Top 10 Mistakes to Avoid in Your Divorce Case

Here are the top 10 mistakes you absolutely must avoid when you are in a divorce case.

Becoming a Financial Victim

The biggest mistake divorcing spouses can make is being in the dark about finances. If your spouse has always handled all of the financial decisions in your household and you don’t have any information about you and your spouse’s income and assets, your spouse will have an unfair advantage over you when it comes time to settle the financial issues in your divorce.

Top 10 Mistakes to Avoid in Your Divorce Case

If you suspect your spouse is planning a divorce, get as much information as you can now. Make copies of important financial records such as account statements (eg., savings, brokerage, and retirement) and all other data that relates to your marital lifestyle (eg., checking accounts, charge card statements, tax returns).

If you believe your spouse may liquidate (sell or transfer to cash) assets or retitle marital assets without your consent, notify the holder of the asset or property in writing and get a restraining order from the court. Watch out for any cash held in joint checking and brokerage accounts, and the cash value of life insurance policies. If your spouse uses or moves assets without your knowledge, you may have to hire legal and forensic accounting experts to help you locate and value the assets.

Not Considering Mediation

If you and your spouse can work together to reach a fair settlement on most or all of the issues in your divorce (eg., child custody, child support, alimony, and property division), choosing mediation to resolve your divorce case may save thousands of dollars in legal fees and emotional aggravation. The mediation process involves a neutral third-party mediator (an experienced family law attorney trained in mediation) that meets with the divorcing couple and helps them reach an agreement on the issues in their divorce. Mediation is completely voluntary; the mediator will not act as a judge, or insist on any particular outcome or agreement.

Mediation also provides divorcing couples a lot of flexibility, in terms of making their own decisions about what works best for their family, compared with the traditional adversarial legal process, which involves a court trial where a judge makes all the decisions.

Mediation, however, is not appropriate for all couples. For example, if one spouse is hiding assets or income, and refuses to come clean, you may have to head to court where a judge can order your spouse to comply. Or, if one spouse is unwilling to compromise, mediation probably won’t work.

Hiring a Combative Lawyer to Punish Your Spouse

This is a very bad idea for two reasons. First, except in extremely egregious cases, most courts won’t punish your spouse financially for being a bad person.

Second, hiring an attorney to punish your spouse will cost you because your attorney will need to increase the number of hours spent on your case. Increased attorney hours means higher divorce costs, and higher divorce costs means there will be fewer assets and cash left for you and your family. Try to take the emotion out of your divorce, and treat your case as a business arrangement. The best revenge is to live well after the divorce is over.

Failing to Recognize Your Common Enemy – the I.R.S.

Work together with a divorce financial planner or tax accountant to minimize the total taxes you and your spouse will pay during separation and after divorce; you can share the money you save. Don’t forget that both spouses are liable for taxes due as a result of audits on joint returns, so it’s usually in your best interest to work together and minimize possible liabilities. If you’re facing complicated tax issues in your divorce, it’s best to consult with an experienced family law attorney and an accountant.

Not Producing an Accurate Budget

Divorcing spouses usually underestimate living expenses when they produce their initial budget for temporary alimony (also referred to as “maintenance”), and later find that they aren’t able to cover all of their bills. Use a financial professional to help you produce an accurate and complete budget.

Disregarding the Impact of Taxes in a Divorce Settlement

It’s important to remember that after the divorce is final, you may get taxed on the marital assets you received through your settlement. Say your spouse handles all the investments and offers to split them 50/50. Sounds good, right? The only way to know if you’re getting a fair deal is to determine the value of the investments on an after-tax basis, then decide if you like the deal. Again, you should speak with a tax professional about the impact of any proposed property divisionbefore you agree to it.

Failure to Evaluate Settlement Proposals

If you’re trying to decide whether your spouse’s proposed divorce settlement is fair and workable, you should try to figure out how the settlement will impact your finances in the years ahead. There are many factors to consider, including assets, incomes, living expenses, inflation, alimony, child support, taxes, retirement plans, investments, medical expenses and health insurance costs, and child-related expenses such as education.

There are specialized divorce computer models that produce comprehensive and realistic analyses of your post-divorce lifestyle. You should speak with a local divorce attorney or financial planner that specializes in divorce for help analyzing any proposed financial settlement.

Being Emotionally Attached to Assets in Divorce Negotiations

The marital residence, the pension you earned, a painting purchased during your marriage – these assets often bring an emotionally charged debate to divorce negotiations, which can impair good decision-making. Often, divorcing spouses that are attached to the family home don’t realize that they can’t really afford. Yet, they fight tooth and nail to keep it, sometimes at the expense of retirement planning.

However, the real estate market crash has made it abundantly clear that homes have a very low return on investment and, in some cases, have a negative return; many houses today are still underwater, and couples have had to walk away from their homes and the hard-earned money they invested.

In addition, a home is a major cash expense (eg., mortgage payments, property taxes, repairs, and utilities). Let go of any emotional attachments you may have. During your divorce and settlement negotiations, your main focus should always be on how to maximize your finances by making sure you’ll have enough cash for living expenses after your divorce and in retirement.

Over-using Your Divorce Lawyer

Divorce attorneys generally charge $200- $300 per hour, and partners in well-known New York City, Los Angeles, and San Francisco family law firms typically charge $450 per hour. These attorneys can provide advice on divorce-related issues, but they are not therapists or certified financial planners. If you need to talk through the emotional aspects of your divorce, or need career counseling or financial analysis, save money on additional attorney’s fees and be sure to talk to the right professionals, such as a licensed therapist, vocational expert, or a financial planner.

Beware of Settlement Offers That Look Too Good

Both spouses and children must make compromises in their life styles post-divorce. A settlement that does not give one spouse enough money to live on is likely to go into default in the future. Be fair, but verify the numbers. Get payments up front whenever possible, even if you get less in total. Try to secure all payments with assets and insurance. It may be worth speaking to a family law attorney who can review a settlement offer and make sure your rights are fully protected.

Disregarding the Long Term Impact of Inflation

The effects of inflation on the cost of a child’s college education, or on retirement, 15 years in the future can be dramatic. The “Rule of 72” is a simple way to judge the impact of inflation. For example, if the inflation rate is 3%, the “Rule of 72” means that prices will double in 24 years (72/3=24). College costs at 5% inflation will double in 14.4 years (72/5=14.4). Be sure to work inflation into your settlement negotiations so you can cover the true costs of future financial expenses.

Failing to Consider Your Spouse’s Eligibility for Social Security Benefits

If a couple is married for 10 years or longer, a non-working or lower-earning spouse is entitled to derivative social security benefits on the higher earning spouse’s (“worker spouse”) record. These derivative benefits do not impact or lower the worker spouse’s social security payments, which is why it’s so ironic that the average length of marriage for people who get divorced is about nine and a half years. Waiting just another six months may guarantee increased retirement options with no reduction in payments.

Forgetting to Update Estate Documents

After divorce, many people forget to change the beneficiaries on their life insurance policies, IRAs, and will(s), so the estates they wanted to leave to their children, new partner, or favorite charity may go instead to their ex-spouse. If you’re going through a divorce, talk to a family law attorney to find out what changes you can make to your estate plan during and/or post-divorce.

Failure to Adequately Insure the Divorce Settlement

Your ex-spouse’s premature death or disability can be devastating and may result in a loss of alimony, child support, college tuition, or property settlement payments. Life and disability insurance policies can guarantee that these payments will continue despite an unexpected loss or injury.

Failure to Develop a Post-Divorce Financial Plan

One indisputable fact of divorce is that two households cost more to operate than one. Many divorcing spouses fail to realize that their divorce settlement must last a significant amount of time: perhaps even the rest of their lives. Financial planning can help people transition from a married to single lifestyle by prioritizing financial goals, developing realistic expectations, and producing sound plans for the assignment and division of financial resources.

Free Consultation with a Divorce Lawyer in Utah

If you have a question about divorce law or if you need to start or defend against a divorce case in Utah call Ascent Law at (801) 676-5506. We will help you.

Michael R. Anderson, JD

Ascent Law LLC
8833 S. Redwood Road, Suite C
West Jordan, Utah
84088 United States

Telephone: (801) 676-5506

from Best Utah Attorneys https://bestutahattorneys.tumblr.com/post/175004919624

Advertisements

Revocable Living Trusts

If you’re like a lot of people, you’ve probably spent more time planning your next vacation than deciding how to transfer your estate. But without proper estate planning, much of what you worked for during your lifetime could be distributed to unintended beneficiaries or lost to unnecessary complications.

Revocable Living Trusts

A revocable living trust is a popular estate planning tool that lets you control how your property is handled during your life and after death. It also helps avoid probate and transfers your property quickly and privately.

The trust is a legal document that partially replaces a will. You transfer assets, such as your house, bank accounts, or stocks, into the trust’s name. A trustee, usually you or someone you have confidence in, manages the property for the benefit of you or your family. It’s called a living trust because it’s created when you are alive. And since it’s revocable, you can change or cancel the trust at any time before your death.

Benefits and Limitations of a Living Trusts

Creating a trust is a personal decision based on your own unique circumstances. A living trust has many benefits, but it may not do everything you need. Let’s look at what a revocable living trust can and can’t do for you:

Benefits of a Living Trust

  • Provide for You During Incapacity: A properly executed living trust can take care of you if you become unable to care for yourself. This avoids the delay or a court-ordered guardianship. This feature highlights the importance of adequately funding your trust when its set up. Be sure to name an alternate trustee to manage the trust if you become unable to care for yourself.
  • Avoid Probate: Probate is a legal process that transfers property after a person’s death. By transferring legal title to the trust, the property is no longer part of your estate. It’s already been transferred.
  • Protect Privacy: There’s typically no public record required, unlike with a will. Be aware, if property is placed in the trust after your death, then there may appear in a public record.
  • Greater Control: If you want to leave assets to a child or someone who may have trouble managing money, a living trust gives you control over the manner and timing of payments. For example, you can leave money to your 12-year-old grand-daughter to pay for college or to help with a down-payment on her first house.
  • Easy to Create and Change: For most simple estates, a living trust has fewer legal formalities than a will, making it easier to create and change. Each state controls the rules for living trusts, so research your local trust laws.
  • Hold Property from Other States: If you own property in other states, a living trust will protect your heirs from needing to administer out-of-state probate procedures.

Limitations of a Living Trust

  • Immediate Tax Benefit: Since you retain the right to use and enjoy the property, in the eyes of tax authorities, it remains your taxable property. If you receive income from the trust, you must report the income on your tax return.
  • Cost Savings: Revocable Living trusts can be expensive to set up, plus there are annual maintenance fees. There may be some cost savings by eliminating probate costs and other incidental fees.
  • No Creditor Protection: You create a trust to keep control over the distribution of your property. Although some trusts can protect your assets from creditors, a revocable living trust cannot. Since this is a revocable trust, you can terminate it at will. So a creditor can force the termination to get the assets.

Start on Your Living Trust Now

In some circumstances, it may be possible for you draft a revocable trust on your own. Make a document stating the trust is created to hold property for the benefit of yourself or someone you specify. You can name yourself as the trustee, but be sure to select an alternate trustee.

Next, list the assets being placed in the trust. Remember, the trust becomes the owner of the property you transfer. That’s why you must change the name on the title to that of the trust. Rest assured, you keep the right to manage your property in a living trust, even if you’re not the trustee. You have the right to change the terms of the trust, remove the trustee, or the property, at any time.

When you’re finished writing your trust, sign it and have it notarized. You can fund your trust using a deed or standard transfer document to transfer the property into the trustee’s name, per the trust’s terms. It’s important to understand the laws in your state to properly form and fund your trust. Errors can make your trust invalid and without any legal effect. If you have any concerns, consult with a lawyer or other estate planning professional.

Free Consultation with an Estate Planning Lawyer

If you are here, you may need help with an estate plan. If so, please call Ascent Law for your free estate law consultation (801) 676-5506. We want to help you.

Michael R. Anderson, JD

Ascent Law LLC
8833 S. Redwood Road, Suite C
West Jordan, Utah
84088 United States

Telephone: (801) 676-5506

from Best Utah Attorneys https://bestutahattorneys.tumblr.com/post/174995254814

Divorce with Debts

Everyone seems to understand that divorce involves the division of marital property and assets.

However, over the years, I have found that many people fail to fully appreciate that divorce involves the division of debt, as well.

Divorce with Debts

Ironically, debt is typically cited as one of the top reasons couples split up. But, getting divorced doesn’t make those troublesome debt problems “magically” disappear. In fact, it’s exactly the opposite. Just as debt can often play a major role in the failure of a marriage, it can also play a major role in adding stress and contention to divorce proceedings.

What can you do minimize nasty debt headaches during your divorce? My best advice is to be prepared. Educate yourself about debt, in a broad sense. Then, gather all the relevant data about your specific case.  You’ll want to collect credit card bills, information from your mortgage/home equity/auto loan accounts, etc. and learn all you can about what you and your spouse owe.

In addition, here are a few tips to help you better understand how to handle dividing debt in your divorce:

  1. Where you live impacts how debt will be divided.Divorce laws differ from state to state, and how your debt will be divided depends largely on where you live and whether you live in a Community Property State or an Equitable Distribution State.

There are nine Community Property States: Arizona, California, Idaho, Louisiana, Nevada, New Mexico, Texas, Washington and Wisconsin. Couples living in Alaska can “opt in” for community property, and Puerto Rico is a community property jurisdiction.

The remaining 41 states are known as Equitable Distribution States (or Common Law States). Utah is one of these. In Utah, the court will try to either split the debt in half or perhaps do some creative offsets; but most of the time, if the debt was for and in behalf of the “marital estate”; then, the debt will be divided by both parties.

(An earlier post discusses the differences between Community Property States and Equitable Distribution States in more detail.)

In general terms, if you live in an Equitable Distribution State, debt that’s incurred during a marriage is the joint responsibility of both parties, provided both parties are co-signers on the account (mortgage, credit card, etc.). In other words, if your husband opened a credit card account in his name only, then only he is responsible for that debt.

In Community Property States, both spouses are responsible, even if only one incurred the debt.

Of course, once you and your husband have separated, the rules change. Any debt incurred after you separate is the sole responsibility of the person who made the charges. The wrinkle here is that “the moment of separation” varies from state to state. In some states, you need to legally declare a separation. In others, a legal separation is not required; you’re separated once you start living apart.

  1. It’s often best to eliminate shared debt.Our firmusually advises women to eliminate shared debt before the divorce is final. Naturally, that may mean you need to use marital assets to jointly pay off what you owe –but, usually that’s a worthwhile step, if it means you can begin your single life with a fresh start. Alternatively, some couples decide to divide and transfer their debts, so that each person is individually responsible only for his or her portion.

Either way, the goal is to separate your finances (and any remaining debt) from your husband’s finances (and any of his remaining debt).  As a result, you’ll remove your liability for what he owes.

If possible, you’ll also want to close joint credit cards and eliminate your husband as an authorized used on any credit cards in your name. Remember: Credit card companies and other third party agents are notbound by divorce agreements.  It may sound harsh, but if your names are both on a credit card account, the credit card company can hold you responsible if your ex rings up a balance and then decides not to pay.

One word of caution here:  New federal regulations are making it harder than ever for women with little or no income to establish credit on their own. You’ll need to proceed with caution as you set out to establish credit in your own name … Which brings up my third point …

  1. Protect your credit.Once you have: a) established control of your own debt and b) separated your liability from your husband’s debt, it’s time to turn the page and begin a new chapter. You’ll need to establish credit in your own name –and then, once that credit is established, you’ll need to work hard to protect it. Start slowly and proceed with caution, keeping a careful watch on credit card balances, debit and ATM cards, etc.

A good first step should be to create a budget that will allow you to maintain your lifestyle, pay off any remaining debt and increase your savings. A divorce financial planner can help you determine how to manage your assets and which adjustments are necessary for continued financial stability.

Free Consultation with Divorce Lawyer in Utah

If you have a question about divorce law or if you need to start or defend against a divorce case in Utah call Ascent Law at (801) 676-5506. We will fhelp you.

Michael R. Anderson, JD

Ascent Law LLC
8833 S. Redwood Road, Suite C
West Jordan, Utah
84088 United States

Telephone: (801) 676-5506

from Best Utah Attorneys https://bestutahattorneys.tumblr.com/post/174971912554

Getting Guardianship of Your Aging Parent

You should begin gathering documents right from the first moment you consider taking on the role of a guardian. Guardianship is necessarily a very document and detail-heavy endeavor, because you are taking legal responsibility for the welfare of another human being. Guardians work very closely with the courts in their county or state, and documents are crucial to create a record of the guardianship.

Getting Guardianship of Your Aging Parent

Preserving All Guardianship Documents

Whether you’re the guardian of an elderly relative, a child, or someone otherwise unable to make their own legal decisions, you are responsible for the management and safety of that person’s assets. As such, you need to gather every document relevant to the management of these assets. Think about your duties and which documents may contain information pertaining to each duty, such as:

  • Documents about medical care or treatment, particularly invoices and insurance information
  • Receipts reflecting the purchase of necessities such as food, clothes, cars, household items, and other personal items
  • Invoices showing educational costs
  • Investment and financial statements
  • Banking statements and check ledgers
  • Legal documents pertaining to your guardianship and to any lawsuits the ward may be party to
  • Wills, trusts, or any other documents regarding any inherited assets of the ward
  • Documents showing ownership and valuation of property held by the guardianship estate
  • Previous guardianship inventories, accountings, and appraisals prepared for the court

Utah Guardianship Laws

A legal guardian must follow the applicable guardianship laws of the state, which are typically found in the state’s probate code. You have many options for assistance. First, the National Guardianship Association is a good resource, especially if you and your intended ward reside in different states. If you reside in the same state, you can begin by contacting the local family court of your county and consulting with the court clerk. The clerk can provide you with some preliminary information and guide you to the appropriate court, depending upon the nature of your guardianship. For example, in California if you are the guardian of a minor you may be subject to both the rules of the Probate Court and the Juvenile Court.

Many states have created their own guardianship assistance division, such as New York’s Guardian Assistance Network, the Guardianship Association of New Jersey, and the Illinois Guardianship and Advocacy Commission. In Utah, guardian training is provided online and you must pass the Utah Guardian Pre-appointment Test before you can apply to be a guardian.  You should make sure you speak with a Guardianship lawyer or probate attorney to help you.

You can refer to the probate code of your state, but an attorney with experience in guardianships will be best able to assist you in clearly understanding your legal responsibilities and their proper execution.

Making a Checklist of Documents

You may find the checklist below helpful in creating your own personal document checklist.

_____Power of Attorney

_____Living Will

_____Guardianship Papers

_____Trust Documents

_____Deeds

_____Land Grants

_____Water Rights

_____Mortgages

_____Leases

_____Bonds

_____Loans

_____Contracts

_____Tax Notices

_____Abstracts of Title

_____Vehicle Titles

_____Bank Statements

_____Pass Books

_____Checkbook Registers

_____Mutual Fund Statements

_____IRA Statements

_____Stock Certificates

_____Canceled Checks

_____Bills

_____Receipts

_____Check Stubs

_____Social Security Documents

_____Retirement Papers

_____Pension Documents

_____Income Tax Returns

_____Will

Free Initial Consultation with Lawyer

It’s not a matter of if, it’s a matter of when. Legal problems come to everyone. Whether it’s your son who gets in a car wreck, your uncle who loses his job and needs to file for bankruptcy, your sister’s brother who’s getting divorced, or a grandparent that passes away without a will -all of us have legal issues and questions that arise. So when you have a legal matter, call Ascent Law for your free consultation (801) 676-5506. We want to help you.

Michael R. Anderson, JD

Ascent Law LLC
8833 S. Redwood Road, Suite C
West Jordan, Utah
84088 United States

Telephone: (801) 676-5506

from Best Utah Attorneys https://bestutahattorneys.tumblr.com/post/174962490519

West Jordan Lawyer

West Jordan Lawyer

Driverless cars, the pinnacle of automotive innovation and the potential future of safe driving, have recently proven to be anything but: according to a study from the University of Michigan’s Transportation Research Institute in Ann Arbor, auto accident rates are twice as high for driverless cars as they are for your average error-prone human driver.

With rates like that, any self-driving car owner can expect to pay a number of visits to her lawyer, if the car doesn’t crash itself along the way.

SHOULD DRIVERLESS CARS OBEY ALL TRAFFIC LAWS WITHOUT EXCEPTION?

What’s causing this auto accident discrepancy? After all, anyone would think human drivers in the kind of rush-hour traffic that backs up miles outside West Jordan, Utah would have a harder time navigating the highway than a cool, calculating robot.

The catch? Self-driving cars are programmed to obey all traffic laws, regardless of the situation. So whether it’s merging onto high-speed traffic on the highway or rolling into a four-way intersection in Farmington, a self-driving car makes no concessions.

Human drivers, meanwhile, bend the rules of traffic law with abandon. Most drivers are guilty of rolling through the occasional stop sign, speeding through that yellow light or driving “with the flow of traffic” on the highway—even if traffic’s running 15 over the speed limit.

Lawyer in Utah

As West Jordan Utah attorneys, we practice in several areas of law including divorce, real estate, bankruptcy, business law, child custody, child support, adoption law and other areas.

In the interest of preventing an auto accident and a subsequent trip to the local personal injury lawyer, should self-driving cars bend to the will of human error?

It’s a sticky situation, to be sure. If Google programs its cars to disobey traffic laws, the next question is: how much? If self-driving cars start deliberately breaking the law, the search engine giant will be sure to face an onslaught of government and lawyer inquiries.

In the meantime, Google is working to program its cars to be more “aggressive” while still adhering to all traffic laws. Driving is a complex social practice, whether you’re driving on the interstate or around the shops of downtown West Jordan.

For driverless cars, the game is still very much a human one, law breaking and all.

NEW BILL PASSES REMOVING ALL PROTECTIONS AGAINST CONTAMINATED WATER

In order to survive, it’s widely assumed that food, shelter, clothing and water are needed. Regardless of whether you’re currently taking up residence in West Jordan, Utah or another location in our beautiful home state, more than likely, the basic necessities of life aren’t hard to come by. That being said, even with fresh running water being made readily available to most Americans, water contamination still occurs.

For example, in the United States, coal is often burned to produce enough electricity to keep cities up and running. However, when such a practice takes place, ash is produced as waste. Said ash, unfortunately, can potentially makes its way as a toxic substance into precious municipal water sources, causing incidents of wrongful death to come about. In such a situation, a lawyer might very well be needed.

Recently, as a way of addressing such terrible happenings, the Federal Government inefficiently took action and passed a bill that eliminates many of the actual laws that regulate the containment and monitoring of coal ash. Furthermore, the approved bill also gives states the responsibility of overseeing the processes of coal ash maintenance and disposal. Even worse, the bill mentions nothing of how close coal ash containment locations can be to public water sources.

Free Initial Consultation with Lawyer

It’s not a matter of if, it’s a matter of when. Legal problems come to everyone. Whether it’s your son who gets in a car wreck, your uncle who loses his job and needs to file for bankruptcy, your sister’s brother who’s getting divorced, or a grandparent that passes away without a will -all of us have legal issues and questions that arise. So when you have a law question, call Ascent Law for your free consultation (801) 676-5506. We want to help you!

Michael R. Anderson, JD

Ascent Law LLC
8833 S. Redwood Road, Suite C
West Jordan, Utah
84088 United States

Telephone: (801) 676-5506

from Best Utah Attorneys https://bestutahattorneys.tumblr.com/post/174941432129

Imputed Income for Child Support in Utah

The law is clear that parents have an ongoing obligation to financially support their minor children. Although most parents have no problem with this duty of support, some parents resist what they consider to be excessive child support orders and may intentionally reduce income to lower their support payments.

Imputed Income for Child Support in Utah

The law has specific rules for situations where paying parents reduce their earnings without good cause. In Utah, the courts may add back into the child support calculation the income that the paying parent claims to have lost. This concept is known as “imputing income.”

This article addresses how Utah courts impute income when the paying parent is falsely lowering her or his earnings. If you have questions after reading this article, you should contact an experienced family law attorney in your area.

Establishing a Child Support Order

Utah law states specifically that children are entitled to share in the current incomes of both parents. State law uses a formula to determine how much child support should be paid by one parent to the other parent. For more detailed information about the child support law in Utah.

The Meaning of Imputed Income

If a judge rules that the parent who is responsible for paying child support (the paying parent) has intentionally lowered his or her earnings, the court can attribute additional income toward the paying parent in order to establish a fair child support order – one that will provide sufficient financial support to the child. This is called “imputing income.”

Courts won’t impute income when there is good cause for a reduction in support. However, when judges find that a parent has voluntarily reduced income, then the paying parent will likely be ordered to pay support based on his or her earning capacity.

Voluntary Unemployment

Some parents may think their child support payment is too high or feel that they should not have to pay any child support at all. They may try to find ways to avoid their obligation to their children. Some paying parents may decide to quit a job, refuse to find replacement work, and then ask the court to reduce their child support payment. In Utah, if a court determines that the paying parent lost a job deliberately, he or she will be considered voluntarily unemployed, and the judge will not reduce the child support order.

Voluntary Underemployment

The term “underemployment” means that the paying parent has intentionally taken a lower paying job or hides income to lessen the child support order. In other words, the paying parent is working below his or her full earning potential.

A paying parent may be underemployed when he or she is no longer working in an occupation for which she or he has been trained and is working at a lower paying job. For example, a registered nurse may decide to leave a lucrative hospital job and take a minimum wage job in a daycare. The court could rule that the nurse is underemployed and should be earning more money.

The paying parent doesn’t necessarily have to be deliberate in trying to lose or lower income. Utah law holds that if the paying parent’s loss of earnings is due to neglect, income can be imputed.

A court could also find a paying parent to be underemployed if the paying parent defers taking sales commissions or bonuses. For example, right before a scheduled child support hearing, the paying parent defers taking a year-end bonus by asking his or her employer to pay the bonus at a later time. The intention is to keep the bonus hidden, so it’s not used to calculate child support. If it’s proven that this was the paying parent’s ploy, the judge may impute or add the bonus back into the calculation.

How Courts Calculate Imputed Income

In child support cases, Utah law requires that both parents provide their most recent income tax returns and written proof of their current and past earnings. The judge has this information available for reference to see what the paying parent was earning in the past and base child support on that amount, rather than the artificially reduced amount of income.

When the paying parent has no significant work history or fails to provide his or her income history, the judge may refer to the most recently published Utah Occupational Employment Wage Survey. The judge will draw on this information to establish what the paying parent’s imputed income should be.

Utah law has special statutes that focus on business owners who may try to use the business to hide income. If the business owner is lending the business money to minimize his or her earnings, the loan interest should be at the going market rate. Otherwise, the loan amount could be counted as income for child support calculation purposes.

When Imputing Income is not Allowed

There are some cases where courts are prohibited from imputing income. If the paying parent becomes physically or mentally disabled or has had employment losses due to Hurricanes Katrina or Rita, the court cannot find that the paying parent is voluntarily unemployed or underemployed.

In addition if one parent is caring for the parties’ child who is under five years of age, the court will not attribute income to that parent.

Free Consultation with a Child Support Lawyer in Utah

If you have a question about child support or if you need to collect back child support, please call Ascent Law at (801) 676-5506. We will help you.

Michael R. Anderson, JD

Ascent Law LLC
8833 S. Redwood Road, Suite C
West Jordan, Utah
84088 United States

Telephone: (801) 676-5506

from Best Utah Attorneys https://bestutahattorneys.tumblr.com/post/174932330789

Can Bankruptcy Help Creditors?

Yes. In some situations, not in all situations.

Can Bankruptcy Help Creditors

The appointment of a receiver over a borrower’s assets is a powerful tool for the secured creditor when included as a default provision in a well-crafted loan document. Pursuant to Utah law, a receiver “protects and preserves the property” serving as the creditor’s collateral. The law effectively gives the receiver control over the debtor’s property and allows the secured creditor, which sought the appointment, to obtain information regarding the day-to-day usage of its collateral and ensures that payment of net cash flow from the property will be paid to the lender.

Often the borrower will seek to regain control of its business by filing a Chapter 11 bankruptcy petition. The Bankruptcy Code sets forth certain duties and rights for the receiver as a custodian of the debtor’s property once the bankruptcy petition is filed. The Code also creates a procedure for the bankruptcy court to determine whether the receiver should turn over the property to the debtor or continue in “possession, custody or control of the property.”

WHEN A DEBTOR TURNS TO BANKRUPTCY, A SECURED CREDITOR CAN USE THE BANKRUPTCY CODE AND MAY GET RELIEF

The Bankruptcy Code makes it clear that once a receiver learns of the bankruptcy case, the receiver is obligated to stop administering the debtor’s property, except to the extent necessary to preserve that property.1Thus, once the bankruptcy petition is filed, the receiver generally has an affirmative duty to return control of the business to the defaulting debtor.

Despite this general requirement mandating the receiver turn over the property to the debtor, the secured creditor may file a motion to allow the receiver to maintain control over the property serving as its collateral. This motion is typically styled as a Motion for Excusal of Turnover by the Receiver.

After reviewing the Motion for Excusal of Turnover by the Receiver and, perhaps, taking evidence, the bankruptcy court will decide whether the interests of the creditors will be better served by leaving the receiver in possession and control of the debtor’s property. In addition, in the rare case in which the debtor is solvent, the bankruptcy court will consider whether the interests of the owners would be better served by permitting the receiver to remain in place.

Therefore, if the creditor is successful in getting a receiver appointed, but the borrower files bankruptcy and tries to regain control of the business and the collateral, the Bankruptcy Code provides a legal basis for the creditor to take prompt action in order to maintain the receiver’s control of the collateral. With this in mind, the Motion for Excusal of Turnover by the Receiver should be filed as quickly as possible after the bankruptcy petition is filed setting forth the reasons the creditors will be better served by the receiver’s continued possession and control of the debtor’s property serving as the collateral.

Our firm has been successful, recently, on several occasions in obtaining these orders protecting the rights and property of lenders in bankruptcy cases. These actions helped provide the lenders with a more positive outcome to the entire bankruptcy case.

Free Consultation with Bankruptcy Lawyer

If you have a bankruptcy question, or need to file a bankruptcy case, call Ascent Law now at (801) 676-5506. Attorneys in our office have many years of experience in bankruptcy law. We can help you now. Come in or call in for your free initial consultation.

Michael R. Anderson, JD

Ascent Law LLC
8833 S. Redwood Road, Suite C
West Jordan, Utah
84088 United States

Telephone: (801) 676-5506

from Best Utah Attorneys https://bestutahattorneys.tumblr.com/post/174910998709

Move Out of the Family House?

Move Out of the Family House

If you’re going through a divorce in Utah, you may be wondering whether you should move out of the family home before, or during, your divorce case. The answer is it depends. Generally speaking, if child custody, parenting time, or the division of property (including the family home) will be contested issues in the divorce proceeding, you might want to think twice before moving out.

Will Moving Out of the Family Home Impact my Divorce?

The reality is that legal “precedent” (meaning an example or a guide, which will be considered later by a judge) is set when one spouse moves out. If one spouse has already moved out, and the new living arrangements seem to be working fine, Judges may not want to disrupt the status quo. The spouse that stayed in the house with the kids may argue that another move would cause too much disruption for the children, so things should just stay as they are, with the spouse who already moved out, staying out.

These arguments don’t always carry the day, but judges will often consider them. If custody is an issue or you really want to keep the house, try to stay put until the “temporary relief hearing,” which is your first opportunity to get in front of a judge and explain why you should stay.

If you need to move out of the home immediately because of an abusive or otherwise unlivable situation for you, or the children, consider the following:

If you’re being abused, get help.

Domestic violence is a serious problem. If you, or your children, are being abused, you should get help immediately. Contact the local police department and/or an attorney that can advise you of your rights. Most police departments have units dedicated to assisting victims of abuse, and domestic violence charges often have a major impact on divorce cases. You should be fully informed on how to protect yourself and your children.

If custody is an issue, be careful.

If you move out and leave the children with your spouse, you’re implying (by your actions) that the other parent can provide a safe home for your children.

If you want to take the children with you, but your spouse won’t agree to it, you must go to court and get permission from a judge before you do so, or you may be charged with kidnapping.

If you do move out without the kids, make sure that you continue to spend significant amounts of time with them so you don’t risk limiting your parenting time later. If you fail to keep continuing contact with your children, your spouse may try to argue that you abandoned the children and therefore, lost the right to spend time with them.

If you take any property with you, be sure to inventory it.

Take videos or still photos of everything you take with you. It’s fine to take your own personal property, clothing, and jewelry, but be careful about taking jointly-owned property, or anything that will disrupt the household, such as appliances, electronics, or furniture.

If you leave without much, make an inventory of everything in the house before you go. In addition to photos and/or videos, create a list of items, with their locations and your best estimate of current values.

Later on, if you and your spouse get into a dispute about marital property, your photos and lists may serve as evidence of what existed at the time of separation. Organizing the information about your property in this manner can also help make the division easier.

Finally, you may want to let your spouse know about your inventory of property. This should discourage your spouse from “misplacing” any important items.

Free Consultation with a Divorce Lawyer in Utah

If you have a question about divorce law or if you need to start or defend against a divorce case in Utah call Ascent Law at (801) 676-5506. We will help you.

Michael R. Anderson, JD

Ascent Law LLC
8833 S. Redwood Road, Suite C
West Jordan, Utah
84088 United States

Telephone: (801) 676-5506

from Best Utah Attorneys https://bestutahattorneys.tumblr.com/post/174901295389

Fraudulent Conveyance Explained

We spend a lot of time thinking about and writing about fraudulent conveyances here.  That’s because a fraudulent conveyance can totally defeat an asset protection plan, no matter how good your asset protection attorney may be.  Laws regarding fraudulent conveyances make certain types of transfers wrongful.  One type of transfer that is prohibited is a transfer made within a certain period of time before a claim is made or while a claim is pending.  What is a claim?  Claims take many forms.  Claims can be lawsuits, demand letters, or even accidents where an injured person has yet to contact the person at fault.

Fraudulent Conveyance Explained

Let’s look at an example.  Consider an oral surgeon or dentist (“doctor”) who is not properly insured and accidentally causes injury to a patient during a surgical procedure.  If the patient sues the doctor, then the doctor’s personal assets are at risk.  The doctor’s personal assets include cash, stocks, bonds, investment properties, and in some cases even items like cars, boats and airplanes.

What we’ve established so far is that a doctor with assets has caused an injury.  Assume that no lawsuit has been filed.  Even though there is not a lawsuit pending, there is a “claim” against the doctor.  The doctor knows that she or he could end up owing money to the patient, and that is enough.  What can the doctor do to protected assets?

The answer is complex.  While the doctor can continue to move money and assets around, if the doctor moves assets to a place where they cannot be reached by the injured patient, then a court can “set aside” those transfers of assets.  The bottom line is that a court can require transferred assets to be given to the injured patient, even if the doctor is no longer legally and technically the owner of the assets.

In other words, once a claim exists, it is too late to protect most assets.  While one can continue moving assets while a claim is pending, it is almost impossible for an asset protection attorney to develop a plan that would make assets immune, at that point.  The moral of the story is that people with assets who are engaged in professional practices (e.g. doctors, dentists, lawyers, real estate developers, etc.) need to engage an asset protection attorney before claims arise.  That is the only way that a plan providing true asset protection can be developed and tailored to meet the needs of specific individuals.

It is true that some assets, in some states, are exempt assets and automatically protected.  But if you are a person with assets that go beyond exempt assets, then you should consider proactively pursuing an asset protection strategy.

What is Funding?

  • Primary and Second Homes (non-rentals)

The first asset you need to consider is your primary residence.  If you live in a state with fantastic homestead protection like Utah, then you don’t need to do anything.  Your home is protected.  Otherwise, you need to provide some protection for your home.  The typical way to do that is to transfer or “deed” your primary residence into your asset protection trust.  The same is true of any second homes that you own but don’t use to generate rental income.

  • Rental Properties

Rental properties are slightly riskier than non-rental properties.  As a result, there needs to be some additional insulation around them in order to protect your other assets.  That additional insulation comes in the form of a limited liability company (a “LLC”).  The funding works as follows:

  1. The LLC is created, and it is owned in the exact same proportions as the rental property to be transferred.
  2. The rental property is deeded into the LLC.
  3. The LLC is transferred into your asset protection limited partnership.

It’s very important that you follow the exact sequence described above, because in some instances it can save you money by avoiding transfer taxes and/or a reassessment for tax purposes (check with your local taxing authority and clerk of court to make sure).

  • Safe Assets

Cash, stocks, bonds, precious metals, and jewelry are all considered “safe assets.”  That’s because they can’t generate liabilities for you.  Think about it like this: Someone can get injured on your rental property.  That’s just not true of your safe assets.  Because of this unique feature, your safe assets can be owned directly by your limited partnership, without the need to insulate those assets with an LLC.

  • Vehicles

Vehicles are very risky assets.  As a result, they should be left outside your plan completely.  Own vehicles in your personal name, and trust that your other assets are safely protected.

Free Consultation with a Lawyer in Utah

If you have a bankruptcy question, or need help with Asset Protection, call Ascent Law now at (801) 676-5506. Attorneys in our office have filed thousands of cases. We can help you now. Come in or call in for your free initial consultation.

Michael R. Anderson, JD

Ascent Law LLC
8833 S. Redwood Road, Suite C
West Jordan, Utah
84088 United States

Telephone: (801) 676-5506

from Best Utah Attorneys https://bestutahattorneys.tumblr.com/post/174880062664

Protect Your Business in Divorce

Get this – 52 percent of all first marriages and 70 percent of second and third marriages end in divorce. Although divorces are always difficult for everyone involved, they can become that much more arduous when one or both spouses own a business.

Your business is probably the most valuable financial asset you own. You’ve spent countless hours and resources nurturing and growing it. But did you know that you might be unwittingly doing things that could put your business at risk in the event of a future divorce?

Protect Your Business in Divorce

Depending on your individual circumstances, your spouse may be entitled to as much as 50 percent of your business in a divorce. Since it’s probably safe to assume that you will not want your ex-spouse to remain in your life as a business partner, what can you do to protect your business?

This article will first explain the basic differences between separate and marital property and then provide you with a number of effective tools that could help protect your business against the possibility of a divorce. We will also discuss several ways to mitigate the damage if you are already heading for divorce.

Before we begin, please keep in mind the following critical piece of advice:

In order to be effective, these protective methods must be in place well before the thought of divorce enters anyone’s mind. Obviously, something like a prenuptial agreement needs to be signed before the wedding (and please not the night before), but techniques such as transfers to an irrevocable trust need to be done years in advance. Depending on your state’s fraudulent transfer laws, transactions can be voided up to seven years after the transfer. If you and/or your spouse are even slightly thinking about divorce, it’s probably too late to take any protective measures.

OK, so let’s begin with the basic differences between separate and marital property.

How to Protect Your Business in a Divorce: Separate vs. Marital Property

Although there are differences from state to state, in general, separate property includes:

  • Property that was owned prior to the marriage
  • An inheritance received by one spouse solely
  • A gift received by one spouse solely from a third party (not from the other spouse)
  • The pain and suffering portion of a personal injury judgment

Warning: Separate property can lose its that status if it is mixed or commingled with marital property or vice versa. For example, if you re-title your separately owned condo by adding your spouse as a co-owner or if you deposit the inheritance from your parents into a joint bank account with your spouse, then that property will most likely now be considered marital property.

All other property that is acquired during the marriage is considered marital property regardless of which spouse owns the property or how it is titled.

Marital property consists of all income and assets acquired by either spouse during the marriage including, but not limited to: Pension plans; 401(k)s, IRAs and other retirement plans; deferred compensation; stock options; restricted stocks and other equity; bonuses; commissions; country club memberships; annuities; life insurance (especially those with cash values); brokerage accounts – mutual funds, stocks, bonds, etc; bank accounts – checking, savings, CDs, etc; closely-held businesses; professional practices and licenses; real estate; limited partnerships; cars, boats, etc; art, antiques; tax refunds.

In many jurisdictions, if your separately owned property increases in value during the marriage, that increase is also considered marital property.

It is also very important for you to know if you reside in a Community Property State or an Equitable Division State. There are nine Community Property States: Arizona, California, Idaho, Louisiana, Nevada, New Mexico, Texas, Washington and Wisconsin. These states consider both spouses as equal owners of all marital property (a 50-50 split is the rule). The remaining 41 states are Equitable-Distribution States, which consider factors such as the length of marriage and the spouse’s earning power and involvement in building the business when determining a settlement. Settlements in Equitable Distribution States do not need to be equal, but they should be fair (equitable).

You should fully understand this very important distinction between separate and marital property so that you do not inadvertently do anything that might cause your separate property to be construed as marital property.

How to Protect Your Business in a Divorce: Prenuptial and Postnuptial Agreements

So what is a prenuptial agreement? A prenuptial agreement (prenup) is a contract signed by both parties before their wedding that details what their property rights and expectations (including alimony) would be upon divorce. A well-drafted prenup can “override” both Community Property and Equitable Distribution State laws and the courts will usually respect such agreements, making them a very powerful tool in protecting your business.

Having said that, prenups can be rather tricky, so it is really important that they are well drafted. To strengthen them, each to-be spouse should be represented by their own attorney. In most jurisdictions prenups should contain the following vital elements:

  • The agreement must be in writing (No oral prenups)
  • It must be executed voluntarily and without coercion (having your fiancé sign a prenup the day before the wedding is a good way to invalidate that prenup)
  • There must be full disclosure (no hiding of assets) – this is another way to invalidate a prenup
  • The agreement cannot be unconscionable (this is also another way to invalidate a prenup). For example, if you’re making millions, don’t expect to get away with only giving up the silverware in the divorce, even if that’s what’s in the prenup.
  • It must be  executed by both parties, preferably in front of witnesses (or a notary)

Some attorneys even recommend having a judge witness the signing to make sure that no party was coerced.

By using a prenuptial agreement, the parties can decide in advanced what property will be considered separate property and what property will be considered marital property and how that marital property should be divided.

A prenup is probably one of the best and least expensive ways of protecting your business against a future divorce.

But if you don’t get a prenup put in place, a postnuptial agreement may be an option. It is similar to a prenuptial agreement except that it is, as the name implies, entered into and signed after marriage. In order to be valid, a postnup should contain the same vital elements as a prenup.

Having said that, a number of states still don’t recognized postnups and even when they do, postnups are challenged and invalidated much more frequently than prenups.

Here’s why: Before marriage, the parties are entering into an agreement much like two business people entering into a contract and neither party has any legal family law rights on the other. Theoretically, if they don’t like the contract, either party can walk away. However after marriage, the situation is very different. The married couple now have very well defined legal rights regarding support and property division and they are considered to be in a fiduciary relationship with each other, meaning each party has to act in the best interests of the other party. Therefore, any transactions between them will be viewed with caution by the courts. By negotiating a postnuptial agreement, one party will typically be giving up some of these rights and that’s why postnups will usually be held to a higher standard of fairness than prenups (on the theory that individuals have less bargaining power once married).

Nevertheless, if you don’t have a prenup, try to get a postnup. It’s better than nothing. Just understand that a postnup is not nearly as ironclad as a prenup and you never know how the courts will act if one spouse decides not to abide by the terms of the postnup.

How to Protect Your Business in a Divorce: Using a Partnership, Shareholder, LLC and/or Buy-Sell Agreements to “Lock-out” Your Spouse.

Partnership, shareholder and/or operating agreements should include various provisions that would protect the interests of the other owners if one of the owners gets divorced, including:

  • A requirement that unmarried shareholders provide the company with a prenup agreement prior to marriage along with a waiver by the owner’s spouse-to-be of his or her future interest in the business.
  • A prohibition against the transfer of shares without the approval of the other partners or shareholders and the right, but not the obligation, of the partners or shareholders to purchase the shares or interest of one or both of the divorcing parties so that the other owners can maintain their control of the business.

How to Protect Your Business in a Divorce: Pay Yourself a Competitive Salary

This point is often overlooked. If you don’t pay yourself a competitive salary and instead reinvest everything back into the business, your soon to be ex-spouse might claim that he or she is entitled to more money or a larger percentage of your business because he or she did not derive any benefit and all your money went back into the business instead of the household.

How to Protect Your Business in a Divorce: Think Twice About Involving Your Spouse in Your Business

As we discussed earlier, all or part of your business will probably be considered marital property. If your spouse was employed by you or your company, helped run the company in any way or even contributed business ideas during your marriage, then he or she may be entitled to a substantial percentage of your business. The more involved in your business your spouse was, the bigger that percentage would be. If you have partners in your business, then your spouse would own a percentage of your share.

How to Protect Your Business in a Divorce: How to “Pay-off” Your Spouse

If for whatever reason you were not able to adequately protect your business and now your spouse is entitled to an ownership interest, here are some ways to pay him or her off (I’m assuming your don’t want to be business partners after the divorce):

  • Use your share of other marital assets including cash, stocks, real estate, retirement funds, etc.
  • Property Settlement Note – this is a long-term payout (with interest) of the amount you owe your ex-spouse for the value of her share of the business.
  • Sell the business and divide the sales price. This is obviously the least preferred method, but all too common. When the business represents the vast majority of all assets, there just may be no other way to pay-off the other spouse.

Free Consultation with Divorce and Business Lawyer in Utah

If you have a question about divorce law or if you need to start or defend against a divorce case in Utah call Ascent Law at (801) 676-5506. We will help you.

Michael R. Anderson, JD

Ascent Law LLC
8833 S. Redwood Road, Suite C
West Jordan, Utah
84088 United States

Telephone: (801) 676-5506

from Best Utah Attorneys https://bestutahattorneys.tumblr.com/post/174870614549