Filing for divorce can seem overwhelming, but it can be more manageable if you take a step-by-step approach. If you’re filing for divorce in the state of Utah, follow our flowchart, or read on right here.
Step 1: Understand your grounds for divorce in Utah
Utah allows for divorce based on fault and no-fault grounds.
If you feel that your marriage has ended due to nobody’s fault and you just want to move on, you can file for divorce based on the grounds of irreconcilable differences. This is considered a no-fault divorce.
If you are divorcing based on fault-based grounds, you will have to prove it in court to be granted a divorce. Fault-based grounds in Utah include the following:
- Neglect to provide
- Habitual drunkenness
- Felony conviction
- Mental or physical cruelty
- Living under a decree of separate maintenance for three consecutive years
- Permanent and incurable insanity
Step 2: Determine whether the divorce is contested or uncontested
During the divorce process, you and your spouse will need to come to an agreement on certain issues. These will include:
- The division of your marital assets and debts
- Custody of your minor children (if you have them) and parenting time
- Financial support for your children
- Spousal support or maintenance
When a divorcing couple successfully negotiates an agreement on their own, without the court making decisions for them, it’s called an uncontested divorce. An uncontested divorce is typically less time-consuming and costly than a contested one.
A contested divorce is one where either you or your spouse dispute some issues or even the divorce itself and must rely on the court to make decisions for you. A contested divorce is much more complicated, stressful, and costly than an uncontested one.
Step 3: Residency requirements
Before you can file for divorce, make sure you fulfill your state’s residency requirements. In Utah, one of you must have lived in Utah and your filing county for three months minimum.
Step 4: Fill out and file the required forms
If you are the spouse filing for divorce, you are considered the Petitioner and your spouse the Respondent. As the Petitioner, you will need to complete and file the following documents in the county where you reside and pay a filing fee of $325:
- Verified Petition for Divorce
- Summons form for a spouse who is a resident of Utah (Use this form if your spouse resides outside Utah)
- Declaration of Jurisdiction and Grounds for Divorce
- Utah District Court Cover Sheet
Your divorce will only be considered open once you have filed these forms. If you can’t afford to pay the filing fee, you can file a Motion to Waive Fees and provide the court evidence of your inability to pay.
If you are seeking an uncontested divorce, you and your spouse can also file a written and signed marital agreement, known as a stipulation, with your petition. This stipulation will outline all the terms you have agreed to and will be reviewed and approved by the court before granting your divorce.
Note: In Utah, there is a mandatory waiting period of 90 days between the time of filing of the petition and the final divorce decree. A waiver of this waiting period is possible.
Step 5: Serve your spouse
If your spouse has signed a stipulation (see above), you will not have to serve them with divorce papers.
If your spouse has not signed a stipulation, but they have read the petition and agreed to its contents, they can waive their response or right to challenge anything in it by signing the Acceptance of Service, Appearance, Consent, and Waiver.
If your spouse has not signed a stipulation or acceptance, you will have 120 days to serve the divorce documents to your spouse. This can be done by certified mail, through the county sheriff’s department, or through a private service company. You must provide the county with proof of this service within 10 days of serving your spouse.
Step 6: Spouse’s answer
If the service was successful, your spouse then has 21 days (or 30 days if they reside in another state) to respond.
If your spouse agrees with all issues you presented in the divorce petition, they can choose to file a stipulation instead of a response. Otherwise, they can file an answer that allows them to address each item in the petition specifically.
If there are other issues they would like to raise that were not mentioned in the original petition, they must file a counterclaim to address these additional issues. Their response must be served to you within three days of filing.
If you can’t locate your spouse or your spouse does not respond
If your spouse does not file an answer to the petition or they can’t be located, you can ask the court to file a default judgment giving you what you asked for in your divorce petition. Your spouse will have no opportunity to protest this later unless they are a military service member with specific protections.
Suggested: True Default Divorce vs. Uncontested Divorce
Step 8: Attend a case management conference and required mediation and classes
Once the answer has been filed, other steps must be taken before a trial date can be scheduled in Utah.
The court will schedule a case management conference to establish other important dates in your divorce case.
- The exchanges of Financial Declarations and Initial Disclosures must occur within 14 days of filing the Respondent’s answer.
- If minor children are involved, you and your spouse must attend an Orientation and an Education Course or apply to waive it.
- If you and your spouse have minor children, you must also file a Child Support Worksheet, Required Location Information, and a Statement of Compliance.
- Utah law also requires you and your spouse to attend mediation before continuing to litigation.
If you and your spouse have come to an agreement on the terms of your divorce during mediation, you can then file a stipulation outlining these terms and file them with the court.
Step 9: Prepare for trial
To prepare for your trial, you must file a Certificate of Readiness for Trial indicating all mediation and/or classes were completed. You and your spouse will also need to file the Trial Issues form outlining both of your positions on the issues. If an issue is not listed on the Trial Issues form, it will not be addressed during the trial.
It may be possible to avoid a trial for your divorce. Read How to Stay Out of Divorce Court for more information.
Step 10: Trial
If you are filing for an uncontested divorce in Utah, there is usually no need for a court hearing. A judge will review your documents to ensure all matters are fair and sign the final decree and judgment.
A contested divorce will require a hearing. This is when you and your spouse’s legal teams call witnesses and make your case to the court. After hearing each side, the presiding judge will make a final decision and sign the final decree and judgment. You must then abide by all the decisions of the court.
Have more questions about filing for divorce in Utah? At Hello Divorce, we try to take the stress and cost out of the divorce process with online divorce plans and related ala carte professional services. Schedule a free 15-minute consultation here.