In divorces where the parties have minor children, the court will need to make decisions about which parent will have custody or whether the parents should have joint custody. The court will also need to make other decisions about how and when visitation will occur and how the parents should approach important decisions about the child. These decisions are also made in custody cases where the parties were never married and in cases where the parties are attempting to modify the prior custody decision.

If you want to remain involved in the lives of your children, you will need to be able to show the court that you are already involved and that there is a bond between you and the children. You will need to be able to demonstrate that that you have done things for and with the children. You will also need to be able to demonstrate that you have spent time with the children.

Make Time for Your Children

Even with the best intentions, you may find yourself not spending much time with your children. Ideally, you should always be making time for your children. And, with any sort of court decision looming, your conscious or subconscious choices to spend or not spend time with your children are momentous. So, when that opportunity comes to spend time with the children and you are able, do not hire a babysitter and do not bump them off on extended family or the other parent.

Keep Track of What You Do

Vague assertions that you have spent time with the children do not go very far in the courtroom. The judge will be more convinced by hard facts. So, keep track of what you do with or for your children. If you have helped the child with homework, make note of it and preserve proof. If you went to parent-teacher conference, take note of that, too. Also, if you have helped with meals and bedtime, keep track of that too. Keep track of anything you have done with or for the child. If you have not been keeping track of this information, see what you can do to compile past information and then be sure to keep track in the future.

Keep Track of the Time

Once a court is involved with making orders on child custody, you will need to become a good record keeper of all the time you spend with your child. It will be either your proof for why the court should give you custody, or your defense against accusations. Once again, it takes hard facts to convince judges—not vague assertions. A calendar would be helpful to show hard facts.

Keep track of what overnights the children have spent with you and on what days important things happened. If the other parent is denying you parent time or otherwise not following through, take note of those things.

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How to Get an Out-of-State Parent into a Utah Court for Purpose of Child Support

How to Get an Out of State Parent to Pay Child Support

In order to get anyone for any reason into court, that court must have “jurisdiction” over the defendant. It’s not difficult for a court to have jurisdiction over an individual who lives in this state. The state’s courts could hale in any resident of the state.

A problem arises when the would-be defendant lives in another state.

Jurisdiction is loosely defined as a government’s general power to exercise authority over all persons and things within its territory. (Black’s Law Dictionary). Hence, you’ve heard the phrase “fleeing to another jurisdiction”. In the United States, each state has its own jurisdiction. A California court has no authority over a resident of the state of Utah, unless and until a Utah resident avails himself to the jurisdiction of California – which begs the question… How does one avail oneself to another state’s jurisdiction?

For purposes of child support actions, the Utah Legislature has carved out some ways that a non-resident of the state can avail herself to a Utah court. This is found in the Utah Uniform Interstate Family Act, specifically, bases for jurisdiction over non-resident. U.C.A. §78B-14- 201.

What the Family Act States:

It states, “In a proceeding to establish or enforce a support order or to determine parentage of a child, a tribunal of this state may exercise personal jurisdiction over a non-resident individual…if:

(a) The individual is personally served within this state

(b) The individual submits to the jurisdiction of this state by consent;

(c) The individual resided with the child in this state;

(d) The individual resided in this state and provided prenatal expense or support for the child;

(e) The child resides in this state as a result of the acts or directives of the individual;

(f) The individual engaged in sexual intercourse in this state and the child may have been conceived by that act of intercourse.

(g) The individual asserted parentage of a child in the putative father registry maintained in this state by the state registrar of vital records in the department of health pursuant to Title 78B-6 – Utah Adoption Act; or

(h) There is any other basis consistent with the constitutions of this state and the United States for the exercise of personal jurisdiction.”

How This Can Affect Your Case:

The first four of the list are easy. The out-of-state parent is either served within this state, indicating she is here, or she submits by consent, or otherwise resided in this state with the child, either before or after the birth of the child.

After that, the answers aren’t as straightforward. In (e), the child resides in this state as a result of the acts or directives of the individual. The following question answers this: Why is the child here? Did non-resident parent send the child to school in this state? Maybe dad just sent the child to live with grandma for the summer. Those are examples of acts or directives of the non-resident parent, which would confer jurisdiction of the state’s courts onto that individual. But, what if mom took the kids away from home in Montana and brought them here to Utah without dad’s permission? Does that confer upon Utah’s courts jurisdiction over dad? No. It was not his act or directive which brought the children here.

Other Considerations:

What about when an individual engages in sexual intercourse in this state and may possibly have conceived the child by that act? Here, the specific language of the statute is the giveaway. “[T]he child may have been conceived by that act.”

Jurisdiction exists if intercourse occurred in this state. The state does not require whether the child became conceived here.

Now, the tricky one… “Any other basis consistent with the constitutions of this state and the United States for the exercise of personal jurisdiction.” For any other purpose, in order for a court to have jurisdiction over a non-resident, that non-resident must have some contact with the forum state. The constitutional standard is “minimum contacts” – which is derived from the due process clause of the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution. The courts, applying principles derived from the United States Supreme Court, will look to whether the non-resident has any conduct which connects her to the forum state in “a meaningful way”.

That means knowing or having a relative in Utah is not enough. An out-of-state defendant has to either conduct business here, such that would impact the residents of Utah. Or, they would have to cause harm to someone here. It is not enough even to just drive through the state and buy gas. One would have to do something like that on a regular enough basis for the court to consider doing business with the residents of Utah.

How to Get an Out-of-State Parent into a Utah Court for Purpose of Child Support
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Should I Appeal the Court’s Custody, Child Support, or Alimony Decision? (Part 2)

Reasons to Act Fast

When an adverse ruling comes down, you need to determine whether an objection or appeal is appropriate. You should make this decision as soon as possible. A few reasons exist as to why to make this decision quickly. First, there are deadlines you do not want to miss. Second, you will want as much time as possible to work on your objection or appeal. Third, acting fast is more efficient and can save you time and money.

There Are Deadlines

An objection to a domestic commissioner’s recommendation is due within 14 days of the commissioner announcing his or her recommendation. An appeal from a judge’s final decision is due within 30 days of entry of that decision. If you miss these deadlines, you limit your options. However, even if it seems you have missed these deadlines, you should consult an attorney. There may be other options available to you instead of an objection or appeal. Alternatively, there may be technicalities that change the deadline. This is more likely to be true for the 30-day appeal deadline.

It Takes Time to Prepare a Good Objection or Appeal

Your experience with school probably has taught you that procrastination does not lead to ideal results. It is no different with the law—particularly when objecting to a commissioner’s recommendation or appealing a judge’s ruling. It takes a certain amount of effort to successfully argue that a judge or commissioner was wrong. This is particularly true when the judge(s) to whom you appeal are inclined to give some amount of deference. To make a successful argument, there needs to be careful thought, analysis, and writing. These things take time.

It Is Efficient to Decide Ahead

Quickly confronting the decision of whether you should object or appeal can save you time and money. If you procrastinate, you may find yourself filing an objection or notice of appeal without having truly analyzed your options for the sole purpose of preserving your options. After paying the filing fee for an appeal or getting ready for a hearing, you may realize it was a poor decision.

Thus, if you are faced with an adverse custody, child support, or alimony decision, act fast. Acting fast will help you meet deadlines, prepare a better objection or appeal, and save you time and money.

Should I Appeal the Court’s Custody, Child Support, or Alimony Decision? (Part 2)
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Should I Appeal the Court’s Custody, Child Support, or Alimony Decision?

In divorce cases, judges and commissioners make decisions about custody, child support, and alimony, among other things. If you do not like one of these decisions, you should act fast to consider an appeal or objection.

What Are Appeals and Objections?

Appeals and objections are the basic avenues for disputing judicial decisions or orders that you do not like. Whether you use an objection or an appeal depends on which judicial officer made the decision and in what context. Generally, you may object to a commissioner’s recommendation and appeal a final judgment entered by a judge.

Objecting to a Commissioner’s Recommendation Utah courts employ commissioners to help make quick recommendations for orders in family law cases. A commissioner’s recommendation is made based on written affidavits/declarations and short arguments. The advantage to having commissioner’s make recommendations is that hearings are quicker and more economical. The disadvantage is that in a commissioner hearing, you will not have much of a chance to testify fully. Also, you cannot cross-examine the opposing party.

Fortunately, if you disagree with the commissioner’s recommendation, you can object. Once you object, the judge will need to decide the issues to which you have objected. And, if the commissioner’s recommendation was in regards to a protective order, custody, or failure to obey a court order, you can insist on having an evidentiary hearing where you can testify and cross-examine adverse witnesses. Even if your issue does not qualify for an evidentiary hearing before the judge, you will at least have the opportunity to have the judge review the matter with fresh eyes.

Appealing a Judge’s Final Ruling

If a judge has entered a final ruling in your case, you have the right to appeal. If a protective order is involved with your divorce, you will need to appeal that separately. Protective orders are their own cases. Contempt orders are also their own cases. Do not wait for the divorce case to conclude before looking at whether to appeal a contempt ruling or protective order.

An appeal begins with you filing a notice of appeal and going through the appellate process. If you are appealing the decision of a district court judge, your appeal will be considered by either the Utah Supreme Court or the Utah Court of Appeals.

Appeal Court’s Decision

Please note that an appealing to an appellate court will not involve a new trial before the appellate court or the opportunity to tell the appellate court things that you did not tell the trial court. The role of the appellate court is to put itself in the trial court’s shoes and determine whether the trial judge made the correct decisions. If the judge misinterpreted law, the appellate court won’t hesitate to impose its view on the trial judge. However, the appellate court will be leery of second-guessing the judge on factual matters.

Have a legal question? Schedule a free consultation today!

Should I Appeal the Court’s Custody, Child Support, or Alimony Decision?
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How to Find a Personal Injury Attorney


Hiring a personal injury attorney is not too much different than hiring an employee. Gather names of candidates, narrow down the list, and meet with the candidates. The differences are that you will have to find the attorney names and be well prepared for the initial consultation.

Gather Names of Potential Personal Injury Attorney to Hire

To hire a personal injury lawyer for your case, your first step is to gather names of potential candidates. There are multiple places to find names. You have probably already searched Google and found some names in the results and on various sites. Feel free to write down any names that stuck out and keep searching. There are websites for individual law firms and websites that serve as attorney directories. Our firm’s website,, is an example of a website maintained by a law firm. An example of a directory website is LicensedLawyer is maintained by the Utah State Bar, is neutral, and can give you a more balanced approach to searching for an attorney.

Narrow Down the List

Research the attorneys on your list of candidates. See what they have to say about themselves on their website. Not all personal injury attorneys handle the same type of personal injury cases. For example, car accident cases differ from industrial accident cases. So, make sure any prospective candidates claim they handle your type of case. You will then want to reach out to some of them and schedule appointments for a consultation. Ensure ahead of time that the consultation will be free. If it is not, you should probably try meeting with other attorneys first.

Meet with Potential Candidates

It is ideal to meet with an attorney before hiring him or her to handle your case. Whether an attorney knows how to handle your type of case is only the starting point. You will want to check to see if the attorney interacts well with you and get a feel for whether you are comfortable trusting your case to the attorney. You will also want to have a chance to meet with the attorney’s staff and other attorneys in the firm who will provide support for your case.

Be Well Prepared for Your Consultation

Anytime you go to a consultation with an attorney, he or she will want to impress you and convince you to hire them. But, in the personal injury arena, the sword cuts both ways. Personal injury attorneys, particularly the kind working on contingency, want good cases and good clients. They want to know that if they take your case, they will have your full cooperation. They want to know whether your case is the type they want to handle. Show up to your consultation with documents about your personal injury, your medical expenses, and your other damages. If you have police reports or insurance documents, bring those along. Ensure that you can explain everything clearly and concisely. This will help the attorney, and it will help you make the most of your attorney search and your overall case.

How to Find a Personal Injury Attorney
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Are You Getting The Most Out of Your Rental Property?

Every landlord knows, or if you haven’t been in the renting business for very long, you soon will know, renting property comes with a certain amount of risk. At some point in time, there will come that tenant who seemed like the golden renter – good credit, quiet at night, only owned a goldfish. But then, after a good run at renting, you come to find out he’s running an illicit business out of his back room. What do you do?

Some states have what they call “self-help evictions”. Utah is not one of them. Utah law requires judicial evictions. However, in spite of the requirement of judicial eviction, Utah has a very expedited process for evicting unsavory tenants.

There are a number of pitfalls, however, that can trip up a landlord and, potentially, cost a landlord more money than he or she thought they were losing. This article addresses some of the issues, pitfalls and safety measures landlords can take to protect their property, get the most out of it and avoid their own legal troubles.


Utah landlord/tenant laws have countenanced just about every scenario. There is a way out. First of all, it’s important to remember that the importance of a good rental/lease agreement cannot be overstated. This is the legally binding document that will govern the relationship between the landlord and the tenant. If you sign an agreement with a term of two years with what seemed to be the perfect tenant and two months later you decide you just don’t like the way he combs his hair, you can’t just up and evict him – unless it’s in the agreement. (even then, you’d likely have to give him the opportunity to cure the hair cut before you can actually oust him)

The most common reason to evict tenants continues to be tenant’s failure to pay rent. With these and most other issues, the landlord’s remedy is swift. Utah has a “3-day notice” requirement for most breaches of the lease. Upon the first day after the rent is due and hasn’t been paid, the landlord can serve the three-day notice to quit or pay. There are a few other reasons to terminate a lease besides failure to pay rent. In each of these notices, the operative word is “or”. Which means, there is an alternative to leaving. In such cases, the tenant simply cures the breach (pays the rent) and there is no longer a breach and landlord is back where he was in the first place.

Other Reasons for Evictions:

Then there are other reasons to evict which do not require an alternative to moving out. For instance, if the tenant is conducting illegal activities on the property or damaging it, the landlord can notice to move out without an alternative to cure. The three-day notice is still required.

Once the three days have expired, the landlord can then file the complaint about eviction and summons. The tenant is now in “unlawful detainer”. The court will issue a time required for answering the complaint, usually about ten days. If the complaint is not answered, the tenant is in default and the court will order the eviction. If the tenant answers, then its obligation to appear in court and defend the eviction.


Landlords, beware! Utah may seem like it is landlord friendly because of the short windows it allows for the notice and answer periods. Do not be fooled into thinking the court will side with landlords if they don’t treat tenants fairly and to the letter of the law. For example, notices must have very specific content. If the landlord’s notice to quit is found insufficient, it must be redone. That means you would be back to square one if you miss something in the notice or complaint. This costs time and money (especially if

For example, notices must have very specific content. If the landlord’s notice to quit is found insufficient, it must be redone. That means you would be back to square one if you miss something in the notice or complaint. This costs time and money (especially if tenant continues in the property and there is little or no chance of recovering any real money after the suit). Remember, in most cases, the objective is just to get a bad renter out so the property can be rented to someone who will actually pay. In these instances, your mistakes can only set you back and give the bad renter extra time.

An Example For You

Also, a court will look to the landlord’s treatment of the lease as well as the tenant’s. A landlord’s duty to fulfill all her obligations pursuant to the lease is just as important as the tenant’s. A court will hold a landlord responsible to the tenant in every meaningful way.

Here’s an example. Rental agreement goes until the end of the month. After serving all the proper notices that the lease will not be renewed, the tenant legally has possession of that property until the end of the month, assuming rent has been properly paid. Tenant moves out three days before the end of the month. After tenant leaves, but before the end of the month, landlord goes in to inspect and clean carpets. When landlord sued for damages, tenant countered that the month hadn’t ended, he had cleaned the carpets himself, he took pictures and the landlord’s own footprints had soiled the carpets since he moved out. Judgment for the tenant.

Speaking of judgment for the tenants:

Good rental agreements will or should have a clause for attorney’s fees stating that if the landlord has to sue under the agreement, he has the right to coverage for the attorney’s fees. This goes BOTH ways. If the landlord sues tenant under the lease agreement and tenant prevails, tenant may also be awarded attorney’s fees. Moral of the story is, choose your weapons carefully and use them judicially. A landlord sued a tenant over $1,300 dollar security deposit and the tenant subsequently hit him with a judgment in excess of $13000.00.

Many landlords believe they can navigate the eviction process themselves and save the costs of legal assistance. While the process may look simple on its face, it has in reality, many pitfalls if not executed properly.

Are You Getting The Most Out of Your Rental Property?
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A Simple Guide To Depositions

If your case goes to court, you or someone you know could be deposed in a deposition. Alternatively, you may wish to depose somebody else to help your case. Depositions can occur in divorce, custody, paternity, personal injury, contract, real estate, and many other types of cases.


What are depositions?

The traditional deposition involves one party or their attorney asking a witness questions. A court reporter places the witness under oath, records the deposition, and transcribes all the questions, answers, and anything else said during the proceedings. Typically, the deposition will take place outside of the courthouse and not in the presence of a judge or jury. For example, it will take place in a conference room at a law firm’s office. Although depositions are taken outside of court, they are as important as testimony given on the witness stand during a trial. In fact, what the deposition says can make or break a case or lead to a quicker settlement.

Why depositions?

Depositions are part of the discovery process. This stage of the proceedings includes where the parties attempt to gather information from each other and other sources so that they can understand the situation leading to the lawsuit and gather information or documents used at trial. Deposing another party or a potential witness can help you and your attorney better prepare for trial. If you can afford the costs associated with a deposition, you should strongly consider a deposition as a tool.

Do I have to participate if someone attempts to depose me?

Generally, yes. If you are a party to a case, you are generally fair game. The court rules entitle the other parties to depose you and other persons. If you are not a party to the case, the party conducting the deposition will likely serve you with a subpoena, which is tantamount to a court order. In some situations, the court will excuse somebody from participating in a deposition if it determines the deposition inappropriate.

Is an attorney necessary?

Technically, no. But, it is helpful to have an attorney help you determine the necessity of a deposition and the questions helpful to your case. An attorney can also protect your rights if you are the one being deposed.

Have a legal question? Schedule a free consultation today!

A Simple Guide To Depositions
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Do You Need A Utah Car Accident Attorney?

If you got in a car accident, this post contains a few things to reduce your stress and anxiety. Whether you have been seriously injured or not, a car accident attorney can help get you peace of mind.

How Long Do I Have To File A Lawsuit?

When a person has been injured in a car accident, they have four years to bring a lawsuit to recover medical expenses, pain and suffering damages, or other losses they experience. While most of these cases settle with the insurance companies, some do not. The best way to settle your case is to prepare as if you were going to court. Settlement is often preferable to court since most don’t have the resources to cover their losses while waiting for the court. An experienced car accident attorney can advise you on whether settlement or court is the best option.

What Does a Well-Prepared Case Look Like?

A well prepared personal injury case will have detailed medical records, police reports, pictures of damages, and a detailed narrative of life after the accident. In every claim for personal injury, you must be able to show damages. Damages are your losses; it can include your medical expenses directly related to the accident, lost wages, pain, and suffering. The goal of the law is to compensate you for your losses so that you are in as close to the same circumstances as you were before the accident.

However, Utah law does not allow a person to sue for personal injuries that result from a car accident if their damages are less than $3,000. The more details you have, the better you can communicate to the insurance company (or the court) what your actual damages are.

What Can I Do Now To Prepare My Case?

Something you can do to prepare for a car accident is to speak with your insurance company about PIP. (Personal Injury Protection). Utah law requires automobile drivers to carry $3,000 of Personal Injury Protection (PIP).

This PIP pays for the reasonable value of all expenses necessary. This covers medical services, lost wages, and other expenses related to your accident regardless of who is at fault. You may want to consider raising that coverage to at least $10,000 because even settlements can take several months. Most healthcare providers will not suspend payment of bills during this period. You are still responsible for paying your medical bills and a larger PIP benefit may help ease the burden of paying those bills.

Do You Need A Utah Car Accident Attorney?
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Common Questions About HIPAA


What is HIPAA?

The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) is a legislative act that was passed in 1996. HIPAA addressed many other topics including the portability of health insurance. However, HIPAA has become most well-known for its Privacy and Security requirements. In 2009, the HIPAA Privacy and Security provisions became revised.  This became part of the Health Information Technology for Economic Clinical Health Act (“the HITECH Act”). This was enacted as part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (“ARRA”).

Who Must Comply with HIPAA?

The HIPAA Privacy and Security Rules apply to all “covered entities”. Covered entities generally include all healthcare plans, healthcare providers who transmit health care information in electronic form (using a standard transaction), and healthcare clearinghouses (including billing companies). The regulations refer to these groups as “covered entities.” However, the HITECH Act expanded the reach of HIPAA to business associates of these covered entities.

What Kind of Information Does HIPAA Protect?

The Privacy Rule defines “Protected health information” as “individually identifiable health information” that transmits to any format. All information pertaining to an individual and held by a covered entity is considered “protected health information”. The only exception happens when it becomes a “de-identified” pursuant to the regulations. The Security Rule governs “electronic protected health information” and requires covered entities to ensure the confidentiality, integrity, and availability of all protected health information that is created, received, maintained or transmitted by the covered entity in the electronic form.

What Rights Do Individuals Have Under HIPAA?

In general, the HIPAA Privacy Rule gives individuals the right to request a restriction.  This restriction applies to uses and disclosures of their protected health information. The individual receives also the right to request confidential communications or that a communication of protected health information comes by alternative means, such as sending correspondence to the individual’s office instead of the individual’s home. With limited exceptions, individuals also have the right to inspect and obtain a copy of their own protected health information and to request amendments of their protected health information.

What Do Healthcare Providers and Other “Covered Entities” Need To Do In Order To Comply With The HIPAA Privacy Rule?

Examples of the issues that covered entities will need to address in order to comply with the Privacy Rule include:

  • appointment of a privacy officer and contact person to receive complaints
  • development of consent
  • notice and authorization form for patients
  • development of numerous required privacy policies and procedures
  • drafting of agreements with all business associates
  • training of staff on privacy issues

What Does The HIPAA Security Rule Require?

The rule requires covered entities to conduct a risk analysis to identify any risks to electronic protected health information and to address such risks. In general, covered entities are also required to implement administrative procedures, physical safeguards, and technical security services to guard the integrity, confidentiality, and availability of patient data. The HIPAA Security Rule also requires covered entities to implement technical security mechanisms to prevent unauthorized access to patient data.

Common Questions About HIPAA
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Appeal Deadline in Utah: Is there one?

Is There an Appeal Deadline in Utah?

Yes, there is an appeal deadline Utah. You must file a notice of appeal with the trial court within 30 days of the final judgment. Admittedly, some post-judgment motions will extend the time you have to appeal. Some orders or judgments are not necessarily a final order or judgment that starts the clock.


What To Do When Considering An Appeal

If you are considering an appeal before the appeal deadline from an unfavorable judgment or ruling, you should contact an appellate attorney as soon as possible. An appellate attorney can help determine the due date for your appeal. Additionally, an appellate attorney can identify grounds for appeal and consult with you about the practicalities of appeal. At Christensen Law, we have experience with both trials and appeals and can help you from the beginning of your or help you with the appeal only.

Appeal Deadline in Utah: Is there one?
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