In cases where you and your spouse want to separate temporarily, intend to divorce if reconciliation doesn’t happen, this option might suit you. Either party can apply to the Court for a temporary separation order, and the Court can then make orders with respect to property, custody, and child/spousal support payments. For this option, you must be married and both parties must have been living in Utah for at least 90 days prior to filing. If minor children are involved, both parties must complete the divorce orientation and divorce education sessions.
A temporary separation order lasts for one year on its own. At any point, either spouse can file for divorce, and the fee paid for the temporary separation filing will be applied towards the filing costs for a divorce petition. The orders established under temporary separation will apply throughout the divorce process, until new ones are issued or when the divorce is granted. At that point, the permanent orders made by the Court will apply under the context of divorce.
Separate maintenance allows you to live apart while remaining legally married. If you’re not quite ready to get divorced or just need legal separation, you can file a petition for separate maintenance which helps to ensure the parties’ needs are met even while legally separated. It is important to note that this option is only offered in limited circumstances, such as:
- If you were deserted without good cause
- Your spouse is able to provide you support, but doesn’t
- You are living apart from your spouse through no fault of your own
- Your spouse is imprisoned
For this option to be available to you, both spouses must have lived in Utah for a minimum of 90 days prior to filing. There is also a minimum 30-day waiting period before the Court acts on your case. If you have children under the age of 18, this waiting period allows for the completion of the mandatory divorce orientation and education prior to the request being granted. If you don’t have children, this waiting period can be used to negotiate the terms of your separation.
The process of a petition for separate maintenance is similar to divorce proceedings, but the difference is that the end result is not divorce. The Court will make orders for things like child/spousal support, dividing up property, and dealing with debts. Just like in a divorce proceeding, the Court will abide by what the parties are requesting, so long as they’re in agreement. Also, it’s important to note that either spouse can file for a divorce at any point during the course of separation.
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