In some states, you can get a divorce simply by mailing in a one-page document and paying less than $100. In 2011, ABC News reported that Bloomberg ranked all 50 states and the District of Columbia according to difficulty in getting a divorce. The easiest states to receive a divorce were:
- New Hampshire
- South Dakota
Utah doesn’t have an 18-month wait time, like Vermont. Utah courts don’t make child support or alimony difficult, like the Nevada or Texas courts. Thus, Utah ranked somewhere in the middle of the Bloomberg list.
This article will answer common questions about how fast, how inexpensive, and how easy divorce in Utah can be.
How long does it take to get divorced in Utah?
Utah law generally requires a 30-day waiting period between the date you file a petition and the date that your final order is signed by a judge. This would apply only to the most basic and simple of divorce cases. The average length of time is 90-days from filing to the final decree.
Are there any workarounds to shorten the waiting period before the divorce is final in Utah?
Yes. Either party may ask the court to shorten the waiting period after giving evidence of extraordinary circumstances.
Does it matter if I have Utah residency before filing for divorce?
Yes. At least one spouse needs to have lived in a single county in Utah for at least three months. If you have minor children, and you need the court to make custody decisions because you and your spouse don’t agree about custody, then your children need to have lived in Utah for at least six months.
How do I file for divorce in Utah? How do I get started?
If you are just starting the process, this is a good point to consider hiring an divorce lawyer. If you and your spouse don’t agree about custody or how your assets will be divided, request a free consultation with a family law specialist. Not all the best attorneys are in Salt Lake City. If you live in Weber or Davis county, finding a divorce and family law practice near you may provide a more satisfactory result and save you travel time.
If you decide to file for a divorce with an attorney, your attorney will guide the process for you. He or she will ask for the information needed to prepare and submit your forms.
If you decide to file without an attorney or if you want to have a look at the forms, you can find the divorce paperwork online. The Online Court Assistance Program (OCAP) is a government-provided service for preparing court documents in Utah. The online system will coach you through the process and help you fill out the forms correctly. However, you still need to file the forms yourself. You will also be required to pay a $20 fee if you decide to use the OCAP services.
You may consult with an attorney at any point in the process. If you start the divorce paperwork alone but then decide that hiring a divorce attorney would be in your best interest, an attorney will be able to pick up where you are and help you through the rest of the process.
How and where do I file the divorce forms once I’ve completed them?
You’ll first need to print out your divorce petition. If you are working with an attorney, your attorney will print your petition for you. Otherwise, you will need to use your own printer or go to a public library.
Next, you’ll need to sign your petition in front of a notary. Your attorney will simplify this process, or you can ask for notary services at a nearby bank, library, or courthouse.
Next, you or your lawyer will need to file your notarized forms in the county clerk’s office. The filing fee is $310 (in addition to the $20 OCAP fee). If you are unable to pay this fee, you can file additional forms asking the judge to waive them. The additional forms include detailed financial information providing evidence of your need.
Do I have to let my spouse know that I’ve filed for divorce?
Yes. This is called “serving” your papers to your spouse. You are responsible for presenting the divorce papers to your spouse. You will need to provide your spouse with a copy of the divorce petition along with several other documents based on your individual situation. You must serve your spouse the divorce petition within 120 days (approximately four months) of filing your divorce papers at the county clerk’s office.
To serve your spouse’s divorce papers, you can either mail the documents using certified mail or you can have the sheriff’s department deliver them. Private serving companies will also deliver divorce papers, but they will charge a fee for their services.
Whichever method you use, you will need to file a Proof of Service document with the county clerk’s office. This document will provide evidence that your spouse has received the divorce documents.
Am I divorced after I’ve served my spouse the divorce papers?
No. Unfortunately, that’s only the first step. Now you need to wait for an answer from your spouse (he or she has 21 days to respond if living in the state and 30 days if living out of state), and both of you need to file a Financial Declaration form. There are mandatory divorce education classes for parents of minor children.
By Utah law, you must attend at least one mediation session with your spouse during this waiting period. The mediator will attempt to help you and your spouse resolve your differences before the divorce is made final. You and your spouse are responsible to pay for at least one mediation session together unless exceptional circumstances are proven.
Sometimes a judge needs to sign temporary orders to reach pressing decisions about child custody or finances while the divorce is pending. If your case goes to trial because of disagreement on the terms of the divorce, there are a number of further steps that must be taken.
No divorce is final until a judge has signed a divorce decree.
If you are unfamiliar with divorce law, the process of separating from your spouse may sound overwhelming. Take comfort in the fact that Utah’s laws are less burdensome than the laws in other states. With the help of a skilled divorce attorney you can navigate the legal steps and required to make it official and move on with your life.