Call our office. Often our attorneys will speak briefly with you over the phone if you can explain the problem in a few minutes. If it takes longer than that, call the office and make an appointment. Usually we can tell within the first half hour if we can help you or what other options you might consider.
How do I get started?
Call the office and make an appointment. We are looking forward to meeting you and helping to solve your problem.
Is it even necessary in my case to hire an attorney?
Sometimes it is not. Check out our article about the pro's and con's of doing legal work yourself, here.
Small Claims Court handles disputes up to $10,000 and may be a viable option for you.
Also, the Utah Court website has forms for many types of disputes. However, you should be very careful with the forms, because if your facts do not fit exactly within the criteria set up in the forms, you could have some unexpected consequences from what you write. We fix many cases after people have started a case with blank forms.
How long will it take to complete my case?
That depends on the complexity of your case and somewhat on the attitude of the opposing party and opposing counsel. Most attorneys are problem solvers who want to find the truth and solve the problem; unfortunately there are a few clients and/or attorneys, who do not want to get the matter resolved and that can increase the time and cost required to conclude a case. Within the first month or so, your attorney should be able to give you a reasonable time table. I currently live out of state, how will this work? i.e. appearing in court, meeting with my attorney, etc. We have many clients from out-of-state. We can start with a telephone or Skype appointment, handle initial paperwork and payments. Depending on the type of case, you may not ever have to travel to Utah. That can be determined most likely at your initial consultation.
I have a hearing tomorrow, can you represent me?
Going to court is serious business and you can inadvertently waive your rights or lose at the hearing. While some hearings require attendance more than readiness, for many hearings requiring background in the case facts and law, it is unlikely that we will be able to meet with you, prepare your case and be ready for the hearing. Though we may try to accommodate you, your best alternative may be to contact the opposing attorney, if it is a civil matter, and ask for a continuance so you can retain an attorney. If it is a criminal matter, you can make this request at the hearing.
Do you provide free consultations?
We do provide some free services through the Utah State Bar and Utah Legal Services. We work in some areas with a flat fee, while others require hourly billing. Feel free to contact our office to find out where your case would fit. Our staff will be happy to answer your questions. Do you take Pro Bono [free] cases? I already talked to legal services and they turned me down. We do take a certain number of pro bono or "low" bono cases. Most successful pro bono cases are filtered through the Utah State Bar office where they have a program for handling pro bono cases and assigning attorneys. The Utah State Bar can be contacted at (801) 531-9077 or www.utahbar.org.
How much does it cost to have an appointment?
Some types of cases are handled on a flat fee basis while others are billed at the attorneys' hourly rate. Some attorneys in our office will do a 30-minute free consultation, while others are willing to speak to you on the phone directly for a few minutes to determine if they can assist you.
Do I have to pay a huge retainer to hire a lawyer?
Whether or not your case requires a retainer and what that amount that might be depends mostly on the complexity of the case. This means answering the questions of how long it might take, how much research will be involved, how many court hearings might be necessary, etc. Any used retainer is always refunded to the client.
Will the judge order the other side to pay my attorney’s fees?
That depends on the type of case you have. In order for fees to be awarded there must be a contract or a statute that provides the party who prevails is entitled to fees. Some types of cases require that other factors be shown as well, such as the relative financial position of the people on both sides of the case. Regardless, what the court does, your contract is with your attorney, and we try to work with you.
I’m looking at getting a divorce, what do I need to do?
Divorce usually involves addressing four main areas: parenting, support, asset division and debt division. You should become aware of what your rights are in each of these areas, either by reading or consulting with an attorney. Once you know what the law provides, you should determine, if you can, how far apart you and your spouse are. You may be able to resolve it fairly quickly by attending mediation, or you may need to hire an attorney to help you sort it out. In preparation for meeting your attorney, you should have a record of all your assets, debts, and ongoing living expenses. If your children have any special needs, you will want to bring that information with you as well.
My spouse wants a divorce, do I need an attorney?
A divorce can be a relatively simple case or some of the most complex litigation out there, depending on many circumstances, which include whether you have children, property or debt. The more you have of all three, the more complex your case is likely to be. Within a divorce case, you may have to litigate real estate law, bankruptcy, debt collection, creditor rights, landlord-tenant disputes, criminal defense, or any one of many other areas of the law. If your marriage is a subsequent one, it can be even more complex.
At a minimum, you should at least consult with an attorney and find out how complex a case you should anticipate. If you agree regarding your children and have little or no property and the debt division is not disputed, you may be able to do the forms online. Try to keep the property with the same person as the debt. However, if you want to do anything that does not fit clearly within the forms provided, you should consult an attorney. Sometimes you can do the forms yourself and just pay an attorney an hourly rate to review them with you and make sure you do not leave any holes in your case.
What if I don’t want a divorce?
Every state in the country has now adopted the so-called "no fault divorce" into their state code. That means that anyone can seek a divorce at any time for no reason whatsoever. Utah does now require a 90-day waiting period from the time the petition is filed until the divorce can be concluded.
I am pregnant and unmarried; do I have any legal concerns?
First you will need to decide if you want to keep the child or place it for adoption. You may want to consider counseling to help you with that decision. Any adoption now requires that the agency or the persons adopting pay for counseling for the unwed mother. It is a tough decision but should be made with the best interests of the child in mind. If you choose adoption, you can either place the child privately with someone you know or you can go through a reputable agency. Check with the Utah Adoption Council Office and the Office of Licensing for Adoption Agencies to be sure you have a reputable agency.
If you choose to keep the child, you may need a paternity order, especially if you seek government assistance for certain welfare benefits. Often if you or the State seeks child support from the father on your child, the father will seek visitation rights with the child, or even possibly custody. If the birth father is on the birth certificate there is no guarantee that the court will award custody to the mother. Consider calling our office, no matter which option you select, so that your rights are protected.
The State is taking my children or grandchildren; what can I do?
The State is obligated to provide parents of children who are removed from the home with legal counsel. You are also free to hire private counsel. These situations are handled in juvenile court and have very strict time lines. Be sure that you ask your attorney specific questions about those time lines and what you need to do to comply in order to have your children returned.
My parent just died, what should I do regarding the estate?
The simple answer is it depends. If your parent left a will and trust and they are in order, it may be as simple as follow the instructions given in the trust. If there is only a will, or if there no estate documents, you will need to file a probate. Most probates are quite straightforward, but if all of the heirs don't agree, a probate can get heavily litigated. See an attorney, but make sure that attorney practices in probate.
My sibling has taken over my parent’s probate and I think he/she is taking all the assets. What can I do?
Once a probate is filed and a personal representative has been appointed, that person administers the estate. He or she must administer the estate according to the wishes of the will, if there is one, or according to Utah statutes if there isn't one. If you don't think that is happening you can use the court to make sure it is. This can become fairly complex litigation, so a probate attorney is essential.
I am interested in getting a will or trust done, but don’t know much about it. What should I be doing?
If your estate is made up of a house with some equity, some investments and savings and a couple of cars and you are either single or still married to your first spouse, a simple estate plan consisting of a trust to put the house in and a simple "pour-over will" is what you probably want. Getting anything with a title put in the trust will probably keep you from needing to probate and the trust can simply be administered according to your wishes without using the court system.
If your estate is more complex, like second marriage, children from two marriages, spendthrifts, special needs, etc., it is imperative that you see an experienced estate attorney or you may be leaving a nightmare for your heirs and your estate will be used to pay attorney's fees in litigation.
Regardless of the complexity of your estate, you will also want to know about various other issues, like powers of attorney giving someone else the power to act in your stead, as well as important issues surrounding what you want done if you are in a situation where you cannot communicate or are no longer competent.
I am interested in buying or selling a house. How do I protect myself?
The State of Utah has recognized forms that must be used by real estate agents and brokers. These forms are a good start to protecting your interest, whether buyer or seller. There are many issues that need to be looked at checking to make sure the house is in good shape through inspection and also using a real estate attorney to review the documents and make sure everything is in order. For most of us, our house is our single largest investment. It is smart to make sure that occurs correctly.
I am starting a new business with some other people. What is the best way to get going?
Utah is a very pro-business state, and it has a good website which can help with those answers. Still, beginning a business relationship is serious business. It is said that it is easy to get a business partner and hard to get rid of one. There are a myriad of questions to consider, including:
Should I set up an LLC or Corporation? How about a partnership? Who is contributing what and how is that tracked? Can anyone sell her interest to someone else anytime she wants, or should the other partners get first shot at buying out that interest, so they are not working with a stranger? The questions are endless and you are much better off getting those issues solved at the start, than waiting until things are unraveling. A business lawyer can help greatly to see things start out right.
Can I make payments online?
We offer our clients online payment options, and as always our clients may pay our office directly.