Utah


Utah men’s divorce attorneys provide answers to frequently asked questions about divorce in Utah and Utah divorce laws.

What are the grounds for divorce?

Utah is considered a “no fault” state. This means that you do not need the consent of your spouse to obtain a divorce, nor are the reasons why you want a divorce considered in granting the divorce. In Utah, the courts can enter a divorce decree upon showing that:

  • One of the parties has lived in the state and county for three months prior to the commencement of the proceedings;
  • Allegations of irreconcilable differences in that the parties have been unable to resolve their marital problems, making continuation of their marriage impossible;
  • And those 90 days or more have elapsed since the court acquired jurisdiction over the other party either as a result of process or by the other party entering appearances.

What is a divorce going to cost me? Can I afford it?

Unfortunately, there are no set numbers on how much your divorce will ultimately cost. You do have several options in lieu of trial that will cut costs such as mediation and settlement discussions.

Do I really need to hire an attorney?

It is possible to complete your divorce without representation by an attorney. However, it is not recommended as this process is emotional and often more difficult than originally expected. An attorney can ensure that your interests are protected during the process as well as give you valuable advice on the overall proceedings.

The long-term benefits of knowing and understanding your rights and having an advocate on your side will be well worth the upfront costs of hiring a professional.

Does this state grant divorces based on marital fault?

No, Utah is a no fault state. However, fault is a factor considered by the court in reviewing whether alimony should be awarded. This fault factor is currently not being enforced by the courts due to the Utah Appellate Court declaring they are unable to define fault.

This last session of Congress there were several bills introduced, which would further define fault. These bills however, did not have favorable language to fathers. The attorneys at Cordell & Cordell strongly opposed these bills and contacted all Senators with our position. In part due to our efforts, these bills were not passed.

Can I get maintenance or will I have to provide maintenance to my spouse?

Maintenance, also called alimony or spousal support, is never a guarantee in divorce cases as there is no set formula for determining the length or amount of the awards. The court will look at all relevant factors in determining the appropriateness of a maintenance award, including:

  • The duration of the marriage.
  • The standard of living established during the marriage.
  • The age and the physical and emotional condition of each party.
  • The financial resources of each party, including the non-marital and the marital assets and liabilities distributed to each.
  • The earning capacities, educational levels, vocational skills, and employability of the parties and, when applicable, the time necessary for either party to acquire sufficient education or training to enable such party to find appropriate employment.
  • The contribution of each party to the marriage, including, but not limited to, services rendered in homemaking, childcare, education, and career building of the other party.
  • The responsibilities each party will have with regard to any minor children they have in common.
  • All sources of income available to either party, including income available to either party through investments of any asset held by that party.

Can I change my name at the time of divorce?

Yes, though you must request your name be restored prior to the finalization of your decree. Your name can only be changed to one that you previously used.

Can I get an annulment?

Annulments are very rare and do not offer many benefits over a divorce. They must follow essentially the same timeline and will incur the same costs. Annulments occur where you or your spouse can show that your marriage is invalid. Marriages can be invalid under the following circumstances:

  • A party lacked capacity to consent to the marriage either due to mental incapacity or infirmity, the influence of alcohol, drugs, or other incapacitating substances;
  • A party lacked physical capacity to consummate the marriage and the other party did not at the time of the marriage know of the incapacity;
  • A party was under the age as provided by law and did not have the consent of his/her parents or guardian or judicial approval as provided by law;
  • One party entered into the marriage in reliance upon a fraudulent act or representation of the other party which act or representation goes to the essence of the marriage;
  • One or both parties entered into the marriage under duress;
  • One or both parties entered into the marriage as a jest or dare;
  • Or law prohibits the marriage.

When can I file for divorce?

In Utah, you must have been a resident of the state and county for three months prior to the filing for divorce.

When is my case going to be over?

The court may grant your divorce on the 91st day following the filing of your Petition for Divorce.

Do I have to go to court?

There are several appearances that are required in your divorce proceeding whereby you will be required to appear before the judge. You will need to be present at most of these appearances but will not have to speak. Your attorney will appear and present the evidence and testimony on your behalf.

If attempts to serve my spouse do not work, what is my next step?

If you have attempted to serve your spouse but are unable to complete service, depending on the circumstances there are several options available to you under Utah rules, for example you may be able to provide service by publication upon the court’s permission, or my sending it by certified mail with receipt request.

At what point during the process can a spouse remarry or start dating?

Legally you cannot be married to more then one person at the same time. Therefore, until your divorce decree is entered (no sooner then 91 days upon filing for divorce) you cannot remarry.

The decision to begin dating again is a personal decision that only you can decide when the time is right. We recommend that if children are involved, you consult with an attorney before dating where it can have an effect on a custody dispute.

What if my spouse does not want the divorce?

In Utah, you do not need the consent of your spouse to obtain a divorce. You simply need to show that the marriage is irretrievably broken. This can be done be either party.

Do the other issues – child support, child custody, alimony, and property – have to be decided before the divorce is final?

Generally, yes. However, in certain situations it is possible to bifurcate your divorce proceeding and have the court retain jurisdiction over the remaining issues while entering your divorce decree.

How long do I have to live in Utah to obtain a divorce?

One of the parties must have lived in the state and county for three months prior to the commencement of the proceedings.

After I file for divorce, do I have to continue to live in Utah?

Once the divorce is filed, you may relocate and Utah will still retain jurisdiction of your divorce proceeding. We recommend that you consult with an attorney before making plans to relocate since it can have an effect on the proceedings and results you are seeking.

What if I am in the military and out of state?

There are special rules concerning military personnel and it is recommended if you are in the military and would like a divorce that you consult an attorney.

What forms do I need to file a divorce?

To begin the divorce process you will need the Petition for Divorce, Case Information Cover sheet, Summons, Proposed Parenting Plan, Child Support Obligation Worksheet, Certificate of Dissolution, and any fee waiver document in order to file for divorce. You will then be required to have your spouse personally served with these documents.

How and where is a divorce complaint filed?

The Petition for Dissolution is filed with the clerk of the court, in the jurisdiction where you live or where most of the marital property is located. You go to the courthouse with the Petition for Divorce, Case Information Cover sheet, Summons, Proposed Parenting Plan, Child Support Obligation Worksheet, Certificate of Dissolution, and pay the clerk the filing fee for the action or your attorney can file the documents for you. You can go to www.utcourts.gov to find the list of courts in each county.

How do I serve the divorce complaint on my spouse?

The easiest way to serve your spouse is to use a private process server, the sheriff’s department, or have anyone that is over 18 and not an interested party to the case give your spouse the documents. However, any of the above methods do require an affidavit of service to be filed with the court.

How long do I have to wait to receive my divorce?

The court may grant your divorce on the 91st day following the filing of your Petition for Divorce.

How is a divorce granted? Will I have to go to court?

Once you have met all the requirements given by the court in your divorce proceedings (i.e. mediation, parenting class, etc.), the court will review your file – if non-contested – and enter your divorce. If there are still matters that require court assistance to resolve, you will have to have a Permanent Orders Hearing, otherwise known as a trial, where you will need to appear before the judge and present evidence and testimony.

What typically happens if I go to court to obtain my divorce myself?

The results of every divorce depend upon the facts and will vary accordingly. It is possible to complete your divorce without representation by an attorney. However, it is not recommended as this process is emotional and often more difficult than originally expected.

An attorney can ensure that your interests are protected during the process as well as give you valuable advice on the overall proceedings. The long-term benefits of knowing and understanding your rights and having an advocate on your side will be well worth the upfront costs of hiring a professional.

How do I prove fault for divorce?

Utah is a no fault state. However, fault is a factor considered by the court in reviewing whether alimony should be awarded. This fault factor is currently not being enforced by the courts due to the Utah Appellate Court declaring they are unable to define fault.

This last session of Congress there were several bills introduced, which would further define fault. These bills however, did not have favorable language to fathers. The attorneys at Cordell & Cordell strongly opposed these bills and contacted all Senators with our position. In part due to our efforts, these bills were not passed.

At any time can a parent change a minor child’s last name without the other parent’s permission?

No.

Can a couple become legally married by living together as man and wife under the state’s laws (common law marriage)?

Common law marriage is valid in Utah. Simply living together will not be enough for the court to recognize a common law marriage. A common law marriage is established by the mutual consent or agreement of the parties to be husband and wife, followed by a mutual and open assumption of a marital relationship.

Living together by itself will not establish the marriage, but the court will look to other evidence in establishing the relationship.