Whatever the initial causes, divorce is a trying and draining experience for everyone involved. According to a study by the U.S. Census Bureau, Utahns experience divorce at a rate that is higher than the national average—3.6 percent compared to 3.4 percent for all Americans.
This means that Utahns are more likely than most to go through this potentially difficult and frequently overwhelming process.
Here is a step-by-step breakdown of the divorce procedure in Utah to assist in alleviating some of the uncertainty and fear surrounding the process.
Hiring an experienced divorce lawyer is frequently in your best interests to assist in safeguarding your assets and child custody issues because divorce in Utah may quickly turn unpleasant and argumentative.
How To File Divorce In Utah
Be aware that Utah permits divorce on both blame and no-fault grounds as you start the divorce process. Additionally, you should be aware that divorce cases in Utah are subject to a resident permit.
This means that at least three months must have passed before the filing date for you or your spouse to have resided in the state. Your children must typically have lived in Utah for at least six months before you can file for divorce if child custody is a factor in the case.
Residency Requirements In Utah
The divorce action must be filed in any county in Utah where either spouse has resided for at least three (3) months prior to filing the action with the court.
According to the law, a divorce cannot be finalized in court until at least ninety (90) days have passed since the action was filed. Although it has the authority to do so, the court is hesitant to do so unless there is an extremely compelling reason; just wanting the marriage to terminate as soon as possible is insufficient.
If both parties attend the requisite “Divorce Parenting Education Class,” as required by Utah law, and if the parties have small children, the waiting time is eliminated.
The initial ninety (90) day waiting period is mandated under Utah divorce rules as a “cooling-off period” in the hopes that the parties will be able to work things out.
A divorce decree frequently becomes final on the date the court signs it, unless the judge determines there is a good reason to keep the parties waiting for a while. After receiving the final papers, the judge often signs the decree within a few days.
The divorce is deemed to be complete once the judge signs the decree and the clerk files it, without further action from the parties or the court.
Prior to filing for annulments or separate maintenance, there are no time limits on the residence. Additionally, in those kinds of cases, there are no waiting periods. As a result, if all parties consented and there were no obstacles, a party may move to Utah, file an action for an annulment or separate maintenance on the same day, and the action could be concluded in a matter of weeks.
Grounds For Divorce In Utah
The “fault” concept, which was once the standard in divorce procedures in Utah, required that one spouse point the finger at the other or find fault with them in order to establish grounds for divorce. A law Utah passed in 1987 permits divorce where there are “irreconcilable conflicts,” such as when the parties can no longer “pursue the legitimate purposes of the marriage.”
According to this statute, one partner may inform the court that the marriage is “no longer working” without pointing the finger at the other. This is referred to as a “no blame” divorce clause.
The divorce procedure no longer results in the spouse who initiated the divorce losing rights and assets, contrary to what the law once said both practically and legally. The person who files for divorce is known as the “Respondent,” whereas the person against whom the divorce is filed is known as the “Petitioner.”
The statutory grounds for divorce in Utah are as follows:
- Unbridgeable conflicts between the parties.
- During the time of marriage, impotence.
- Adultery that was committed after marriage.
- Leaving the other spouse out of pure malice for more than a year
- Wilful failure to provide basic needs for life.
- habitual intoxication
- Verdict for a crime.
- cruel treatment severe enough to result in serious physical harm or severe emotional suffering
- The couple has maintained their separate living arrangements under a separate maintenance order for three years running.
- Permanent and untreatable SENOLENCE (must be established by competent medical testimony).
Prepare Your Divorce Documents
Your lawyer will prepare your documentation if you’re working with one. If not, you can draught the divorce petition and supporting documentation utilizing the state’s Online Court Assistance Program (OCAP); using this service will cost you $20. Before they can be submitted, completed forms need to be notarized by a notary public.
Serve your partner
You have 120 days from the time your divorce petition is filed to serve your spouse with this petition, a summons, and any other filed paperwork. The sheriff’s office, a private corporation, or certified mail can all perform service. For the court to take action on your divorce petition, proof of service is necessary.
Wait for Your Spouse’s Answer
Your spouse will have 21 days, or 30 days if they are out of state, to reply after being served. If they do respond, each party will be required to provide the other with a Financial Declaration form explaining all pertinent financial information.
If your husband doesn’t respond, you can ask the court to issue a default judgement, which will grant you everything you requested in your petition.
Your spouse might submit a stipulation in place of a response if they concur with all of the points made in your divorce petition. At this stage, the required paperwork can be prepared using the OCAP Divorce Stipulation Questionnaire, and the divorce can then be finalized.
Difference Between Decree Of Separate Maintenance And a Divorce Decree In Utah
Only until a judge has issued a decision of separate maintenance are parties considered to be “legally separated.” In Utah, the parties must go through a divorce-like process to acquire an order of separate maintenance.
A decree of separate maintenance does not dissolve the marriage; instead, it distributes property, assigns child custody, pays for child support and alimony, etc., on a temporary basis. Because the parties are “still married” and the law mandates spouses to support one another, alimony under an order of separate maintenance is more common than under a divorce decision.
For a separate maintenance case, attorney fees and court expenses are the same as for a divorce action. The charges and fees for the divorce must be paid a second time if the parties elect to get a divorce after a decision of separate maintenance has been obtained.
Ask for Temporary Order if Necessary
Before the divorce decree is final, certain matters may need to be resolved, such as who is allowed to use the marital residence or who will be in charge of any minor children while the divorce is ongoing. In certain situations, either party may ask the judge to make a temporary ruling that will be in effect until the divorce is finalized.
Grounds For An Annulment In Utah
A court’s determination that a marriage was invalid when it occurred is known as an annulment. This is distinct from a divorce, which ends a legal marriage.
These are the top three reasons for annulments:
Lack of capacity
Lack of capacity refers to a situation in which a person was legally unable to marry, such as being underage, not fully divorced from a former marriage, mentally ill, or intoxicated enough to be reckless.
When a significant and material lie genuinely impacts the choice to get married, such as when a woman falsely informs a potential spouse that she is pregnant with his child or a man falsely represents himself to be the president of General Motors, “fraud” may be cause for an annulment.
Lack of disclosure.
When a significant and important truth is not disclosed before the marriage, such as if a spouse fails to disclose numerous prior marriages or a major criminal past, this “lack of disclosure” may be cause for an annulment. An annulment might be granted if a party can convince the court that he or she would not have entered into the marriage if this crucial fact had been disclosed.
When an incestuous marriage occurs in Utah, an annulment may also be issued. When two people marry who are blood relatives, cousins, or have a marriage-related relationship, the union is typically seen as incestuous.
If a legally qualified individual performed the marriage ceremony, an annulment might also be granted; however, a Utah statute passed in 1987 recognizes “common law” marriage, asserting that in certain limited situations, a marriage may be lawful even without a formal ceremony.
A person must be 15 years old to lawfully marry in Utah. Between the ages of 16 and 18, getting married requires formal consent from the parents. In addition to having parental consent, a person under the age of 15 must also get a judge’s approval before being married if the court finds that they are doing it freely.
In Utah, either a man or a woman can get married without parental consent after turning 18.
Cost Of Divorce In Utah
An easy, uncontested divorce in Utah typically costs between $250 and $1,000 in legal fees. Additionally, there are court expenses, including filing fees (currently $318) and sheriff’s fees for serving documents, if necessary.
The attorney’s costs will significantly rise and be billed on an hourly basis if a divorce is disputed and/or involves a full trial. In a contentious divorce, fees in the tens of thousands of dollars are not out of the ordinary.
In a contentious divorce, additional costs such as expert witness fees for appraisers or custody assessments are likely to arise. In the event that the divorce is disputed, both parties will pay similar legal costs.
According to Utah law, one spouse who cannot afford legal representation during a divorce proceeding may request a court order compelling the other spouse to cover their legal expenses. However, a spouse shouldn’t count on the other spouse to cover their legal costs.
In Utah, several organizations may offer free divorce legal services to those who cannot afford them. Based on poverty thresholds, availability is determined. Contact the Salt Lake Legal Aid Society or Utah Legal Services for details on potential aid in Salt Lake County.
What Happens When Spouse Does Not Respond To Divorce Papers
If the respondent spouse does not file any papers to oppose or to respond to the divorce case within the required time (often twenty (20) days) following the issuance of a summons by the sheriff, the divorce will be granted exactly as requested in the complaint. Unless the respondent provides some sort of answer, the judge will typically not contest the requests made in the divorce complaint.
The responder spouse should respond to or contest any points in the divorce complaint that they believe are incorrect or unjust. A formal legal pleading or document known as an “answer” is used to make that challenge.
It is challenging to modify the conditions of a divorce decision once it has been approved by the court. The optimum time to oppose any aspect of the divorce on behalf of the respondent spouse is at the outset of the divorce action. The respondent spouse must demonstrate a significant change in circumstances after the divorce in Utah was granted in order to amend things later.
Although it could be challenging to afford or obtain legal assistance to refute an unfair divorce lawsuit, doing so would be beneficial in the long run. When the divorce action is still pending, as opposed to after the divorce has been granted by the court, an attorney can best safeguard your interests.
In Utah, there is no set amount of time that must pass before a divorce can be granted. No matter how long you’ve been apart, 91 days after filing for divorce, the court will approve it.
No, there is no benefit to one spouse filing for divorce before the other. The petitioner is the spouse who initiates the divorce process.
Divorce that is not contested, whether there are or not. Even if you and your spouse agree on all the points, it will take at least 90 days because Utah law requires a 90-day waiting period after filing for divorce before it may be granted. You could attempt to waive the waiting time, though.