If you're thinking of filing for divorce—or a dissolution of marriage as it's referred to in Utah—you might not know where to begin. Fortunately, Utah has gone to great lengths to assist individuals who wish to handle their divorce. This article provides basic information about who to file for divorce in Utah, but if you have specific questions, you should speak to a family law attorney in your area.
Like a majority of states, Utah allows both no-fault and fault-based divorce. In a no-fault divorce, spouses don't have to prove that the other's misconduct caused the breakup of the marriage, so these types of case are generally faster and less expensive.
Utah provides two kinds of no-fault grounds: "irreconcilable differences" and living apart for at least three years under a separate maintenance order issued by any state.
If you and your spouse can't agree on an amicable divorce, you can file for a fault divorce, where you have to show that your spouse engaged in some type of misconduct that caused the marriage to fail.
There are eight fault-based grounds in Utah, which include:
(See Utah Code Ann. § 30-3-1 (2018).)
To obtain a divorce in Utah, you or your spouse must reside in one county continuously for at least three months. (Utah Code Ann. § 30-3-1 (2018).)
To get your case started, you must file several forms, including a divorce complaint. Fortunately, the state provides residents with a free online form generation service, which is maintained by the Utah State Courts.
The Online Court Assistance Program (OCAP) allows users to input all their information and answer a series of questions. After completing the program, the system automatically produces all the forms you need to file your case.
The standard forms include the following:
The cost to use the automated system is $20, which you’ll pay with the other court costs when you file the documents. If you can’t afford to pay, you can submit a fee waiver, along with documents to prove your income and expenses to the court. The judge will review the application and will waive the fees if you meet the court’s waiver requirements.
Once you have all your forms in order, you must file the originals with the appropriate county court, meaning the county in which you live or the county where your spouse resides. Utah law allows the filing spouse, known as the "petitioner," to file by mail; however, the state recommends using registered mail to guarantee receipt of delivery. You can also hand-deliver your initial paperwork to the county clerk.
In Utah, as in every other state, you must serve your spouse with a copy of all your divorce documents. "Service of process" enables the other party to respond to the divorce complaint or file a counterclaim.
Under Utah law, you have 120 days from the date you file your divorce complaint to serve copies on your spouse. Utah permits various forms of service, including hiring a private process server, handing over the documents yourself in person, and sheriff's service. (URCP 4)
Like many states, Utah requires the parties to exchange financial information, including a list of all assets and debts. Under state law, both spouses must file a Financial Declaration. Each spouse must file disclosures after the respondent submits an answer to the original divorce petition.
The Utah State Court Self-Help Website is an excellent resource for divorce requirements, forms, and procedures. You can also view the Utah State Courts Online Assistance Program for help filing the forms you need in your divorce.