A Guide to Filing for Divorce in Utah
When you file for divorce in Utah, one of the best things you can do is to arm yourself with the information you’ll need to see you through the process from start to finish.
Divorce can be intimidating and disruptive on many levels, and the best way to minimize the impacts on your life is to do your homework so that you can best protect yourself as you try to move to the next chapter.
Here are some of the most important things to do:
- Gather Important Financial Information
- Choose Your Preferred Divorce Process
- Fill Out the Necessary Forms
- File Your Documents
- Serve Your Spouse With Divorce Papers
- FAQs About Filing For Divorce in Utah
Gathering important financial information
No matter your circumstances, you will benefit from being organized at the outset when it comes to tracking down the financial documentation that you’ll need.
Many parts of divorce can be overwhelming, so any steps you can take to save time and reduce stress and anxiety should be a priority for you early in the process.
Important Reading: Divorce Information Checklist you can check out here.
What are your options for divorce?
The type of divorce you choose sets the tone for how you will go about reaching a resolution.
In short, you need to have a full understanding of the different types of divorce and how they will shape your settlement negotiations.
Here are a few of the most common divorce process options:
You’re probably wondering which one is best. That’s not a simple answer. There are advantages and disadvantages to each.
Fill Out the Necessary Forms
Complete the initial paperwork. To complete the forms you’ll need to file for divorce in Utah, start by visiting the state’s Online Court Assistance Program (OCAP). This will provide the information and forms you’ll need to start the process.
If you have an attorney, you can also have them complete the forms on your behalf. You may choose to visit a county courthouse to get the necessary forms and information you’ll need as well.
File Your Documents
In Utah, paperwork must be filed with the district court in the county in which at least one of the parties has lived for at least three months immediately before filing the divorce petition.
You must then serve your spouse with copies of the divorce papers to legally make them aware of the divorce petition.
Serving Your Spouse With Divorce Papers
Service of process must be completed before a divorce case can proceed in Utah. After paperwork has been submitted, a petitioner has 120 days to serve the defendant.
Proof of Service must be attached to all paperwork submitted with the court. The proof of service tells the court when and how the parties were served, and the names and addresses of those served. The person who served the document must complete the Proof of Service document.
Service can be completed by a sheriff, a constable, a U.S. Marshal, or by any person 18 or older who is:
- Not a party in the case or an attorney for a party in the case,
- Not been convicted of a felony violation of a sex offense listed in Utah Code section 77-41-102(16), or
- Not a respondent in a protective order proceeding
Service can also be completed by mail using USPS or a commercial carrier like FedEx or UPS. Documents must be sent by a method that requires the respondent to sign for the delivery. The document is not properly served if someone other than the respondent signs for the delivery.
After diligent attempts to find a defendant have failed, a person can ask the court for permission to use alternate service.
Frequently Asked Questions About Filing for Divorce in Utah
How much does it cost to file for a divorce in Utah?
You pay a $318 filing fee for a divorce in Utah. There may also be additional fees as well, depending on your situation. You may be responsible for paying:
- Online Court Assistance Program (OCAP) fees
- Fee for the Office of Vital Records and Statistics
- Fees to serve the petition and summons
- Attorney fees
- Copying costs
- Fees for the Divorce Education class and the Divorce Orientation class if there are minor children.
Additional Reading: A Guide to Divorce Financial Planning.
Can divorce fees be waived in Utah?
You can file a Motion to Waive Fees if you can’t afford to pay the fees involved in a divorce. A judge will review your request and either grant you a full, partial or no waiver at all. If you owe fees after the ruling, you will have 30 days to pay or your case will be dismissed.
Can I file for a divorce online in Utah?
A petitioner may use the Online Court Assistance Program (OCAP) to prepare documents to file for divorce.
Some websites offer forms that might not be legally sufficient in the Utah courts and could be rejected by the judge. Before using forms from another website, check with OCAP to see if free and appropriate forms are available.
After the forms are completed, the petitioner must file for divorce in person with the district court in the county in which at least one of the parties has lived for at least three months immediately before filing the divorce petition.
How long does it take to get a divorce in Utah?
After initial paperwork is filed, a respondent has 21 days to answer the complaint (30 days if they were served outside of the state). If they don’t file a response, the petitioner can request a default judgment.
There is also a 90-day minimum waiting period from the date the petition is filed until the date that the decree can be signed.
If a divorce is contested, it could take several additional months to resolve issues before a final judgment is entered. This process will likely include several series of negotiations and the parties usually must attend at least one mediation session to try to resolve the issues before the case can move forward.
What are the residency requirements to file for a divorce in Utah?
You must be a resident of a single county in Utah for a minimum of three months before you can file for divorce in the state. If custody of a minor child is an issue, usually the child must reside with at least one of the parents in Utah for at least six months, but there are exceptions.
Can I file for divorce in Utah without using a lawyer?
You can choose to represent yourself in a divorce in Utah.
If you want to pursue an uncontested divorce and you and your spouse agree on all terms, you can complete the required paperwork, cite a no-fault ground, and as long as you meet residency requirements, you can proceed on your own. If you have contested issues or a complicated divorce looming, it is probably best to seek legal representation.
The Utah courts have a comprehensive library of self-help resources on a variety of topics. Visit the state’s Self-Help Resources page to look for information or forms.
The Utah courts also have an online document preparation tool called the Online Court Assistance Program (OCAP) you can use to prepare divorce paperwork as well.
Another option is the Utah State Bar’s Modest Means Lawyer Referral Program which provides access to legal representation for people whose income is too high to qualify for free legal services, but too low to pay a lawyer’s standard rate.
Can I get a divorce in Utah if I am pregnant?
Yes, a divorce can be finalized while a wife is pregnant in Utah.
Although the child has still not been born, you would need to still settle child support and visitation issues before a final settlement can be reached.
How is my divorce affected if I am a member of the military in Utah?
There are specific rules and processes that govern how military divorces are handled in Utah. Some elements are the same as a civilian divorce, but other elements are different.
To start, you or your spouse must either live or be stationed in Utah so that proper jurisdiction can apply.
The same grounds that apply for a civilian divorce also apply for a military divorce as well.
When a spouse is in the military, they are protected by the Soldiers and Sailors Civil Relief Act. This allows them to postpone the divorce while they are overseas or otherwise not able to adequately respond to the petition due to military service commitments.
A division of retirement benefits are governed by the Uniformed Services Former Spouses’ Protection Act. This legislation directs how a former servicemember’s retirement benefits should be divided after divorce. A key element is that the former spouse must have been married to the former servicemember for a minimum of 10 years while the military member has served on active duty.
Child support and spousal support are determined by Utah state guidelines. But federal law dictates that these awards may not exceed 60% of a servicemembers pay and allowances.
Looking for more great tips about filing for divorce? Check out a few of our favorite resources:
- How to File for Divorce
- How Should I Prepare for Divorce
- What Are The Types of Divorce
- How Should I Prepare for Divorce