In a traditional litigated Utah divorce, people trade documents through lawyers before a judge. A DIY divorce is different. It’s usually a less expensive and more amicable way to end your marriage in Utah.
In a do-it-yourself Utah divorce, you collaborate with your spouse and make arrangements for what happens to your marital estate outside the courtroom. You file your final paperwork for a judge’s approval without using a lawyer or other expensive legal professional.
A DIY divorce is a good option for divorcing couples with few disagreements and a relatively simple estate. Keep reading to find out how it works and whether it’s the right choice for you.
How does a do-it-yourself divorce in Utah work?
Utah encourages people to work together during divorce. Arrangements made together are approved by a judge before they’re finalized. This process reduces the overall burden on the Utah court system, and it can result in deep cost savings for families.
A DIY divorce begins with official paperwork. First, you notify the court that your marriage is coming to a close. Then, you work with your partner on your final arrangements and file those documents with the court. You do all the hard work of negotiating and documenting your plans outside the courtroom.
A true DIY divorce involves doing the work independently. This method offers the most robust cost savings. There are other money-saving options as well. You could use Utah’s Online Court Assistance Program (OCAP) to prepare documents for the court. (There are fees involved in this service.)
At Hello Divorce, we offer a DIY divorce plan for Utah residents as well as several other online divorce plans. Our mission is to guide you through the “scary stuff,” whether you want a little simple hand-holding, a lot of legal assistance, or something in between.
What is the procedure for filing DIY divorce papers?
Paperwork notifies both your spouse and the court that your marriage is drawing to a close. You must prepare and file these documents carefully. If you make a mistake, your split could be delayed.
Follow these steps:
1. Prepare your petition
2. Find your court
The courthouse in your Utah county will process your divorce paperwork. Find it here, and bring your paperwork and fees to the clerk’s office in that facility.
After processing your fee, the clerk will provide official copies of your divorce declaration. One is for you, and the other is for your spouse.
3. Serve your spouse
An adult unrelated to your case must provide divorce documents to your spouse in a process called serving. You can’t complete this step without help.
A server can be a close friend or family member, or you can hire someone like a sheriff or professional process server to help you. That person will hand your ex the required documents. Your server must then fill out and file a Proof of Completed Service form.
4. Share information
You must prepare a suite of financial documents and share them with your partner. Even if you think your ex knows everything about your financial health and future, you must take this step.
Fill out the Financial Declaration form, and pay close attention to the attachment requirements. You’ll need things like check stubs, loan applications, and financial statements to send with your completed paperwork.
You can mail these documents to your partner. When you complete that step, fill out the Certificate of Service of Financial Declaration form, bring it to the courthouse processing your divorce, and file it.
5. Negotiate with your partner
With paperwork filed and a case number in hand, it’s time to collaborate with your ex. You can download and use our free Hello Divorce Settlement Agreement Checklist to keep yourself on track.
If you can’t find common ground with your spouse, consider trying divorce mediation. A person trained in dispute resolution can help you hold constructive conversations and settle any disagreements you may have about property division, spousal support, child-related issues, and more. If mediation is successful, it can keep the two of you out of court, thereby reducing the overall cost (and stress) of your divorce process.
Suggested: What to Expect in Mediation
6. Finalize and wait
After a healthy discussion with your partner in which you finalize your marital settlement agreement, you can file your divorce paperwork. Then, you wait. Utah requires a 30-day cooling-off period for divorce. The countdown starts the day you file your original petition.
If you share children and are getting divorced in Utah, you must attend education classes or file a Motion to Waive Education Requirements form.
7. File final documents
You’re almost done! Just a few more documents are required before your divorce can be reviewed by a judge.
The Declaration of Jurisdiction and Grounds for Divorce form tells the courts that you can legally split within Utah. File it with the courts to trigger a judge’s review of documents like your petition and stipulation.
How much money does a DIY divorce in Utah cost?
A DIY divorce in Utah is significantly less expensive than a traditional case argued in front of a judge, but there are still fees involved. Sometimes, you can get waivers for those fees and reduce your out-of-pocket expenses.
Utah may charge fees for the following services:
- Filing fees: $325
- Serving: $20 plus mileage (approximately)
- Utah Department of Health filing: $18
You may have other fees to face in Utah, including those associated with taking educational classes or using mediation. The fees we’ve listed represent the lowest amount your divorce might cost if you use the DIY route.
If you can’t afford these costs, you can apply for a waiver. If you receive government benefits, can’t afford to pay for basic necessities, or have other signs of financial distress, the court could waive your fees.
A traditional Utah divorce is much more expensive. You’ll need a lawyer to handle your case, and most lawyers charge hundreds of dollars per hour. You will also have more forms to file, each with a fee. Your training courses are mandatory, and you must pay for those as well.
A DIY divorce will save you money.
How long does a DIY divorce take in Utah?
A DIY divorce in Utah will take at least 30 days. If you live in a county experiencing judicial backlogs, you may need to wait longer. A judge must review your documents for accuracy and fairness, and sometimes, they’re not available when you need them.
What factors make you a good candidate for DIY divorce?
A DIY divorce is typically a good choice for people with these characteristics:
- No children: Estates are easier to split when no dependents are involved. You can also skip Utah’s requirements involving classes and gnarly forms.
- Brief marriages: If your wedding just happened, you didn’t have time to compile plenty of shared assets and routines.
- Straightforward accounts: If you agree on what belongs to each party, splitting your assets and debts is easy.
A DIY approach could be the wrong choice for you in Utah if you have these characteristics:
- Difficult relationship history: If abuse entered your marriage, negotiating could be scary or unsafe.
- Complex financial details: If you have plenty of debt, multiple properties, extensive assets, and other difficult issues to untangle, the court may need to step in.
- Inability to communicate: Some people split because they can’t agree on anything. If you simply can’t talk to your ex anymore, a DIY approach might not be right for you.
- Lack of time: A DIY approach requires attention and diligence. If you have no interest in working on something like this (even if it saves you money), this isn’t the right idea for you.
Tips for a successful DIY divorce in Utah
A DIY divorce in Utah works best when you follow a few basic tips:
- Be realistic. Don’t enter negotiations believing you can give your partner just a tiny bit of (or no) spousal support. Look closely at your household budget, and expect that financial needs won’t change dramatically after the split.
- Know the law. Utah laws require people to split their assets equitably during divorce. An equitable split isn’t always 50/50. If you make more money than your spouse, a fair split might give you less.
- Don’t try to cheat. A judge must approve your plans. If you make plans that officials don’t consider fair, they could kick you back to the negotiating table.
- Remember retirement. Your estate’s value might be tied up in your 401(k), and it must be included in your plans. Don’t leave it to the last minute.
DIY divorce FAQ
These are some of the most frequent queries about DIY divorce in Utah.
Can I file for divorce myself in Utah?
You can file for a divorce without a lawyer in Utah. Many of the forms you need are available online, along with detailed instructions.
Can you divorce in Utah without going to court?
Yes, you can get divorced in Utah without going to court. Collaborate with your partner and file a stipulation when you’ve made arrangements you can both live with.
How can I get a quick divorce in Utah?
The quickest way to get a divorce in Utah is to collaborate with your partner, create an arrangement you can both live with, and file a stipulation with the court. As a best-case scenario, your marriage could be over in 30 days.
How much is a simple divorce in Utah?
A simple divorce in Utah that you complete without the help of any outside organization could cost less than $450, depending on the classes you must take and the forms you need.
ReferencesDivorce. Utah State Courts.
Filing/Record Fees (Court Filing, Transcript, and Fees). Utah State Courts.
Civil Process Service Fees. Utah County Sheriff’s Office.
Fee Schedule. (July 2021). Utah Department of Health.
Fees and Fee Waiver. Utah State Courts.