Can We Adopt?

There are many factors that determine whether you are eligible to adopt; and the attorneys at Anderson & Rogers can help you determine whether you are eligible.

What Kinds Of Adoptions Is There?
  • Step-Parent Adoption.  When a step-parent desires to adopt his/her step-child(ren).
  • Kinship Adoption.  When the minor child is adopted by a relative.
  • Adult Adoption.  When an adult is adopted by another adult.  The most common reasons for this type of adoption is for inheritance purposes (i.e. to leave the property or financial assets behind to someone) or to formalize an existing “parent/child relationship.”
What Is A Home Study Evaluation? Is It Required?

A home study is an assessment of prospective adoptive parents to see if they are suitable for adopting a minor child.  In general, home study evaluations must include the following:

  • an in-person interview with the prospective adoptive parent(s)
  • an evaluation of the physical, mental, and emotional state of those seeking to adopt
  • a description of the prospective adoptive parent(s)’s finances, living conditions, and ability to provide proper care for special needs child
  • a description of any counseling provides the prospective adoptive parent(s), or plans for post-placement counseling
  • checks and inquiries into the criminal record(s) of those seeking to adopt as well as any adult member(s) of the household
  • an explanation of any previous rejections for adoptions or unfavorable results from previous home studies

A home study evaluation is necessary for all adoptions, except step-parent adoptions.

Will There Be A Background Check?

You will need to complete a criminal background check and a Department of Child and Family Services background check.

Will I Need To Appear Before The Judge?

The consents to adoption will be signed in open court before the judge.

Can I Adopt If I Have A Criminal Record?

Unless there is an exception, an adult may not adopt a child if, before the adoption is finalized, the adult has been convicted of, pleaded guilty to, or pleaded no contest to a felony or attempted felony involving conduct that constitutes any of the following:

  • child abuse, as described in Section 76-5-109
  • child abuse homicide, as described in Section 76-5-208
  • child kidnapping, as described in Section 76-5-301.1
  • human trafficking of a child, as described in Section 76-5-308.5
  • sexual abuse of a minor, as described in Section 76-5-401.1
  • rape of a child, as described in Section 76-5-402.1
  • object rape of a child, as described in Section 76-5-402.3
  • sodomy on a child, as described in Section 76-5-403.1
  • sexual abuse of a child or aggravated sexual abuse of a child, as described in Section 76-5-404.1
  • sexual exploitation of a minor, as described in Section 76-5b-201
  • an offense in another state that, if committed in this state, would constitute an offense described above
What Are The Ways For Me To File For An Adoption?

Agency adoption typically offers more training and counseling services than what one might encounter with private adoption. For example, agency adoption services provide prospective adoptive parents with hours of training and preparation to help them on their path to adoption.

Private adoption prospective adoptive parents work with an attorney throughout the adoption process. Private adoption typically places fewer requirements for adoptive parents than agency adoption. For example, many adoption agencies may set requirements on an adopting parent’s marital status, religion, age, and sexual orientation. With private adoption, whether or not a match is appropriate is completely up to the adopting parents and the expectant mother. Private adoption also typically offers a more flexible process for adopting parents. Attorneys often do not use waiting lists, so your adoption profile can be shown to expectant mothers as soon as is it ready.

Open Adoption describes conditions in which biological and adoptive parents have varying degrees of access to one another’s personal information as well as the option to maintain contact with each other and/or the child adopted.

What Is Alimony?

Alimony, or spousal support, is a court-ordered allowance that one spouse pays to the other spouse.

Alimony is determined, as stated in Utah law:

“The court shall consider at least the following factors in determining alimony: (i) the financial condition and needs of the recipient spouse; (ii) the recipient’s earning capacity or ability to produce income, including the impact of diminished workplace experience resulting from primarily caring for a child of the payor spouse; (iii) the ability of the payor spouse to provide support; (iv) the length of the marriage; (v) whether the recipient spouse has custody of minor children requiring support; (vi) whether the recipient spouse worked in a business owned or operated by the payor spouse; and (vii) whether the recipient spouse directly contributed to any increase in the payor spouse’s skill by paying for education received by the payor spouse or enabling the payor spouse to attend school during the marriage.” Utah Code Ann. § 30-3-5(8)(a)

How Long Can Alimony Last?

“Alimony may not be ordered for a duration longer than the number of years that the marriage existed unless, at any time prior to termination of alimony, the court finds extenuating circumstances that justify the payment of alimony for a longer period of time.”  For example, if the parties were married for nine (9) years, the court will not issue, unless there are extenuating circumstances, that alimony be paid for more than nine (9) years." Utah Code Ann. § 30-3-5(8)(j)

Is Alimony Considered Income? Is It Tax Deductible?

Yes, alimony is considered income and must be reported as such by the recipient.  And It depends upon when your decree of divorce was entered.  However, you and your ex-spouse can agree to keep alimony payments nontaxable and nondeductible in your marital settlement agreement. This would be useful in situations where the paying party does not need the tax deduction and the receiving party does not want to report the income. It is very important to work with a Utah divorce lawyer from Anderson & Rogers to determine what impact your spousal support payments will have, and what you can do to prepare for it.

Can My Alimony Terms Be Modified?

An alimony order may be modified if there has been a substantial and material change that was not foreseen at the time of entry of the decree of divorce.

What Is Child Support?

The term “child support” is statutorily defined as “a base child support award, or a monthly financial award for uninsured medical expenses, ordered by a tribunal for the support of a child, including current periodic payments, all arrearages which accrue under an order for current periodic payments, and sum certain judgments awarded for arrearages, medical expenses, and childcare costs.”  See Utah Code Ann. 78B-12-102(8).

In addition, the Court may issue separate orders regarding:

  • the maintenance of a dental and health insurance policy for the minor child/ren
  • payment of premiums
  • allocation of out-of-pocket costs for uninsured dental and health insurance costs
  • allocation of costs for extracurricular activities
Can My Child Support Obligations Be Modified?

The circumstances can effect if you can modify your child support obligations.  Our family law attorneys will help you determine whether your child support obligation may be modified based upon time or a substantial and material change in circumstances.

How Is Child Support Calculated?

There are many factors that are taken into consideration when determining child support.  The two primary factors are the parties’ gross monthly income and custody/parent-time arrangement.

How Can I Collect Child Support?

You can collect child support either directly from the obligor spouse or through a third-party, such as the Office of Recovery Services.

Is Child Support Tax Deductible?

No.

If My Parent-Time Is Being Withheld or I'm not Exercising My Rights To Parent-Time, Do I Still Have To Pay Child Support?

Yes, if you are the parent ordered to provide child support.

When Does My Child Support Obligation End?

Utah Code Ann. 78B-12-219, states: “When a child becomes 18 years of age or graduates from high school during the child’s normal and expected year of graduation, whichever occurs later, or if the child dies, marries, becomes a member of the armed forces of the United States, or is emancipated in accordance with Title 78A, Chapter 6, Part 8, Emancipation, the base child support award is automatically adjusted to the base combined child support obligation for the remaining number of children due child support, shown in the table that was used to establish the most recent order, using the incomes of the parties as specified in that order or the worksheets, unless otherwise provided in the child support order.”

Will The Court Order The Parents To Maintain Health Insurance Policies For the Minor Child?

Yes, “[t]he court shall order that insurance for the medical expenses of the minor child be provided by a parent if it is available at a reasonable cost.”  See Utah Code Ann. § 78B-12-212.

What Is The Difference Between Legal And Physical Custody?

Legal Custody:  Legal custody refers to which parent has the right to make important legal decisions regarding the minor child/ren, including but not limited to the child’s education, health, general welfare, and religion.

Physical Custody:  Physical custody refers to which parent the minor child/ren will live with.

What Is The Difference Between Sole And Joint Custody?

Sole Custody:  Sole custody occurs when the decision making authority and/or physical custody is allocated primarily to one parent.

Joint Custody:  Joint custody occurs when the decision making authority and/or physical custody is allocated to both parents.

What Factors Does The Court Take Into Consideration When Issuing A Ruling On Legal and Physical Custody?

The court’s custody ruling will be based upon the best interest of the minor child.  The state legislature has indicated that that the courts should take into consideration the following factors when determining the best interest of the minor child: “the past conduct and demonstrated moral standards of each of the parties; which parent is most likely to act in the best interest of the child, including allowing the child frequent and continuing contact with the noncustodial parent; the extent of bonding between the parent and child, meaning the depth, quality, and nature of the relationship between a parent and child; whether the parent has intentionally exposed the child to pornography or material harmful to a minor, as defined in Section 76-10-1201; and those factors outlined in Section 30-3-10.2.”  See Utah Code Ann. § 30-3-10.

What Is A Custody Evaluation & Is It Necessary?

“The purpose of the custody evaluation will be to provide the court with information it can use to make decisions regarding custody and parenting time arrangements that are in the child’s best interest.  Unless otherwise specified in the order, evaluators must consider and respond to each of the following factors: the developmental needs of the child (including, but not limited to, physical, emotional, educational, medical and any special needs), and the parents’ demonstrated understanding of, responsiveness to, and ability to meet, those needs; the stated wishes and concerns of each child, taking into consideration the child’s cognitive ability and emotional maturity; the relative benefit of keeping siblings together; the relative strength of the child’s bond with the prospective custodians, meaning the depth, quality and nature of the relationship between a prospective custodian and child; previous parenting arrangements where the child has been happy and well adjusted; factors relating to the prospective custodians’ character and their capacity and willingness to function as parents, factors affecting a determination for joint legal and/or physical custody as set forth in Utah Code 30-3-10.2; and any other factors deemed important by the evaluator, the parties, or the court.”  See Utah Code of Judicial Administration Rule 4-903.

A custody evaluation may be necessary if the parties cannot reach an agreement as to custody and/or parent-time.

Will My Children Get To Decide Who S/He Will Live With?

“The court may inquire of a child and take into consideration the child’s desires regarding future custody or parent-time schedules, but the expressed desires are not controlling and the court may determine the child’s custody or parent-time otherwise. The desires of a child 14 years of age or older shall be given added weight, but is not the single controlling factor.”  See Utah Code Ann. § 30-3-10.

How Is Parent-Time Different From Custody?

Parent-time specifically means which days, how long, and how often a parent is able to spend time with the minor child.  Whereas, child custody refers to a parent’s legal rights and obligations as guardian of the child, and establishes which home shall be considered the minor child’s primary residence.

The parents can each agree upon a schedule for the allotted parent-time. However, it must meet or exceed the minimum parent-time requirements set forth by the State of Utah and be in the minor's best interests. If the parents cannot agree upon a parent-time schedule and no prior parent-time schedule has been entered by the court (i.e. temporary orders or prior divorce decree), then the Court will issue a ruling as to parent-time.

What holidays you'll have the child are dependant on the parties' custody and parent-time orders.

What Are Some Parent-Time Schedules That Have Been Used?

Parent-time schedules come in all different sizes and shapes.  Here are a few different parent-time schedules: (i) week on/off; (ii) 2-2-3 schedule, (iii) 3-3-4 schedule, (iv) 2-2-5 schedule, or (v) minimum parent-time as set forth in 30-3-35, 30-3-35.1, 30-3-35.5, or 30-3-37.

Can I Leave The State With My Child?

There are a number of legal issues surrounding the topic of a parent removing a child from the state.  Laws on parental kidnapping or custodial interference can make removing a child from the state illegal. The law will also distinguish between a short trip out-of-state and a long-term absence.  Furthermore, if a parent wants to relocate 150 miles or more from their current residence, he or she is required by state law to notify the other parent prior to the move.

Before removing a child from the state, it is important to consult with an experienced Utah family law attorney from Anderson & Rogers. We can help you examine the custody order to determine when it is legal and permissible to transport your child across state lines.

What Is Considered Separate Property?

Generally, separate property is any property acquired prior to marriage or during marriage through gift, bequeath or inheritance.  In Bradford v. Bradford, the Utah Court of Appeals held that “each party is presumed to be entitled to all of his or her separate property.”  Bradford v. Bradford, 199 UT 373 (Utah Ct. App. 1999).

What Is Considered Marital Property?

Generally, marital property is all property acquired during marriage that is not separate property.  In Bradford v. Bradford, the Utah Court of Appeals held that “each party is presumed to be entitled to … fifty percent of the marital property.”  Bradford v. Bradford, 199 UT 373 (Utah Ct. App. 1999).  Notwithstanding this general rule “does not supersede the trial court’s broad equitable power to distribute marital property regardless of who holds title.”  Id.  Thus, if the parties cannot agree upon a division of marital property, the court will issue an order equitably dividing the marital property.

How Is Marital Debts Divided?

If the parties cannot agree upon a division of marital debts, then generally, marital debts are divided equitably by the courts.

What Are The Grounds For Divorce

UTAH RECOGNIZES THE FOLLOWING GROUNDS FOR DIVORCE:

  • Impotency of the respondent at the time of marriage;
  • Adultery committed by the respondent subsequent to marriage;
  • Willful desertion of the petitioner by the respondent for more than one year;
  • Willful neglect of the respondent to provide for the petitioner the common necessaries of life
  • Habitual drunkenness of the respondent;
  • Conviction of the respondent for a felony;
  • Cruel treatment of the petitioner by the respondent to the extent of causing bodily injury or great mental distress to the petitioner;
  • Irreconcilable differences of the marriage;
  • Incurable insanity; and
  • When the husband and wife have lived separately under a decree of separate maintenance of any state for three consecutive years without cohabitation.
What Is The Difference Between Contested & Uncontested Divorce?

If the parties cannot agree, either about getting a divorce or to the terms of the divorce, then it is a contested divorce.  Whereas, an uncontested divorce is one were the parties have reached an agreement as to the terms of the divorce and only need the court to issue a divorce decree confirming their agreement.

How Long Do I Need To Reside In Utah Before I Can File For Divorce?

One party to the divorce proceeding, either the husband or wife, must reside within the State of Utah for at least the three (3) months immediately prior to the filing of the petition for a decree of divorce.

Is There A Waiting Period For The Judge To Sign A Divorce Decree In Utah?

Yes.  Generally, Utah courts will not issue a divorce decree until 90-days after the petition is filed; unless this waiting period is waived by the court.

What Costs Are Associated With A Divorce?

While each case is different, individuals contemplating divorce may incur the following costs:

  • filing fees
  • service fees
  • mediation fees
  • attorney fees
  • attendance fees for the divorce education and orientation courses
  • fees for a guardian ad litem; and (vii) the fees associated with a custody evaluation
Do Parents With A Minor Child Have To Attend A Class Before The Court Will Issue A Divorce Decree?

The State of Utah requires, unless waived by the court, that divorcing parents attend a divorce education and orientation course prior to the issuance of a divorce decree.

Will My Case Go To Trial?

The State of Utah requires that parties to a divorce proceeding participate in good faith in at least one session of mediation prior to trial.  If the parties are unable to resolve their differences at mediation, then the Court may schedule the matter for trial.

Do I Need An Attorney?

It depends.  But your interests will be best protected by working with an experienced Utah divorce attorney, who knows the law, the legal process, the commissioners, and the judges.

Can I Modify My Divorce Decree?

Generally, the district court that issued the divorce decree retains jurisdiction to issue subsequent orders regarding custody, parent-time, child support, alimony, and property distributions.  However, whether the court will issue a modification in your case is fact specific.  For example, the court may modify a custody order if there has been a substantial and material change in circumstances.

The attorneys at Anderson & Rogers are here to assist you with any questions that you may have about modifying your divorce decree.

How Do I Enforce My Divorce Decree?

If your ex-spouse does not voluntarily comply with the terms of the divorce decree, then you may need to file an order to show cause.  Unless there is exigent circumstances, the court cannot hear the order to show until 28 days after your ex-spouse is served with notice of the hearing.  The attorneys at Anderson & Rogers will prepare the motion, file the necessary paperwork with the court, serve your ex-spouse and argue your case at hearing.

Can Grandparents Petition For Visitation?

Yes, grandparents can petition the court in which the minor child resides for visitation rights.  But, the grandparents have to rebut the presumption that a parent’s decision with regard to grandparent visitation is in the grandchild’s best interest and may do so by establishing the following factors:

  • that the grandparents are a fit and proper person to have visitation with the grandchild
  • that visitation with the grandchild has been denied or unreasonably limited
  • that the parent is unfit or incompetent
  • that the grandparents have acted as the grandchild’s custodian or caregiver, or otherwise has had a substantial relationship with the grandchild, and the loss or cessation of that relationship is likely to cause harm to the grandchild
  • the grandparent’s child, who is the parent of the grandchild, has died or has become a noncustodial parent through divorce or legal separation
  • the grandparent’s child, who is a parent of the grandchild, has been missing for an extended period of time
  • visitation is in the best interest of the grandchild
Can Persons Other Than The Parents & Grandparents Petition For Visitation?

Yes, persons other than parents and grandparents can petition the court in which the minor child resides for visitation rights.  The petitioning party will need to rebut the presumption that a parent’s decision regarding visitation is in the child’s best interest by establishing the following factors:

  • the person has intentionally assumed the role and obligations of a parent
  • the person and the child have formed an emotional bond and created a parent-child type relationship
  • the person contributed emotionally or financially to the child’s well-being
  • the assumption of the parental role is not the result of a financially compensated surrogate care arrangement
  • continuation of the relationship between the person and the child would be in the child’s best interests
  • loss or cessation of the relationship between the person and the child would be detrimental to the child
  • the parent is absent or is found by a court to have abused or neglected the child
What If I Want To Limit Grandparents & Other Person's Visitation Rights?

There is a rebuttable presumption that a parent’s decision with regard to visitation is in the child’s best interests.  Thus, if the grandparents or other person are unable to rebut that presumption at court, then the parent’s decision regarding visitation controls.

What Is The Presumption Regarding Grandparent Visitation?

The rebuttable presumption is that a parent’s decision with regard to grandparent visitation is in the grandchild’s best interest.

Can I, As A Grandparent, Rebut A Parent's Decision To Withhold Visitation?

The courts will look at several factors to determine whether the grandparents may overcome the rebuttable presumption, including but not limited to:

  • Whether the grandparents are fit and a proper person to have visitation with the grandchild;
  • Whether visitation has been denied or unreasonably limited;
  • Whether the minor child’s parent is unfit or incompetent;
  • Whether the grandparents have acted as the minor child’s custodian or caregiver, or have otherwise had a substantial relationship with the minor child; and
  • Whether visitation is in the minor child’s best interest.
What Is A Guardian & What Powers Does a Guardian Have?

A guardian is a court-appointed adult, other than the minor’s parents, who have legal authority to make decisions for the minor child. The guardian of a minor has the same powers and responsibilities of a parent who has not been deprived of custody of said minor child.

When Does A Guardianship end?

A guardian’s authority and responsibility terminate upon the death, resignation, or removal of the guardian or upon the minor’s death, adoption, marriage, or attainment of majority.  See Utah Code Ann. § 75-5-210.

Are Their Alternatives To Guardianship?

Alternatives to guardianship proceedings including but not limited to a power of attorney, conservatorship, and adoption.

What Are Grounds For Legal Separation?

The State of Utah permits an individual to seek a legal separation if any of the following occur:

  • whenever a resident of this state deserts a spouse without good and sufficient cause;
  • whenever a resident of this state being of sufficient ability to provide support, neglects or refuses to properly provide for and suitably maintain that spouse;
  • whenever a resident of this state having property within this state and the spouse is a resident of this state, so deserts or neglects or refuses to provide such support; or
  • whenever a resident of this state where a married person without that person's fault lives separate and apart from that spouse, the district court shall, on the filing of a complaint, allot, assign, set apart and decree as alimony the use of the real and personal estate or earnings of the deserting spouse as the court may determine appropriate.

 See Utah Code Ann. § 30-4-1.

What Issues May Come Up When Addressing a Legal Separation?

As long as the spouses remain legally married, any health insurance coverage that was put in place prior to the separation may still be in effect unless it is canceled or a party is removed from the insurance policy.

Because they are still considered married, the individual still has the responsibility to provide support to their spouse and child, whether they are residing together or separately.

If My Spouse Dies While We're Separated, Do I Still have Legal Access To His/Her Benefits Of Inheritance & Social Security?

If an unfortunate accident happens, and one of the spouses perish during their separation it can be worrying if you will still be qualified to receive the benefits of inheritance and social security.

In most cases yes, you are still qualified. Couples who are legally separated are still legally married, and therefore entitled to certain benefits in the event that one of the spouses passes away.

Is There A Division Of Debt When We Are Legally Separated?

With divorce, there is a division of property, including the debt that has been accumulated during the marriage. In contrast, in some situations, a separation may limit a spouse’s exposure to the debts of the other spouse.

However, separated spouses may still bear some responsibility for debts incurred by their spouse prior to the separation and, depending on the wording of the legal separation agreement, even after separation.

What Is Mediation?

Mediation is a form of alternative dispute resolution where a neutral third party, referred to as the “mediator”, facilitates the negotiations between the parties.

What Is The Difference Between Arbitration and Mediation?

Arbitration, which is also another form of alternative dispute resolution, is similar to trial in which a third party, usually referred to as the arbitrator, issues a decision which is binding upon the parties.  Whereas in mediation, the neutral third party mediator assists the parties in negotiating a resolution.

Is Mediation Required In The State Of Utah?

Yes, the State of Utah requires that the parties to a divorce proceeding participate in at least one session of mediation.

Will My Spouse And I Be In The Same Room?

It depends upon the situation.  Normally, the parties remain in separate rooms with their attorneys and the third party neutral goes back and forth between the rooms facilitating the settlement negotiations.

What Are The Benefits Of Mediation?

There are many benefits to meditation.  The following is a short list of those benefits: (i) the parties, rather than the court, participate in reaching a solution to the issues at dispute; (ii) it is generally quicker than trial; (iii) it is generally cheaper than trial; and (iv) it is less stressful than trial

What Is The Cost Of Mediation?

The cost of mediation will depend upon (i) the mediator’s rates; (ii) the length of time; and (iii) the number of sessions.  Mediators typically charge an hourly rate, which generally range from $150.00/hour to $350.00/hour.  Generally, the parties agree to equally share the mediator’s fees.  While this may sound expensive, mediation is much more cost effective than trial.

What Is The Benefit Of Establishing Paternity Through The Courts Rather Than Administrative Action?

The State of Utah defines the term “paternity” to mean “fatherhood.”  Fathers of minor children born out of wedlock do not automatically enjoy the same rights and responsibilities as fathers of minor children born in wedlock.  Therefore, the State of Utah provides a method for the mother, the child, the father, or the State of Utah to legally establish that an individual is the father of a minor child.

The establishment of paternity is important for the following reasons:

  • the law requires both parents to support their child
  • benefits, including but not limited to social security and inheritance
  • custody and parent-time

Administrative actions can only issue a ruling as to paternity and child support.  Whereas, the Courts can issue a ruling/order regarding paternity, custody, parent-time, child support, insurance, the minor child’s name, and who may claim the minor child as a tax deduction.

When Can I File A Paternity Suit?

A paternity suit can be filed any time during the pregnancy up until two years after the child has reached adulthood (18 years old).

How Can I, As The Non-Married Biological Father, Establish Paternity In Utah?

The Father-Child Relationship May Be Established, As Follows—

  • An Unrebutted Presumption of the Man's Paternity
  • By Signing and submitting a Voluntary Declaration of Paternity to the Office of Vital Statistics
  • An Adjudication of Paternity
  • Adoption
  • The Man Having Consented to Assisted Reproduction By a Woman Which Resulided in The Birth of a Minor Child
  • An Adjudication Confirming The Man as a Parent of a Child Born to a Gestational Mother if the Agreement was Validated or Enforceable Under Other Law
What Issues May The Court Address In My Paternity Case?

A paternity suit can be filed any time during the pregnancy up until two years after the child has reached adulthood (18 years old).

In Utah, a petition for paternity may be filed in the county in which: (i) the minor child resides or is found; (ii) the respondent resides or is found if the child does not reside within Utah; or (iii) a proceeding for probate or administration of the presumed or alleged father’s estate has been commenced.

In addition to making orders regarding paternity, the Court may also issue orders regarding custody, parent-time, child support, insurance, who may claim the minor child as a tax deduction, and the minor child’s name.

The court cannot issue a decree for paternity before the birth of a child. But the following actions may be taken prior to the birth of the minor child: (i) filing of a petition for paternity; (ii) service of petition and summons; (iii) discovery; and (iv) collection of specimens for genetic testing (except as prohibited by U.C.A. § 78B-15-502).

If the petition of paternity is requested after the child's birth you can recover past due support, but the obligor's liability is limited to a period of four (4) years preceding the commencement of the petition.

Does A Pre/Post-Nuptial Have To Be In Writing? When Does It Become Effective?

“A premarital agreement becomes effective upon marriage.”  See Utah Code Ann. § 30-8-3.

Any pre-nuptial and/or post-nuptial agreement must be in writing.

Can I Modify My Pre/Post-Nuptial Agreement?

You can change your agreement, but it must be by a written and signed agreement by both parties.

How Does The State Of Utah Define "Abuse"? "Domestic Abuse"?

The term “abuse” has been defined by the State of Utah to mean “intentionally or knowingly causing or attempting to cause a cohabitant physical harm or intentionally or knowingly placing a cohabitant in reasonable fear of imminent physical harm.”  See Utah Code Ann. § 78B-7-102(1).

“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. “Domestic violence” also means commission or attempt to commit, any of the following offenses by one cohabitant against another: (i) aggravated assault, as described in Section 76-5-103; (ii) assault, as described in Section 76-5-102; (iii) criminal homicide, as described in Section 76-5-201; (iv) harassment, as described in Section 76-5-106; (v) electronic communication harassment, as described in Section 76-9-201; (vi) kidnapping, child kidnapping, or aggravated kidnapping, as described in Sections 76-5-301, 76-5-301.1, and 76-5-302; (vii) mayhem, as described in Section 76-5-105; (viii) sexual offenses, as described in Title 76, Chapter 5, Part 4, Sexual Offenses, and Section 76-5b-201, Sexual exploitation of a minor–offenses; (ix) stalking, as described in Section 76-5-106.5; (x) unlawful detention or unlawful detention of a minor, as described in Section 76-5-304; (xi) violation of a protective order or ex parte protective order, as described in Section 76-5-108; (xii) any offense against property described in Title 76, Chapter 6, Part 1, Property Destruction, Title 76, Chapter 6, Part 2, Burglary and Criminal Trespass, or Title 76, Chapter 6, Part 3, Robbery; (xiii) possession of a deadly weapon with intent to assault, as described in Section 76-10-507; (xiv) discharge of a firearm from a vehicle, near a highway, or in the direction of any person, building, or vehicle, as described in Section 76-10-508; (xv) disorderly conduct, as defined in Section 76-9-102, if a conviction of disorderly conduct is the result of a plea agreement in which the defendant was originally charged with a domestic violence offense otherwise described in this Subsection (4). Conviction of disorderly conduct as a domestic violence offense, in the manner described in this Subsection (4)(o), does not constitute a misdemeanor crime of domestic violence under 18 U.S.C. Sec. 921, and is exempt from the provisions of the federal Firearms Act, 18 U.S.C. Sec. 921 et seq.; or (xvi) child abuse as described in Section 76-5-109.1.

What Do I Need To Know About Filing A Protective Order? What Are The Civil & Criminal Components Of One?

There are no fees for filing a protective order. However, if you are represented by an attorney, they will charge you to prepare the documents and to attend any necessary hearings.

The request for protective order must be filed in (i) the county where either party resides; or (ii) where the action complained of took place.

The civil components of a protective order include, but are not limited to personal property, cell phone numbers, custody and parent-time, and child support.  These civil components will be in effect for not more than 150 days unless extended by the court.

The criminal components of a protective order include, but are not limited to personal conduct, no contact orders, possession of firearm/weapons, and control of the property.  These criminal components automatically expire after 10 years but may be dismissed after two years.

You can petition to have a protective order dismissed if “a protective order that has been in effect for at least two years may be dismissed if the court determines that the petitioner no longer has a reasonable fear of future harm or abuse.”  See Utah Code Ann. § 78B-7-115.

What If The Person Violates The Protective Order?

If you witness the protective order being violated call the police.  Generally, the person will be charged with violation of protective order, which is a class A misdemeanor.

What Are Some Alternatives To A Protective Order?

If a protective order is not appropriate for you, then you may want to consider a civil stalking injunction or civil restraining order.

Is It Necessary To Terminate Parental Rights In A Step-Parent Adoption? Should I File The Two Petitions Separately?

It depends upon whether parental rights were ever established if you will or will not need to have parental rights terminated.  If parental rights were established, then yes parental rights would need to be terminated.

You can file the termination and the adoption jointly in a district court.

Will The Court's Terminate My Parental Rights If I Am Avoiding Child Support?

The courts will not terminate your parental rights even if you try to avoid child support.

Will I Need To Attend A Hearing?

Possibly.  If the matter is contested, then the court will hold a hearing regarding grounds and best interest.  If the matter is uncontested, then the court may allow the moving party to prove grounds and best interest through a declaration.

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