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How Can I Start The Divorce Process?

How Can I Start The Divorce Process?

In Utah, married couples can end their marriages by getting a divorce or by annulment. Legal separation is also permitted, but a couple is still married after a legal separation takes place.

Legal Separation

In a legal separation, spouses live separately but are still married to each other. The terms of their separation are bound by a Decree of Legal Separation that covers several legal and financial issues such as alimony, child support, custody, a division of property and other relevant issues.
The grounds for legal separation are as follows:
• A party who has sufficient ability to provide support, neglects or refuses to properly provide for and suitably maintain his/her spouse
• A party deserts his/her spouse without good and sufficient cause
• A party who has property in the state and his/her spouse is a resident of the state, deserts or neglects or refuses to provide support
• A party, without fault, lives separate and apart from his/her spouse

Legal separation can provide a much-needed time out and stepping away can often bring added perspective about what a couple will lose in a marriage and possibly give them time to heal from the issues that caused their marriage to come under stress. Spouses may also choose legal separation for religious reasons. Some religions do not look favorably upon divorce and staying married though legally separated puts less pressure on a couple who might otherwise be in conflict with their church and religious beliefs. There are financial benefits as well, such as being able to keep health insurance, or by continuing to file as a married couple on tax returns.

Annulment

Annulments can be granted in Utah. This basically means that a marriage is considered null, as if it never happened. According to Utah laws, the following are prohibited and void marriages and they may be annulled for these causes:
• Marriages between parents and children
• Marriages between ancestors and descendants of every degree
• Marriages between brothers and sisters (half or whole)
• Marriages between uncles and nieces or aunts and nephews
• Marriages between first cousins (unless both parties are 65 years of age or older, or if both parties are 55 years of age or older, upon a finding by the court that either party is unable to reproduce)
• Marriages between any persons related to each other within and not including fifth degree of consanguinity
• When there is a husband or wife living, from whom the person marrying has not been divorced
• Either party is at least 16, but under 18 years of age and has not obtained parental consent
• Either party is under 16 years of age at the time the parties attempt to enter into the marriage, unless the party is 15 years of age and has obtained judicial consent
• Marriage between persons of the same sex
• Re-marriage to a different spouse before the divorce decree becomes absolute, or in the case of an appeal, before the affirmance of the decree

Divorce

Divorce is a permanent and legal end to a marriage in Utah. All ties are severed, assets are divided, custody and alimony issues are resolved, and each spouse goes their separate way after a final decree is issued.

Grounds for Divorce in Utah

Utah allows both no-fault and fault-based grounds for divorce. With a no-fault divorce, only one spouse needs to testify that the marriage has irreconcilable differences. You can also seek a no-fault divorce if you and your spouse have lived separate and apart from each other for at least three years.

But with a fault-based divorce, you will need to present evidence to prove your case. Utah allows several fault-based reasons for divorce. They include:
• Impotency at the time of the marriage
• Adultery
• Willful desertion for more than one year
• Habitual drunkenness
• Conviction of a felony
• Cruel treatment that causes bodily injury or great mental distress
• Willful neglect to provide the standard necessities of life
• A spouse’s incurable insanity.
Before a spouse can file for divorce, they must also meet residency requirements of living in a single county in the state for a minimum of at least three months. If custody of a minor child is an issue, usually the child must reside with at least one of the parents in Utah for at least six months, but there are exceptions.

It is in your best interests to fully understand all of your options when you are thinking about getting a divorce. The path that you ultimately take will be determined by the relationship you have with your spouse. Deciding whether to pursue an uncontested divorce in Utah or attempting to negotiate a settlement through a cooperative effort of some sort could save you a lot time and money, making it easier for you to transition to life as a single person. The process you choose sets the tone and shapes the outcome of your divorce by setting the framework for how you get to a final resolution.

Do-It-Yourself Divorce

Don’t do a do it yourself divorce. This can hurt you because you’ve never done a divorce before, you didn’t go to law school. It’s like doing your own dental work. Not a good idea.

Online Divorce

We at Ascent Law LLC can help you with an online divorce. Call us right away 801-676-5506.

Divorce Litigation

The default option and also the most expensive. If you and your spouse can’t agree on one of the other options, then you’re headed for litigation. Litigation is an attorney-driven process. While the majority of cases settle before going to trial, that doesn’t mean litigation won’t wreak havoc on you and your kids. Sometimes, however, it’s the only viable option. If your spouse has a high-conflict personality (narcissist, borderline, etc.) or there is domestic violence, litigation might be your only option. It’s also the right choice if your primary objective is to punish your spouse.

Divorce Mediation

With mediation, you and your spouse retain a neutral professional (typically an attorney) to help facilitate agreement. The mediator will help you brainstorm options, understand each other’s perspectives, and make compromises to reach a resolution that you and your spouse can both live with.

Utah Collaborative Divorce

Contrary to popular belief, this doesn’t just mean that you and your spouse are going to work out your divorce “collaboratively.” There’s much more to it. Collaborative divorce is a structured process that takes a team approach. Divorce is much more than a legal process. It’s about money, kids, and emotions. That’s why a Collaborative team includes collaborative lawyers, a divorce coach, and a neutral financial specialist. Unlike any other process, everyone commits not to go to court. The idea is that this removes the threat of litigation which fosters creative solutions and interest-based negotiation. It’s far and away the most supportive type of divorce.

Process of filing for Divorce in Utah

The first thing you need to do is Gather Important Information. Save time, money and stress in your divorce by approaching this step in a timely and thorough way. It will take time to pull together your information, but it is vital that you do this without cutting corners. It’s the best way to make sure your rights are protected and to give yourself the possibility of achieving the best possible financial settlement with your spouse. Starting early and being organized are keys to successfully completing this task. This will not only ensure that your rights are protected throughout the process, but also save you much needed time, unnecessary anxiety, and a fair amount of money.

Before you jump in to collecting financial information, take the following steps:
• Open a new checking and savings account in your name alone.
• Open a credit card in your name alone.
• Order a free credit report.
• Make a list of all the assets and liabilities that you’re aware of. Include any memberships, reward points, and other perks that may be considered as assets.

If you’re in the dark about your finances, that’s okay. You and your spouse will be required to complete financial affidavits as part of the divorce process. The goal at this point is simply to begin identifying the puzzle pieces.
Okay, now it’s time to start gathering your information. Here’s a short-list of what you need:
• Tax returns (including W-2’s, K-1’s, and 1099’s) for the last 5 years
• Pay stubs for the last 3 months
• Bank statements
• Credit card statements
• Retirement account statements
• Pension plan statements
• Grant notice for stock options, RSUs, etc.
• Investment account statements
• Life insurance policies
• Mortgage statements
• Real estate appraisals
• Deeds to real estate
• Car registration
• Kelley Blue Book printouts (“private party value”)
• Car loan statements
• Social security benefit statement

Complete The Initial Paperwork

After you sign up with Ascent Law LLC, we will send you a divorce questionnaire to complete. Once completed we will draft your petition for divorce.

File Your Petition for Divorce

In Utah, paperwork must be filed with the district court in the county in which at least one of the parties has lived for at least three months immediately before filing the divorce petition. We’ll file your case for you so you don’t have it. We’ll give you copies of all of your documents. You must then serve your spouse with copies of the divorce papers to legally make them aware of your intention to divorce them.

Completing Proof of Service in Utah

Service of process must be completed before a divorce case can proceed in Utah. Once the plaintiff or petitioner has filed paperwork with the court, he or she has 120 days to serve the defendant. If the plaintiff serves paperwork on the opposing party first, the complaint and the summons must be filed with the court within 10 days of service. Proof of Service must be attached to all paperwork submitted with the court, whether it was handled by the defendant, a sheriff, constable or a private process server. The proof of service tells the court when and how the parties were served, and the names and addresses of those served. The person who served the document must complete the Proof of Service document.

Service can be completed by a sheriff, a constable, a U.S. Marshal, or by any person 18 or older who is:
• Not a party in the case or an attorney for a party in the case,
• Not been convicted of a felony violation of a sex offense listed in Utah Code Section 77-41-102(16), or
• Not a respondent in a protective order proceeding
Service can also be completed by mail using USPS or a commercial carrier like FedEx or UPS. Documents must be sent by a method that requires the respondent to sign for the delivery. The document is not properly served if someone other than the respondent signs for the delivery.

How Long Does It Take To Get A Divorce In Utah?

After you file your paperwork, the respondent has 21 days to file an answer, or 30 days if they were served outside of the state. When an answer is filed, both parties must provide initial disclosures to each other. This will include a Financial Disclosure among other documents. Utah law requires that there is a minimum 90-day waiting period from the date that the petition is submitted to the date that the decree is signed. This will generally be the shortest time frame in an uncontested divorce or if the respondent does not file a response. A spouse can ask the court to waive the waiting period for extraordinary circumstances. A divorce will generally take longer when minor children are involved because parents must attend a divorce orientation class and a divorce education class. Although it is not mandatory there is also a Divorce Education Class for Children, designed to help children through their parents’ divorce. If a divorce is contested, it could take several additional months to resolve issues before a final judgment is entered. The parties usually must attend at least one mediation session to try to resolve the issues before the case can move forward.

Divorce Decree

When all issues have been agreed upon, a Utah court will issue a divorce decree. This is a binding and legal document that spells out the details of the divorce, including a division of assets, alimony, child custody and support and other important issues that have been decided. If one party does not obey the directives of the decree, a party may ask the court to enforce the decree by going back to court.

Divorce Certificate

After a divorce decree has been granted, a divorce certificate will be filed with the Utah Department of Health, Utah Vital Records and Statistics. Divorce records are kept for the period of 1978 through 2010. After that period, records are found at the district court where the divorce took place. A divorce certificate has much less information than a divorce decree, showing only basic information about a divorce.

Free Initial Consultation with Lawyer

It’s not a matter of if, it’s a matter of when. Legal problems come to everyone. Whether it’s your son who gets in a car wreck, your uncle who loses his job and needs to file for bankruptcy, your sister’s brother who’s getting divorced, or a grandparent that passes away without a will -all of us have legal issues and questions that arise. So when you have a law question, call Ascent Law for your free consultation (801) 676-5506. We want to help you!

Michael R. Anderson, JD

Ascent Law LLC
8833 S. Redwood Road, Suite C
West Jordan, Utah
84088 United States

Telephone: (801) 676-5506

Ascent Law LLC

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