What is Marital Property in Utah?

Is Utah a community property state? It’s a question many people ask when they’re trying to split their assets in a divorce. The answer to this question is an emphatic “no.”

Utah is an equitable distribution state, meaning that courts look for arrangements that are fair, even if they’re not always 50/50 splits.

Utah divorce terminology you should know

Understanding a few basic terms can help you move through your divorce with a bit more ease. These are common words used when dealing with estates in Utah:

  •   Community property states: In places like California, courts use community property rules in divorce. Assets and debts acquired during the marriage are equally split in divorce unless the parties make a strong case for a different arrangement.
  •   Equitable distribution states: In Utah, courts split assets and debts fairly (or equitably) during divorce, even if that means one person gets more than the other.
  •   Marital property: Assets acquired during the marriage (like houses, boats, appliances, and furniture) belong to both parties, even if only one person’s name is on the title.
  •   Nonmarital property: Assets people bring into the marriage leave with them during the divorce unless that separate property mixes with marital property. Things like inheritances and gifts are typically separate, too, unless they are commingled.
  •   Premarital agreements: Arrangements people make before the wedding day can help people define what is nonmarital property.

Factors considered when dividing property

It's important to note that the equitable-distribution approach recognizes that one party may be entitled to more or less than 50% of the total assets to be split.

When dividing marital property, the court may consider factors such as these:

  • The length of the marriage
  • The standard of living established during the marriage
  • The cost of caring for the household, including childcare
  • The income level of the parties as well as their future earning potential
  • The age and health of the parties

In the case of marriages of shorter duration, the court might opt to put both parties back in the economic position they were in before getting married. Essentially, you get back what was yours before the marriage, and they get back what was theirs.

In general, personal property should be divided as agreed upon by the two parties. If they cannot agree, the court will intervene and make a ruling on how things should be distributed.

That said, the higher-earning spouse could receive a bigger piece of the pie by claiming they made greater financial contributions. But at the same time, the lower/no-income-earning spouse can make equitable claims by virtue of their personal contributions during the marriage (e.g., running the household, caring for the kids, or assisting the spouse with their work).

What is separate property (nonmarital property)?

Utah courts define nonmarital property as property that was owned by the spouses before they got married. For example, if you entered the marriage with a set of dishes that belonged to your grandmother, you will leave with those dishes after the divorce.

After you’re married, you can also acquire nonmarital property. For example, gifts given just to you (not to the household) are typically nonmarital property, as are things like inheritances.

Important exceptions to these rules exist. Utah laws specify that nonmarital property can become marital property if it’s used by everyone or combined with shared resources in some way.

For example, if you inherit your father’s car and both you and your partner drive it everywhere as your sole vehicle, it could be considered marital property. Similarly, if you get a big inheritance from an aunt and deposit the funds in a joint checking account, those dollars could be marital property.

Anything you want to keep separate should be clearly defined as yours and used only by you. Otherwise, you could lose some of it in the divorce. A premarital agreement may also help, as it allows you to define the property that would leave with you if you were to split.

How is the value of marital property determined?

As part of the Utah divorce process, you must share financial information with your spouse within 14 days of filing your initial paperwork. Think of this document as the beginning of your marital property discussion. The information you provide, and the version of the form your spouse fills out, define what your property is worth.

Here’s what to do:

  1.  Fill out the Financial Declaration (1352FAJ) form.
  2.  Gather all receipts and proof requested on the form.
  3.  Make at least three copies.
  4.  Deliver one copy (with all attached documents) to your spouse.
  5.  File the first page of one copy (with no attachments) at the courthouse, proving that you’ve delivered your documents.

Keep a copy of this document, and watch for a copy from your spouse.

If you and your spouse come to an agreement on your property, you can file a stipulation with the court. Together, you’ll decide who keeps what in the split, and the judge will examine your plans and sign your final papers if the arrangements seem fair.

If you and your spouse cannot agree, the court may ask for your financial documents and all of the attachments. With those documents, the court can assess how much your assets are worth and divide the property accordingly.

How do I get around marital property division rules?

The overall goal is to ensure both parties are treated fairly with respect to their investments in the marriage and their subsequent needs. That said, couples can divide assets in a manner they deem fair and have this agreement approved by the court, thereby avoiding the court process of dividing assets.

Limits and exceptions can be established by valid prenuptial and marital agreements. The key here is the word "valid."For example, anything included in the prenuptial agreement about child support, a child's healthcare and insurance expenses, or childcare expenses will not be adhered to by the court, as that is invalid. Why? A prenuptial agreement cannot govern these aspects, even if you had an agreement on these matters and signed willingly.

We know divorce can be confusing and overwhelming, but we're here to make it easier for you. Schedule a free 15-minute phone call with us at Hello Divorce to ask questions and lear about how we may help you.


Property Division. Utah State Courts.
Financial Declaration. Utah State Courts.


Divorce Specialists
After spending years in toxic and broken family law courts, and seeing that no one wins when “lawyer up,” we knew there was an opportunity to do and be better. We created Hello Divorce to the divorce process easier, affordable, and completely online. Our guiding principles are to make sure both spouses feel heard, supported, and set up for success as they move into their next chapter in life.