Utah Divorce Laws
The state of Utah has unique divorce laws for people who wish to terminate their marriage.
We are providing this online divorce information to you as an easy divorce reference guide to help you while you are doing your own divorce. This information (and much more) is available inside your personal 3StepDivorce account area in order to help you understand how Utah addresses the most important issues in the divorce process and certain elements throughout your divorce forms.
The following overview of Utah divorce laws will help you understand the filing procedure and other primary issues concerning your divorce. Please keep in mind that our Utah online divorce service and support staff will make the process easy for you from start to finish. We take the difficulty out of doing your own divorce.
Residency Requirements: In order to file for a divorce in Utah, you or your spouse must meet the strict residency requirements. These requirements permit the court to have jurisdiction of your case, resulting in allowing you to use their judicial system. These requirements are only a concern for spouses who have recently relocated or plan to relocate in the near future. They are as follows:
The court may decree a dissolution of the marriage contract between the petitioner and respondent where the petitioner or respondent has been an actual and bona fide resident for 3 months of this state and of the county where the action is brought. This also applies to members of the Armed Forces of the United States who are not legal residents of this state, where the petitioner has been stationed in this state under military orders.
Unless the court, for good cause shown and set forth in the findings, otherwise orders, no hearing for decree of divorce shall be held by the court until 90 days shall have elapsed from the filing of the complaint, provided the court may make such interim orders as may be just and equitable.
The 90-day period shall not apply in any case where both parties have completed the mandatory educational course for divorcing parents.
The divorce is typically filed with in county in which the filing spouse resides. (Utah Code - Sections: 30-3-1, 30-3-18)
No-Fault Grounds: Most uncontested divorce cases are filed according to a "no-fault" ground. We are using the term "no-fault" in a generic fashion by labeling all grounds that do not actually declare a "fault" as "no-fault". In the state of Utah the "no-fault" grounds are as follows:
(1) irreconcilable differences of the marriage; (b) when the husband and wife have lived separately under a decree of separate maintenance of any state for three consecutive years without cohabitation. (Utah Code - Sections: 30-3-1)
Filing Party Name: The Petitioner. This is the spouse who is recognized as the initiator of the divorce and is the one who actually files the Petition for Divorce with the county court.
Non-Filing Party Name: The Respondent. This spouse plays a lesser role in an uncontested divorce versus a contested divorce. He or she will be required to sign and/or respond in a timely fashion to the documents filed by his or her spouse.
Family Law or Domestic Relations Court: In the District Court of the __________ Judicial District, in and for ___________ County, State of Utah. All divorce cases in the state of Utah are facilitated through this court for that particular county.
Clerk's Name: All correspondence with a Utah clerk of the court should formally address him or her as follows: District Clerk's Office.
Property and Debt Division: Utah is considered an "equitable distribution" state. If you and your spouse are unable to come to an agreement on how the marital property will be divided, the court shall use a three step process. First, it will determine what property is marital. Second, it will put a value on the marital property. Third, it will divide the marital property in an equitable fashion, which is not necessarily equal, but rather what is considered to be fair.
All of the spouses marital property is divided equitably upon divorce. The court will examine each case on an individual basis and determined an appropriate property award based on what is fair to each spouse.
Neither spouse is personally liable for the separate debts, obligations, or liabilities of the other: (1) contracted or incurred before marriage; (2) contracted or incurred during marriage, except family expenses; (3) contracted or incurred after divorce or an order for separate maintenance under this title, except the spouse is personally liable for that portion of the expenses incurred on behalf of a minor child for reasonable and necessary medical and dental expenses, and other similar necessities. (Utah Code - Sections: 30-3-5, 30-3-12)
Spousal Support, Maintenance, or Alimony: Determining the amount of spousal support, if any, is not as objective as determining child support. Spousal support, whether permanent or temporary, is typically decided on a case-by-case basis, because it is very likely that unique circumstances and factors regarding the marriage and the property award will play a significant role in allowing the court to arrive at the appropriate amount.
When the parties can not come to an agreement, the court shall consider at least the following factors in determining alimony: (1) the financial condition and needs of the recipient spouse; (2) the recipient's earning capacity or ability to produce income; (3) the ability of the payor spouse to provide support; (4) the length of the marriage; (5) whether the recipient spouse has custody of minor children requiring support; (6) whether the recipient spouse worked in a business owned or operated by the payor spouse; and (7) whether the recipient spouse directly contributed to any increase in the payor spouse's skill by paying for education received by the payor spouse or allowing the payor spouse to attend school during the marriage. The court may consider the fault of the parties in determining alimony. (Utah Code - Sections: 30-3-3, 30-3-5)
Custody and Visitation: Shared or joint child custody has become more and more popular with the Utah courts. If you and your spouse request to have joint or shared "legal" custody, it will almost always be granted. As for joint or shared "physical" custody, the court will examine this a bit more closely to determine if it is a realistic choice that would result in an arrangement that is best for the children.
The court shall consider the following factors when determining a custody award: (1) whether the physical, psychological, and emotional needs and development of the child will benefit from joint legal or physical custody; (2) the ability of the parents to give first priority to the welfare of the child and reach shared decisions in the child's best interest; (3) whether each parent is capable of encouraging and accepting a positive relationship between the child and the other parent, including the sharing of love, affection, and contact between the child and the other parent; (4) whether both parents participated in raising the child before the divorce; (5) the geographical proximity of the homes of the parents; (6) the preference of the child if the child is of sufficient age and capacity to reason so as to form an intelligent preference as to joint legal or physical custody; (7) the maturity of the parents and their willingness and ability to protect the child from conflict that may arise between the parents; (8) the past and present ability of the parents to cooperate with each other and make decisions jointly; (9) any history of, or potential for, child abuse, spouse abuse, or kidnaping; and (10) any other factors the court finds relevant.
In awarding custody, the court shall also consider, among other factors the court finds relevant, which parent is most likely to act in the best interests of the child, including allowing the child frequent and continuing contact with the noncustodial parent as the court finds appropriate. (Utah Code - Sections: 30-2-10, 30-3-5, 30-3-10)
Determining Child Support: The basis for determining a monthly support amount is best achieved by referring to the Utah child support worksheet. The worksheet utilizes the child support guidelines that are defined by state law. The court will use this same worksheet as a building block for determining the support obligation, that is if you and your spouse are unable to come to an agreement on this issue.
The court shall establish support after considering all relevant factors, including but not limited to: (a) the standard of living and situation of the parties; (b) the relative wealth and income of the parties; (c) the ability of the obligor to earn; (d) the ability of the obligee to earn; (e) the ability of an incapacitated adult child to earn, or other benefits received by the adult child or on the adult child's behalf including Supplemental Security Income; (f) the needs of the obligee, the obligor, and the child; (g) the ages of the parties; and (h) the responsibilities of the obligor and the obligee for the support of others. (Utah Code - Sections: 30-3-5, 78-45-7)
Copyright Notice: These Utah divorce laws above are copyrighted by Divorce Source, Inc. This abbreviated and revised version of the state laws has been compiled from applicable state laws and unauthorized reproduction in any fashion is prohibited. Violation of this copyright notice may result in immediate legal action.
A Simple Divorce Process
Visit Our Support Sites - Divorce Support & Divorce Source
Disclaimer: This is a quality non-lawyer self-help divorce solution. The 3StepDivorce Documentation software and service is not a substitute for the advice of a lawyer. Divorce Source, Inc. does not practice law and does not give out legal advice. The software and service allows you to represent yourself in doing your own divorce. If you need or desire legal representation we recommend that you hire a lawyer. Click here to learn more about our service.