Every state has its own rules and procedures for filing a divorce. Here's what you need to know to get started with your Utah divorce.
You must meet a state's residency requirements before you can file for divorce in its courts. To get a divorce in Utah, either spouse must have been a resident of Utah and of the county where the divorce is filed for the three months immediately before filing. (Utah Code § 30-3-1 (2022).)
You should file your divorce in the Utah District Court of the county where you or your spouse lives.
Utah allows both "no-fault and "fault-based" divorces. A no-fault divorce is one in which the court doesn't require either spouse to prove that the other's bad acts were the cause of the divorce. In a fault-based divorce, one or both of the spouses must show that the other's actions caused (were "grounds for") the failure of the marriage.
No-fault divorces in Utah reach resolution faster than fault-based divorces because the spouses don't have to argue about or prove who was responsible for the divorce. Utah courts will grant a no-fault divorce when the spouses have:
(Utah Code § 30-3-1 (2022).)
In a fault-based divorce, one or both spouses will have to present evidence to the judge that proves the spouse committed acts that meet one of Utah's fault-based grounds for divorce. In Utah, the petitioner (the filing spouse) can get a fault-based divorce when the respondent (the non-filing spouse):
(Utah Code § 30-3-1 (2022).)
Generally, there are two types of divorce—uncontested and contested. An uncontested divorce is one where the spouses agree on all divorce-related matters, such as division of property, child custody, and alimony (spousal support). A contested divorce, on the other hand, is one where the spouses disagree on at least one topic and must ask a court to decide the issues in their divorce.
Uncontested divorces usually reach resolution faster and are less expensive than contested divorces because there's no fighting in court. Instead, the judge needs only to review and approve the spouses' marital settlement agreement (called a "stipulation" in Utah) and issue a divorce decree.
When you and your spouse have agreed on the issues in your divorce, the next step in getting an uncontested divorce in Utah is to file the required paperwork. To get started, you'll file the following documents:
Because your spouse and you agree on the issues in your divorce, you'll also file a stipulation—a written marital settlement agreement that outlines the terms of your divorce. The judge will need to approve your stipulation before granting the divorce.
You can get the forms you'll need for your divorce by completing the Utah Courts Online Court Assistance Program's interview.
A contested divorce begins when one of the spouses files a petition for divorce with the court. Along with the petition, the petitioner must file a summons and Declaration of Jurisdiction and Grounds for Divorce.
The petitioner must then serve the divorce papers on the non-filing spouse (see the discussion below), who must respond to the petition by filing an answer. The Utah Courts website has a helpful road map for divorce that outlines the progression of a contested divorce after the initial filings.
Under Utah law, judges can't hold a hearing to grant a divorce decree until at least 30 days after the filing of the divorce petition. In the meantime, though, the court can make other orders that are "just and equitable." (Utah Code § 30-3-18 (2022).)
Along with filing the right paperwork, you'll have to pay court filing fees to begin your divorce. As of 2022, there is a $325.00 fee for filing divorce in Utah. (The current fee is noted in the Utah District Court Cover Sheet.) Your court might charge additional fees for copies of documents, service of papers, and using the Online Court Assistance Program.
If you can't afford to pay the filing fees, you can ask the judge to waive the fees by filing a Motion to Waive Fees when you file your petition for divorce. Upon reviewing your Motion to Waive Fees, the judge might decide:
Also, judges in Utah have the discretion to require one spouse to pay the costs, attorneys' fees, and witness fees of the other spouse. (Utah Code § 30-3-3 (2022).)
After you file the paperwork, you will need to provide notice of the divorce to your spouse by "serving" (delivering) copies of what was filed with the court.
You can serve papers in Utah by:
You can also ask your spouse to accept service so that you don't have to hire someone to serve your spouse or mail the court papers. Your spouse must sign an Acceptance of Service, and either you or your spouse can file it with the court.
If you'd like to DIY your divorce, the Utah Courts website has detailed information about and instructions on filing a divorce. The Online Court Assistance Program will walk you through filling out and filing the forms you need.
If you're working with an attorney, your attorney will assess your situation and fill out, file, and serve all the necessary forms. Many divorcing couples can't afford to hire an attorney to handle their entire case, but would like some assistance with completing and filing their forms. If this describes your situation, consider using an online divorce service or finding an attorney who will consult with you on an as-needed basis. Low-income individuals might qualify for reduced-fee or free legal aid.