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How To File A Divorce In Utah

How To File A Divorce In Utah

Divorce, also known as dissolution of marriage, is the process of terminating a marriage or marital union. Divorce usually entails the canceling or reorganizing of the legal duties and responsibilities of marriage, thus dissolving the bonds of matrimony between a married couple under the rule of law of the particular country or state. Divorce laws vary considerably around the world, but in most countries divorce requires the sanction of a court or other authority in a legal process, which may involve issues of distribution of property, child custody, alimony (spousal support), child visitation / access, parenting time, child support, and division of debt. In most countries, monogamy is required by law, so divorce allows each former partner to marry another person.

How to File for a Utah Divorce

In Utah or elsewhere, divorce for any married couple will accomplish two things: (1) severing the marital relationship, and (2) dividing assets and debts. If they have been married for a significant length of time and one of them will be unable to be self-supporting after the divorce, the issue of alimony may also arise. If there are minor children, they will also need to resolve issues of child custody and support.

Residency and Where to File

In order to file for divorce in Utah, the party filing for divorce must be a resident of Utah and the county for at least 3 months. The case must be filed in the District Court in the county where the residency requirement is met.


The simplest procedure is an uncontested divorce where you and your spouse reach an agreement about the division of your property, and, if you have any children, what arrangements will be made for them. You begin the divorce procedure by filing a Complaint for Divorce, along with various supporting documents. For an uncontested divorce, one of these documents will be a marital settlement agreement outlining the division of assets, and your agreement regarding any children. These documents are filed with the court, and copies of them are provided to your spouse. You will attend a court hearing, at which time the judge will make sure that all of your paperwork is in order, perhaps ask you a few questions, and enter your

Decree of Divorce

Collaborative Divorce. Utah offers this process where each party hires a lawyer to assist them in trying to reach an agreement on all issues. There may also be a facilitator involved, to help focus the discussion. It is similar to mediation. Both parties must agree to this process, and either may stop it at any time. Any agreement will be signed by the parties and submitted to the court to be incorporated into a judgment or decree.

Grounds for Divorce

Grounds for divorce are legally recognized reasons to get a divorce. This is the justification for severing the marital relationship. Utah, like most states, has what are commonly called no-fault grounds for divorce, and several traditional fault-based grounds.
To get a no-fault divorce in Utah you need to state in the Complaint for Divorce that “there are irreconcilable differences in the marriage,” or the parties have been living separate and apart without cohabitation for 3 years under a judicial decree of separation.”
The fault-based grounds for divorce are: impotence, adultery, willful desertion for more than 1 year, willfully neglecting to provide the plaintiff with the common necessities of life, habitual drunkenness, conviction of a felony, cruel treatment to the extent of “bodily injury or great mental distress,” and incurable insanity. However, in most cases, there is no reason to use any of these, since they add complexity to the process by requiring proof.

Property Division

A divorce involves dividing property and debts between you and your spouse. Utah divorce law provides that all property is marital property, regardless of how or when it was acquired. Absent an agreement of the parties, the judge is directed to divide the property “equitably.”

Here are the steps you’ll need to take to start the divorce process in Utah.

Marital status

If you’re thinking of filing for divorce in Utah, you might not know where to begin. Fortunately, Utah has gone to great lengths to assist individuals who wish to handle their own divorce. This article provides information about divorce in Utah, which is referred to as “dissolution of marriage.”

Reasons for Divorce

Like a majority of states, Utah allows both no-fault and fault-based divorce. Because no-fault cases are generally faster and less expensive, most couples prefer to file their divorce without assigning any type of blame to either side. 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, Utah also offers eight fault-based grounds, which include:
• inability to perform sexually (at the time of the marriage)
• adultery
• willful desertion for more than one year
• willful neglect
• habitual drunkenness
• felony conviction
• extreme cruelty, and
• incurable insanity.

Residency Requirement

Utah’s residency requirement is among the shortest in the nation. To obtain a Utah divorce, you or your spouse must reside in one county continuously for at least three months.

To get your case started, you must file a number of documents, including a complaint or what we call a Petition for divorce.

Once you have all your documents in order, you must file the originals with the appropriate county court. This is 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.

Service of Process

In Utah, as in every other state, you must “serve” the opposing side with a copy of all your divorce documents. This is referred to as “service of process” and it enables the other side to respond or file a counterclaim. Under Utah law, you have 120 days from the date you file your divorce complaint to serve copies on the opposing side. 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. This form is filed after the Respondent submits his or her response to the original divorce petition.

Steps for Filing a Divorce Petition

1. The first thing you will want to do is draft the divorce petition.
2. After you have completed the divorce petition it needs to be filed with the correct court
3. After you have the divorce petition completed and filed, you have to serve it.
4. You should also fill out a vital statistics form and file it along with the petition. The court won’t process the petition without the vital statistics form being completed.
5. Your attorney will complete the summons which must be served with the petition for divorce.
6. The summons is a documents that requires your spouse to file an answer to your divorce petition.
7. Next, you need to serve your spouse with the summons and divorce petition. You can do this through a process serving company or anybody else who is over 18 years old – we typically use a constable or sheriff. The process server or other person who will serve the papers needs to do so personally by handing the documents to your spouse.
8. Once your spouse has been served with the divorce petition and summons he will have 21 days to file an answer to the petition. If he does not respond within that time you can ask for a default judgment.


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.


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.


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 cost 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.


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.

Divorce Attorney Free Consultation

If you have a question about divorce law or if you need to start or defend against a divorce case in Utah call Ascent Law at (801) 676-5506. We will help you.

Michael R. Anderson, JD

Ascent Law LLC
8833 S. Redwood Road, Suite C
West Jordan, Utah
84088 United States

Telephone: (801) 676-5506