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November 16, 2021

How to Avoid Holiday Custody Fights

The holiday season is a time for families and friends to celebrate and create new memories. But for divorced or separated couples, it can also be a time of stress and conflict, putting families are in the midst of a holiday child custody battle. Coordinating the time that children will spend with each parent (and grandparents) for each of the upcoming major holidays can be difficult. The best way to limit confusion and hurt feelings is to set up a Utah child custody holiday calendar – in advance!

Before the holiday season arrives, be aware of what the final decree in your divorce or temporary order pending divorce states about visitation rights. This schedule will have precedence over any other decisions made about holiday custody or visitation rights. If you have not already listed Holiday season schedules, here are some tips on sharing custody during the holidays.

3 Holiday Child Custody Battle Tips

Have a Holiday Child Custody Agreement

Often there is already a child custody agreement in effect for holidays in addition to time spent with each parent during the school year and during summer vacations. Many divorced couples will detail a separate child custody agreement that is specific to all the major holidays. The divorced couple may choose to alternate certain holidays each year – with each choosing a major summer and winter holiday. For example, one may choose the Fourth of July and Christmas one year, while the other may opt for Thanksgiving and Memorial Day.

The agreement should be written out, similar to a legal document and if possible, there should be a clause included for changes. Things will come up in life, and often it may in the best interests of the children to change the schedule – swapping out one holiday for another.

A Fixed Holiday Schedule

A great way to create lasting memories each and every year is to agree on a fixed holiday schedule, where the children will spend certain holidays each year with each parent. This way, plans can be made to include grandparents and holiday trips out of town. The best reason for a fixed child custody holiday schedule Utah is for the purpose of having established holiday traditions within the family.

“Holiday traditions become an essential aspect of how we celebrate, and there is a reason why we keep them as a part of our lives for so long. Simply put we hold onto holiday traditions because they add meaning to our celebrations, and help bond us to those we love.”

Celebrate the Holidays Twice

For some families, it may make sense to celebrate the holiday with both parents. A double Thanksgiving dinner and Christmas celebration can be easily established when both parents live in close vicinity to each other. Since Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Years’ holidays are long weekends or vacation time is usually added to the holiday, the children can stay with one parent until the eve of the holiday and be with the other parent on the day of celebration.

To celebrate the holidays twice, you may want to consider the age of your family. For younger children this may be a bit too much excitement in such a short time frame, but for older children – they would likely enjoy the double holiday concept.

If you need help navigating through holiday parent time, please contact our office

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Read & Read

November 3, 2021

Crossroads: Alimony Equality

“The Supreme Court ruled that alimony is gender neutral in 1979. But, to some, women having to dole out spousal support still comes as a shock.”

This is an interesting article from the New York Times b

When it comes to alimony, the law is blind to gender. “What’s good for the goose is good for the gander, that’s how family law works,” said Laura Wasser, the California lawyer representing the singer Kelly Clarkson in her high-profile divorce.

Even though the Supreme Court ruled that alimony is gender neutral in 1979, Ms. Wasser said that women have still been surprised to find themselves doling out spousal support. “What amazes me is that many bright and sophisticated women don’t realize they will have to pay,” said Ms. Wasser, declining to comment directly on Ms. Clarkson’s case.

Ms. Clarkson and Brandon Blackstock, an entertainment agent, split in 2020 after seven years of marriage. Despite a prenuptial agreement recently upheld in a Los Angeles court, Mr. Blackstock has been awarded temporary monthly spousal support of nearly $150,000, half of his initial ask. (Though he stated that he planned to exit the entertainment industry to become a full-time rancher on a Montana property owned by Ms. Clarkson, the ranch was awarded to her as per the couple’s prenuptial agreement.)

In addition to the monthly spousal support paid by Ms. Clarkson, Mr. Blackstock also receives child support of around $45,000 per month, despite Ms. Clarkson having been awarded primary physical custody of their two children.

This might seem like a lot, but according to documents filed in Los Angeles Superior Court, Ms. Clarkson’s monthly income is $1.9 million. She follows in the wake of other female stars whose settlements were way steeper: Madonna, Elizabeth Taylor, Rosanne Barr, Kirstie Alley and Janet Jackson have all paid hugely in their divorces.

Public response to the breakup has not been favorable to Mr. Blackstock who, on Twitter, has been called out as a “parasite,” and “an opportunist,” among other unprintable names. One sentiment echoed in many comments: “What kind of man sues his ex-wife for spousal support when he’s perfectly capable of maintaining his lifestyle on his own salary?”

Part of the shock over such settlements, according to Alexandra Killewald, a sociology professor at Harvard who studies the effects of unequal earning on relationships, may be influenced by preconceived notions about gender. “Our culture expects men to be the primary breadwinners and there are simply more options for women for part-time work or to take time for child rearing,” Ms. Killewald said.

Another reason that men being awarded alimony can come as a surprise is because it doesn’t happen that often.

According to a 2019 study of census data by the Urban Institute, a nonprofit research group, half of United States households are headed by women, on average. While national statistics on alimony aren’t tracked, Michael Mosberg, a New York-based lawyer and the former chairman of the American Bar Association’s family law section, said that despite an increase in stay-at-home husbands, far more women than men seek and receive spousal support.

“The law is written to be gender neutral and blind, but that it isn’t always the case,” said Mr. Mosberg, speaking on his own behalf. “More women are now working in prestigious positions, and more husbands are staying home with the kids, but men receiving support is still the exception rather than the rule.”

Judges often scrutinize men more harshly during their bid for support, reflecting the bias that assumes men are, or should be, breadwinners, said Brendan Hammer, a Chicago-based lawyer. “Judges may also ask for a job diary, to prove that the husband is trying to earn what he did formerly, or even a living wage,” he said.

Elizabeth Lindsey, the president of the American Association of Matrimonial Lawyers, said in her experience, judges often awarded men less support for shorter durations while expecting them to return to the job market faster than women.

“There is a growing trend away from long-term alimony,” she said, noting that in Georgia, where she currently practices law, courts may still award lifetime support. “Over all, spousal support is meant to rehabilitate and retool the under-earning or out-of-work spouse,” Ms. Lindsey added.

Men who have landed in a dependent position say they’ve found themselves there for various reasons.

When Glenn Smith married in 2014, he became a stepparent to two teenage boys. His wife, a tax lawyer, was the high earner of the couple and he soon gave up his career selling insurance to take care of the boys, he said. The relationship fell apart in 2020 and the divorce was finalized in early 2021. He receives $2,000 in monthly spousal support, something that will continue for two and a half years.

“For seven years I worked hard: I did the shopping, cooking, driving the kids and taking care of the house,” he said. “This small amount of monthly support provides me with wiggle room to relaunch my career.”

Dax Roggio, a video editor and designer, married his longtime girlfriend in 2014, separated in 2019, and finalized his divorce in 2020.

His wife, a lawyer, was positioned to be the high earner of the family, so when she became pregnant with the first of their two children, he was an obvious choice to be the stay-at-home parent. In their divorce, which was mediated, both agreed to 50-50 custody of their children, now 8 and 5, and that Mr. Roggio would receive child support and alimony.

It took some time for the couple to come to an agreement on the duration of the payments, but they settled on Mr. Roggio receiving alimony for three years, a span that “will give me a chance to grow my business while maintaining the flexibility to spend time with my kids,” he said. “I don’t feel shame about receiving alimony, I wouldn’t trade the time I had with my kids for anything, but that’s not to say it was easy.”

Mr. Hammer said that pride can be an issue for men when it comes to seeking alimony because they often view being supported by a former spouse as emasculating. To sidestep the embarrassment of being dependent, equity and assets may be leveled in other ways, including one-time upfront payouts. But such buyouts carry risks.

“You might pay more than what would have been paid over time,” said Kelly Frawley, a lawyer based in New York, who added that monthly spousal support ceases if the payee lives with or remarries a new partner.

Pamela Tracy is a lawyer at the America Divorce Association for Men, a Detroit law firm specializing in defending men’s rights. With her clients she is often on the asking side of support, but in her own divorce, settled in 2009, she was ordered to pay five years of alimony to her former spouse. Throughout her 15-year marriage she was the primary, and often sole, breadwinner.

Her husband cared for their four children, who ranged in age from 4 to 11 at the time of their divorce. But the division of labor was unclear: She said she still managed the bulk of the children’s social, medical and educational needs along with many of the household chores. While the court ordered her to pay five years of spousal support, after two years she took custody of the children full time. She then stopped paying both child and spousal support.

“As hard as it was to write those checks, it was fair, he needed money to get started with his own life,” Ms. Tracy said.

Recent changes in family law have further disrupted the balance of alimony payments. After President Trump’s Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 went into effect, alimony ceased being tax deductible for the paying spouse. Instead, the recipient now receives support as tax-free income.

Some think the entire support system is flawed. “No one wants to pay alimony, but women hate it times 10,” said Emma Johnson, the author of “The Kick-Ass Single Mom” whose blog, Wealthysinglemommy, addresses economic issues for divorced women. Ms. Johnson believes spousal support prolongs problems for everyone involved.

“It’s hard to move on when there’s a monthly reminder of your resentment,” she said. “Equal rights mean equal responsibilities, why is anybody in this day and age paying anyone else’s rent?”

Please contact one of our attorneys at Read Law to receive experienced advice on alimony obligations.

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Read & Read

October 28, 2021

New Statute in Utah: Equal Parent Time

There are several decisions parents are faced with when they go through a divorce. They need to separate the life that they shared during their marriage into two separate lives. They need to separate their physical home, money, possessions and their time with their children. The parents will no longer be living with each other, and the children will need to spend time with each parent separately.

The parents usually need a parent-time schedule that states when the children will be with each parent. There can be many different types of schedules depending on the circumstances of the parents. However, some parents will have an equal parent-time schedule. As of 2021, a new statute outlines the court’s factors when determining whether equal parent-time is appropriate.

The factors include, but are not limited to:

  • Each parent’s activity in their children’s lives – each parent’s responsibility for caring for children; their involvement in school and extracurricular activities; their involvement in meals, bathing, and putting the children to bed; and other relevant factors.
  • Each parent’s ability to facilitate an equal schedule – how close the parents live to each other; their ability to provide after-school care; employment schedules; the layout of each parent’s home; their ability to spend playtime with children; and other relevant factors.
  • Whether it is in the children’s best interest.

If equal parent-time is ordered or agreed to by the parents, they will follow the schedule outlined in the statute unless otherwise agreed to by the parents. This schedule states that the children will be with one parent on Monday and Tuesday, and with the other parent on Wednesday and Thursday. The parents would alternate weekends from Friday to Monday morning.

There are many options for parent-time schedules in Utah. If the parents cannot agree on a parent-time schedule, the court will determine whether an equal parent-time schedule is appropriate and state the schedule. These are very fact-specific matters, and consulting with experienced attorneys could be beneficial.

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October 25, 2021

Can a Divorce Attorney Subpoena Snapchat, Facebook, and Text Messages?

If you are considering getting divorced, or you are going through the process of getting divorced, you may be wondering whether your social media accounts and messages will remain private. Many people are surprised to learn that a divorce attorney can subpoena Snapchat, Facebook, and text messages. Divorce lawyers can subpoena information from any application where messages are stored or compelled to obtain this information.

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October 11, 2021

A Guide to Divorce Decrees in Utah

Here, we have put together a guide to help you understand more about divorce decrees in Utah. As always, we are happy to answer any questions you have. Please contact us today to schedule an initial consultation to learn more about our legal services. 

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Read & Read

October 8, 2021

Holiday Co-Parent time: Halloween

It’s that time of year. Falling leaves, pumpkin spice, and Halloween school parades. With the fun also comes questions about Halloween parent-time. The questions arise because Halloween is treated differently than all of the other holidays outlined in Utah Code Ann. 30-3-35, which provides the default schedule for holiday parent-time. All of the other holidays include at least one overnight and the days of the holidays are somewhat fixed by school schedules and federal government holiday declarations.

With Halloween, there is no corresponding overnight. Further, the date and time of celebration is not fixed by school or the federal government but rather by the local community.

Utah Code Ann. sec. 30-3-35(2)(g)(vi) states that in even-numbered years, the non-custodial parent is entitled to Halloween. This assumes that the custodial parent is entitled to the holiday in odd-numbered years. If your court order does not specify which of the parents is the non-custodial parent, it is usually considered to be the parent with fewer overnights per year.

The code specifically says:

“(vi) Halloween on October 31 or the day Halloween is traditionally celebrated in the local community from after school until 9 p.m. if on a school day, or from 4 p.m. until 9 p.m.”

The law references “the local community” to determine the date and time of this holiday. That means, that when Halloween falls in the middle of a week, the local community might have “trick-or-treat” hours on Friday or Saturday, and that might be different for the custodial home and the noncustodial home. Also, some parents don’t engage in “trick-or-treat” in the community at large but prefer to attend a local event for kids.

Communicate as parents regarding Halloween plans.

As parents, you may agree to something different, but it is always suggested that you have any agreement regarding a change to the holiday schedule in writing.

No matter if this is your first Halloween since separating as parents or if you have been separated for years, it is a good idea to touch base with the other parent regarding plans for the children over Halloween.  Early communication regarding the holiday (in other words, not sending an email the night of October 30th regarding the following nights activities and requests) ensures each parent is informed regarding Halloween, and communication could make any changes to your schedule much easier.

As children get older plans may change when it comes to friends, family, school, church or neighborhood activities.  If you have more than one child, you may also want to consider whether there will be different age appropriate Halloween activities to attend and how best you can make those happen between the two of you as parents.

Be safe this Halloween and enjoy the holiday.

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August 17, 2021

Your Guide to Divorce Mediation in Utah

Are you considering getting divorced in Utah, or have you already started the process? If so, the thought of entering mediation to help you and your spouse resolve your disputes may have crossed your mind. When you think about mediation, you may be intimidated. It is easy to be uncertain about the unknown. Many residents of Salt Lake City and elsewhere in Utah are not familiar with the mediation process. Learning more about mediation can help you understand how you can use this process for your benefit during the divorce process.

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A Guide to Legal Separation in Utah

Getting divorced in Utah results in the legal end of a marriage. If you are not sure you would like to end your marriage, getting legally separated could be a beneficial alternative. The process of legal separation will not end your marriage. Instead, it puts your marriage on hold temporarily, giving you time to decide what steps you would like to take. 

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July 28, 2021

The Divorce Process in Utah: A Complete Guide

Going through a divorce can be one of the most challenging periods in a person’s life. If you are considering filing for divorce, or you have been served with a divorce petition, learning more about the divorce process can help you best prepare for the road ahead. The experienced Utah divorce lawyers at Read & Read have written this step-by-step guide to getting divorced in Utah to help remove some of the anxiety and confusion surrounding divorce. If you have questions about your divorce, or you would like to know more about how we can represent your best interests, contact our Salt Lake City divorce law firm today to schedule an initial consultation.

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Is Utah a No-Fault Divorce State?

Are you considering filing for divorce in Utah, but you are not sure where to start? Before you file for divorce in Utah, you will need to meet two basic requirements. First, you must have been a state resident of Utah for at least three months. Additionally, you will need to decide whether you will file for a fault-based divorce or a no-fault divorce. A fault-based divorce points out a specific grounds or problem within the marriage that is the cause of the divorce, such as adultery. On the other hand, a no-fault divorce involves a general breakdown of the marriage, stated as irreconcilable differences.

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