To get divorced in Salt Lake City, Utah, you or your spouse must reside in the county for at least three months immediately before filing the divorce petition. If custody of a minor child is an issue, usually the child must reside with at least one of the parents in Salt Lake City for at least six months, but there are exceptions. Divorce can be devastating; however, uncontested divorces are often less devastating to your finances and sanity than contested ones. Instead, Utah’s uncontested divorce process allows spouses to reach an agreement on their own and avoid the stress and anxiety associated with attending a trial before a judge. The uncontested process can be relatively quick, and certainly less expensive than taking a divorce to trial.
Uncontested Divorces in Salt Lake, Utah
Uncontested divorces are an option available to divorcing Salt Lake couples with or without children. These types of divorces are generally less expensive and faster than traditional divorces because you avoid the expense of attorneys, custody evaluations and hiring experts for trial. If you and your spouse are able to agree on all issues regarding your divorce, including child custody, visitation and support, then an uncontested divorce is a real option. However, if you and your spouse cannot reach an agreement on any issue in your divorce, then your divorce becomes contested and you will be required to attend a trial where a judge will decide the remaining issues in your divorce case. The following is a list of some of the major issues that must be resolved between you and your spouse before filing an uncontested divorce action in Salt Lake City:
• division of real estate and personal property
• division of debts and assets
• child custody and visitation if you and your spouse have minor children
• child support, health and insurance coverage
• alimony or spousal support, and
• any other issues related to your marriage.
Beginning the Uncontested Divorce Process in Salt Lake City, Utah
To obtain an uncontested divorce in Salt Lake City, you must meet the following criteria:
• you or your spouse have resided in Salt Lake, Utah for at least 3 months, if minor children are involved, you must have resided in Salt Lake for 6 months
• you and your spouse have agreed on all issues in your divorce, and
• child support and spousal support, custody and visitation are not requested, or there is a written agreement signed and notarized by both parties resolving those issues.
If you meet all of the above criteria, you may proceed with your uncontested divorce by filing the required forms. If you plan to file for divorce without the help of an attorney, you will be responsible for filing the right documents with the right court. Utah’s district courts oversee divorce cases and trials. Utah has approximately 70 judges serving in the state’s eight judicial districts. Where you live will determine where you file for divorce because generally, you will file your divorce paperwork in the county in which you live. If you and your spouse have separated but still reside in Utah, either the county in which you lived, or where your spouse has lived for the last three months is proper to file your paperwork.
Preparing Divorce Forms In Salt Lake City, Utah
The Utah Courts site offers online forms for completing an uncontested divorce available here and or in hard copy at your local courthouse. The following documents must be filed with your divorce paperwork:
• Civil Coversheet
• Petition for Divorce
• Vital Statistics Form/Certificate of Dissolution
• Acceptance of Service
• Affidavit of Jurisdiction and Grounds
• Military Service Declaration and Order
• Findings of Facts and Conclusions of Law
• Decree of Divorce
If you and your spouse have children together under the age of 18, then the following forms must be filed as well:
• Child Support Worksheet
• Affidavit of Income and Compliance with Child Support Guidelines
• Financial Declarations, and
• Child Support Locator.
The required paperwork to complete a divorce in Utah may vary in your particular county, and thus, forms in addition to those listed above may be required to complete your divorce. Check with your local court clerk for more information and to determine whether you need to file additional forms.
Completing Your Divorce
Utah has a mandatory 90-day waiting period to complete a divorce. Under extraordinary circumstances, the 90-day waiting period may be waived. However, before a divorce will be granted to parents of minor children, both spouses must complete the Divorce Education Course. Utah does not require that you attend a court hearing before a judge will finalize your uncontested divorce. Instead, if all your paperwork is filed correctly and the judge finds that your agreement is reasonable and/or in the best interests of your children, then the judge will sign the Findings and Decree of Divorce. Note that the date the judge signs your Decree, is when your divorce becomes final.
Additionally, many people go through the mediation process when seeking an uncontested divorce. It is important to talk with an attorney even if you intend to mediate. Mediators do not represent individual parties and are not able to give legal advice to individual parties. You may be waiving rights without knowing it if you mediate without consulting an attorney. Whether in mediation or in informal negotiations, attorneys can guide you through the divorce process.
Residency and Where to File
In order to file for divorce in Salt Lake City Utah, the party filing for divorce must be a resident of Utah and the county for at least 3 months. The case must be filed in the District Court in the county where the residency requirement is met.
The simplest procedure is an uncontested divorce where you and your spouse reach an agreement about the division of your property, and, if you have any children, what arrangements will be made for them. You begin the divorce procedure by filing a Complaint for Divorce, along with various supporting documents. For an uncontested divorce, one of these documents will be a marital settlement agreement outlining the division of assets, and your agreement regarding any children. These documents are filed with the court, and copies of them are provided to your spouse. You will attend a court hearing, at which time the judge will make sure that all of your paperwork is in order, perhaps ask you a few questions, and enter your Decree of Divorce.
Utah offers this process where each party hires a lawyer to assist them in trying to reach an agreement on all issues. There may also be a facilitator involved, to help focus the discussion. It is similar to mediation. Both parties must agree to this process, and either may stop it at any time. Any agreement will be signed by the parties and submitted to the court to be incorporated into a judgment or decree.
Grounds for Divorce
Grounds for divorce are legally recognized reasons to get a divorce. This is the justification for severing the marital relationship. Utah, like most states, has what are commonly called no-fault grounds for divorce, and several traditional fault-based grounds. To get a no-fault divorce in Salt Lake City, you need to state in the Complaint for Divorce that “there are irreconcilable differences in the marriage,” or the parties have been living separate and apart without cohabitation for 3 years under a judicial decree of separation.” The fault-based grounds for divorce are: impotence, adultery, willful desertion for more than 1 year, willfully neglecting to provide the plaintiff with the common necessities of life, habitual drunkenness, conviction of a felony, cruel treatment to the extent of “bodily injury or great mental distress,” and incurable insanity. However, in most cases, there is no reason to use any of these, since they add complexity to the process by requiring proof.
A divorce involves dividing property and debts between you and your spouse. Utah divorce law provides that all property is marital property, regardless of how or when it was acquired. Absent an agreement of the parties, the judge is directed to divide the property “equitably.”
Alimony in Salt Lake City, Utah
Absent an agreement of the parties regarding alimony, the court is directed by Utah alimony law to consider the following factors in determining alimony:
• the financial condition and needs of the party seeking alimony,
• the earning capacity or ability to produce income of the party seeking alimony,
• the ability of the party paying alimony to provide support,
• the length of the marriage,
• whether the party seeking alimony has custody of minor children requiring support,
• whether the party seeking alimony worked in a business owned by the payor,
• whether the party seeking alimony directly contributed to any increase in the payor’s by paying for education, or enabling the payor to attend school during the marriage,
• the parties’ standard of living, and
• the fault of either party.
“Fault” means committing adultery; knowingly and intentionally causing or attempting to cause physical harm to the other party or minor children, knowing and intentionally causing the other party or minor children to reasonably fear life-threatening harm, or substantially undermining the financial stability of the other party or the minor children. If the marriage is of short duration, and there are no children, the court may restore the parties to their condition at the time of marriage. Alimony is limited to a period of time equal to the number of years of marriage, unless the court finds extenuating circumstances. Alimony terminates upon the death or remarriage of the party receiving alimony, or upon evidence that the party receiving alimony is cohabitating with another person.
Child Custody in Salt Lake City, Utah
If you and your spouse have any minor children, there will have to be a custody determination, which basically comes down to figuring out how the children’s time will be divided between the parents, and how decisions will be made. If you and your spouse can reach an agreement on custody, it will be accepted by the judge unless it is determined not to be in the child’s best interest. If you cannot reach a custody agreement, the judge will decide the issue, after considering all relevant factors, including:
• each party’s past conduct and demonstrated moral standards,
• which party is most likely to act in the best interest of the child, including allowing frequent and continuing contact with the other party,
• the extent of bonding between each party and the child,
• whether a party has intentionally exposed the child to pornography or harmful material,
• whether the physical, psychological, and emotional needs and development of the child will benefit from joint legal and physical custody,
• each party’s ability to give priority to the welfare of the child, and reach shared decisions,
• whether each party is capable of encouraging a relationship between the child and the other party,
• whether both parties participated in raising the child before the divorce,
• the geographical proximity of the parties,
• the preference of the child, if the child is of sufficient age and capacity to reason,
• each party’s maturity and willingness and ability to protect the child from any conflict between the parties,
• the past and present ability of the parties to cooperate and make decisions, and
• any history of, or potential for, child abuse, spouse abuse, or kidnapping.
There is a presumption in favor of joint custody, unless it is shown not to be in the child’s best interest, or there is such physical distance between the parties so as to make joint decision-making impractical. In evaluating whether to award joint custody, the court is to consider.
How Long Does It Take To Get Divorced in Salt Lake City?
Divorce is a complex process. People need to understand that no two divorces are the same, and even though the same rules and regulations apply to everyone, the length of a divorce process is never the same in two cases.
There are several factors that may determine the full length of your divorce in Utah:
• Have you come to an arrangement with your spouse?
• Are you going to waive minimum waiting period?
• Does your spouse plan to file an appeal?
• Do you have any children?
• Can you obtain a default judgment?
Once everything is taken into consideration, the whole process may last up to a year or even longer. In Utah, there is a 90 days minimum waiting period before a divorce can be complete. But the chances are that one of the parties will extend it by filing an appeal, a petition or doing something else to extend the divorce process.
Consult with Salt Lake City Divorce Attorneys before you file for a divorce. You are going to need all the help you can get. Choose to divorce without legal representation, and lose so much more than just your spouse. Some of the things you can lose are:
• Custody over your children
• Your home
• Your assets
• Everything (in rare cases)
It is mandatory nowadays to have a seasoned and experienced attorney by your side when going through a divorce. Keep that in mind, as it may save you from losing everything.
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