Sexual Abuse and Assault

Sexual Abuse and Assault

William Estell was being prosecuted on multiple counts of forcible sodomy, sexual abuse, and aggravated sexual abuse of a child in two different Utah cases. He pleaded guilty, and expressed remorse in the courtroom, as documented by commentary in KSL news. Estell’s actions have met public dismay since 2008, when he was sentenced to 93 days in jail for a misdemeanor count of sexual battery. But the case most recently prosecuted by Utah attorneys to receive attention speculates that his perpetration of abuse could go back as many as 20 years.


Estell’s remorse seemed genuine enough to his sister (present on the day of his sentencing in court) but she worries about his safety and well-being in his 25-year prison sentence. “Prison isn’t a place for people with mental disabilities,” she said. 41-years-old, Estell is himself a victim of repeated sexual abuse at the hands of his father, leading to problems in his adult life and his own illegal actions. The sentencing judge commented on the situation before the court, saying, “This sentence is appropriate for the crime that has been committed, but I understand you were the victim. There was a tremendous breakdown in the system and that led to other victims.”

Utah attorneys prosecuting cases of sexual abuse and assault, especially of children, have a mountainous task ahead of them. Testimony from children is notoriously difficult to obtain – but not because of their traumatic experiences and sudden immersion into the monstrously intimidating adult world of courtrooms, gavels and technical names for private parts. Forced to recount their experience to obtain justice, children often shy away from the task that makes them feel re-traumatized and more vulnerable, which is something Estell knew well. The perpetrator selected his victims carefully, one of the Utah attorneys Coral Rose-Sanchez reported; he chose boys who spoke English as a second language, who were poor and whose parents knew little or nothing about navigating the legal system. With the deck stacked against them already, many of Estell’s victims didn’t even attempt to speak out or press charges, and for those who did, at least one had enough of a negative experience when law enforcement didn’t take the abuse report seriously that the family’s mistrust of the legal system has deepened. Another of Estell’s victims is in jail in another state for criminal activity, and still another struggles with depressive episodes around his sexual activity which he links to his abuse.

But it’s not only Estell’s victims that the system has failed to protect. As the judge acknowledged, it was Estell himself and his own prolonged experiences of sexual abuse as a child. Utah attorneys working in a court of law to right the wrongs of generations of abuse may find the situation more complex and more heartbreaking than anticipated, and society may find its own dark secrets continue to be hidden away in the mouths of children who are too traumatized to speak up. This is an age-old problem with no clear answers.

Free Consultation with a Criminal Defense Lawyer

When you need help from a criminal defense lawyer, call Ascent Law for your free consultation (801) 676-5506. We want to help you.

Michael R. Anderson, JD

Ascent Law LLC
8833 S. Redwood Road, Suite C
West Jordan, Utah
84088 United States

Telephone: (801) 676-5506

from Salt Lake City Estate Planning


SEC Charges Pastor with Defrauding Retirees

The Securities and Exchange Commission announced fraud charges and an emergency asset freeze obtained against a Michigan-based pastor accused of exploiting church members, retirees, and laid-off auto workers who were misled to believe they were investing in a successful real estate business.

SEC Charges Pastor with Defrauding Retirees

The SEC alleges that Larry Holley, the pastor of Abundant Life Ministries in Flint, Mich., cloaked his solicitations in faith-based rhetoric, replete with references to scripture and biblical figures.  Holley allegedly told prospective investors that as a person who “prayed for your children,” he was more trustworthy than a “banker” with their money.  According to the SEC’s complaint, Holley held financial presentations masked as “Blessed Life Conferences” at churches nationwide during which he asked congregants to fill out cards detailing their financial holdings, and he promised to pray over the cards and invited attendees to have one-on-one consultations with his team.  He allegedly called his investors “millionaires in the making.”

According to the SEC’s complaint, which also charges Holley’s company Treasure Enterprise LLC and his business associate Patricia Enright Gray, approximately $6.7 million was raised from more than 80 investors who were guaranteed high returns and told they were investing in a profitable real estate company with hundreds of residential and commercial properties.

According to the complaint, Gray advertised on a religious radio station based in Flint and singled out recently laid-off auto workers with severance packages to consult her for a “financial increase.”  Gray allegedly promised to roll over investors’ retirement funds into tax-advantaged Individual Retirement Accounts (IRA) and invest them in Treasure Enterprise.  The SEC alleges that no investor funds were deposited into IRAs, and Treasure Enterprise struggled to generate enough revenue from its real estate investments to support the business and make payments owed to investors.  Treasure Enterprise owes investors an estimated $1.9 million in past due payments, according to the SEC’s complaint.

“As alleged in our complaint, Holley and Gray targeted the retirement savings of churchgoers, building a bond of trust purportedly based on faith but actually based on false promises,” said David Glockner.

According to the SEC’s complaint, Holley, Gray, and Treasure Enterprise were not registered to sell investments.  The SEC encourages investors to check the background of anyone offering to sell them investments by doing a quick search on the SEC’s investor website.

The SEC has obtained a temporary restraining order in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Utah that freezes the assets of Holley, Gray, and Treasure Enterprise.  The court’s order also appoints a receiver and imposes other emergency relief.

The SEC’s complaint alleges violations of Sections 5(a), 5©, and 17(a) of the Securities Act of 1933 and Sections 10(b) and 20(a) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 and Rule 10b-5.  The complaint seeks disgorgement of ill-gotten gains plus interest, penalties, and permanent injunctions.

The SEC’s investigation, which is continuing, is being conducted by Ana P. Doncic, Delia L. Helpingstine, and Sruthi Koneru of the Utah office.  The case is being supervised by Steven L. Klawans, and the litigation is being led by Jonathan S. Polish.


The Securities and Exchange Commission today announced that it has adopted amendments to increase the amount of money companies can raise through crowdfunding to adjust for inflation.  It also approved amendments that adjust for inflation a threshold used to determine eligibility for benefits offered to “emerging growth companies” (EGCs) under the Jumpstart Our Business Startups (JOBS) Act.

“Regular updates to the JOBS Act, as prescribed by Congress, ensure that the entrepreneurs and investors who benefit from crowdfunding will continue to do so,” said SEC Acting Chairman Michael S. Piwowar. “Under these amendments, the JOBS Act can continue to create jobs and investment opportunities for the general public.”

The SEC is required to make inflation adjustments to certain JOBS Act rules at least once every five years after it was enacted on April 5, 2012.  In addition to the inflation adjustments, the SEC adopted technical amendments to conform several rules and forms to amendments made to the Securities Act of 1933 (“Securities Act”) and the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 (“Exchange Act”) by Title I of the JOBS Act.

The Commission approved the new thresholds March 31. They will become effective when they are published in the Federal Register.


Section 101 of the JOBS Act added new Securities Act Section 2(a)(19) and Exchange Act Section 3(a)(80) to define the term “emerging growth company” (“EGC”).  Pursuant to those sections, every five years the SEC is directed to index the annual gross revenue amount used to determine EGC status to inflation to reflect the change in the Consumer Price Index for All Urban Consumers (“CPI-U”) published by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (“BLS”).  To carry out this statutory directive, the SEC has adopted amendments to Securities Act Rule 405 and Exchange Act Rule 12b-2 to include a definition for EGC that reflects an inflation-adjusted annual gross revenue threshold.  The JOBS Act also added new Securities Act Section 4(a)(6), which provides an exemption from the registration requirements of Section 5 under the Securities Act for certain crowdfunding transactions.  In October 2015, the SEC promulgated Regulation Crowdfunding to implement that exemption.  Sections 4(a)(6) and 4A of the Securities Act set forth dollar amounts used in connection with the crowdfunding exemption, and Section 4A(h)(1) states that such dollar amounts shall be adjusted by the SEC not less frequently than once every five years to reflect the change in the CPI-U published by the BLS.  The SEC has adopted amendments to Rules 100 and 201(t) of Regulation Crowdfunding and Securities Act Form C to reflect the required inflation adjustments.

In addition, Sections 102 and 103 of the JOBS Act amended the Securities Act and the Exchange Act to provide several exemptions from a number of disclosure, shareholder voting, and other regulatory requirements for any issuer that qualifies as an EGC. The exemptions reduce the financial disclosures an EGC is required to provide in public offering registration statements and relieve an EGC from conducting advisory votes on executive compensation, as well as from a number of accounting and disclosure requirements.  The regulatory relief provided under Sections 102 and 103 of the JOBS Act was self-executing and became effective once the JOBS Act was signed into law.  The technical amendments that the SEC is adopting conform several rules and forms to reflect these JOBS Act statutory changes.

Free Initial Consultation with a Securities Lawyer

When you need help with an SEC or Securities matter, call Ascent Law for your free consultation (801) 676-5506. We want to help you.

Michael R. Anderson, JD

Ascent Law LLC
8833 S. Redwood Road, Suite C
West Jordan, Utah
84088 United States

Telephone: (801) 676-5506

from Salt Lake City Estate Planning

Child Support and Parental Relocation

Everyone’s life is prone to change, and sometimes these changes require parental relocation after a divorce. Whether you are the primary custodial parent and wish to relocate with your children, or you are the parent whose visitation schedule would be affected by the move, you should always speak with a family lawyer about your plans before you move or make a change, just to make sure you do it right. You don’t need more problems or stress in your life.

Child Support and Parental Relocation

In Utah, “parental relocation” is defined as one parent moving more than 150 miles from the other parent. When a parent wishes to relocate, he or she must inform the other parent of the intent at least 60 days prior to the proposed move. While the state cannot prevent you or your ex-spouse from relocating, it can prevent the parent with primary custody from taking the child or children along if the relocation is not in their best interests. Our attorneys will review all the facts of your case and build your argument either for or against the move. This is what we do.

Considerations For Granting Parental Relocation

If you are the parent hoping to relocate, our lawyers will demonstrate to the court that your reasons for doing so are valid, and that your actions aren’t simply resulting from spite. Parental relocation requests are frequently granted when the custodial parent:

  • Has a strong job offer outside of the home city or state
  • Seeks to increase proximity to a network of family members and friends
  • Looks to remove his or herself or the children from an abusive relationship
  • Shows that the child or children will be better off with the move
  • Otherwise proves that the relocation serves the child or children’s best interests

From drafting the notice of the intended move to representing you in the event that your ex challenges your move, we can work with you to ensure your best chance of a successful outcome.

If it is your ex who is proposing the move, we will work to ensure that your relationship with your child is respected and protected, and we will aggressively challenge the relocation on your behalf.

Answering Common Questions About Child Support

We are here to address your legal concerns about child support in Utah. Read on to discover the answers to some of the more common questions we hear the most:

  • Does joint legal custody affect my financial obligations? Child support laws indicate that, because both parents have the authority to make decisions on their children’s behalf, joint legal custody does not impact financial obligations. However, joint physical custody is a different issue. Child support is based on these factors: physical custody, parenting time and income.
  • Can I modify child support payments? Once the court makes a decision, you are obligated to the amount ordered. There are certain scenarios, however, in which you may be eligible to reduce or terminate child support. These include:
    • Changes to your child’s residence, custody and parenting time
    • Illness or disability
    • Loss of your job
    • Permanent reduction in income
  • Am I still obligated to pay if my ex keeps me from my children? Because custody and visitation are separate legal matters, unfortunately, you are still expected to pay the amount ordered. If your ex is keeping you from your children and you have custody or visitation privileges, we can petition the court to enforce those rights. Even when it seems unjust, failing to make your child support payments could put you at risk of facing serious penalties.
  • What if my ex does not pay? Thanks to the Child Support Enforcement Act of 1984, you can seek legal help in collecting payments from an ex who does not honor his or her court order. We can file contempt charges, and the court may impose consequences such as garnishing wages, seizing property, withholding tax returns, revoking your ex’s driver’s license or jail time.
  • What if my ex moves out of state? Because of the Uniform Interstate Family Support Act, court orders remain in effect regardless of a parent’s physical location. There are several measures available to ensure child support enforcement, even if your ex moves out of Utah and refuses to pay.

Free Consultation with Divorce Lawyer in Utah

If you have a question about divorce law or if you need to start or defend against a divorce case in Utah call Ascent Law at (801) 676-5506. We will fight for you.

Michael R. Anderson, JD

Ascent Law LLC
8833 S. Redwood Road, Suite C
West Jordan, Utah
84088 United States

Telephone: (801) 676-5506

from Salt Lake City Estate Planning

Government Liability and Immunity in Utah

In its infancy, the United States had sovereign immunity for federal and state governments and their employees. It wasn’t until the mid-1900s that a trend developed that held the government accountable for any cases, including wrongful death or other legal actions.

Today the State Tort Claims Act provides a waiver of immunity with expectations that apply to certain claims against the government. This probably seems like a mouthful, but having the right lawyer on your side that knows government laws can help you with a case in Salt Lake City, Utah or elsewhere. Because I’m a West Jordan injury lawyer, I’ve seen all sorts of injuries and accidents and ones against the State of Utah can be difficult.

Government Liability and Immunity in Utah

State Claims Act

This act limits immunity to the state, and sets up a procedure for claims against the state. The board or commission will determine whether the claims are valid, and may also limit damages for certain liability. At least 33 state acts — including Utah’s — limit the damages that are recovered from judgments against the state. This is why it’s important for residents of Salt Lake City to have a lawyer that knows what actions to pursue against the state. If you plan to pursue a claim against the state, there are certain facts and assertions that need to be sent in. The government then has 60 days to inform the claimant if the claim has been approved or denied.

If immunity is waived against the government, then the department or entity will be considered as if it were a private person. This would be the case if a wrongful death occurred on government property, but again this can be a tough call against the government. According to Utah Code Ann. 63-30d-301 (5)(a), “immunity is not waived if the injury resulted from an exercise of discretionary function.” This case would determine whether a lawyer could successfully sue the Salt Lake City or Utah government for negligent acts.

There are different parts of the government that function outside the Act, including 911 emergency medical services, government volunteers and hazardous materials. All of these could lead to a wrongful death case, in which you might require a wrongful death lawyer.

Make sure you hire a lawyer that knows the law well, and what they can do to help your case against government officials in Salt Lake City or elsewhere throughout the state of Utah.


There are many great reasons to ride bikes. Bicycling saves money and helps preserve your health and the environment. If you are going to ride your bike to celebrate National Bike Month, make sure you and your children wear a helmet. Many people think helmets are just for children, but most cyclist casualties are adults (88 percent) as opposed to children (12 percent). In 2014, 21,827 cyclists were injured in reported accidents. This can often be grounds for an auto accident lawsuit. Consider speaking to a lawyer today if you are a victim.

According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, each year two percent of car accident crash deaths are cyclists. Driver/rider error is the most frequent reason for car accidents with cyclists involving 73% of cases. The most serious injuries are to the head and neck. Helmet use has been estimated to reduce the odds of head injury by 50 percent, and the odds of head, face, or neck injury by 33 percent.

Although the accident might not be your fault, getting hit by a car will always be worse for the cyclist than the vehicle. Just this last month, a cyclist was killed in a hit-and-run accident in West Valley City. This death could have been prevented if the driver would have been paying attention and seen the victim. There are some things that you can do to make your chances being seen and avoiding a car accident less likely. In the unlikely event that you are involved in an accident, make sure you see an attorney or a lawyer for help.

The first is to get a headlight. If you are going to ride at night, you drastically reduce your likelihood of being involved in an auto accident when you use a headlight.

The next step is to wave or make eye contact with the drivers. Being noticed is one of the best ways you can avoid an accident.

Finally, slow down. It may be inconvenient, but it is better than getting hit. Slowing your speed allows you to have more time to stop if the driver does not see you.

Enjoy the fresh air this May and join in the celebration of National Bike Month. Just remember to take precautions and if something happens to you, seek a lawyer that can fight to get you the care you need.

Free Initial Consultation with an accident and injury Lawyer

When you need legal help, call Ascent Law for your free consultation (801) 676-5506. We want to help you.

Michael R. Anderson, JD

Ascent Law LLC
8833 S. Redwood Road, Suite C
West Jordan, Utah
84088 United States

Telephone: (801) 676-5506

from Salt Lake City Estate Planning

How Do I Send a DMCA Take Down Notice?

A DMCA take-down notice is an easy and relatively inexpensive way to have your copyright protected materials removed from a website hosting company servers, or a search index on Yahoo, Google, or Bing. The first thing you need to know about how to send a DMCA notice is that you must be the copyright owner in order to send the notice. The copyright owner is typically the person who put their fingers to the keyboard, their finger to the click button on the camera, or their pen to paper. The person who is the author of the work is most often the copyright owner. Sometimes the copyright owner will license or sign their interest to an employer or third party which may then have the impact of transferring the copyright to someone who is not the author.

How Do I Send a DMCA Take Down Notice

The next thing you need to understand about how to send a DMCA take-down notice is who to send it to. As noted above, any third party who is a service provider with a DMCA copyright policy is potentially a target for a DMCA notice letter. So, for instance, the company hosting the website is often the primary DMCA notice target. People don’t realize they can also send a DMCA notice to Google, Yahoo, and Bing in order to have their materials removed from the search index. That often gets the job done since the infringing material doesn’t come back on search.

You must strictly follow the DMCA take-down policy and rules set forth by the third party provider in order to successfully remove copyright protected materials from the internet. If a provider does not have a DMCA policy, then they may not have immunity from copyright infringement claims. This means you could send a copyright infringement threat letter directly to that third party provider unprotected by DMCA immunity provisions.

An experienced DMCA attorney can help you understand how to send a DMCA take-down notice, who to send it to and what to expect by way of response. Understanding how to send a DMCA notice correctly will save you a lot of time and money down the road.


While you may know what cybersquatting is generally and what potential legal action you can take for remedies under the Anticybersquatting Protection Act (“ACPA”), not knowing specific techniques used by cybersquatters may leave you unaware that you are currently being or have been a victim of cybersquatting. Cybersquatters use a variety of techniques to benefit from your trademark, so it is important for you to understand the variations of a cybersquatting in order to identify if your trademark has been illegally infringed upon by a cybersquatter.

One common form of cybersquatting is typosquatting. Typosquatting as a practice can be defined through a few different methods, which include misspelling or phrasing, as well as using a separate top-level domain (TLD). Misspelling or phrasing occurs when cybersquatters change the spelling of words or phrases slightly to benefit from internet users common typing mistakes to attract attention to a fake domain based on a misspelled legitimate domain, such as instead of Notice the missing “e” in the first spelling? If not, you aren’t alone.

Another variation of typosquatting is top-level domain swapping by simply changing a .com domain to a separate TLD domain such as .org, or .net. A notable example was, which adversely affected by displaying pornographic material. Mistakes in knowing which TLD is associated with a site like this are common, and cybersquatters take advantage of these mistakes by setting up a fake website cosmetically designed to imitate the original, and adversely affect your trademark by stealing your web traffic, compel you to buy the cybersquatted domain, or simply by spreading malware using your brand name.

Another form of Cybersquatting is a type of Identity theft associated with the registration of domain names. There are software products that a cybersquatter can use to monitor domain registration expiration, and if the domain is not renewed in time, they can purchase that domain, and either imitate your website to make your site’s visitors believe that the cybersquatter is you, or perhaps worse a website with your competitor’s products or services and redirect them to that site or advertisements that contain your competitor’s products or services.

A final type of cybersquatting is known as reverse cybersquatting or otherwise known as reverse domain hijacking. This is the practice of brand owners attempting to secure a domain name legally owned by another person and who is not otherwise a cybersquatter. A brand owner may claim that they own the rights to your domain, and threaten legal action unless you transfer that domain over to them. This practice by the brand owner is often perpetrated by large companies or famous individuals and is an abuse of their trademark rights making wrongful claims against your rightfully held domain name.

Free Consultation with a Utah Intellectual Property Lawyer

When you need help with a DMCA take down notice, cybersquatting or other IP related legal matters, call Ascent Law for your free consultation (801) 676-5506. We want to help you.

Michael R. Anderson, JD

Ascent Law LLC
8833 S. Redwood Road, Suite C
West Jordan, Utah
84088 United States

Telephone: (801) 676-5506

from Salt Lake City Estate Planning

Tips for Effectively Using Your Business Lawyer

Savvy business people understand that lawyers play an indispensable role in the successful execution of a business plan. Here are seven keys to get the most from lawyers for your business.

  1. Call sooner rather than later. Problems are more expensive to solve than avoid. Call your lawyers before you get served with a lawsuit. Call them before you sign a lease or a loan or any other contract vitally important to your business. An hour or two of your lawyer’s time to review a document could save multiple hours down the road trying to unwind or modify a bad deal.
  2. Tips for Effectively Using Your Business Lawyer

  3. Understand the fees upfront. When hiring a lawyer, you should ask for a document (sometimes called an engagement letter or retainer agreement) to describe how your lawyer will charge for their work. Not all projects need be billed by the hour. If you are looking for more certainty as to cost, ask for an alternative, such as a cap on fees or a hard quote on the total cost. Alternative fee structures don’t automatically lower total legal fees. Getting certainty in your fees may come at a cost.
  4. Be prepared and do your homework. Prior to meeting with your lawyer in person or on the phone, spend time getting prepared. Read in advance any documents or contracts you would like the lawyer to review and have specific questions. Spend time to get a clear understanding of the deal you want to do and the goals you hope to accomplish. In short, use your lawyer’s time as efficiently as possible.
  5. Keep your lawyer in the loop. As your business plan unfolds and new developments arise, touch base with your lawyer through a quick email or phone call to apprise them of what’s going on. They may see issues that you haven’t thought about, and it could end up saving you thousands of dollars in legal fees down the road.
  6. Don’t hide the ball. Be totally honest with your lawyer. Your discussions will be protected by the attorney-client privilege and kept in strict confidence (assuming you don’t plan to commit a crime). Legal issues are driven by facts, and the more detail you provide your lawyer, the better they will be able to serve you.
  7. Get the right lawyer. Don’t ask a patent lawyer to review a loan agreement. The legal system is complicated. Like most professions, law has become incredibly specialized in the last few decades. Before your hire a lawyer, make sure they have experience handling your type of project. The lawyers at Ascent Law have deep expertise in business litigation and all aspects of business transactions.
  8. Treat your lawyer like a business partner. Unlike the caricatures in lawyer jokes, most lawyers are dedicated professionals with the knowledge and experience to safely guide you through the legal risks of running a business. Treat them as you would a business partner. You’ll find the value they add to your business far exceeds the cost.

Free Consultation with a Utah Business Lawyer

If you are here, you probably have a business law issue you need help with, call Ascent Law for your free business law consultation (801) 676-5506. We want to help you.

Michael R. Anderson, JD

Ascent Law LLC
8833 S. Redwood Road, Suite C
West Jordan, Utah
84088 United States

Telephone: (801) 676-5506

from Salt Lake City Estate Planning

Are out-of-state court decisions good in Utah Divorce cases?

Despite the wide range of issues that have been litigated before in state supreme courts, there are still a wide range of issues that have not been addressed for divorce lawyers. When such an issue arises in a Utah divorce, it may be useful to look at other nearby states, to see if justices have ruled on an issue similar to the one that is currently being litigated. When a favorable decision can be found, this may allow an argument to be made that a Utah judge should take into consideration what their colleagues in other states have already ruled on.

Are out-of-state court decisions good in Utah Divorce cases

A recent out-of-state decision may assist those dealing with military pension issues. The court found that a husband was not required to share the increase in his pension that he received when he changed jobs. The man, who prior to the marriage, was a member of the Air Force, was allowed to purchase credits when he became a firefighter that increased the value of his pension.

His ex-wife argued that since the man purchased the credits with joint funds that she should be entitled to a share of the increase. However, the California court disagreed. In their order, the justices stated that the woman was only entitled to fifty percent of the money that was spent to purchase the credits, which amounted to around $6,700.

Going through a contested divorce in a Utah court can be a difficult and stressful process. However, by carefully planning how the case will be litigated and by conducting the proper in and out-of-state research, an individual will be able to make the best argument possible. If properly prepared, this can result in a favorable decision being issued, which can assist both parties moving forward as they try and start their new life.

Proposals would streamline divorce procedures and cap payments

Common sense dictates that the more contested issues that there are in a divorce, the higher will be the costs for legal fees and other professionals. One study by a state commission recently found that divorces cost more, in particular, when the contestants are fighting about spousal support and alimony. In Utah, if there was more consistency in segments of the divorce process, people would be less engaged in litigating. This would bring the costs and time investment in a divorce down, or so the argument goes.

One problem revealed by the study is that judges are inconsistent from one case to another, which frustrates divorce litigants into not wanting to settle, which in turn further drives up the costs of divorce. One proposal applies a consistent formula to spousal support and alimony. This idea was implemented back in the 1980’s when all 50 states cooperated to reduce litigation by creating a basic formulaic template for child-support payments.

A bill now in front of the New York legislature would make it the first state to apply a formula to post-divorce alimony. It’s granted that such approaches won’t work for the Rupert and Wendi Murdoch divorces. However, for those more ordinary earning situations, calculations can be made that establish consistent ranges of alimony payments that are reasonably fair and justifiable.

Additionally, other rules can be applied to regulate the duration and to define the need for alimony. For example, the New York bill provides for alimony only if one of the spouses is a much higher earner. It also caps the amount so that the recipient does not end up earning more than the paying ex-spouse. Moreover, in any formulaic approach there must be an escape valve that takes into account exceptions and unusual fact situations.

One proposal for greater feasibility is to cap the maximum amounts to prevent unusually distorted or grossly unfair situations. Extremely top-heavy amounts at the high end of the scale encourage intensive litigation and are likely to be unfair in any analysis. Proposals like this for Utah and other states may in the future streamline the divorce process so that the costs can be kept within an affordable range.

Free Consultation with a Divorce Lawyer

If you have a question about divorce law or if you need to start or defend against a divorce case in Utah call Ascent Law at (801) 676-5506. We will help you.

Michael R. Anderson, JD

Ascent Law LLC
8833 S. Redwood Road, Suite C
West Jordan, Utah
84088 United States

Telephone: (801) 676-5506

from Salt Lake City Estate Planning

Moves and Relocation in Divorce

In situations where court ordered parenting time has already been established, and the residential parent or the school placement parent intends to move, the first issue that must be addressed is notice to the other parent. For information regarding notice of a move.

Once issues of notice have been properly taken care of, the next question becomes – what does this mean for your parenting order?  Are changes needed?  If so, what are they?

Moves and Relocation in Divorce

If the parents can agree regarding the appropriate changes to their parenting plan, if any, then the parties can submit appropriate paperwork to the Court to modify their parenting orders.  But what if the parties cannot agree?  If parties cannot reach an agreement on their own, if they wish, they may request the help of a mediator to reach agreement.  In addition, the Local Rules of your court or the terms of your parenting order or shared parenting plan may require you to attempt mediation before filing a motion with the Court.

If the move is imminent, and you believe time is of the essence to make sure that your Child is not permanently removed from the State, you may need to seek an Ex Parte Temporary Restraining Order.

If the non-moving parent is unable to reach agreement with the moving parent regarding moving the Child and/or the revised terms that should be in the parenting order, then the non-moving parent is left with two choices:

  1. Do nothing and hope that the other party will allow you reasonable access to your Child from the new location.  If you do this, your court ordered access remains the same as your prior order, although it may now be difficult and expensive to follow it.  Or,
  2. File a motion with the Court to change your custody, shared parenting, school placement parent, or parenting time.  In addition, you may wish to file a motion to modify child support to accommodate the travel expenses that are now involved in visitation.

Before an Utah court can modify custody, terminate shared parenting, or change the school placement parent, Utah law requires that the Court must first find there has been a change in

Moving or Relocation in Utah Custody, Shared Parenting and Visitation Cases

For purposes of this article, assume that moving parent and the non-moving parent have gone through the stages in the first three articles on this topic, and one or both parents have decided to go to court to seek a change of custody, shared parenting,  or the school placement parent in a shared parenting plan.  Utah law requires a court find that there has been a change in circumstances before making this modification.  In addition, the change cannot be a slight change; it must be a change of substance.

The court must find that:

…a change has occurred in the circumstances of the Child, the Child’s residential parent, or either of the parents subject to a shared parenting decree, and that the modification is necessary to serve the best interest of the Child. In applying these standards, the Court shall retain the residential parent designated by the prior decree or the prior shared parenting decree, unless a modification is in the best interest of the Child and one of the following applies:

(i) The residential parent agrees to a change in the designation of residential parent, or both parents, under a shared parenting decree, agree to a change in the designation of residential parent.

(ii) The Child, with the consent of the residential parent or of both parents under a shared parenting decree, has been integrated into the family of the person seeking to become the residential parent.

(iii) The harm likely to be caused by a change of environment is outweighed by the advantages of the change of environment to the Child.

In one court case, the appellate court found that a trial court abuses its discretion when it modifies custody based solely upon evidence that the residential parent intends to leave the State of Utah with the Child.  Many cases since have found that a move, in and of itself, does not constitute a change of circumstances.  However, there are also many cases that have found circumstances attendant to a move which, combined with the move itself, may constitute a change of circumstances.

Free Consultation with Divorce Lawyer in Utah

When you need moving, relocation, divorce or child custody help in Utah, call Ascent Law at (801) 676-5506 for your free consultation. We will help you.

Michael R. Anderson, JD

Ascent Law LLC
8833 S. Redwood Road, Suite C
West Jordan, Utah
84088 United States

Telephone: (801) 676-5506

from Salt Lake City Estate Planning

Variable Annuity Investment Lawyers

Variable annuities are a hybrid investment with features of securities and insurance.

Although they can help provide a fixed income later in life, variable annuities have restrictive, complex, and confusing features that make them inappropriate for many investors. They are also a high-commission investment product, which can lead to aggressive broker sales tactics.

Variable annuities are a leading cause of FINRA investor complaints. If you suffered investment losses from variable annuities and feel that their risks were not properly explained to you, your losses may be recoverable.

Variable Annuity Investment Lawyers


Typical features of variable annuities include:

  • Tax-deferred growth
  • A death benefit
  • Periodic payment options that can provide guaranteed lifetime income

When an investor buys a variable annuity, they make either a lump sum payment or a series of payments that are invested into sub-accounts (usually mutual funds). In return, the investor is promised a future benefit. The benefit payments can either begin right away (immediate annuity) or be delayed to the future (deferred annuity).

However, as the name “variable annuity” implies, the investment’s rate of return is not fixed. Rather, it varies depending on the performance of the sub-accounts.


Potential drawbacks of variable annuities are:

  • The investor will not achieve any gains—and may even lose money—since the rate of return is performance-based.
  • A lack of liquidity.
  • Fees and expenses such as surrender charges, sales charges, early withdrawal tax penalties, mortality and expense risk charges, and charges for special features such as guaranteed minimum income and principal protection.

While variable annuities have features similar to an Individual Retirement Account (IRA), IRAs offer more tax benefits. Investors are often better off maxing out their IRA contributions before they consider a variable annuity.


The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) has specific rules governing the sales of variable annuities.

When recommending a variable annuity to an investor, a broker must inform the customer of the investment’s risks and features, including things like potential tax penalties, market risk, and fees and costs.

Brokers must also understand the customer’s investment profile and have reason to believe that a variable annuity is suitable for a particular investor. As a secondary precaution against unsuitability, a principal broker with the firm must review and approve the customer’s variable annuity application before sending it to the issuing insurance company.

If these steps are not followed—and the client ends up losing money on the investment—the brokerage firm may ultimately be held responsible for the client’s losses under FINRA’s failure to supervise provisions.


Ponzi schemes—investment schemes that use money from new investors to pay off earlier investors, with little or no real earnings—have been around for nearly a century, and are still going strong.

While major Ponzi schemes such as the Bernie Madoff scam make headlines, many smaller, less-publicized Ponzi schemes result in investor losses every year.

Ponzi scheme masterminds may face civil and even criminal charges for investment fraud, but this rarely results in investors getting their money back. A more practical recovery strategy for defrauded investors is to bring a claim against the broker and brokerage firm that sold them shares in the Ponzi scheme.


Ponzi schemes are named after Charles Ponzi, who scammed thousands of New Englanders in a postage stamp scheme in the 1920s.

The investment vehicles have changed over time, but the basics of a Ponzi scheme remain the same: the scammer offers returns to investors, but rather than reinvesting the money and earning profit-based returns, the scammer simply finds new investors and uses their money to pay off existing investors. In short, the Ponzi schemer robs Peter to pay Paul.

As long as there are fresh investors, the scheme keeps going. At some point, however, new recruits dry up, the mastermind takes the money and runs, or numerous investors request to cash out (often during an economic downturn). When any of these occur, the Ponzi scheme collapses—taking investors down with it.


Bernie Madoff became a household name as the perpetrator of the largest Ponzi scheme in history. Madoff’s $65 billion fraud hurt large and small investors alike. Only a few fully recouped their losses.

Madoff’s fraud made investors more aware of Ponzi schemes. It also put more pressure on the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) to crack down on Ponzi Schemes, since Madoff flew under regulators’ radar for decades.

But Ponzi schemes are still a major investor threat. In 2016, 59 Ponzi schemes were uncovered in the U.S. with a total of $2.4 billion in losses. Since 2012, about 65 Ponzi schemes per year have been discovered. The mean scheme is worth $6 million.

Recent schemes show that scammers are finding new ways to defraud investors. For example, the SEC has warned about Ponzi schemes using virtual currencies (such as Bitcoin), while FINRA has warned about social media-linked Ponzis.

In 2017, the SEC charged two men with running a Ponzi scheme involving tickets to popular shows like the Broadway musical Hamilton and Adele concerts. Also in 2017, a former NFL player was charged for his role in a Ponzi scheme that targeted professional athletes.

The SEC offers a list of Ponzi scheme red flags that includes:

  • An offer of high returns with little or no risks
  • Returns that do not go up and down over time
  • Investments in unregistered securities
  • Account statement errors
  • Promoters offering investors even high returns for not cashing out


When a Ponzi scheme comes crashing down and the schemer is caught, there may be criminal proceedings that result in assets being returned to defrauded investors. But investors are unlikely to recover more than pennies on the dollar through such an action.

It is often more efficacious for Ponzi scheme victims to pursue securities litigation or arbitration against the broker and/or the brokerage firm that promoted investment in the scheme. A defrauded investor may also have viable claims against parties that aided and abetted the scheme, such as banks, attorneys, or accountants.

Free Initial Consultation with an Investment Lawyer

When you need legal help with securities, investments or other business matters, call Ascent Law for your free consultation (801) 676-5506. We want to help you.

Michael R. Anderson, JD

Ascent Law LLC
8833 S. Redwood Road, Suite C
West Jordan, Utah
84088 United States

Telephone: (801) 676-5506

from Salt Lake City Estate Planning

Environmental Lawyer in Salt Lake City

Research is indicating more and more everyday that the harmful effects of putrid and toxic air can extend further into our health than thoughts in years prior. As these discoveries have been made our nation has implemented several laws to ensure that the effects that may occur from hazardous products does not affect the innocent air breathed by many, especially children. Josh Freeman, an attorney in Salt Lake City says that environmental laws are some of the most revamped laws in recent years, as further study reveals more about how our bodies react to bad air.

Environmental Lawyer in Salt Lake City

Due to the mountains and dry air, many assume that Salt Lake City is an ideal place for health, but that isn’t true. Salt Lake City has for some time now, been on the top ten lists of the most polluted cities in American, due to many factors, but mainly the inversion that is created within and throughout the Happy Valley. The U.S. Environment Protection Agency has geared up in light of recent research to penalize and further punish companies that do not adhere to the certain codes and restrictions put into place for cleaner air. Once, again, Salt Lake City is no exception. Chevron, is one of the largest refineries in Salt Lake City and vastly lucrative, however recent findings indicate that they violated several parts of the Clean Air Act. They recently settled the matter with close to $400,000. On the one hand, this may indicate a rougher year for Chevron, but a better one for local residents. According to studies, women are far more likely to have autistic children if they are exposed to polluted air while pregnant. Men and women alike have been known to develop lung problems, crippling asthma and possibly cancer, depending on the carcinogens in the air. Any lawyer in Utah can tell you that environmental law and business development law are coinciding now more than ever.

Salt Lake City is working tirelessly towards a cleaner environment with the help of local officials and many are welcoming the slight bump on the city’s economy as a necessary evil. Now that these new rules are set into place, new business owners and builders have a unique opportunity to make Salt Lake City a new and improved part of Utah and the country.

As marijuana business industry grows, Utah business attorneys warn would-be entreprenuers

Recently Reporter Jonathan Fahey gained attention from newspapers and online news sources around the country for his in-depth piece about marijuana business where he analyzed multiple perspectives – including that of entrepreneurs, consumers, and investors – and discussed the wacky world of making a profit of weed. Fahey drew attention to the fact that the dubious legal status of weed in some states, and its varying legal status in others, makes a successful business model somewhat difficult to implement. Utah business attorneys watching the climate of their own state agree, but will they be ready to handle the task at hand? Or will it fall to opportunistic consultants with little legal background who happen to be in the right place at the right time?

Part of the problem is that “it’s a gray market industry,” and the nation “hasn’t decided whether marijuana is a dangerous illegal drug or not much worse than tobacco or alcohol.” Federal law still classifies it as an illegal narcotic on par with heroin, while 23 states have legalized it for medical use, and two regulate and tax it for the general adult public. Even Utah, one of the most meticulously conservative states, allows that some studies have shown enough benefit of forms of cannabis for the substance to be legally used as an ointment for patients with seizure disorders—as long as they procure it from outside the state, a Utah business attorney would be wise to remind us.

But for individuals taking individual risks, some of the legal implications are less complicated than those of the entrepreneurs and investors getting their hands dirty with weedy opportunities. For starters, the majority of banks won’t loan prospective business owners any money. It’s not legal, federally, and banks aren’t keen on violating anti-trafficking laws by sullying themselves by association with legal pot sellers. Entrepreneurs have to be not only crafty and tenacious, but wealthy too. Enough so to deal in cash or form partnerships with those who have it—which has made some unlikely alliances for pot startups, a Utah business attorney would know.

Investor money is just “sloshing around” right now, Fahey says. People are eager to get in on the weed business early, but a major issue is that because of the cash-based system and lack of transparency and clear regulation, opportunistic companies often surface and take the cash of investors without “a long-term business plan that coldly assess the market and the risks.” Most are in it for a quick buck, and few companies offer “legitimate opportunities” for investors.

Unlicensed, unexperienced consultants pose another hazard to the marijuana industry, a Utah business attorney should warn potential entrepreneurs in the Beehive State waiting for the substance to be legalized at home. “Some act as matchmakers, promising to connect investors with entrepreneurs… others sell help navigating the licensing process, tips on how best to grow marijuana, or advice about how to manage a startup that must operate outside the banking system,” Fahey says in the AP article. Which means having someone one your side who knows the law and is experienced in the intricacies of business legalities. Because it’s probably coming to Utah, though it may be coming slowly.

Free Initial Consultation with a Utah Lawyer

It’s not a matter of if, it’s a matter of when. Legal problems come to everyone. Whether it’s your son who gets in a car wreck, your uncle who loses his job and needs to file for bankruptcy, your sister’s brother who’s getting divorced, or a grandparent that passes away without a will -all of us have legal issues and questions that arise. So when you have a law question, call Ascent Law for your free consultation (801) 676-5506. We want to help you.

Michael R. Anderson, JD

Ascent Law LLC
8833 S. Redwood Road, Suite C
West Jordan, Utah
84088 United States

Telephone: (801) 676-5506

from Salt Lake City Estate Planning