Utah divorce details
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Uncontested VS Contested Divorce in Utah
There are two main types of divorce - contested and uncontested.
Contested divorce refers to time-consuming and expensive litigation with numerous court hearings. This process may even seem someone humiliating because the spouses often have to "wash dirty linen in public", figuring out who is at fault and who should get more benefits. Children of the marriage also participate in an interview before the court during custody discussion.
In comparison, an uncontested divorce implies that the spouses resolve all the most important terms of their divorce outside of court. Also, an uncontested divorce is based on the no-fault ground, so there is no need to prove someone’s misconduct and re-live negative emotions. In addition, an uncontested divorce may be arranged without an attorney’s help, so it’s final cost is much less.
Uncontested Divorce in Utah
An uncontested divorce can be a great bargain for couples with or without children, don’t request an alimony or child support at all, or just able to decide these issues with a jointly written agreement.
If the spouses want to make a settlement agreement (the Stipulation) they’d better negotiate and resolve all the problems in advance, before filing the divorce papers. If there are some difficulties with the Stipulation, they may attend divorce mediation sessions. The state of Utah welcomes uncontested divorces and provides enough tools to divorce without extra complications.
Grounds for Divorce in Utah
Utah is a mixed state, that means that it recognizes both fault and no-fault grounds for divorce. Before 1987, there was no opportunity of filing for divorce without blaming your spouse, but then a no-fault ground of “irreconcilable differences" was established.
Now, “irreconcilable differences” is the most common ground for divorce in Utah. All that the court should know is the marriage is irreparably broken for some reasons, and the spouses don’t want to reconcile.
The fault grounds for divorce in Utah are:
- Willful desertion for more than one year.
- Habitual drunkenness.
- Felony conviction.
- Cruel and inhuman treatment.
- Willful neglect.
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Utah Residency Requirements to File for Divorce
To be eligible for divorce in Utah, the spouses must meet the relevant residency requirements. At least one of them must be a resident of the state of Utah for 90 days before filing the petition. If minor children are involved, one of the spouses must reside in Utah for at least 180 days.
How to File for an Uncontested Divorce in Utah?
If the couple meets the residency requirements, and their desire to get divorced is mutual and are ready to cooperate in resolving such important issues as child custody, support, and visitation, alimony, property division and others, an uncontested divorce is a good choice. Note that according to your personal situation, you may need some additional forms and actions. Regardless, here are the main 4 steps you definitely should take to get an uncontested divorce in Utah:
- File the Petition for divorce and all the other documents with the right court (you may file them with the district court in the county where you live or where your spouse resides for the last 3 months).
- Serve your spouse with the copies of documents. Make sure they received the forms.
- Your spouse has 20 days to give a response, but regardless, after filing the petition, there is a 90-day waiting period in Utah, so the divorce can’t be finalized before. However, there is one exception. The waiting period is waived for couples who complete the mandatory educational course for divorcing parents.
- The judge considers your forms and the Stipulation, and if everything looks good, the Decree of Divorce is signed and the divorce is finalized. You don’t have to attend the hearing in some cases.
Do-It-Yourself Divorce in Utah
In Utah, you are allowed to represent yourself before the court. In other words, you can arrange a DIY divorce. DIY divorce means that you don’t contest the divorce case and also regulate all the issues without an attorney. Speaking of do-it-yourself divorce, it’s your responsibility to collect the right forms and to complete them properly.
Utah Legal Services provides a kind of self-help guide with Q&A on divorce for all those couples who try to finalize the divorce by themselves. The state divorce orientation course may also help a lot.
How Much Does an Uncontested Divorce Cost?
The cost of any divorce case starts with a mandatory filing fee that is charged for the court’s services. In Utah, the divorce filing fee is $310. Additional costs may include the "Divorce parenting class" (about $55 for each spouse), Sheriff’s service, divorce mediation, and legal fees if you hire an attorney for your uncontested divorce (between $250 and $1,000).
How Long Does It Take to Get Divorced in Utah?
The whole length of your uncontested divorce in Utah from start to finish depends on plenty of conditions. Usually, once the Petition is filed with the court, the divorce can’t be granted earlier than after 90 days due to the mandatory waiting period, unless it's cancelled.
How to Serve Your Spouse in Utah
Although officially you have 120 days to serve your spouse with the divorce paperwork, you’d better begin the process immediately after filing the initial forms with the court. In Utah, there are three ways how to deliver the divorce paperwork to the second party:
- Unlike many other states, in Utah, you can hand the documents to your spouse personally.
- You can hire the Sheriff to deliver the forms.
- You can use a private process server.
In any case, it’s your responsibility as the filing spouse to submit verification of service to the court.
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Documents You Need to Get a Divorce in Utah
All the required divorce forms and documents may vary according to your county, court, and personal situation. However, below is a list of basic forms for your Utah divorce that you should fill out regardless:
- Civil Cover Sheet
- Petition for Divorce
- Vital Statistics Form/Certificate of Dissolution
- Acceptance of Service, Appearance, Consent and Waiver
- An Affidavit of Jurisdiction and Grounds for Divorce
- Decree of Divorce
The following forms are needed if you have children:
- Child Support Obligation Worksheets
- Affidavit of Income Verification and Compliance with Child Support Guidelines.
Online Divorce in Utah
In Utah, online divorce is understood as a process where documents are prepared online, though they still need to be submitted with the court.
The Utah courts provide online forms for an uncontested divorce, so if you definitely know what forms are necessary for your case, you may use this option and make your DIY divorce a little bit easier.
If you don’t want to learn the state and county laws and rules, you are welcome to seek for a help of online divorce company like ours.
After you provide us with some basic information regarding your case, we select the appropriate forms and adapt them according to your county’s rules. You can entrust this job to our specialists and don’t have to worry about anything. Just for $149 and within a day, you can receive your ready-to-sign divorce paperwork packet.
Rules for Child Support and Visitation in Utah
Utah law declares that different types of custody can be awarded according to the best interests of the child. This means there are no gender preferences, and the court decides the custody issue individually for each couple. There are two main types of custody in Utah:
- Physical custody. Usually, people think this determines which of the parents live with the child, but under the state laws, it means that the child stays in that parent’s home for more than 30% of their time a year. So, such an official definition of a physical custody makes it possible to appoint it both separately and jointly, if close contact with both parents is considered to be good for the child. Furthermore, children’s wishes are also taken into account.
- Legal custody. Legal custody refers to parents’ rights and liabilities, and their decision-making power. Utah courts may award both separate or joint legal custody, or even allocate some particular responsibilities to each spouse.
As a presumption, Utah family courts welcome joint custody. If the spouses agree and are ready to cooperate for the children’s welfare, if they both were involved in the upbringing process prior to the divorce, and now they made a parenting plan, joint custody most likely will be awarded.
As for child support, both parents may be ordered to make these payments. Child support includes healthcare costs and insurance, daycare, and others.
The spouses can agree on a certain amount of child support independently, and the court will consider it and approve if it’s fair. For other cases, there are “The Utah Child Support guidelines” that help to estimate an acceptable amount of support according to the both spouses’ income and the children’s needs.
To calculate the amount of child support, you should fill out the Child Support Worksheet. This form takes into account all the important factors that may affect the final amount.
Rules for Spousal Support in Utah
Spousal support, also known as alimony, is payment made from one former spouse to the other in order to compensate for the financial conditions changes caused by divorce.
Under the Utah law, the gender of the spouse can’t affect an alimony order, so each spouse may request a support. Usually, spousal support is paid by the party who was the breadwinner of the family, and therefore, has a greater capacity to earn money.
There is no special alimony calculator. So when deciding alimony, the court considers numerous factors that can clarify the situation and show what amount and length of support would be fair.
For example, the judge takes into account the length of marriage; child custody arrangement; each spouse’s property, earning capacity, and professional skills; each spouse’s special needs; standard of living maintained prior to divorce; and so on. Although fault and misconduct of one spouse can’t cancel the alimony order, it may affect it greatly in some cases.
The length of alimony is not stable or permanent as it differs depending on a case. In Utah, alimony may be ordered for such a long time as the length of the marriage. However, often it is awarded for a shorter time, just as a sort of rehabilitation.
Division of Property in Utah
Utah is an equitable distribution state. The court considers each divorce case separately to decide what would be fair, and eventually, the spouses may get completely unequal shares.
All the property owned by each spouse before the marriage (plus some personal gifts and inheritances given to one spouse) is separate, and is kept by the initial owner.
All the property acquired during the marriage is marital, regardless of title. All the marital property is subject to division. Utah judges are rather free to decide this issue, though they must still take into account certain factors such as child custody arrangement, health and financial circumstances of both spouses, some special need, contribution to the family welfare and to the marital property, and many others.
Note that marital property may be split evenly down the line like in community property states when it comes to long-term marriages. For short-term marriages, there is a tendency to try to approximate the spouses to such ratio of their financial conditions as it was before the divorce.
Division of Debt in Utah
Marital debts are assigned to the spouses along with marital property, and under the same principles of equitable division.
Thus, the court may split the debt between both spouses equally or allocate it to each spouse in different portions, or even decide that only one of them is responsible for the entire marital debt.
In order to decide on this issue, the court must know who caused the debt, under whose name it is, and what was the purpose of the loan was.
Divorce Mediation in Utah
Divorce mediation is an alternative dispute resolution which implies that the spouses personally meet to negotiate most complicated divorce issues with the help of a neutral attorney. The mediator is qualified to overcome misunderstandings and can help to discuss all the problems constructively.
Mediation is a perfect option for any uncontested divorce, as it aims to create a successful settlement agreement (an essential document for such a type of dissolution). Moreover, sometimes a divorce mediation can make a litigation unnecessary even for those couples who initially were going to contest their case.
In Utah, attending the divorce mediation sessions is required for each divorcing couple since 2005. Thus, Utah jurisdiction demonstrates that peaceful and easy divorces are welcomed by the state law, and every couple should use their chance to resolve the significant issues like child custody, alimony, property division and others in an amicable way before going to trial.
You may need several or just one session, as it all depends on your personal circumstances, and no one can force you to participate in more sessions than you really need. Furthermore, mediation is popular for its confidentiality, affordability, and much less emotional harm as compared to litigation.
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How to Divorce a Missing Spouse in Utah
If you can’t locate your spouse to serve them with the divorce paperwork in a proper way, you may still get a divorce. Such a type of divorce is called the divorce by publication. You must take the following steps to arrange it:
- If you have no idea where your spouse is, you must make a diligent search including checking telephone books, directory assistance, asking the relatives and acquaintances, and trying all other possible methods.
- If your efforts are ineffectual, you should complete an Affidavit of Diligent Search form and submit it with the court. This form provides the court with information about all your attempts to find your spouse. These facts must convince the judge that it is impossible to contact the missing spouse.
- Once the judge signs an Order, the divorce by publication can proceed. You should publish the notice about your case (Summons) in a local newspaper (in the county where your spouse is likely to have a chance to read it).
- Then you should fill out three other forms - a Motion for Alternative Service, an Affidavit of Alternative Service, and an Order Permitting Alternative Service.
Default Divorce in Utah
Default divorce takes place if the non-filing spouse fails to respond to the Petition for divorce. As a result, the divorce is granted without their participation. In fact, divorce by publication is a kind of default divorce, but sometimes, the second party does not respond even though they were properly served with all the documents.
In Utah, once your spouse is served with the divorce paperwork, they have 20 days to give an answer if they reside in the state, and 30 days if out-of-state. After this period, you are allowed to ask the court for the divorce by default.
Annulment of Marriage in Utah
Annulment is the procedure that terminates the marriage, proclaiming it void in the eyes of the law. In other words, an annulled marriage is considered to have never existed.
Unlike a divorce, you can’t get an annulment just because you (or you and your spouse jointly) want it. In Utah, there are 6 official grounds for the annulment of marriage:
- Fraud marriage (lies or hidden facts about something that affects the relationship significantly).
- Incest (first cousins or closer).
- Underage marriage (under the age of 18 without parents' consent, under 16 even with parents' consent)
- Misrepresentation (lies about certain facts harmful to the other spouse).
Legal Separation in Utah
Legal separation is also known as separate maintenance in Utah. This process is quite similar to divorce - the spouses live separate and apart, they resolve children-related issues, divide the property, and may request a spousal support. The main difference is that the spouses remain legally married and are not allowed to remarry.
Legal separation occurs under the same residency requirements as divorce does and demands the same steps to be taken including filing the petition, serving your spouse with the forms, making a written agreement, and others.
Legal separation takes less time than a divorce because there is no waiting period. Furthermore, once the legal separation is entered, the couple can get an easy divorce 3 years later.
Legal separation is often chosen instead of a divorce for some religious reasons, or by those couples who have hopes of reconciliation.
Same-Sex Divorce in Utah
Same-sex marriages were recognized in Utah by the Federal Court decision in June 2014. So nowadays, all the married couples regardless of sexual orientation have the same rights and have to take the same steps in order to arrange their divorces in the state of Utah.
Military Divorce in Utah
If you or your spouse serve in the military, you can file for divorce in Utah if you're stationed there as a service member as if you reside in the state.
One more peculiarity of a Utah military uncontested divorce is that the military spouse may not have to be served as long as they complete and sign a waiver affidavit.
Furthermore, all military spouses are protected from the default divorce by the federal laws. While in a civil case, a Defendant has 20 days to respond to the petition and the military divorce can be postponed for the whole time of the military service member’s active duty and another 60 days thereafter.
Issues of a Military Divorce are ruled by the Soldiers and Sailors Civil Relief Act and the Uniformed Services Former Spouses’ Protection Act.
How to Divorce a Spouse in Jail in Utah
To divorce an inmate spouse, you must serve them with the divorce paperwork as in any regular divorce case. You may hire the sheriff or a private process server to deliver the papers to your spouse on your behalf.
An uncontested divorce in Utah can occur without an incarcerated spouse’s participation, so sometimes inmates want to contest the case in order to leave the jail for a court appearance. Note that a contested divorce may cost even more than usual if it’s with an inmate spouse.
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Utah Divorce Filing Fee
Court filing fees are in addition to the cost of using DivorceFiller.com. This cost may vary by county. Please check with your local courthouse to determine the exact amount.
Can a Filing Fee Be Waived?
The filing fee can be waived. You should complete the Motion to Waive Fees form and submit it to the court along with your Financial Affidavit. These forms are needed to clarify your financial condition and prove to the court that you really can’t afford to pay the filing fee.
How We Can Help
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