Married couples in Utah who are uncertain about divorce have the option to first file for a temporary separation. By doing so, the court can grant temporary orders on issues such as property division, child custody and support, and parent time. Both spouses must have resided in Utah for at least 90 days to seek a temporary separation order, which is typically valid for one year.

To file for divorce, at least one spouse must have resided for a minimum three months in the county in which the divorce petition is filed. There are several grounds for divorce in Utah, one of which is irreconcilable differences. Except under extraordinary circumstances, there is a mandatory 90-day waiting period from the time the petition is filed to the time the divorce decree is signed. If minor children are involved, the couple must attend a divorce education class. Furthermore, mediation early in the divorce process is required when the parties do not agree on all the issues.

What Paperwork Do You Need to File for Divorce?

A divorce petition must be filed with the district court in a county where at least one spouse has resided for a minimum three months. Divorce documents can be found on the Online Court Assistance Program website. Forms offered on other websites should be avoided, as they may not be approved by the court. When in doubt, divorce documents can be prepared by a lawyer. The spouse filing for divorce must serve the other spouse with the documents within 120 days of filing.

Equitable Distribution vs. Community Property

Unlike community property states where property acquired during the marriage is typically divided equally in divorce proceedings, Utah, an equitable distribution state, divides property “equitably.” This means the court will divide the property based on what is fair. It might decide that longer marriages have a close to equal division in property, whereas individuals in shorter marriages are simply awarded what they had prior to the marriage and what they contributed during the marriage. Though the court will ultimately assess for fairness any agreement made outside of court regarding the division of property, it is advisable to seek the help of a lawyer on this matter.  

What Should You Do if There are Children Involved?

The battle over child custody and support can become highly emotional, and the parties involved may need a lawyer to help resolve sensitive issues. In determining custody, a court will look to the “best interest” of the child. It will presume that joint legal custody is best, unless there is a history of family violence or other relevant factor such as the parents living far apart. The combined child support obligation is based on the parents’ incomes.

Do You Need to Pay Alimony?

In determining alimony, the court looks at a number of factors, including the financial needs of the spouse requesting it, the length of the marriage, the couple’s standard of living at the time of separation, and fault. It also considers whether the paying spouse will in fact be able to make the alimony payments. An award of alimony generally does not exceed the number of years the couple was married. It is important to discuss with your lawyer any questions you might have about alimony early in your divorce proceedings.

Where Can You Find the Right Divorce Lawyer?

Divorce can be messy and very stressful, but you can get the professional help you need to ease the process. If you are considering filing for divorce, or you have been served with divorce papers, it’s in your best interest to contact a local Utah divorce lawyer today.