Divorce can be devastating however; uncontested divorces are often less devastating to your finances and sanity than contested ones. Your divorce does not have to become a soap opera. Instead, uncontested divorce process allows spouses to reach an agreement on their own and avoid the stress and anxiety associated with attending a trial before a judge. The uncontested process can be relatively quick, and certainly less expensive than taking a divorce to trial. Uncontested divorces are an option available to divorcing couples with or without children. These types of divorces are generally less expensive and faster than traditional divorces because you avoid the expense of attorneys, custody evaluations and hiring experts for trial. If you and your spouse are able to agree on all issues regarding your divorce, including child custody, visitation and support, then an uncontested divorce is a real option. However, if you and your spouse cannot reach an agreement on any issue in your divorce, then your divorce becomes contested and you will be required to attend a trial where a judge will decide the remaining issues in your divorce case.
The following is a list of some of the major issues that must be resolved between you and your spouse before filing an uncontested divorce action in Utah:
- division of real estate and personal property
- division of debts and assets
- child custody and visitation if you and your spouse have minor children
- child support, health and insurance coverage
- alimony or spousal support, and
- any other issues related to your marriage.
To obtain an uncontested divorce in Utah you must meet the following criteria:
- you or your spouse have resided in Utah for at least 3 months, if minor children are involved, you must have resided in Utah for 6 months
- you and your spouse have agreed on all issues in your divorce, and
- Child support and spousal support, custody and visitation are not requested, or there is a written agreement signed and notarized by both parties resolving those issues.
Where you live will determine where you file for divorce because generally, you will file your divorce paperwork in the county in which you live. If you and your spouse have separated but still reside in Utah, either the county in which you lived, or where your spouse has lived for the last three months is proper to file your paperwork.
Preparing Divorce Forms
The Courts site offers online forms for completing an uncontested divorce available here and or in hard copy at your local courthouse. The following documents must be filed with your divorce paperwork:
- Civil Coversheet
- Petition for Divorce
- Vital Statistics Form/Certificate of Dissolution
- Acceptance of Service
- Affidavit of Jurisdiction and Grounds
- Military Service Declaration and Order
- Findings of Facts and Conclusions of Law
- Decree of Divorce
If you and your spouse have children together under the age of 18, then the following forms must be filed as well:
- Child Support Worksheet
- Affidavit of Income and Compliance with Child Support Guidelines
- Financial Declarations, and
- Child Support Locator.
The required paperwork to complete a divorce in Utah may vary in your particular county, and thus, forms in addition to those listed above may be required to complete your divorce. Check with your local court clerk for more information and to determine whether you need to file additional forms.
REQUIREMENTS TO FILE FOR A DIVORCE
- You are allowed to divorce based on irreconcilable differences.
- You or your spouse must have resided in the state of for at least three months prior to filing for divorce.
- If you are parents of a minor child, you or your spouse must have resided in Utah for at least 6 months prior to filing, although the courts may make exceptions in certain circumstances.
- You may need to attend a Divorce Education class if you are parents of minor children.
As in most states, divorce law allows you to obtain a no-fault divorce. You must merely demonstrate that you and your spouse have irreconcilable differences. The Law also allows you to seek a divorce if your spouse has committed one of the following:
- inability to perform sexually upon marriage
- willful desertion for at least 12 months
- willful neglect
- habitual intoxication
- felony conviction
- extreme cruelty
- incurable insanity
One of the most divisive issues of any divorce involves how property is distributed to the parties involved. Courts use the principle of equitable distribution, i.e. assets should be allocated fairly, to divide marital property. This does not necessarily mean a 50/50 split and fairness is governed by many factors including:
- duration of the marriage
- the age and health of each spouse
- occupations and future income
- the standard of living during the marriage
- tax consequences of the distribution
- custody of the children
Alimony or spousal maintenance may be ordered if the dependent spouse is unable to maintain the current standard of living. In most cases, alimony is only temporary and will be terminated after a determined period of time. The court will consider the following when awarding alimony:
- Both spouse’s age and health
- Length of marriage
- the standard of living at the time of separation
- the dependent earner’s contribution to the increased earning power of the other spouse
- past services as a parent or homemaker
- both spouse’s future income and assets
- needs of any minor children
- any fault by a spouse including adultery, domestic violence or financial malfeasance
Law allows divorce on fault-based grounds, as well as the no-fault grounds of irreconcilable differences. If you want to file for divorce in a court, you must have lived in the state for at least three months. If you have minor children and need the court to decide custody, those children typically must have lived in the state at least six months.
- Consider hiring an attorney: If your divorce is complicated, an attorney can help guide you through the process and ensure everything is done correctly. You may have difficulty going it alone if you have complex child custody or support issues, if you and your spouse have been married for a while and have a lot of property and joint assets, or if you and your spouse disagree about any of these issues.
- Prepare your forms: Rather than physical forms, you can write petition and other documents you will need to file for divorce. The online system includes instructions on how to fill out the forms correctly. After you input all the necessary information, the program will personalize the forms for you and prepare all the paperwork you need the only thing it won’t do is file the forms for you.
- Sign your divorce forms in the presence of a notary: Once you’ve finished preparing your forms and printed them, you must sign them in front of a notary public. If you’re unsure where to find a notary, check your bank, many banks offer notary services free of charge to their customers. You also may find notaries in private businesses such as check-cashing services, or at the courthouse.
- File your divorce forms: To open your divorce case, you must file your forms in the clerk’s office of the court in the county where you live. If you can’t afford the fee, you can file a motion asking the judge to waive them. You’ll have to file extensive documentation proving that you are unable to afford the fee, including a detailed description of your income, expenses, debts, and property.
- Serve your spouse: Within 120 days after you’ve filed your initial petition, you must serve your spouse with a copy of the petition, the summons, and all other documents you filed. You can either mail the documents using certified mail, or have the sheriff’s department or a private process serving company provide service for you for a fee. After the other party has been served, you must file a proof of service document. The court won’t act on your petition until all parties to the action have been served.
- Wait for an answer: After you serve your spouse, they have 21 days to file a response to your petition. This time is extending to 30 days if he lives in another state. If your spouse files an answer, both of you must disclose to each other a Financial Declaration. On this form, each party discloses all income, assets, debt, and expenses both to the court and to each other. In addition, you must attach a number of financial documents, including pay stubs, copies of tax returns for the two tax years before the petition was filed, loan applications, financial statements, real estate appraisals, and other documents pertaining to any item listed on the form. If your spouse does not file an answer within the time specified on his summons, you may ask the court for a default judgment. A default judgment means you get everything you’ve asked for, and your spouse doesn’t have an opportunity to protest or tell their side of the story. Instead of a response contesting your petition, your spouse also may file a written stipulation that he agrees to the divorce. If you agree on the terms of the divorce, you can answer the questions in the Stipulation Interview and prepare agreed documents. However, you can only do this after you’ve filed a petition and served it on your spouse.
Attending Divorce Education and Mediation
- Complete the 90-day waiting period. Law generally requires a period of 90 days between the date you file the petition and the date the judge signs your final order, regardless of whether you and your spouse agree.
- Take divorce education classes. The state requires couples with minor children to attend a divorce orientation class and a divorce education class before divorce is granted. The orientation course educates parents about divorce and its alternatives, including resources to improve the marriage and resolve custody issues, along with procedural alternatives to divorce. The education course discusses how children experience divorce, ways to communicate, and how parents can help their children, among other issues.
- Comply with mandatory mediation. If your spouse files an answer, Law requires you to attend at least one mediation session to attempt to resolve your differences. You and your spouse are responsible for finding a mediator and paying for their services. You can request a list of qualified mediators by calling the Divorce Mediation Help Line. If you do not feel safe attending mediation or feel you won’t be able to fully express yourself due to an extreme level of conflict between you and your spouse, you can apply to have the mediation requirement waived.
- Request a temporary order. If you need the court to resolve certain issues such as use of the marital home or child custody and support while the divorce is pending, you can request a temporary order that will remain into effect until the judge signs your final divorce order.
Going to Trial
- Request a child custody evaluation. If you have outstanding issues regarding child custody and support and you and your spouse cannot agree, you can get a professional evaluator to perform a child custody evaluation and report their findings to the court. Either party may request an evaluation, or a judge may order one even if neither party requests it. These evaluations may be expensive. Typically, the cost is split among both parents. The custody evaluator observes and considers many factors related to the best interest of the child, the standard courts use to make child custody decisions. The evaluator reports on the child’s preference, bonds with each parent, the parents’ moral character, and religious compatibility with the child, financial conditions, and other factors.
- Attend the pre-trial conference. Before the court schedules a trial, you must attend a pre-trial conference and make one last attempt to settle your case. If you cannot come to a resolution, you will schedule a trial and determine which issues need to be determined at trial.
- Prepare for your final hearing. After your pre-trial conference, the court will schedule a full trial to make a final decision if you and your spouse still have unresolved issues. Before your hearing, try to go to the courtroom where your hearing will be held and observe another hearing so you have some idea of what to expect. Collect all of your documents and evidence you intend to present and organize them neatly so you can find anything you need without shuffling a lot of papers or taking up time unnecessarily. Have at least four documents of any items you bring, if possible, so each party, the judge, and any witness can have their own copy to look at. Review the court map and make sure you know how to get to your courtroom. If necessary, go to the courthouse early and find it so you can make sure you know where you’re going.
- Attend your final hearing. Appear in court at the designated date and time of your hearing, dressed professionally and conservatively with all documents and witnesses you intend to present. Plan on getting there at least 30 minutes early so you have time to go through security, find your courtroom, and take a seat. You don’t want to be rushed. Leave any cell phones, electronic devices, or other items that might be confiscated at home. When your case is called, stand and identify yourself to the judge. Remain standing while the judge speaks to you. Treat the judge with respect, and don’t interrupt them or speak out of turn. The judge will give each spouse the opportunity to present their story. Don’t interrupt or argue with your spouse while they are talking. If the judge has any questions for you based on what he said, they will ask you once your spouse is finished speaking.
- Get copies of the final decree. You are not legally divorced until the judge signs the decree. Once the decree is finalized, you should get copies for your records. The judge may announce her decision at the conclusion of the hearing, or you may get it later. You should call the clerk’s office if you haven’t received a final written decree 60 days after your hearing. If you disagree with the judge’s decision, you have 30 days to file an appeal.
Divorce Attorney in Utah Free Consultation
8833 S. Redwood Road, Suite C
West Jordan, Utah
84088 United States
Telephone: (801) 676-5506