Contested Divorce in Utah: Process, Timeline, and Cost
A contested divorce is a split between two people who don’t agree on one or several items in their marital settlement agreement. Because they don’t agree, their unresolved matters must be ruled upon by the court. In an uncontested divorce, people are able to resolve their issues without court intervention.
Why would you choose a contested divorce?
A courtroom divorce is lengthy, costly, and emotionally difficult. Most people feel it is best to settle their disagreements independently of the court, if possible. But it’s good to know the contested option is there if you can’t agree with your spouse on important settlement matters.
You might choose a contested divorce due to the following issues:
- Child custody: Parents must determine a child’s primary residence, set visitation schedules, and assign holidays. These are difficult decisions weighted with emotion.
- Child support: A parent without custody typically pays the other to support the growing children. Sometimes, people disagree on how big those payments should be.
- Spousal support: People sometimes agree on spousal support (or alimony) to allow both exes to maintain a quality of life in divorce similar to what they had in marriage. Sometimes, money issues seem punitive.
- Assets: People may fight over houses, cars, or other objects that were accumulated during the marriage.
- Poor communication: People must be honest during divorce. If one person hides assets or debts, a court must step in to fix the problem.
There’s no shame in using the contested divorce process. The option exists to help you. But remember that compromising with your ex can save time and money. If you can give a bit, you might get a lot in return.
What is the contested divorce process?
Many steps are involved in a contested divorce. Take them one by one, and know you can change course at almost any point. That is, if the two of you can agree, you can switch to an uncontested version.
Utah divorces begin with a Petition for Divorce, which the Utah courts don’t make available online. File this document through the court in your county. You must attach the Certificate of Divorce, Dissolution of Marriage, or Annulment form from the Utah Department of Health to your petition.
Serve your spouse
Your partner gets copies of your documents through a process called service of process. You can’t just hand the documents over yourself. Instead, you must choose someone age 18 or older who isn’t a party in the case, has no felony conviction, and has no protective orders to deliver the divorce papers.
This person (who could be a local sheriff or someone you hire) hands the documents to your partner. When that’s complete, the person will fill out a Proof of Service and file it with the court.
File temporary orders
You could use temporary orders to settle issues like child support or custody, spousal support payments, debt repayment, and living arrangements as you wait for your divorce proceedings to progress.
To file temporary orders, you must first complete Utah’s required divorce class online. Once you’ve finished that class, you can access and file the forms you need.
You must exchange paperwork with your spouse regarding your family’s assets and debts with the Financial Declaration form.
Each line you fill out requires supporting documents. Tax forms, bills, bank statements, and other files will help.
You can mail these documents to your spouse. You’re not required to file them with the court until a hearing involving financial information has been scheduled. However, you must fill out and file a Certificate of Service of Financial Declaration form to prove that you gave your partner the needed information.
Utah requires people to attend mediation meetings. A professional guides the conversation while you and your spouse try to resolve your differences regarding the marital settlement. If you agree, you could move to an uncontested divorce. If not, your case moves forward as a contested divorce.
The courts will schedule your mediation meeting. Make sure you don’t miss this appointment.
Prepare for trial
Sometimes, courts will set your court date. If not, you must fill out forms.
File a Certification of Readiness for Trial to tell the courts that you’ve taken all of the required steps and need a judge to help you. Use the Trial Issues form to tell the officials what you need to discuss.
You must fill out the same financial declaration forms you already filled out. This step can help you point out any changes that occurred while you waited for your divorce. If you’ve made substantial changes to these documents, you must use the serving process outlined above to give them to your spouse. And, you’ll need to fill out the Certificate of Service of Financial Declaration form to prove that you gave your partner the needed information again.
Go to trial
The court may require you to attend a pre-trial conference. This step can help you understand what will happen when the trial date arrives. On the day, head to court on time, be polite, and argue your case. The judge will rule on the contested issues and tell you which paperwork to file to end your marriage.
How long does a contested divorce in Utah take?
A contested divorce in Utah can take months to finish. You must trade paperwork with your partner, attend meetings, and work with a courtroom. All of these steps can take time to complete. You can’t make it move faster.
How much does it cost?
Utah filing fees are steep. Divorce paperwork costs $325. Your Divorce Education Course is $35. If you hire someone to help you complete your documents and argue in court, your costs will go up.
It’s important to understand that a contested divorce is the most expensive way to end your marriage. You could save money and time by choosing mediation instead and aiming to reach an amicable solution. However, that will only work if both parties are willing to cooperate.
Suggested: How to Get an Uncontested Divorce in Utah
ReferencesRoadmap for Divorce Cases. Utah State Courts.
Financial Declaration. Utah State Courts.