Utah Divorce Laws

Utah Divorce Details

In order to file for a divorce in a particular state, you need to be an official resident. The requirements for residency vary from state to state. In Utah, the amount of time to become a resident is three months.

Utah divorce laws allow for a no-fault divorce when both sides agree that the marriage is broken and can’t be fixed or if the husband and wife have been living apart from each other for up to three years. If you file for a contested divorce, meaning the other spouse doesn’t agree to the idea, then you will be named the petitioner.

The other side is referred to as the respondent. In order to be granted a divorce decree in Utah, the petitioner needs to prove that they have grounds for divorce.

Grounds for Divorce in Utah

One of the most common grounds for divorce in Utah is when it can be proven that the respondent has committed adultery. Other grounds can be impotency, desertion for at least one year, or neglecting to provide financial support. A petitioner can also claim that the respondent has committed ongoing cruelty, substance abuse, has been a convicted felon, or has been found to be mentally incompetent. The burden of proof on any of those claims is with the petitioner.

When we refer to ‘grounds for divorce’ we are talking about the reasons for the divorce. For the people involved in the divorce, this could be any number of things – cruelty, finance, sex, in-laws, children, lack of children, drugs, alcohol, etc. But from a legal point of view, from the court’s point of view, ‘grounds for divorce‘ is the legal reason why the matter should be heard.

In applying for a divorce you must have ‘grounds’ or reasons and in today’s society, there is almost always one reason or ‘grounds’ and that is known as irreconcilable differences. It is all part of what is known as a no-fault divorce.

The ‘irreconcilable differences’ could be one or any number of matters and usually, the court will not hear such matters. Particularly if the divorce is not contested and the parties have reached an agreement about any issues such as sharing of assets, custody of children, etc. There are so many divorces today, that the courts prefer to keep things moving so to speak.

Regarding the ‘grounds of divorce’, each state has a set of criteria that must be met. If the applicant produces evidence that meets the criteria then the application will proceed. Know that each state defines legal terms in its own way. For example in California the following definitions for grounds for divorce are

  • irreconcilable differences (determined by a court to be substantial reasons for not continuing marriage)
  • incurable insanity (proof on competent medical testimony)

Whereas in Utah the grounds for divorce are

  • separation for three consecutive years without cohabitation under a decree of separate maintenance
  • irreconcilable differences of marriage
  • impotency at the time of marriage
  • adultery
  • willful desertion for more than one year
  • willful neglect to provide common necessaries of life
  • habitual drunkenness
  • conviction of felony
  • cruelty causing bodily injury or great mental distress
  • incurable insanity

Marriage is a legal contract and cannot be broken simply by consent or separation. Many couples go their separate ways without one of them applying for a divorce. In this situation, the couple is still legally married and only a divorce or death will end that contract. A separated person, if still married, cannot legally re-marry.

The no-fault divorce which exists today makes applying for divorce much easier but there still must be a reason or grounds for a divorce. It could be listed as irreconcilable differences and such a reason is accepted by the court.

The possible tricky part is that divorce is a state matter and each state may have a different requirement. Your lawyer will know the relevant regulations within the state in which you are to apply. There may even be a residency requirement.

You should also consider the fact that each court has a judge and as each state has its unique laws, each court has its unique judiciary. A judge may believe that marriage has a moral component and will not grant an application on a whim. Applicants should

Divorce Mediation and Education Courses

A Utah divorce judge can require mandatory attendance for mediation or divorce education in any case brought before them. Mediation is called for in an effort to have the parties settle any distribution of property disputes. If an agreement can’t be reached through mediation then the judge will make the final decision as to who gets what.

For parents filing for divorce that have children, the judge can also require that they attend a divorce education class. These classes are designed to help the parties make the transition from marriage to divorce as it pertains to the welfare of the children. A judge won’t grant the divorce decree until the classes are completed.

Utah Alimony Laws

Either side of the marriage can be awarded alimony if the court so decides. The judge will take into account the reasons why the divorce happened in the first place. They will also consider what the alimony recipient might need to maintain their lifestyle versus how much the paying spouse can afford.

In addition, the judge will factor in how long the marriage lasted and if the spouses worked together in a business or if there will be child support issues. Also, if one spouse paid for the other spouse’s education or training, that can be factored into the alimony payments as well.

Utah Child Custody Laws

Among the issues that a judge uses to determine child custody in a Utah divorce case is what would be in the best interest of the child in terms of sole or joint custody. They will decide this based on interviews with the children and the location of the potential dual residencies.

The judge will also take into account the relationship between the parents. Can they prove that they will be civil to each other, especially in front of the children? Were there any instances of abuse? And who was the primary caregiver of the children? When all of those concerns have been addressed, the judge will make a final ruling at a hearing.

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