5-year separation is one of the 5 grounds for divorce in some states, but in Utah, you don’t even need to be separated in order to file for divorce. This ground for divorce is used in many different circumstances in other states, but not in Utah. This is due to the fact that you do not actually need your spouse to agree to the divorce petition. However, like all grounds for divorce, there are a few facts that you need to know before filing for divorce using this ground.
• You have to have been separated for at least 5 years
• Your spouse does not need to agree to the divorce petition
• You have to show the courts that you have done everything in your power to find your spouse
• Although your spouse cannot contest the divorce they can dispute it if they believe you haven’t been separated for a whole 5 years
• Your spouse can claim grave financial or other hardship and that it would be wrong in the circumstances to dissolve the marriage to stop the decree absolute being issued.
You have to have been separated for at least 5 years: This is quite obvious to many but it’s crucial that you and your spouse have been separated for at least 5 years. This means you have been living completely separate lives with completely separate finances. You may need to prove this in court so gathering bills and financial documentation beforehand can prove to be very beneficial later on.
Your spouse does not need to agree to the divorce petition: The main benefit with a 5-year separation is that unlike all 4 other grounds for divorce your spouse does not actually have to agree to the petition. Getting divorced based on 5-year separation puts not blame on either spouse so there isn’t anything to defend.
You have to show the courts that you have done everything in your power to find your spouse although the divorce petition does not need to be agreed to by your spouse you still have to deliver the divorce petition to them. If you do not know their new address you have to prove to the courts that you have done everything in your power to try and find them. This could mean having to contact their work, relatives, friends etc. If you can find an address for your spouse, it could save you over £500 on the overall cost of your divorce. This is why its important to do everything in your power to find them before trying a different route.
If this is unsuccessful then you will need to follow a different avenue to find them. There are 3 different options that you can take depending on your situation and these are:
• Application for substituted service of the divorce petition
• An application for a Disclosure order from HMRC
• Application to Dispense with service of the divorce petition
Although your spouse cannot contest to the divorce they can dispute it if they believe you haven’t been separated for a whole 5 years. So one way to prolong or dispute the divorce petition is for your spouse to claim that you haven’t actually been separated for this period of time. If this happens the court will ask you to prove that your claim of being separated for 5 years or more is true. To do this you will be asked to show household bills, financial documentation etc. This is why it’s extremely important to change all utility bills and bank accounts into your name only as soon as possible after a split. It’s best to find this ‘proof’ before you file for divorce to ensure that you have access to all the correct paperwork. (Make sure you make copies to stop your spouse from being able to destroy documentation).
Your spouse can claim grave financial or other hardship and that it would be wrong in the circumstances to dissolve the marriage to stop the decree absolute being issued. Another way that your spouse could dispute a 5 year separation divorce petition is by claiming grave financial or other hardship as a result of the dissolution of marriage. If your spouses’ claim for grave financial hardship is successful then you will remain married. However, it’s important to understand that this is not something that is easy to claim. The hardship must be as a result of the dissolution of marriage and not just from the breakdown of the marriage. If the breakdown of the marriage has already caused the grave hardship that your spouse is claiming then their claim will be unsuccessful.
The Average Cost of an Uncontested Divorce
When you and your spouse agree to divorce and you also agree about how you’re going to separate your lives, an uncontested divorce can save you a great deal of money. Exactly how much it will cost you depends on several factors. If you feel comfortable handling the matter yourself and you don’t mind doing a little research into your state’s legal procedures, you might spend less than $500. If you hire an attorney to take care of the details for you, that figure might rise even higher.
If you decide you don’t want to use an attorney, you have two options. You can purchase a divorce kit on the Internet, usually for less than $100. These include all the forms and documents necessary for your state. You can usually get the same forms for free if you want to invest some time into tracking them down. Many states offer them on their judicial websites, along with detailed instructions. You might also be able to get them from your local courthouse or find a format you can follow at a public law library.
Using an Attorney
If you choose to use a lawyer, the cost of your uncontested divorce will depend on where you live, who you hire and your fee arrangement. Many attorneys offer flat fees for uncontested divorces; others charge retainer fees, which act as deposits they bill against monthly for the hours they invest in cases. The average flat fee ranges from $200 to $1,500, depending on the complexity of your assets and whether you have children. If you retain an attorney, he will bill your deposit at the rate of $250 to $450 for each hour of his time. Attorneys practicing in large metropolitan areas may charge more than $450, and those in rural areas may charge less than $250 per hour.
Whether you handle your divorce yourself or hire an attorney, there will be extra costs. State courts charge a filing fee for a divorce petition, usually in the neighborhood of 0. If you use a sheriff or private process server to deliver your petition to your spouse, this will cost an additional $35 to $100. In most states, you can bypass this expense if you’re on amicable terms with your spouse. He can sign an acceptance of your petition or waiver of service, which you would then file with the court. Realistically, you should add an additional 0 to 0 onto the cost of your divorce kit or your attorney’s fees for these expenses.
You also have some “hybrid” options to cut your costs of an uncontested divorce. Legal services online will prepare your divorce paperwork for you, which costs more than purchasing a kit but usually less than retaining attorney. The average cost is about 0. You can also hire an attorney by the hour to review your paperwork for you. This will cost less than a flat uncontested divorce rate, but would not require putting down a retainer fee. You’re not retaining the attorney; you’re purchasing his time by the hour, just for specific services.
Average cost of divorce mediation
Relationship support provider Relate say that mediation ‘generally costs far less than an often lengthy and costly court battle.’ If the thought of paying all those court and solicitor fees fills you with dread then settling a divorce with mediation might be the better option. A mediator won’t tell you what to do but will aim to help both parties reach their own agreements amicably, whilst trying to improve communication. An initial meeting fee has to be paid to assess whether your case is suitable for mediation – this ranges from $150 to $350 depending on location and charges. If you end up going to court then you’d need to confirm to the courts you had attended this meeting, as it’s a court requirement. Depending on how many sessions are needed, costs for mediation can range from 0 to ,500 – a small slither compared to the thousands and thousands you’re charged if your divorce goes to court. Keep in mind that all divorce cases must attend mediation before going to a divorce trial in Utah.
Average cost of divorce arbitration
Another option, and an alternative to court proceedings, is family arbitration. It involves having a third party to collect and hear all evidence and then make a decision, if perhaps a mutual agreement or mediation has failed to sort out matters. It’s worth bearing in mind that, like the courts, this route means a decision is made for you. You can find a qualified arbitrator listed on the Institute of Family Law Arbitrators website, however costs very case to case and by the level of experience the arbitrator has. Most will also charge by the hour, but a fixed fee can be arranged for more simple cases.
Child maintenance costs or child support
Often when a couple divorce there are children involved, so living arrangements and child maintenance costs need to be sorted. If you can’t agree how much child maintenance one parent should pay the other, you can ask the Child Maintenance Service to calculate it for you.
There are several factors that it will take into account:
• How many children you have
• The income of the paying parent
• How much time they spend with the paying parent Whether the paying parent is paying child maintenance for other children
Major Financial Mistakes to Avoid
• Don’t Underestimate Your Expenses: Be exact when figuring out what exactly you spend each month. Expenses will be important to know when things like alimony and child support are decided.
• Don’t Make Financial Decisions One at a Time: If you look at each asset or source of income separately, it will be difficult to get the big picture and to consider important factors such as taxes, inflation, and more. You will need to look at the overall financial picture to get a fair settlement.
• Try and Pay Off Unsecured Debt Before the Divorce Is Final: Even if you agree to split any credit card or other unsecured debt in the divorce settlement, the credit card company won’t care if there is a lapse. They will come after the person whose name is on the card. If you’re able to pay off this debt before the divorce, it will make the situation easier.
• Make Sure You Get Your Portion of Your Spouse’s Pension: These retirement plans have value today, even if you can’t access them until retirement. Make sure you’ve given your fair share as the spouse. This may require the help of an actuary to figure out the amount.
• Secure Alimony or Child Support With Insurance: If your spouse dies or becomes disabled, make sure there is language in the plan that ensures you will still get paid.
Utah Divorce Lawyer Free Consultation
When you need legal help with a divorce case, or child custody, or child support, or modification of a divorce decree in Utah, or modification of child custody, or help with a prenup or postnuptial agreement, please call Ascent Law LLC (801) 676-5506 for your Free Consultation. We can help you with all aspects of family law.
8833 S. Redwood Road, Suite C
West Jordan, Utah
84088 United States
Telephone: (801) 676-5506