Regardless of the instigating factors, divorce is a stressful and draining situation for all parties involved. With a divorce rate higher than the national average–3.6% for Utahans versus 3.4% for all Americans, according to a U.S. Census Bureau study–Utahans face this potentially complicated and often overwhelming process more than most. To help remove some of the confusion and anxiety surrounding getting divorced in Utah, here is a step-by-step overview of the divorce process in the state. Because divorce can easily get messy and contentious, hiring a knowledgeable divorce attorney is often in your best interests to help protect your assets and child custody concerns.
File for Divorce in Holladay, Utah
As you begin the process of filing for divorce, be aware that Holladay, Utah allows for divorce based both on fault and no-fault grounds. You should also know that Utah’s courts impose a residency requirement on divorce proceedings; this means that either you or your spouse must have lived in the state for a minimum of three months prior to the filing date. When custody of minor children will be an issue in the divorce proceedings, your children generally must have resided in Holladay Utah for a minimum of six months before you can file.
Consult an Attorney
You aren’t required to use an attorney in order to file for divorce in Holladay, Utah. However, the legal issues surrounding divorce are often complicated, and you may face obstacles representing yourself if there are any complex matters such as child custody or division of significant assets. A qualified divorce attorney can help you navigate the process and help safeguard against critical mistakes.
Prepare Your Divorce Documents
If you are using a lawyer, your attorney will prepare your documents for you. If not, you may use the state’s Online Court Assistance Program (OCAP) to prepare the divorce petition and related documents; there is a $20 fee for using this service. Completed forms must be notarized by a notary public before they can be filed.
File Your Divorce Documents
Your divorce case is only open once you’ve filed all forms in the office of the court clerk in your home county and paid the filing fee of $310.
Serve Your Spouse
After filing your divorce petition, you have 120 days to serve this petition, a summons and any other filed documents to your spouse. Service can be completed via certified mail or by the sheriff’s department or a private company. Proof of service is required to have the court act on your divorce petition.
Wait for Your Spouse’s Answer
After being served, your spouse will have 21 days–or 30 days if they are out of state to respond. If they do respond, both parties will have to submit a Financial Declaration form to each other outlining all relevant financial items. If your spouse does not respond, you can request that the court issue a default judgment which will grant you everything you requested in your petition. If your spouse agrees with all issues as presented in your divorce petition, they can file a stipulation instead of a response. At this point, the OCAP Divorce Stipulation questions can be used to prepare the necessary documents and proceed to a final divorce decree.
Complete Required Divorce Education Classes and Mediation
After your spouse has been given a chance to respond to your divorce petition, several steps must be taken before a trial will be scheduled. Many Utah divorce issues are resolved during this stage in the process, eliminating the need for a trial in front of a judge.
Complete a 90-Day Waiting Period
Utah law stipulates that judges must wait 90 days after the date that the divorce petition was initially filed to sign the final divorce order. This is true even if both spouses agree on all issues.
Attend Required Divorce Education Classes if Necessary
All divorcing couples in Holladay, Utah who have minor children are required to take both a divorce education class and a divorce orientation class before the final divorce decree will be signed. Both classes can be taken online or in person; the orientation class covers alternatives to divorce, while the education class seeks to provide information on how divorce affects children and how parents can make the process easier.
Take Part in Mandatory Mediation for Any Contested Issues
If your spouse responds to your divorce filing, Utah statute requires that both parties take part in a mediation session before a divorce will be granted. The parties are jointly responsible for locating and paying for a mediator.
Ask for Temporary Order if Necessary
Sometimes there are issues that must be addressed before the divorce order is final, such as who can use the marital home or who has custody of any minor children during the pending divorce. In these cases, either party can request that the judge issue a temporary order on the matter that will be effective through the final divorce decree.
Complete Name Restoration
If you had your name changed upon getting married, you can return to your pre-marriage legal name at this stage in the divorce process. To do so, simply include a statement along with your divorce petition to indicate the name change.
Go to Trial (If Necessary)
If you and your spouse are unable to reach an agreement about any issues in your divorce decree, the next step in the Utah divorce process is going to trial.
Seek a Child Custody Evaluation
If you disagree with your spouse regarding child custody or child support issues, you can request that a professional evaluator conduct a custody evaluation. During this evaluation, the evaluator will observe both parties and the children; the evaluator will then submit a report to the court on all factors that pertain to the child’s best interests.
Appear at Pre-Trial Conferences
You will be required to attend a conference prior to your trial being scheduled to make a final attempt to settle the case. If this fails, the trial date will be set and the list of issues to be addressed at trial will be determined.
Attend Your Trial
If you have hired a divorce lawyer, they can help you prepare for the trial, including assembling any documents and necessary evidence to be presented to the court. Arrive at the courtroom early on the day of your trial, dressed professionally and with any witnesses that you intend to call upon. Remember to treat the judge respectfully and never interrupt your spouse when they are testifying.
Get Copies of Your Divorce Decree
Once the judge has signed the final decree following mediation or trial, you are legally divorced. At this point, you should obtain a copy of the finalized decree for your records. Note that you must file any appeals to the judge’s decision within 30 days.
Grounds For Divorce In Holladay, Utah
• Impotency of the respondent at the time the marriage took place
• Willful desertion for more than one year
• Willful neglect to provide the common necessities of life
• Habitual drunkenness
• Felony conviction
• Cruel treatment resulting in mental distress or bodily injury
• Incurable insanity
Financial Declarations In Holladay, Utah
After the respondent files his or her response, both parties must prepare Financial Declarations disclosing all income, assets, expenses, and debts. Utah divorce laws require that the following documents be attached when applicable:
• Copies of financial statements backing up claims of income, assets, expenses, and debts outlined in the Financial Declaration document.
• Documents that verify real estate value including any refinance documents, tax valuation, and/or appraisal documents; additional documents concerning real estate may be required on a case-by-case basis.
• Two years worth of tax documents
• 12 months worth of pay stubs and/or other evidence of income of any kind
• Copies of any financial statements and/or loan applications that were either prepared by or used during the 12 months prior to the date of filing for divorce.
• 3 months worth of statements for all financial accounts and retirement accounts, including any that were closed within or after those 3 months including but not limited to:
• certificates of deposit
• money market funds
Additional Issues Surrounding Holladay, Utah Divorce
The court will require documentation surrounding other issues on a case by case basis:
• Child support
• Child Custody and Parent Time – Parents may request a professional evaluation for child custody, or the judge may order a custody evaluation. The cost of the evaluation is typically split between the parents.
• Property Division
• Debt Division
Divorce Lawyers In Holladay, Utah
Although you can choose to represent yourself in your divorce, divorce professionals recommend that you secure legal counsel before getting divorced in Holladay, Utah. Marriage dissolution is often a complicated process, and you want to have the best legal counsel possible to advocate for your best interests. Without a skilled lawyer, you are apt to make mistakes or miss pertinent details, potentially resulting in your divorce taking longer to complete and costing you far more in legal fees and unaddressed issues.
Things No One Tells You About Getting a Divorce in Holladay, Utah.
• There Are Predictors for Divorce in Utah: If you enter into marriage under the age of 20 and/or have an income of less than 25,000, your risk of divorce skyrockets. Throw in a spouse losing their job or a surprise pregnancy, and your marriage may be doomed before it begins
• Divorce Has Declined Nearly Everywhere Except Utah: Utah’s divorce rates run slightly higher than the national average. Statistics often attribute this to Utah having larger families than the national average, citing more than 5% of families have 7+ family members compared to the 3.25 national average (2013).
• Utah Requires Divorcing Couples to Attend a Divorce Education Class: Utah legislators have created a mandatory divorce orientation course that couples must complete. Your divorce cannot be finalized until both you and your significant other have completed the course. You are only required to take the divorce education class if there are minor children involved. The one-time class reviews resources for custody and child support issues, clarifies the divorce process, and consequences of divorce.
• People May Judge You and Ask Why: The news that you are getting divorced has spread through your church, neighborhood, and/or workplace, and we are a curious species. Don’t be surprised when people you barely know ask you why you the nitty-gritty on why you are getting divorced. While you are preparing your financials for your divorce, be sure to take some time to handle the emotional side as well. People may even tell you that they haven’t liked your ex since before you got married. They are not usually trying to make you feel bad; quite the opposite, they are usually trying to tell you that they agree with your decision and are trying to make you feel better.
• Parenting After Divorce May become more difficult: There will be many disagreements maybe not fair or logical ones. There may be pain when you refer to your ex as “mommy” to your kids, however that is her name to them, and you need to be the adult about it. No matter what age your kids are, please practice high levels of self-control and not bad mouth the other parent in front of your children. You may think with the other spouse out of the picture, that you can make all parenting decisions by yourself. If you’re granted sole legal custody, then you can make major decision about the kid(s) by yourself. Having sole physical custody simply means that you are the parent the kid(s) live with. Make a choice to try to co-parent as best you can. If you can’t get along, you may need to have separate birthdays, and the more times in your kids’ lives you are going to miss out on. Just because you are divorced, doesn’t mean that you have to be enemies.
• If the Divorce Decree is Violated, There Can be Serious Consequences: Once the court has ruled and the papers have been signed, both parties are bound to the terms set forth in the divorce decree. Violating any part of the agreement may put the violator in contempt of court, and your family law attorney can help you file a contempt motion. The most common divorce violations are non-payment of child support, not complying with the visitation schedule, withholding visitation, and non-payment of alimony. If your ex does not bring the kids back at the time set forth in the divorce decree, the police will not help you bring them back unless there is an immediate threat to them. What the police will do is come to your house and makes a record of “visitation interference,” which your family law attorney can use as evidence in a contempt hearing. In your court hearing you must be able to state what areas of the decree have been violated, and the burden of proof always lies with the accuser. If you are found in contempt, the violator may be given a period of time to correct the issue or they may face jail time until the matter is resolved. If you ex is not paying alimony or child support due to unemployment, you can’t make your spouse pay if they do not bring in an income, however, past due child support will accrue. Your family law attorney will likely recommend that you contact the Utah Office of Recovery Services (ORS). The ORS makes sure that Utah parents are responsible for their children’s support, and can help you collect a judgment.
Divorce Lawyer Holladay Utah
When you need to get divorced in Holladay Utah, please call Ascent Law LLC for your free consultation (801) 676-5506. We want to help you.
8833 S. Redwood Road, Suite C
West Jordan, Utah
84088 United States
Telephone: (801) 676-5506