Filing for a divorce accomplishes two things: terminating the marital relationship and dividing debts and assets.
The issue of alimony may also arise as well as child custody and support for minor children.
You or your spouse need to be a resident of any county in Utah for at least three months before filing your divorce petition.
The state allows for fault and no-fault grounds for divorce. Some legal issues, such as the division of assets or child custody, may require the assistance of an attorney.
The Different Types of Divorce and Processes in Utah
The type of divorce you want will determine the process you must take to resolve the matter. There are different types of divorce in Utah as well as methods.
- Do-it-yourself divorce
- Collaborative divorce
Which is the best divorce process? Depending on your circumstances, each type of divorce has advantages and disadvantages.
If you must deal with custody issues, the child must have lived with at least one parent in Utah for at least six months. There are exceptions, however.
You may also be granted a divorce in Utah if you are a member of the U.S Armed Forces but are not a resident of Utah. It would help if you were stationed in Utah three months before filing for divorce.
Where to File your Divorce in Utah
You need to file your divorce in the District Court in the county where you or your spouse met the residency requirement.
Grounds for Divorce in Utah
The grounds for divorce are the legally accepted reasons to get a divorce. These are the justifications of validations for terminating a marital relationship.
Like most states, Utah has no-fault and fault-based grounds for divorce.
No-fault Divorce in Utah
Utah is a “no-fault” state which means you do not need the consent of your spouse to file for a divorce,
A no-fault divorce is a type wherein either spouse does not need to prove to the court that the bad acts of a spouse were the cause of the divorce petition. For example:
- If, you or your spouse has lived in any county in Utah for three months before the start of the divorce proceedings, or
- If, you and your spouse have not lived together for three consecutive years with a court order of separate maintenance or alimony, or
- if irreconcilable differences, or disagreements, exist between the spouses.
No-fault divorces in Utah are resolved faster because the spouses do not have to prove or argue who was responsible for the divorce.
Fault-based Divorce in Utah
A fault-based divorce is a type wherein one of the spouses must prove to the court that the other spouse is guilty of any of the following and was the cause for the failure of the marriage.
- Wilful desertion or abandonment for more than one year, without legal justification or consent
- Willful neglect or stopped providing for a spouse’s everyday needs.
- A spouse was convicted of a felony while married.
- A spouse is habitually drunk.
- A spouse is incurably insane.
- A spouse inflicts physical injury or great mental anguish.
How to File for Divorce in Utah
Here is the process for how I file for divorce in Utah.
Step 1: File the Divorce Petition
As you file for a divorce in Utah, be aware that the state allows for fault and no-fault grounds for divorce. You should also know that the courts of Utah require a residency for divorce proceedings (3 months before the filing date).
When custody of minor children is an issue, the children must have resided in Utah for at least six months before the filing date.
You are not required to hire an attorney when filing for divorce in Utah. However, some legal issues, such as the division of assets or child custody, may require the assistance of an attorney.
Preparing your Divorce Documents
If you work with attorneys, they will prepare all the pertinent documents. If not, you may ask for assistance from the Online Court Assistance Program (OCAP) of Utah to prepare your divorce petition and other related documents.
There is a $20 fee for using the OCAP services. You should also have all the forms notarized before filing.
Filing the Divorce Documents
File your divorce documents in the office of the court clerk in your county of residence.
Serving the Divorce Petition
You have 120 days from filing the divorce petition to serve the summons and other documents to your spouse.
The summons can be served to your spouse via certified mail, a private company, or by the sheriff.
Summons within Utah (Form 1015GEJ). When the other spouse lives in Utah, they must respond within 21 days.
Summons outside of Utah (1016GEJ). When the other spouse lives outside Utah, they have to respond within 30 days.
Wait for your Spouse’s Reply
After being served the summons, your spouse has 21 days or 31 days (if they are out of state) to respond.
Both parties must then submit a Financial Declaration form to each other detailing all financial items.
If your spouse does not respond within the prescribed number of days, you can request the court to issue a default judgment.
In a default judgment, you will be granted everything you asked for in your Petition for divorce.
If your spouse agrees with all the issues outlined in your Petition for divorce, they must then file a stipulation instead of a response. At this point, you can use the OCAP Divorce Stipulation questions to prepare all the needed documents.
You can then proceed to have a final divorce agreement.
Step 2: Complete the Divorce Education Classes and Mediation
There are several more things you need to do after your spouse has been given a chance to reply to your Petition for divorce and before a trial can be scheduled.
This is the part of the divorce process where many of the issues can be resolved so there will be no need for a trial in front of a judge.
The 90-Day Waiting Period
Even if both spouses agree on all the issues in the divorce petition, judges in Utah are mandated to wait 90 days from the date the divorce petition was filed to grant the final divorce order.
The Divorce Education Classes
Couples going through the divorce process and with minor children are required to complete the Divorce Orientation and Divorce Education classes either in person or online.
The Divorce Orientation class discusses alternatives to divorce. The education class provides information on divorce affects children and how parents can make the process of acceptance of children more manageable.
Mandatory Mediation on Contested Issues
If the respondent spouse responds to your Petition of divorce, Utah laws require that the couple undergo a mediation session. This is a requirement before the judge grants the divorce.
It is the responsibility of the spouses to locate and pay for a mediator.
Asking for a Temporary Order
You can ask the judge for a temporary order when issues need to be settled before the divorce order is final. Some problems that an interim order may cover include who gets to stay in the marital home or who has custody of minor children during the divorce process.
Step 3: The Trial
Not all divorces have to reach the trial stage. But if you and your spouse cannot agree about any issues in your divorce decree, then your divorce process needs to go into trial.
A final attempt to settle your divorce case before going to trial takes place during a pre-trial conference. If both spouses cannot agree on the issues presented, the court will set a trial date.
If you are working with a divorce lawyer, he will help you prepare for the trial. During the trial, you will be presenting documents and witnesses to prove claims in your Petition for divorce.
Step 4: The Divorce Decree
The judge will sign your final divorce decree following mediation or trial. You are now divorced! You should get a copy of your finalized Divorce Decree for your records.
Any appeal to the judge’s decision should be done within 30 days.
Types of Divorce
There are generally two types of divorce:
The spouses agree on all issues related to the divorce, such as child custody, child support, division of property, and alimony (spousal support).
An uncontested divorce is less expensive and takes less time to resolve. There is no fighting in court, and the judge will only review and approve your Utah Marital Settlement Agreement.
The Utah Marital Settlement Agreement is a written contract between spouses detailing their relationship after an uncontested divorce. This legal document contains terms relating to child support, alimony, and property and debt division.
How Do I File For Divorce In Utah When It Is An Uncontested Divorce?
You and your spouse need to have an agreement on all issues before filing an uncontested divorce:
- Division of real estate and personal property from the marriage.
- Allocation of outstanding debt.
- Child Custody and Visitation
- Child Support
Mediation can help each spouse to find solutions that will work for them.
When all issues have been ironed out, a Marital Settlement Agreement (referred to as a “stipulation in Utah divorce laws) is prepared and submitted to the court with the divorce petition.
Uncontested Utah divorce forms include:
- Petition for Divorce
- Stipulation or Settlement Agreement
- Acceptance of Service, Appearance, Consent, and Waiver from the respondent. The respondent acknowledges they received a copy of the Petition and voluntarily waives the right to make a response.
The respondent also agrees that the court may enter a final judgment based on the petitioner’s requests.
If you have minor children:
- Affidavit of parents’ income
- Compliance with child-support guidelines
- Parenting plan and visitation schedule
- Child support worksheet
The paperwork required to complete an uncontested divorce in Utah varies from country to county. You will need to check with the local court clerk in your county for more information.
File the completed and signed forms at the office of the district court’s clerk of court where you or your spouse lived for the past three months.
After filing your divorce petition, Utah has a mandatory 30-day waiting period before you can get your final Divorce Decree
A contested divorce in Utah is when the spouses disagree on at least one issue and, therefore, seek the court’s judgment on the issues in their divorce.
The most commonly disputed issues are the division of property, debt, or divorce itself.
A contested divorce is more complex and stressful than an uncontested divorce. Higher legal fees, a longer divorce period, and more stress are the consequences of a contested divorce.
It is always recommended that spouses try to resolve issues and conflicts out of court and file for an uncontested divorce. Otherwise, the normal Divorce process commences.
How Much Does It Cost To File For Divorce In Utah?
The basic cost for an uncontested or contested divorce will be:
- Filing Fee – $325
- Fees for the serving of the Petition and summons to the respondent
- Fee to be paid to the Office of Vital Records and Statistics
- Fees for the Divorce Education class and the Divorce Orientation class (if there are minor children) – $65 (covers both spouses)
- Copying costs
- Attorney fees
You can request a fee waiver if you cannot afford the filing fee by filing a Motion to Waive Fees upon filing your Petition for divorce.
The judge might decide to waive all the court fees, or some of the court fees, or request more information so he can make the decision. You will then be given 14 days to file your corrected motion.
How long does a Divorce Take in Utah?
On average, an uncontested divorce in Utah should take three months to complete. Depending on the complexity of the issues, a contested divorce takes nine months or more.
The fastest divorce in Utah will never be shorter than 30 days – this is the required divorce waiting period in Utah.
Final Thoughts on How Do I File for a Divorce in Utah – Cost & Procedures
The process and costs of Filing for a Divorce depend on your circumstances. Are you filing an uncontested or contested divorce? Do you have minor children?
Divorce can be daunting and upsetting on many levels. The best thing you can do before filing for divorce in Utah is to equip yourself with all the information you need about the divorce process.