Ending a marriage is one of the hardest things many people have to do in their lifetime. Although no one wants it, things just don’t work out sometimes. It’s an emotionally, financially, and legally challenging time.
If you’re looking to file for divorce in Utah, you might have questions about where to begin. Since the divorce process varies widely by state and individual case, yours might look slightly different to someone you know.
Still, most divorces follow the same general format, and it can be comforting to know what to expect as you and your divorce attorney in Utah move forward. To this end, we have collated a step-by-step outline of how divorce works in Utah.
How to Start the Divorce Process in Utah
To get a divorce in Utah, at least one spouse must have been residing in the state for a minimum of three months. Also, Utah offers both no-fault and fault-based grounds for divorce.
Before you file for divorce, you may want to consider its financial impact and plan accordingly. Once that’s done, follow these steps for divorce in Utah.
1. Filing a Petition
Even if both spouses agree to a divorce, one must file a petition to start terminating the marriage. If your partner wishes to reconcile, but you don’t, you can proceed without them.
The divorce petition usually outlines your reasons for ending the marriage and what you want in property division, child custody, and support. You’ll file this paperwork with the district court in the county where you/your spouse lives.
A word of caution here. In case any of the information on your petition is incorrect or missing, it’ll likely be dismissed. It’s best to work with a divorce attorney in Utah to minimize errors.
2. Serving the Spouse
After you’ve filed the divorce petition, you must officially inform your spouse about it. This is called “serving” them. You can do this through a process server, the sheriff’s office, or certified mail. Under Utah law, your spouse has 21 days to respond to the petition.
If your spouse doesn’t respond within the timeframe, you can file to dissolve your marriage without their involvement. Additionally, they might lose their right to negotiate any terms mentioned in the petition. The judge will issue a ruling in their absence.
3. Temporary Orders (Optional)
You might want certain issues to be addressed before the divorce forms are processed. If so, the judge will set up a temporary hearing to settle (for the moment) issues like:
- Custody arrangements
- Financial support for spouses or children
- A domestic violence restraining order
- Restrictions on the use or sale of joint assets
- Ordering a fair division of expenses during the divorce proceedings
Remember, these rules will only apply until the divorce is final. Both you and your spouse should be present at the temporary hearing with your Utah divorce attorneys on your side.
4. Collect Additional Information
Ideally, you should have certain additional documents ready to present, such as:
- Credit card, bank account, and retirement account statements
- Proof of income
- Income tax returns
- Other account statements of debt
These pieces of information will come up further along the divorce process in Utah, so make sure you have them at hand well in advance.
5. Negotiate a Settlement
Unless you and your soon-to-be ex agree on custody, support, and property division, you’ll have to negotiate an agreement. This is when you and your spouse try to work out the details of your divorce.
Divorce mediation could be the way to go if you’re looking to settle outside of court. Usually, mediation is quicker because you don’t have to wait for court dates or go through a lengthy litigation process. It’s a great way for couples to end their marriage on good terms.
A neutral third party will act as a mediator and can help guide you to a favorable settlement. Remember, they cannot give any legal advice and will not make any final determinations as a judge would. That part is up to you and your partner.
In case you and your partner agree on all terms, your divorce can be finalized relatively quickly. You’ll submit a written agreement to the court, and if the judge approves it, your divorce will be granted. Otherwise, your case might go to trial.
6. Go to Trial, if Necessary
It’s not uncommon for divorcing couples to butt heads over everything, especially if their marriage was tumultuous. That’s when a divorce goes to trial.
Taking a divorce to trial will be more expensive and emotionally taxing in the long run. It could be even more difficult if you have minor children or are in a bind due to no longer having your spouse’s financial support.
Also, the judge has the final say in a court of law. So, if you don’t agree with their ruling, you’ll have to write an appeal and wait it out. In the meantime, you would have to comply with the terms of the divorce judgment.
7. The Waiting Period and Final Decree
In Utah, there’s a mandatory 30-day waiting period from the time you file your divorce petition until the judge can finalize your divorce. This break is meant to give you and your spouse a chance to change your minds if you want to reconcile.
Once the waiting period is over and each party has had their day in court, the judge will render a decree based on the details of the case. The two parties will sign the agreement, officially ending their marriage.
The Bottom Line
Divorce is never an easy topic to tackle, but understanding the steps involved in the process can help you face it with a lot more confidence. Remember that every divorce is unique, and the steps involved can vary depending on your situation. The key takeaway is to be prepared, communicate openly with your spouse when possible, and consider seeking professional legal advice to ensure your rights are protected.
Filing for divorce in Utah? Let us guide you through the process with expertise and compassion. The experienced divorce attorneys at Jeremy Atwood are here to help you achieve the best outcome. Don’t go through this challenging time alone, schedule a consultation today to discuss your case and explore your options.