Family Law

Family Law includes the following types of legal matters:
  • Divorce
  • Child Custody (aka "Paternity")
  • Protective Orders
  • Grandparent Visitation
  • Modification of an existing custody, visitation (parent-time), child support or alimony orders

What do I Need to Know Right Now About Divorce?

It is often said that the decision to divorce a spouse, whether the marriage was of short or long duration, is one most difficult and stressful decisions a person will ever have to make. Successfully navigating the divorce court process requires clear thinking, experience and time, as the outcome will have an effect on the lives of children, parents and even grandparents for years to come. If you are considering filing for divorce, some pre-planning now can benefit your during the divorce process. Please consider the following:
  • If custody is an issue, can you provide of your involvement with your children?
  • If child support is an issue, can you demonstrate the incomes of both parents?
  • If alimony is an issue, what are the parties realistic incomes and expenses?
  • If you or your spouse own a small business, do you have the records necessary to demonstrate the income earned from this business?
  • Have you put together a list of marital assets and debts?
  • What is your budget for attorney's fees or is there a source which can be used to pay for those fees?

What Do I Need to Know About a Child Custody (Paternity) Matter?

If you are not married to the parent of your child, then you have a child custody (or paternity) matter. With the exception of alimony, personal property, real property and debts (these issues are not addressed in a child custody case), a child custody case is handled in the same manner as a divorce case. Please review the divorce information presented above and the Overview of the Litigation Process" tab of this website for additional information.

What is Grandparent Visitation?

In Utah, as well as in other states, grandparents have an independent right to visit with their grandchildren, so long as they meet the requirements specified in Utah Code Ann. ยง30-5-2. One of our founding partners, Terry R. Spencer, drafted and passed the grandparent Visitation Statute while serving in the Utah State Senate. This statute was weakened by the 2013 Jones decision, so it is important to discuss your unique circumstances with one of our attorneys before you proceed to enforce your grandparent visitation rights.

How Does the Divorce Litigation Process Compare to Other Matters?

The divorce litigation process is nearly identical to the litigation process in any other civil litigation, with one exception in divorce and other Family Law cases the parties have the ability to seek temporary orders. Temporary Orders are orders that last during the pendency of the Family Law case. Other than this exception, each divorce case proceeds with the following steps: (a) filing of a Complaint or Petition, (b) filing of an Answer and perhaps a Counterclaim, (c) completion of Discovery, (d) scheduling and attending a Pretrial, and (e) scheduling and attending a Trial. For a more complete discussion of the litigation process see the "Overview of the Litigation Process" tab of our website. It is at this critical juncture, before the litigation process even starts, that the advise of a seasoned professional, such as the attorneys at T.R. Spencer Law Office, can be most beneficial to you, the potential client. The staff and attorneys at T.R. Spencer Law Office, have significant experience in divorce litigation and can help you get through this process with a minimum of stress. Please call so that we can discuss the unique facts of your case.

What is a Protective Order and How Serious Should I Take One?

In theory, Protective Orders are Court orders which are obtained by a party who is in fear of immediate physical abuse by a spouse or cohabitant. In reality, however, Protective Orders are almost exclusively used to obtain an upper-hand in either divorce or child custody litigation. Protective Orders do not follow the normal litigation process. An initial Protective Order is obtained without the knowledge or consent of the spouse or live-in significant other. If you have been served with a Protective Order, don't blow it off or treat it as unimportant. The violation of a Protective Order can result in you landing in jail or having supervised visitation (parent-time) with your children. Contact T.R. Spencer Law Office immediately for an appointment if you have been served with a Protective Order.

Can I Modify a Divorce Decree or Child Custody Order?

The short answer is yes, but you must meet certain requirements. Existing Court Orders related to custody, visitation (also known as parent-time), child support or alimony are subject to modification if the party seeking the modification can demonstrate that there has been a substantial and material change in circumstances which warrant such a change. Please contact one of our attorneys to see if the facts of your case warrant the change in a exisiting current permanent order.