The #1 tip for divorce is to hire a competent and experienced divorce attorney to represent you. The rest of the tips are worthless without proper representation in your case.
Divorce is a difficult time in anyone’s life and it can also be a very expensive time, especially if you don’t understand the process and can’t afford an attorney to represent you. Divorce is a complex legal process. It’s best to know what the process entails and what to expect as it unfolds. The more informed you are, the fewer surprises there will be. And of course, those surprises can be what end up costing you more money. But, there are ways to save money and there are (believe it or not!) alternatives to hiring a lawyer to represent you in all aspects of a divorce.
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
• 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.
How to File For Divorce In Utah
To divorce in Utah, at least one spouse must live in a 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 police, 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. 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 and investments
The court will require documentation surrounding other issues on a case by case basis:
• 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. 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, Utah’s 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 Utah 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.
If you plan to file for divorce without the help of an attorney, you will be responsible for filing the right documents with the right court. Utah’s district courts oversee divorce cases and trials. Utah has approximately 70 judges serving in the state’s eight judicial districts. 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 Utah 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.
Completing Your Divorce
Utah has a mandatory 30-day waiting period to complete a divorce. Under extraordinary circumstances, the 90-day waiting period may be waived. However, before a divorce will be granted to parents of minor children, both spouses must complete the Divorce Education Course. Utah does not require that you attend a court hearing before a judge will finalize your uncontested divorce. Instead, if all your paperwork is filed correctly and the judge finds that your agreement is reasonable and/or in the best interests of your children, then the judge will sign the Findings and Decree of Divorce. Note that the date the judge signs your Decree, is when your divorce becomes final. Getting a quick divorce can save you and your partner both emotional and financial anguish. However, when children are involved, it can be difficult since there will be the issues of child support and custody battles to work out. To succeed in dissolving the marriage quickly, these details must be solved in the fairest way for both parties. The cheapest way to get a divorce with a child involves both you and your spouse to remain cordial, and be ready to compromise on several issues. Property division and child custody, which are the main battle fronts in most divorce proceedings. To get a cheap divorce, you can start the process online and minimize the number of professional services you contract. In order to get the cheapest divorce possible, you must make sure that both you and your spouse are willing to work together and your divorce is uncontested.
Marital Property and Separate Property
In a divorce, the distribution of property depends on which property belongs to the marriage is known as marital property and which property belongs to each of the two spouses is called separate property. Generally, marital property is property acquired or earned during the marriage, including earned income. Property used for the benefit of the marriage, even if it started out as separate property, may also be considered marital property. Separate property includes anything that belonged to one spouse before marriage and was kept separate throughout the marriage. It could also include property given only to one spouse during the marriage, like a gift made to the husband alone or an inheritance that the wife received from a member of her family. The most common types of property divided at divorce are real property like the family home, personal property like jewelry and clothing, and intangible financial assets like income, dividends, and benefits. All of the marital property must be divided between the spouses when the marriage ends, and marital debts must also be divided. The spouse who owns separate property gets to keep that property–it can’t be awarded to the other spouse.
Equitable Division of Property
Rather than rely on a hard and fast set of rules when splitting property between spouses, judges in Utah have discretion to consider a variety of factors unique to each marriage. Despite the court’s relative freedom to decide what is fair, it should always consider the length of the marriage and how the spouses acquired the marital property. It should also look at the conditions each spouse will face alone after the divorce, such as medical needs, and childcare costs. Each spouse’s level of education and earning potential are also relevant. Judges may divide property unequally after taking these factors, and others, into account. In Utah, courts consider alimony as part of the equitable division of marital property. Alimony is a payment from one spouse to the other to help the recipient spouse maintain a lifestyle as close as possible to the standard of living the parties enjoyed during the marriage and specifically, at the time they separated. If it is more equitable, the court might base alimony on the standard of living at the time of trial. The court also has the option to base alimony on the standard of living at the time of marriage if the marriage was short and there are no children. To determine the amount of alimony due, the court may consider either spouse’s fault in the deterioration of the marriage. The court also evaluates the recipient spouse’s financial resources, earning capacity, and whether that spouse worked in a business owned or operated by the obligated spouse (the one who has to pay). Additionally, the court looks at the obligated spouse’s ability to pay, the length of the marriage, who has custody of the children, and whether the obligated spouse’s earning capacity increased because the recipient spouse contributed to education or training during marriage. If one spouse is at the threshold of a major change in income because of the collective efforts of both spouses, that change also will be a factor in how the court divides the marital property and in the alimony award. Conversely, for a short marriage, the court could attempt to put the spouses back where they started as newlyweds, in terms of financial resources. Generally, alimony payments can last only as long as the number of years the marriage existed.
Tips For Divorce Lawyer
When you need a divorce attorneys, please call Ascent Law LLC for your free consultation (801) 676-5506. We want to help you.
8833 S. Redwood Road, Suite C
West Jordan, Utah
84088 United States
Telephone: (801) 676-5506