Q. How long does it take before a divorce is finalized?
A. Most divorces take at least 90 days to finalize, although this period may be shorter or longer depending upon a variety of factors, such as whether the divorce is contested or uncontested and whether there are any children of the marriage or not. In a contested divorce, more complicated or high-conflict issues generally take longer to resolve. An uncontested divorce can become effective as soon as the papers are filed with the court, except that if there are children between the spouses, then they must also complete a required divorce education course before divorce is official.
If you are planning on marrying another person as soon as your divorce is final, make sure that the divorce is complete before entering into the new marriage. Otherwise, your subsequent marriage may be void and subject to annulment.
Q. Can the court let the child decide who to live with?
A. It is up to the judge whether or not to ask the children what their preferences are regarding where they live or with which parent. Even if the child is asked, the judge is not bound to follow the child’s desires, but instead considers this choice as one of many factors which will influence the custody determination. In general, the older the child is, the more likely he or she is to be asked for his or her opinion, and the more weight such opinion is likely to carry with the court.
Q. Can a prenuptial agreement be used to deny alimony to a spouse in the event of a divorce?
A. Yes. A prenuptial agreement can be used to require alimony of a certain amount for a certain length of time, or it could be used to state that no alimony will be granted at all. However, a provision in a prenuptial agreement eliminating spousal support can be ignored by a judge in divorce court if one spouse might otherwise have to go on welfare. In this situation, the judge may ignore the prenup and make an alimony award anyway.
Q. Can spouses enter into any type of agreement after they are already married?
A. Yes, Utah law recognizes the right of spouses to enter into a post-nuptial or post-marital agreement on the same terms as a prenuptial agreement. A martial agreement can establish rights to alimony and the division of property, the payment of death benefits under a life insurance policy, and other matters, in the event of divorce or death of one of the spouses. A marital agreement may be helpful in the event of death, but it is generally not an effective substitute for comprehensive estate planning. The attorneys at Nelson, Taylor & Associates provide comprehensive family law services as well as estate planning and other legal needs of families in the Salt Lake City area.