Things to Do Before You File for Divorce in Utah
- Understand residency requirements
- Determine your grounds
- Evaluate your finances
- Plan for the immediate future
- Craft your divorce strategy
Filing for divorce in Utah takes just minutes. You upload paperwork and pay a fee to file those documents. But preparation can take much longer. The work you do before you file any legal documents can ensure that your divorce proceedings move along as efficiently as possible.
Understand residency requirements
To qualify for a divorce, state law mandates that you or your spouse must live in a single Utah county for at least three months prior to filing documents. Any children you share must live with at least one of you within Utah for six months.
If you don’t meet these residency requirements, Utah courts can’t dissolve your marriage. They have no legal jurisdiction to do so.
Determine your grounds
Utah divorce law requires you to cite reasons (or grounds) for your divorce, even if it is a no-fault divorce. If you seek a no-fault divorce in Utah, the possible grounds are irreconcilable differences or having lived apart for three years.
If you seek an at-fault divorce in Utah, the following options are available as well:
- Impotence at the time of marriage
- Desertion lasting more than one year
- Willful neglect
- Felony conviction
- Cruel treatment causing mental distress or bodily harm
- Incurable insanity
You don’t have to prove irreconcilable differences. But if you cite a different reason for your divorce, you may need documentation you’re comfortable sharing with the court.
Sometimes, citing something personal (like impotence) can make your spouse angry. Your divorce could get messier as a result. Choose your grounds for divorce carefully.
Evaluate your finances
Your estate is a primary focus of your divorce, and you must split things equally. Gaining a clear picture of your financial information, including what you own and what you owe, can help you craft plans that protect your financial future.
Gather key financial documents, such as the following:
- Bank account statements
- 401k or retirement savings account statements and balances
- Home assessments
- Rental property assessments
- Home loan balances
- Car loan valances
- Life insurance policies
- Healthcare and other insurance policies
- Tax returns
- Pay stubs
Think about where you will live after the split, where your children will reside, and how much you’ll need to pay your bills. Working with a financial planner could help you understand how much financial support you’ll need to stay afloat.
Plan for the immediate future
Utah has a short waiting period for divorces. In about 30 days, your marriage could be over. But you must make plans for that month. If you move out, where will you live? If you stay in the marital home, where will your former spouse live? Where will your children live?
When your Utah divorce case is filed, the court issues a Domestic Relations Injunction. This document bans harassment, big changes regarding insurance and marital property, and travel with children. You can’t change much while the process moves forward. Follow the rules of the injunction, or you’ll face consequences.
However, if your spouse is unstable or violent, ignoring the injunction could pose a real risk. In this case, you could use temporary court orders to ensure your spouse limits contact, moves out of the house, or refrains from seeing your children.
Temporary orders could also involve child support or alimony payments, custody, and debt repayments. If your financial health is at risk during the waiting period, these orders could be helpful.
Consider how well you communicate with your spouse right now and how that conversation might break down when you split.
Suggested: Expert Tips for Negotiating Spousal Support
Craft your divorce strategy
Your divorce could work in one of two ways. You could file paperwork and prepare for a long conversation with your spouse, or you could hold a few short meetings and agree to an expedited split.
In a traditional Utah divorce, one person (the petitioner) files the documents, and the other (the respondent) answers with paperwork in at least 30 days. They attend a case management conference to schedule the next steps, including a trial. This process is lengthy and can be costly.
You could choose a stipulation instead. Both parties agree to the terms outlined in the petition. They sign the document and skip the hassles of a court case.
You don’t have to agree with your spouse right away. You could work with a trained mediator after filing paperwork to arrive at a settlement agreement you both can tolerate. During mediation, you work through difficult issues (like child custody) and agree on future plans. After the appointment, you could sign stipulation documents.
Consider which approach seems right for you. If you’ve already told your partner you want a divorce, you could use the tone of that conversation to help you decide on the best path forward.
Prepare to file
Your Utah county contains the courtroom that can process your divorce. You must file in your county to get the process started.
The process of uncontested divorce is faster and less costly than that of contested divorce. Learn more about uncontested divorce here.
Gather your thoughts
Divorce is a permanent end to your marriage. When the process is finished, your marriage will be ended. Take time to process your emotions. Even if you want it to end, it’s still a major and difficult transition. Let yourself feel the grief. Gather your strength for the steps yet to come.
Hello Divorce can give you the support and guidance you need to get a divorce in Utah. Whether you're going it alone or want the help of a mediator, we have professional services and online divorce plans to help.
ReferencesDivorce. Utah State Courts.
Utah Code, Husband and Wife. Utah State Legislature.