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Divorce In Utah

Divorce In Utah
Divorce In Utah

Divorce In Utah

To divorce in Utah, at least one spouse must live in a single county in the state of Utah for at least three months, with no breaks in that residency prior to filing for divorce. In Cases of Child Custody with a few exceptions, when child custody is a concern the child must normally reside in Utah with one parent, for at least six months prior to the divorce filing. In Utah, the divorce process begins when one spouse (the petitioner) or his or her lawyer uses the state’s Online Court Assistance Program (OCAP) to prepare the divorce petition, along with additional filing documents. The system is user-friendly, with instructions that are easy to follow. Utah’s court system warns against using documents obtained elsewhere, as they may not be acceptable. If you are confused about which documents are required or are unsure about any factors surrounding your divorce, then it is best to consult with a lawyer. Many lawyers offer free initial consultations, which can help you decide how best to proceed. After completing the required documents, the petitioners should hand-deliver or mail the documents to the county clerk’s office. If you have retained an attorney, he or she will handle this step for you and will guide you in additional interactions with the court. After filing, the petitioner must serve the other spouse (called the respondent) with the summons, petition for divorce, and other associated documents within 120 days of filing. Respondents living in Utah have 21 days to sign the Acceptance of Service and give it to the petitioner or his or her representative to file with the court or file it with the court themselves. Respondents living outside Utah have 30 days to complete this process.

• The petitioner may use FedEx, UPS, or the U.S. Postal Service to serve the respondent; if this method is used, choose a registered mail option that requires the respondent to sign for the documents.
• The petitioner may have an uninvolved third party over the age of 18 serve the respondent and sign an Acceptance of Service.
• A constable, sheriff, private investigator, or private process server can hand-deliver the documents and sign an Acceptance of Service.

The petitioner must then file a Proof of Service form with the court. This document states when and how the respondent was served and is completed by the person who conducted the service. If you used a third party to serve the respondent, they may file the Proof of Service on your behalf. A copy of the completed Proof of Service form and a Certificate of Service form should be mailed to the respondent, or to his or her lawyer. The original Proof of Service and Certificate of Service forms are then filed with the court.

Grounds For Divorce In Utah

There are a number of grounds for divorce in Utah, which include:
• Impotency of the respondent at the time the marriage took place
• Adultery
• Willful desertion for more than one year
• Willful neglect to provide the common necessities of life
• Habitual drunkenness
• Felony conviction
• Cruel treatment resulting in mental distress or bodily injury
• Incurable insanity
• Prior to filing, the respondent must have been adjudged insane by appropriate authorities in Utah or another state
• Competent witnesses must testify to the respondent’s state of incurable insanity
• Irreconcilable differences
• When spouses have lived separately under a Decree of Separate Maintenance for three years without cohabitation, in any state.

When The Respondent Cannot Be Located

If the petitioner cannot locate the respondent to serve him or her, or if the petitioner believes that the respondent is attempting to avoid service, then he or she must demonstrate that they have used “reasonable diligence” in attempting to serve divorce papers when requesting that the court allow alternative service. The judge will determine how best to proceed in serving the respondent using a variety of alternative methods.

Financial Declarations In Utah Divorce

After the respondent files his or her response, both parties must prepare Financial Declarations disclosing all income, assets, expenses, and debts. Utah divorce laws require that the following documents be attached when applicable:
• Copies of financial statements backing up claims of income, assets, expenses, and debts outlined in the Financial Declaration document.
• Documents that verify real estate value including any refinance documents, tax valuation, and/or appraisal documents; additional documents concerning real estate may be required on a case-by-case basis.
• Two years worth of tax documents
• 12 months worth of pay stubs and/or other evidence of income of any kind
• Copies of any financial statements and/or loan applications that were either prepared by or used during the 12 months prior to the date of filing for divorce.
• 3 months worth of statements for all financial accounts and retirement accounts, including any that were closed within or after those 3 months including but not limited to:
 Checking
 Savings
 certificates of deposit
 money market funds
 brokerage
 investments

Additional Issues Surrounding Utah Divorce

The court will require documentation surrounding other issues on a case by case basis:
 Alimony
 Child support
 Child Custody and Parent Time – Parents may request a professional evaluation for child custody, or the judge may order a custody evaluation. The cost of the evaluation is typically split between the parents.
 Property Division
 Debt Division

If the parties are able to reach an agreement, the judge will sign the final divorce decree. If parties disagree, the divorce will go to trial. A pre-trial conference is required prior to trial scheduling; this is one more attempt to settle the divorce. If no settlement can be reached, then the conference will be used to determine which issues will be taken to trial. Trials can be complicated and expensive; additionally, they take time to come to completion based on details of the case as well as the court’s calendar. The judge will sign a final divorce decree only after all issues have been settled. In some cases, judgment may be set aside so that further litigation may take place.

How Long Does A Divorce Take In Utah?

In Utah, there is a divorce waiting period of 30 days between the date of filing and the date the judge signs the final divorce decree. Parties may request the court to waive the waiting period. Note that complicated divorces may take far longer than 30 days to complete.

How Much Will It Cost?

The cost of a divorce in Utah varies from one case to the next, with legal fees making up the bulk of the charges. The basic Utah divorce filing fee is $318. There are additional court fees for services, such as having papers served by a sheriff or constable, online court assistance, required classes for divorcing parents of children under 18, and the Utah divorce certificate itself. If you cannot afford to file your case, you may request a waiver by filing a Motion to Waive Fees and submitting documentation supporting a statement of financial difficulty. The statement of financial difficulty must include a detailed outline of your income and expenses, a description of property you own, and a breakdown of your credit and debts. A judge will review your request and determine whether to grant a waiver for some of the fees.

There are certain Utah divorce fees which cannot be waived including:
 The costs of having an out-of-state sheriff, constable, or private process server serve the other party with divorce papers.
 Fees associated with serving the other party via mail.
 Fees associated with having a legal notice published in a newspaper.
 Fees for transcripts, copies, or postage.
 Witness fees associated with your case.
 Fees for having the county recorder record your divorce judgment at the conclusion of the case.

Special Divorce Laws In Utah

When parents of minor children divorce in Utah, they are required to attend mandatory divorce orientation classes and divorce education classes. Classes are also required in cases of temporary separation. While not mandatory, the state also offers a divorce education class for children, designed to help minor children understand divorce and work through common issues. When a Utah divorce is contested, mediation is mandatory. The mediation process is designed to help both parties work through their issues and come to an agreement. If either party feels unsafe with the mediation process or has another good cause to avoid mediation, he or she may ask the Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) officer to waive the mediation requirement.

Dating After Divorce

Dating is at the forefront of many divorcees’ minds. 78% of the women have already started thinking about dating by the time the divorce papers are signed. 40% of women feel confident about dating after divorce, 68% feel excited and hopeful. 59% of divorced women meet dates on online dating websites or apps.

How Do I File for Divorce in Utah?

If you’re thinking of filing for divorce or dissolution of marriage as it’s referred to in Utah you might not know where to begin.

Fortunately, Utah has gone to great lengths to assist individuals who wish to handle their divorce. This article provides basic information about who to file for divorce in Utah, but if you have specific questions, you should speak to a family law attorney in your area.

Reasons for Divorce

Like a majority of states, Utah allows both no-fault and fault-based divorce. In a no-fault divorce, spouses don’t have to prove that the other’s misconduct caused the breakup of the marriage, so these types of case are generally faster and less expensive. Utah provides two kinds of no-fault grounds: “irreconcilable differences” and living apart for at least three years under a separate maintenance order issued by any state. If you and your spouse can’t agree on an amicable divorce, you can file for a fault divorce, where you have to show that your spouse engaged in some type of misconduct that caused the marriage to fail.

Residency Requirement

To obtain a divorce in Utah, you or your spouse must reside in one county continuously for at least three months.

Preparing Your Forms

To get your case started, you must file several forms, including a divorce complaint. Fortunately, the state provides residents with a free online form generation service, which is maintained by the Utah State Courts. The Online Court Assistance Program (OCAP) allows users to input all their information and answer a series of questions. After completing the program, the system automatically produces all the forms you need to file your case.

The standard forms include the following:
 Cover Sheet for Civil Actions
 Department of Health Form
 Verified Complaint for Divorce
 Summons, and
 Parenting Plan (if there are minor children.)

Filing Your Forms

Once you have all your forms in order, you must file the originals with the appropriate county court, meaning the county in which you live or the county where your spouse resides. Utah law allows the filing spouse, known as the “petitioner,” to file by mail; however, the state recommends using registered mail to guarantee receipt of delivery. You can also hand-deliver your initial paperwork to the county clerk.

Serving Your Forms

In Utah, as in every other state, you must serve your spouse with a copy of all your divorce documents. “Service of process” enables the other party to respond to the divorce complaint or file a counterclaim. Under Utah law, you have 120 days from the date you file your divorce complaint to serve copies on your spouse. Utah permits various forms of service, including hiring a private process server, handing over the documents yourself in person, and sheriff’s service.

Financial Disclosures

Like many states, Utah requires the parties to exchange financial information, including a list of all assets and debts. Under state law, both spouses must file a Financial Declaration. Each spouse must file disclosures after the respondent submits an answer to the original divorce petition.

File for Divorce

As you begin the process of filing for divorce, be aware that Utah allows for divorce based both on fault and no-fault grounds. You should also know that Utah’s courts impose a residency requirement on divorce proceedings; this means that either you or your spouse must have lived in the state for a minimum of three months prior to the filing date. When custody of minor children will be an issue in the divorce proceedings, your children generally must have resided in Utah for a minimum of six months before you can file.

Prepare Your Divorce Documents

If you are using a lawyer, your attorney will prepare your documents for you. If not, you may use the state’s Online Court Assistance Program (OCAP) to prepare the divorce petition and related documents; there is a $20 fee for using this service. Completed forms must be notarized by a notary public before they can be filed.

File Your Divorce Documents

Your divorce case is only open once you’ve filed all forms in the office of the court clerk in your home county and paid the filing fee of $310.

Serve Your Spouse

After filing your divorce petition, you have 120 days to serve this petition, a summons and any other filed documents to your spouse. Service can be completed via certified mail or by the sheriff’s department or a private company. Proof of service is required to have the court act on your divorce petition.

Wait for Your Spouse’s Answer

After being served, your spouse will have 21 days–or 30 days if they are out of state–to respond. If they do respond, both parties will have to submit a Financial Declaration form to each other outlining all relevant financial items. If your spouse does not respond, you can request that the court issue a default judgment which will grant you everything you requested in your petition. If your spouse agrees with all issues as presented in your divorce petition, they can file a stipulation instead of a response. At this point, the OCAP Divorce Stipulation questions can be used to prepare the necessary documents and proceed to a final divorce decree.

Complete Required Divorce Education Classes and Mediation

After your spouse has been given a chance to respond to your divorce petition, several steps must be taken before a trial will be scheduled. Many Utah divorce issues are resolved during this stage in the process, eliminating the need for a trial in front of a judge.

Complete a 90-Day Waiting Period

Utah law stipulates that judges must wait 90 days after the date that the divorce petition was initially filed to sign the final divorce order. This is true even if both spouses agree on all issues.

Take Part in Mandatory Mediation for Any Contested Issues

If your spouse responds to your divorce filing, Utah statute requires that both parties take part in a mediation session before a divorce will be granted. The parties are jointly responsible for locating and paying for a mediator.

Ask for Temporary Order if Necessary

Sometimes there are issues that must be addressed before the divorce order is final, such as who can use the marital home or who has custody of any minor children during the pending divorce. In these cases, either party can request that the judge issue a temporary order on the matter that will be effective through the final divorce decree.

Complete Name Restoration

If you had your name changed upon getting married, you can return to your pre-marriage legal name at this stage in the divorce process. To do so, simply include a statement along with your divorce petition to indicate the name change.

Go to Trial (If Necessary)

If you and your spouse are unable to reach an agreement about any issues in your divorce decree, the next step in the Utah divorce process is going to trial.

Seek a Child Custody Evaluation

If you disagree with your spouse regarding child custody or child support issues, you can request that a professional evaluator conduct a custody evaluation. During this evaluation, the evaluator will observe both parties and the children; the evaluator will then submit a report to the court on all factors that pertain to the child’s best interests.

Appear at Pre-Trial Conferences

You will be required to attend a conference prior to your trial being scheduled to make a final attempt to settle the case. If this fails, the trial date will be set and the list of issues to be addressed at trial will be determined.

Attend Your Trial

If you have hired a divorce lawyer, they can help you prepare for the trial, including assembling any documents and necessary evidence to be presented to the court. Arrive at the courtroom early on the day of your trial, dressed professionally and with any witnesses that you intend to call upon. Remember to treat the judge respectfully and never interrupt your spouse when they are testifying.

Consult an Attorney

You aren’t required to use an attorney in order to file for divorce in Utah. However, the legal issues surrounding divorce are often complicated, and you may face obstacles representing yourself if there are any complex matters such as child custody or division of significant assets. A qualified divorce attorney can help you navigate the process and help safeguard against critical mistakes.

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