What to Do If You're Served with a Petition for Divorce in Utah
- Signing a stipulation
- Accepting service
- Answering the Petition
- Disclosing financial information
- Reaching an agreement
Your spouse has filed for divorce and you have received the initial paperwork. So, what are your next (or first) steps?
Signing a stipulation
If you agree to the terms of the petition, meaning that you and your spouse already agree on all the issues (diving property, custody terms, etc.), you can sign a stipulation that you agree to all the terms and thus skip the work and hassle of needing to be served with the petition and summons, filing an answer, paying the filing fee, and submitting financial disclosures.
Tip: You can easily create your stipulation or answer by signing up for one of our online divorce plans.
For those who cannot go the stipulation path, the first item will be accepting the service of the petition. If your spouse asks you to accept service and you consent to it, your spouse can bypass formal service and its associated costs by delivering the documents in person, by mail, or by email. If you are willing to accept service, you must fill out and sign an Acceptance of Service form and file it with the court, or give it to your spouse to file it with the court on your behalf; you must also provide your spouse with a copy of this form. If you would like to file a response (referred to as an answer), you must do so within 21 days of filing the Acceptance of Service form with the court if you were served in Utah (30 days if you were served outside of Utah).
It's important to note that choosing to accept service does not interfere with your right to file an answer if you disagree with what is contained in the petition for divorce; it just allows for formal service to be bypassed and avoids your spouse incurring costs associated with personal service or service by registered mail.
1. Answer the petition
Prepare your answer to the petition, and file it with the court within 21 days of being served if you live in the state of Utah or within 30 days if you live outside of Utah. You must also provide your spouse with a copy of your response.
The answer is your opportunity to state whether you agree or disagree with the information in the petition and file any counterclaims. After you prepare your answer, you will need to file it with the court, and a copy of it must be provided to your spouse or their lawyer (if they have one). The filing fee is $130.
Tip: If you cannot afford the filing fee, find out How to File a Divorce Fee Waiver
2. Disclose your finances
The mandatory financial declaration process is when both you and your spouse complete a financial statement and exchange certain financial documentation, such as income documentation and bank statements. This is a required step for both you and your spouse. Your spouse who served you is known as the petitioner, and they have 14 days after you've filed your response to the petition to serve you with their financial declaration and attachments. You, as the respondent, must serve your financial declaration and attachments within 42 days of when you filed your answer to the divorce petition.
Both you and your spouse have to file a Certificate of Service, which confirms that you've provided these documents to each other. You do not typically file the financial declarations and attachments themselves with the court until there's a hearing to decide financial questions (such as spousal/child support, allocating property/debts, etc.).
Related: How is Child Support Determined?
QUICK TIP: This can be a complicated task, so again, simplify your process by using our Divorce Navigator to easily handle your Step 2 and 3 forms.
3. Reach an agreement
Finally, you will want to work with your spouse to come to an agreement on all divorce issues, such as division of assets, maintenance (spousal support), and issues related to your children. If you need help, we have loads of resources to assist you!
Using our Divorce Navigator, you and your spouse can prepare all your agreements (Separation Agreement and Parenting Plan) to be submitted to the court for review and approval. Once the court signs your decree, you will be officially divorced.
Tip: If you and your spouse have trouble coming to an agreement on a property, debt, support, or shared parenting-related issues, Hello Divorce offers mediation resources and in-house mediation options to fit the needs of your unique situation.