includes, but is not limited to the following: Assault, harassment, electronic communication harassment, mayhem, stalking, unlawful detention, violation of a protective order or ex parte order, any offense against property, or disorderly conduct.

  7. What are the most common forms of domestic violence that I may not know are domestic violence?
    The destroying, breaking of property, including punching walls or throwing objects, in the home or residence, is called criminal mischief and is a crime. This is not acceptable behavior in the eyes of the court. If done in the home where the children are present this also constitutes domestic violence in the presence of a child. Please make a police report if you are victim of this behavior or call the police if this type of behavior is happening in your home. If this is common behavior for you, you should seek help through counseling and an anger management course.

    Unlawful detention is a crime. You may want to talk through your marital problems with your spouse, but NEVER forcibly detain them in a room or bar the door from their ability to leave or provide any threat of harm or consequence if they do leave. Please make a police report if you are a victim of this behavior.

    Prohibiting your spouse from calling 911 or from seeking emergency assistance is interference with a communication device and is a crime. NEVER physically try to take a cellular phone from your spouse, even if you believe it has “evidence” for your divorce case. Find another way to get the information that does not involve a confrontation that will likely result in the need for calling the police.

    Violations of a temporary protective order, even if there are no merits to the accusations, is considered domestic abuse.


  8. If I have used illegal drugs in the last six months should I tell my divorce attorney? Absolutely! If the court orders a mandatory drug test and your results are positive, it is almost certain you will have supervised parent-time with your child and greatly reduce your desired outcome for custody. Be honest so your attorney can prepare the proper strategy for your case. If you have an addiction problem seek help immediately as the court is responsive to a parent willing to admit mistakes of the past and seek help for the future. Denial is the worst option for your case.

  9. If I misuse my prescription medication should I tell my attorney? Yes! It is much better for the court to hear from a party directly that they have or had a problem and are dealing with it rather than having your spouse tell the court.

  10. Should I tell my attorney if I drink alcohol regularly or have any convictions for driving under the influences? Yes! Typically, the court will order that neither party drink alcohol past the point of intoxication. If you believe your spouse will likely claim you are an alcoholic you should disclose this information to your attorney.

  11. Should I tell my attorney if I have a criminal history? Yes! A criminal charge in your past may impact your claim for custody so it is important you disclose any major criminal convictions and any recent charges in the last five years. It is especially important to disclose if the police have ever been called, any police reports made, any arrests, any charges, and any convictions.

  12. Do my children have a right to know if my spouse had an affair? This is a very common question and the answer is no. Your job as a parent is to shelter your children from harm and sometimes this includes the behaviors of the other parent. You should encourage the child to be a child. This is adult information and should not be shared. Children identify with both parents and when they are told negative and derogatory things about their parent, the child will begin to project those qualities onto themselves. Children should be sheltered as much as possible from the divorce proceeding and never should be given an ultimatum to choose a parent.

  13. When may a child choose which parent to live with? When the child turns 18 years old. Utah law will consider the desires of child 14 years or older, but that is one of many factors considered in awarding custody.

  14. Will divorce change my spouse’s personality? The outcome of your divorce can be dependent on more than just the facts of your case and Utah law. The personalities of the parties and the attorneys involved can greatly impact the flow of a case and its ultimate resolution. A simple case can easily become very complicated when one spouse is in denial of divorce or the anticipated outcome from a divorce.

These are not all the questions and concerns you will have.  Call us today so we can get to work on the specifics of your important case.

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