How to File for Divorce in Utah

Rules and procedures for filing for divorce vary by state and it’s critical you follow your state’s rules. Failure to do so could create delays or additional expenses. There are specific requirements for everything from what forms to use to who is even allowed to file in a particular state. Here are some things to know about filing for divorce in Utah:

Residency Requirements

First, you must determine whether you meet the residency requirements necessary to file with Utah courts. Either spouse must have resided in Utah and the county with which you file for three months or more before you file. There is also an allowance for military members who are not legal residents of Utah but have been stationed in Utah for at least three months.

If you meet those requirements, you can file with the Utah District court in the county where you or your spouse reside.

Type of Divorce in Utah

Determining the process for your Utah divorce requires first figuring out what type of divorce you will have. It can be uncontested or contested and each has slightly different procedures.

Uncontested Divorce

If both spouses can come to an agreement on terms, you have an uncontested divorce. This means the spouses must concur on the division of property, child custody and support, alimony/spousal support, and other divorce-related matters. Typically, an uncontested divorce is settled more quickly and with less expense because less time is spent in court.

A judge reviews and signs off on the formal settlement agreement created by the spouses. At that point, the judge will issue the divorce decree.

How to File for an Uncontested Divorce

After spouses reach an agreement on the terms of the divorce, the following documents must be filed:

  • Verification Petition for Divorce
  • Declaration of Jurisdiction and Grounds for Divorce
  • Summons—Forms vary based on whether the spouse resides outside Utah.

You will also need to file the stipulation outlining the terms of your divorce.

Contested Divorce

If there are any terms on which the spouses cannot agree, you must file for a contested divorce.

How to File for a Contested Divorce

You will need to file the following:

  • Verification Petition for Divorce
  • Declaration of Jurisdiction and Grounds for Divorce
  • Summons—Forms vary based on whether the spouse resides outside Utah.

The filing spouse must also serve the other spouse with papers. That process is covered below.

Utah also requires that the spouses must attend at least one mediation session when there are any contested issues in a divorce. Mediation is when a third party attempts to help the spouses negotiate an agreement and resolve the outstanding issues. Courts can waive mediation in certain situations, including domestic violence in the relationship, but generally, it is a requirement in a contested divorce. If the parties reach an agreement during mediation, the divorce can be less expensive and more quickly resolved.

Serving Your Spouse with Papers

Serving papers is how the filing spouse formally notifies the other spouse that they have initiated divorce proceedings. It involves delivering copies of the paperwork filed with the court. There are three options.

Mail

Paperwork can be sent using certified U.S. mail. You will need to request a return receipt that confirms delivery. That receipt, signed by the receiving spouse, along with a Proof of Completed Service form must be filed. This is how you prove you have properly notified the other spouse.

Personal Service

The documents can be hand-delivered. However, you cannot serve papers in your own divorce. They must be delivered by a law enforcement officer or a qualified adult who is not a party to the divorce case. The person who performs the service must fill out a Proof of Completed Service form to verify you’ve made proper notification.

Acceptance of Service

The non-filing spouse can agree to accept service. That means no third party is involved. In that case, they must complete an Acceptance of Service form.

Grounds for Divorce

Both “no-fault” and “fault-based” divorces are allowed in Utah.

No-Fault

In a no-fault divorce, there is no need to prove who is responsible for the divorce. For a no fault divorce, there must be irreconcilable differences or the spouses must have lived “separately under a decree of separate maintenance of any state for three consecutive years without cohabitation.” (Utah Code § 30-3-1 (2022))

Fault-Based

A fault-based divorce requires one or both spouses to show that the other spouse’s actions led to the divorce. Spouses present evidence showing who was at fault for the dissolution of the marriage. Grounds for at-fault divorce include the following:

  • irreconcilable differences
  • willful desertion for longer than a year
  • adultery after the start of the marriage
  • felony conviction
  • cruelty that causes significant mental distress or physical injury
  • willful neglect of the respondent to provide for the petitioner
  • habitual drunkenness
  • impotency at the time of the marriage
  • Insanity that can not be cured

Waiting Period

Utah requires at least 30 days between the filing of the divorce petition and the hearing date, except in extraordinary circumstances. During that time, the courts may make interim decisions considered “just and equitable,” but the official divorce hearing must wait at least 30 days.

Filing Fees

As of 2022, the fee for filing for divorce in Utah is $325. Making copies of paperwork, serving papers, mediation, or other services may incur additional costs.

A spouse can file a motion to waive fees if they create a hardship. In response, a judge may waive some or all fees, request more information, or keep the fees the same.

Because every state has its divorce laws, spouses seeking to dissolve their marriage in Utah must follow the relevant rules, file the correct forms, and use the proper processes. When in doubt, seek the expertise of a Utah-based divorce attorney.

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