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Salt Lake City Personal Injury Law Blog

Pets, asset division and a Utah divorce

Nearly 1,500 members of the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers were polled recently regarding pets. About 25 percent of those polled have seen a rise in the number of divorce cases involving which party gets custody of the family pet. As these numbers continue to increase, it may be necessary for state laws, including those here in Utah, to treat pets as more than simple asset division in family law.

People here in Utah and across the country treat their pets as members of the family. However, current law considers them to be property just like furniture or a bank account. As such, most courts will not entertain visitation schedules or other traditional custody issues as they do for children. Even so, the courts will hear evidence to determine whether a pet is separate property or marital property.

Utah man is facing charges for DUI-related deaths

The Utah Highway Patrol recently reported a tragedy that befell a family of four on their way out-of-state for the weekend to go camping. As the family headed west on Interstate 80, another vehicle approached from the east in their vehicle's lanes of traffic. The driver in that eastbound car was arrested and is now charged in connection with the alleged DUI-related deaths of three of the four family members in the head-on collision that resulted from the man driving the wrong way.

One person claims to have stopped the man in the vehicle to discuss how he was driving. Other witnesses say the vehicle was erratic and tailgating. After that, the reports allege that the driver used an emergency turn-around to turn east into the westbound lanes. The driver and the man in the family's vehicle survived the crash, but not without suffering injuries. A mother and her two daughters suffered fatal injuries from the impact.

Prenuptial agreement can be thrown out in a Utah divorce

Prenuptial agreements have gained popularity in recent years. They are touted as an amicable agreement between a couple that will protect them both in the event of a divorce and keep any confrontations to a minimum. However, there are some agreements that may be thrown out by the Utah courts for a variety of reasons.

It is not unheard of for one potential spouse to spring a prenuptial agreement on the other just days -- or even the day before -- the wedding is supposed to take place. In these cases, some individuals may sign the agreement even though they are not comfortable with doing so. If the marriage ends in divorce, it could be argued that the party was coerced into signing the prenup, which could make it invalid.

Utah driver accused of driving under the influence of alcohol

Recently, a man leaving a restaurant in a Utah township supposedly lost control of his vehicle, which sent it barreling through the front of another eating establishment in the same business complex. Police were called to the location at approximately 3:43 a.m. When they arrived, they suspected the man behind the wheel of the pickup truck with driving under the influence of alcohol.

The man allegedly driving the truck at the time of the accident was behind the wheel when police arrived. Reportedly, he did not suffer any injuries in the crash. Police took the man into custody at the scene.

Will moving out affect child custody in a Utah divorce?

When a Utah couple with children decides to get divorced, one immediate concern is living arrangements. One spouse may insist that the other move out of the marital home. However, this could potentially have an adverse effect on the spouse that moves out when it comes to child custody.

Not many Utah parents would argue with the fact that one of the hardest fought battles in a divorce is over custody arrangements. Parents love their children and want what is best for them, and that opinion can differ -- especially during a divorce. Therefore, moving out voluntarily could give the court the impression that contact with that parent's children is not a priority.

DUI charges against police officer come as a shock to superiors

A police officer in Utah shocked his superiors by being accused of drinking and driving. Witness statements indicate that a patrol car for the city police department traveled through a local park and hit a retaining wall. The city police officer to whom the patrol car was issued was charged with DUI as a result.

Based on witness statements, local police traced the vehicle back to the home of the officer. It sustained damage consistent with the events as described by people who came forward. Those same people believed that children were in the police cruiser at the time they saw it in the park.

Can a social media prenup curtail revenge in a Utah divorce?

Many Utah residents have heard stories about jilted spouses exacting revenge on each other by posting inappropriate photos to social media sites. As the use of social media sites has increased, so has the need for individuals to protect themselves from derogatory information being used against them or posted about them in a divorce. However, that is not the only way that social media is affecting couples.

Evidence derived from social media has increased drastically in divorce cases in recent years. For example, the other spouse may introduce a photograph of an exotic vacation posted by a party who claims to the court to be broke as evidence that he or she is not hurting financially. Further, photographs of a night out with friends could affect child custody cases.

UHP beefs up DUI patrols during 100 deadliest days of summer

Memorial Day weekend marked the beginning of what the Utah Highway Patrol likes to call the 100 deadliest days of summer. It is estimated from Memorial Day weekend through Labor Day, as many as 96 people will die on the state's roadways. In an effort to reduce that number, extra DUI patrols could become a fixture -- at least during those 100 days.

The Utah Highway Patrol was hoping to be able to report that no one was killed over the Memorial Day holiday, but two people lost their lives in the first four days of the summer season. In addition to drunk driving, authorities are also looking for drivers who are sleepy, speeding or distracted. People could also be ticketed for not wearing their seat belts.

Now, more than ever, parents are awarded joint child custody

Traditionally, divorce courts in Utah and elsewhere awarded sole custody of any minor children to the mother. Fathers were relegated to being "weekend dads" to their children. Fortunately, that bias appears to be waning, as more courts favor joint child custody agreements now than at any other time in our nation's history.

One study indicates that the percentage of mothers receiving sole custody of their children decreased over the last couple of decades, while the number of joint custody awards increased. The number of fathers solely raising their children decreased slightly as well. The study found a distinction between the rise in equal parenting time and unequal -- but joint -- parenting time. The percentage of parents sharing equal joint custody rose faster than those parents with unequal joint custody.

Social Security and Utah divorce -- is an ex-spouse eligible?

Couples in Utah who are divorcing have numerous issues to resolve before they go their separate ways. One issue that many couples who are close to retirement fail to consider is Social Security. Even if a divorce is final years before one or both parties are eligible to receive Social Security benefits, knowing what will happen when the time comes could affect settlement negotiations.

The first thing to consider is the length of the marriage. The Social Security Administration requires that a couple be married a minimum of 10 years before an ex-spouse is able to obtain benefits based on the work record of the other ex-spouse. If a party remarries, he or she is no longer eligible for benefits with regard to the first spouse's employment history. However, it only takes one year of marriage to become eligible under the work record of the second spouse. If a subsequent marriage lasts 10 years, it may be possible to receive Social Security payments from any spouse with whom the marriage lasted at least 10 years.

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