Divorce can be devastating; however, uncontested divorces are often less overwhelming to your finances and sanity than contested ones. Your divorce does not have to become a soap opera.
Utah’s uncontested divorce process allows spouses to reach an agreement on their own and avoid the stress and anxiety associated with completing a divorce trial before a judge. The uncontested process can be relatively quick, and certainly less expensive than taking a divorce to trial.
This article provides a general overview of the uncontested divorce process in Utah. If you have questions about obtaining an uncontested divorce, contact a local family law attorney for advice.
Uncontested divorces (sometimes called “quickie divorces) are an option available to divorcing Utah couples with or without children. Typically, an uncontested divorce is generally less expensive and faster than traditional divorces because you avoid the expense of attorneys, custody evaluations, and hiring experts for trial.
If you and your spouse can agree on all issues regarding your divorce, including child custody, visitation, and support, then an uncontested divorce is a real option. However, if you and your spouse have unresolved divorce-related issues, then the court will require you to go through the traditional “contested” divorce process where the judge will resolve the disputed issues for you.
Before you can request an uncontested divorce in Utah, you and your spouse must agree on all the following divorce-related topics:
Whether you’re requesting a traditional or uncontested divorce in Utah, before the court can take your case, you must meet the state’s residency requirements. When you file for divorce in Utah, you must have lived in a single county in the state for at least 3 months (or 6 months if you have minor children.)
If you haven’t resided in Utah long enough, you’ll need to wait until you meet the requirements before you can file your divorce. (Utah Code Ann. § 30-3-1 (2).) The residency requirement is a crucial part of the divorce process. If you don't meet the requirement, the court won't have “jurisdiction” to take your case, and the judge will dismiss it—meaning, you’ll need to start the process over from the beginning.
To proceed with the uncontested divorce process, you and your spouse must agree on all divorce-related issues in your case. Additionally, if you have minor children, you must submit a notarized statement telling the court that you are either:
If you meet all of the above criteria, you may proceed with your uncontested divorce by filing the required forms (listed later in this article.) Utah Legal Services publishes an online Q&A on divorce for those trying to complete the divorce process on their own.
If you plan to file for divorce without the help of an attorney, the court expects you to submit the required paperwork in the right court. If you bring your divorce papers to the wrong court, you risk the judge dismissing your case, and you will have to refile in the proper location.
Utah’s district courts oversee divorce cases and trials. Utah has approximately 70 judges serving in the state’s eight judicial districts. Typically, you’ll submit your divorce paperwork to the court in the county where you live. If you and your spouse have separated but still reside in Utah, you can file in your county or where your spouse has lived for the past 3 months.
The Utah Courts site offers online forms for completing an uncontested divorce. The court offers the Online Court Assistance Program (OCAP) to residents without an attorney. On the website, you will need to create an OCAP account, and then you can choose which type of divorce situation applies to you and follow the instructions. The spouse who files the paperwork is the “petitioner,” and the other spouse is the “respondent.”
If you don’t have access to the internet, you can request a hard copy of the required forms from your local courthouse. You must submit the following documents with your divorce paperwork:
If you and your spouse have children together under the age of 18, then the following forms must be filed as well:
The required paperwork to complete a divorce in Utah may vary in your particular county. Check with your local court clerk for more information and to determine whether you need to file additional forms. It’s important to understand that if you don’t complete all the required documents, the court won’t accept your case until you do.
The cost to file for a divorce in Utah varies depending on the type of case your filing, the fees for serving your spouse with paperwork, attorney fees, and more. (Utah Code Ann § 78A-2-301.) You can contact your local courthouse to determine the filing fee for divorce paperwork. If you can’t afford to pay the filing fees, you can submit a fee waiver to the court, asking the judge to waive all the costs with the court.
Utah has a mandatory 30-day waiting period to complete a divorce. (Utah Code Ann. § 30-3-18.) Under extraordinary circumstances, the court may waive the 30-day waiting period, however, before a judge grants a divorce to parents of minor children, both spouses must complete the Divorce Education Course. (Utah Code Ann. § 30-3-11.3)
If you don’t have children, the court doesn’t require you to attend a class but does encourage both spouses to utilize the resource. (Utah Code Ann. § 30-3-11.4.)
Utah does not require that you attend a court hearing before a judge finalizes your uncontested divorce. Instead, after you file all the required paperwork, the judge will review it for accuracy and ensure that it’s reasonable and in your children’s best interests. If the court finds that everything is in order, the judge will finalize your divorce and sign the Findings and Decree of Divorce.
If you have additional questions about obtaining an uncontested divorce in Utah, contact an experienced family law attorney for assistance.
For more information on Utah’s divorce laws and to read the entire statute, see Utah Code, Title 30, Chapter 3.