I primarily represent persons who are getting a divorce and trying to gain custody of their kids. My legal fees are on a sliding scale, but most clients qualify for an hourly rate of $175 per hour. I office with the downtown law firm of Prince, Yeates, & Geldzahler. There is one hour free parking at the City Creek Mall. I offer a 30 minute free consultation if you consult at my office. I am a member of the Association of Family and Conciliation Courts and the National Association of Counsel for Children. I regularly attend annual seminars sponsored by these organizations. These classes focus on the sociological and psychological aspects of how divorce affects children, and the best practices associated with preparing for trial in a divorce or child custody case. I also serve as a private guardian ad litem though the Office of the Guardian ad Litem in the State of Utah. I had served as a guardian ad litem for the Superior Court in Washington D.C. from 1993 through 1999. A guardian ad litem represents the interests of children, and reports to the Court what he or she thinks in in the best interest of the child after having spoken to neighbors, family members, teachers, and the child's psychotherapist. I earned a bachelor's degree from the prestigious liberal arts college, Grinnell College, and earned a Masters Degree in the Art of Teaching from Northwestern University. I earned my J.D. degree from the Washington College of Law at the American University in Washington, D.C.
I became licensed to practice law in the District of Columbia in 1991. I have been a licensed member of the Utah State Bar since 1995. I am a knowledgeable, collaborative, personable, and professional Salt Lake City family law attorney who has integrity. I also have a great deal of courtroom and mediation experience, and have tried and/or mediated hundreds of cases to either verdict or a mediated settlement. I serve as a Small Claims Judge in the Salt Lake County and Salt Lake City Justice Courts a few hours every month. I have also served previously as a mediator at the Salt Lake City Small Claims Court. To learn more about my professional background, please read the Client Testimonials page on this website, which provides much more detailed information about my professional background as well as many testimonials by former clients.
Some people believe that the best Salt Lake City divorce attorneys are ones who act like a junk yard dog in court and with opposing counsel. However, in my experience, judges and opposing attorneys in Salt Lake City are far more impressed and persuaded by divorce who exhibit knowledge of the law, preparation, and respect. Persuasiveness involves a mixture of cogent legal reasoning and civility. In fact, if you hire a divorce attorney who acts like a junk yard dog in Salt Lake City, you are likely to: (1) delay the resolution of your case; (2) end up paying your attorney a great deal of money unnecessarily; and, (3) obtain a bad result. That is because a divorce, child custody, or alimony modification attorney who acts like a junk yard dog is likely to cause the opposing attorney to dig in his or her heels, and end up ticking off the judge to boot. When a case doesn't settle relatively quickly, your legal expenses go up dramatically.
It is good to be an aggressive divorce attorney, but you need to do it in the right way to be effective. Aggressiveness involves fully knowing how the law applies to the client's legal problem, and then being able to communicate the client's position in a well-reasoned argument to the opposing attorney, and if necessary, to the judge -- both orally and in writing. Being a good writer is especially important because a judge will frequently be persuaded by a party's position by the party's court papers even before going to court. Being able to clearly see the alternative positions to a divorce question comes from decades of court room experience, knowledge of the law, and preparation. A junk yard dog who goes off half-cocked frequently misses the subtleties of the opposing party's legal arguments (or misses them completely) -- simply because he or she is so zealous and unduly full of him or herself. As a party to a law suit, you need to know what your risks are in going forward in a divorce case from the beginning, before you invest in paying substantial amounts of money to any one particular attorney. For these reasons, out of court communication between counsel needs to be civil to be effective. I have found that respectful discussion of the issues is much more effective than me trying to intimidate, bully, or threaten opposing counsel into my way of thinking.
Because I have worked on a variety of Salt Lake City cases and throughout many of the Utah District Courts (which cases have involved many areas outside of divorce and child custody), I usually can present arguments which are well reasoned and broadly based. This is helpful if the opposing divorce attorney's perspective does not allow him or her to fully comprehend and address my written and oral arguments spontaneously in open court. While there is some truth in the notion that an attorney who practices exclusively in a particular area of law may have more knowledge on that subject than one who maintains a diverse practice, it has been my experience that frequently issues in the family law arena involve broader subject areas like civil procedure, criminal law, tax law, bankruptcy law, and/or constitutional law. Therefore, in my view, an attorney who has a more comprehensive background in the law has an advantage over an attorney who has practiced exclusively and narrowly in family law. For example, an attorney may be unaware of the need to assert the fifth amendment privilege when his client testifies in court and admits to crimes -- admissions which can be later used by a prosecutor to convict the client of those crimes.
Additionally, it is important to realize that when you dehumanize the other party through anger, you make yourself a victim with an axe to grind. However, a law suit involving divorce is usually decided in favor of the party who has the best reasoned legal position, rather than the one which has the best emotional appeal. It is also important to remember that divorce disputes frequently involve parties who both have some basis for a grievance. It has been my experience that the most gratifying, quickest, and most inexpensive resolutions to disputes involving divorce modification cases usually come when at least one of the parties can understand the other party 's point of view. Getting the parties who are angry and entrenched in their positions to see the other party's point of view involves the art of mediation. I have been trained as a mediator, and have served as a mediator for the Small Claims Court of Salt Lake City for a period of time. Once a party comes to understand the reasons for other party's point of view, he or she usually becomes more willing to be practical, and to concede something to his or her opponent by agreement. Doing so can significantly reduce the expense of having to go to court in a divorce case. Settlement also eliminates the risk of not knowing how the judge will rule, or that your attorney may make a mistake or stress out during his or her courtroom presentation, or that a newer judge may misapply the law. Then, the client needs to go to the added expense of appealing the court's decision.
It is also important to remember that when children are involved, one of the primary goals in a divorce case should be to help the children get through it with as little emotional baggage as possible. A divorce case should not be about "winning." Parents frequently are involved in a power struggle with each other, and want to prove each other "wrong" to feel justified by the relationship's breakup. However, children oftentimes find themselves caught in between a battle of egos and hurt feelings, and frequently blame themselves for years for their parents' disputes. Therefore, it is important for parents to place a higher value on what is in their children's best interests rather than what is in their own best interest. Indeed, what is in the best interest of the children is one of the primary legal standards which a court will use in making custody and parent-time determinations. Children will oftentimes say things to try and make their parents feel better because they need to live with both parents and survive emotionally. Stroking a parent's ego may be a way to create peace for the child.
If you wish to review some of the more common Utah statutes associated with divorce, child custody, alimony modification, and and parent-time, you can view these statutes on my website by clicking the topical headings above. I also suggest that you review my client testimonial page, which has a wealth of additional information about me.
I would enjoy helping you with your divorce case. Please call me, or complete a contact form, and I will call you at my earliest convenience.
DISCLAIMER: This website is designed for general information only. The information presented on this site should not be construed as formal legal advice, nor the formation of an attorney-client relationship.