Understanding the Steps to Divorce in Utah

Understanding the Steps to Divorce in Utah

Divorce in Utah is often complex and stressful. If you must undergo the divorce process, you need an experienced divorce attorney to defend your best interests. If you have children, you may have concerns about child custody. If you and your spouse acquired assets, you want to protect your legal fair share.

The Divorce Process

Step 1. File for divorce

The laws of Utah allow divorce to be based on no-fault and fault grounds. The law requires residency in divorce proceedings. You and/or your husband or wife must live in the state for at least three months before the divorce is filed.

If child custody is involved in the divorce, the children must live in Utah at least six months prior to the filing.

Although the law does not require you to engage an attorney to file for divorce, it’s understood that the process is frequently complicated. An experienced Utah divorce lawyer is there to guide you through the process. Your divorce lawyer prepares the documents for filing the petition and other related documents. After the divorce documents are filed with the Office of the Court Clerk, your case is active and in progress.

Step 2. Divorce papers are served

After the divorce petition is filed, your spouse must be served within 120 days. They receive a summons as well as other documents filed with the court. The laws of Utah allow service to be completed by certified mail, a private server, or via the sheriff’s office. Proof of service is collected so that the court may act on the divorce petition.

Your spouse must then answer the summons. Utah residents have 21 days to respond. Out-of-state residents have 30 days. If the spouse responds, both parties must submit the Financial Declaration to the other. The Financial Declaration outlines each party’s relevant financial details. If the spouse doesn’t answer the summons, you may ask the court to issue a default judgment. A default judgment grants the requests in your petition.

Your spouse may agree with the items presented in the petition. In that event, they may file a stipulation. Then, the required documents are prepared to grant the final divorce decree.

Step 3. Divorce education and mediation

Once your spouse responds to the petition, they must take additional steps before the trial is scheduled. Some couples resolve issues at this point, the need for trial before a family court judge is eliminated. Regardless of whether the couple agrees to resolve their divorce issues, the laws of Utah require a 90-day waiting period from the date on which the divorce petition was filed.

If the couple has minor children, they must take a divorce orientation class and a divorce education class. Both courses may be taken in person or online:

  • The orientation course presents divorce alternatives.
  • The education course presents the effects of divorce on children and the ways in which the parent can help the family at this time.

Mediation is required to resolve remaining contested issues

If the served spouse responds to the divorce filing, Utah law demands that both submit to mediation before the divorce is granted. The parties are required to locate and pay for the divorce mediator.

Step 4. Request a temporary order (if needed)

Some issues must be considered before the divorce is granted and final. For instance, the parties may need to decide who will stay in the jointly-owned home or which parent has child custody now.

Either party may ask the family court to issue a temporary order before the final divorce decree.

Step 5. Name restoration

If one of the spouses changed their name after marriage, the court may allow them to return to their pre-marriage name after divorce. To accomplish this, the party submits the name change request with the divorce petition.

Family Court Trial

If divorcing partners can’t resolve issues in mediation, it may be necessary for them to go to trial in Utah.

Step 1. Child support and custody matters

If child support or child custody disputes are present, the parties may benefit from the services of a professional child custody evaluator. The evaluator observes the family and submits the findings to the court. The evaluator considers what is in the child’s best interests.

Step 2. Pre-trial conference appearances

The divorcing couple must attend a pre-trial conference in an attempt to settle unresolved issues. If the meeting fails, a court date is arranged. The parties draw up a list of issues to be determined at trial.

Step 3. The divorce trial

An experienced divorce attorney helps their client to prepare for the divorce trial. All details regarding evidence and documents, date and time, witnesses to be called, and how to dress for court are discussed.

Step 4. The divorce decree

After the judge signs the final divorce decree—after mediation or at trial—the parties are legally divorced. It’s important to secure a copy of the final divorce decree. Appeals to the family court’s decision must be filed within 30 days.

Contact the law office of Terry Spencer at 801-566-1884 to schedule your divorce consultation. Safeguard personal interests in a divorce with a knowledgeable divorce lawyer at your side.

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