Divorce can sometimes be devastating. However, your divorce does not have to become a soap opera. If you and your spouse can agree on the legal and financial issues involved in ending your marriage, you may avoid the stress and anxiety of a divorce trial before a judge. The uncontested divorce process can be relatively quick—and usually much less expensive than a traditional contested divorce.
This article provides a general overview of the uncontested divorce process in Utah.
To get an uncontested divorce in Utah, you must reach a settlement agreement on all of the issues in your divorce, such as:
If you've already agreed on these issues at the outset of the process (and you file the proper forms, discussed below), you may get an uncontested divorce as quickly as possible (after a brief waiting period) and without having to attend a court hearing. When this is the case, you can probably go through the divorce process without hiring a lawyer. But it's often a good idea to have an attorney review your settlement agreement to be sure that it's fair and protects your rights. And you might want to have a lawyer (or a mediator with financial expertise) help draft the agreement if you have the type of assets that are complicated to divide, like retirement plans or a family business.
Even if you and your spouse still have some disagreements when you file for divorce, you might still be able to avoid a trial if you can ultimately resolve those disputes—typically, with the help of lawyers and/or mediation. In fact, when couples have any contested issues after starting the divorce process, Utah requires that they participate in at least one mediation session. (Utah Code § 30-3-39 (2021).)
However, the longer it takes you to reach a comprehensive settlement agreement, the more you're likely to pay for things like attorneys' fees and experts. (Learn more about how contested issues affect the cost of divorce.)
Whether you're requesting a traditional or uncontested divorce in Utah, you must meet the state's residency requirements: You or your spouse must have lived in the state, and in the county where you file for divorce, for the three-month period just before you file. If you haven't resided in Utah or the county long enough, you'll need to wait until you meet the requirement before you can start the divorce process in the state. (Utah Code § 30-3-1 (2021).)
The Utah Courts offer an Online Court Assistance Program (OCAP) to help divorcing couples prepare divorce paperwork without an attorney. There are separate packages of forms for the spouse who initiates the divorce proceeding (the "petitioner") and the other spouse (the "respondent").
To simplify matters, you might instead use an online divorce service that will complete the proper uncontested divorce forms for you, based on your answers to a questionnaire. Some of these services will guarantee that the court in your state will accept the completed forms, so you shouldn't have to worry about making mistakes.
When you're filing for an uncontested divorce, the forms will include:
If you and your spouse have dependent children, you'll also include forms showing your agreements about custody and support, including:
The required paperwork to complete a divorce in Utah might vary from county to county. Check with your local court clerk for more information and to determine whether you need to file additional forms. (You can also request a hard copy of any required forms from the clerk's office.)
Once you have completed and signed all of the forms, take them for filing to the court clerk's office in the district court covering the county where you or your spouse have lived for the past three months. You can find locations and contact information for district court at the Utah State Court Directory.
You will need to pay a fee to file the divorce papers (currently $325). If you can't afford the fee, you can request a waiver. (For more information, see the Utah Courts page for court fees and waivers.)
Because the respondent acknowledged receiving the divorce petition (in the forms packet, there's no need to complete formal service of process.
After the divorce petition is filed, Utah has a mandatory 30-day waiting period before the process can be finalized. The waiting period may be waived only under extraordinary circumstances.
Also, before the court may enter the divorce decree, couples with minor children must complete two educational courses: a divorce orientation course and a course on children's needs during divorce. (Utah Code §§ 30-3-11.3, 30-3-11.4, 30-3-18.)
Because the responding spouse has agreed to entry of the divorce decree under the terms of the settlement agreement, there's usually no need for a court hearing to finalize your uncontested divorce. Instead, a judge (or court commissioner) will review the paperwork to ensure that it's complete, reasonable, and in your children's best interests. If so, the judge will sign the final divorce decree and judgment, which will incorporate your settlement agreement. (Utah Court Rules of Civ. Proc., rule 104 (2021).)