Filing for Divorce and Related Issues in Utah
Filing for Divorce and Related
Issues in Utah
What is Divorce and What are the Rules About
Divorce in Utah?
A divorce ends the marriage and all direct legal
relationships between the couple, except those specifically written out in the
divorce decree. These may include such things as spousal support, parenting
arrangements and support of children, division of property and payment of debts.
The Utah divorce laws allow for no-fault divorce on the grounds of
What If One Spouse Wants a Divorce and the
Other Spouse Doesn't?
There is no way to prevent a divorce in Utah if
one spouse wants one and the other one doesn't.
How Do I Get a Divorce?
A divorce is granted by a judge after the
necessary paperwork has been submitted to the court and all required appearances
before the judge are completed. In some cases it is not necessary to be
physically present in the court to get a divorce. You may file the paperwork
yourself, or obtain the assistance of a lawyer.
Do Parties to a Divorce Need to Take Divorce
After filing a complaint for a divorce and
receiving a docket number, parties who have a child or children are required to
attend a mandatory course on their children's needs. This divorce education
course is a prerequisite to receiving a divorce decree, unless a court
determines that attending the course is not feasible or in the best interests of
Who Makes the Decisions About Child Custody and Support, Property
Division, Special Maintenance, and Other Matters?
Utah law encourages the couples to work out
these decisions between themselves a as much as possible and create a written
agreement, often with the assistance of their lawyers. A growing number of
people have been trained to act as mediators to assist couples in these
negations. Whatever reasonable agreements the couple make, will be sanctioned by
If the couple cannot agree on one or more of
these issues, it will be necessary for the court to make the decision for them.
In many courts, there are commissioners who specialize in divorce matters who
will first hear the issues. If the matter goes to trial, the judge will make the
final decision. There is no jury in divorce cases in Utah.
What is Legal Separation? What is the
Difference Between Legal Separation and Divorce?
In a legal separation, the parties live
separately, but remain legally married to one another. The couples' rights and
duties to each other are set forth in a Decree of Legal Separation which will
cover matters such as custody and child support, spousal support, division of
property and payment of debts. The legal procedures are very similar to those
for divorce, except the grounds for legal separation apply only to a situation
where one spouse is deserted by the other spouse, or when a person refuses or
neglects to provide for his or her spouse. If the couple later decides to
divorce, they must file a separate action for divorce.
What Can a Lawyer Do for Me?
Even a simple divorce requires many documents
and may require at least one appearance before the judge. The lawyer is
responsible to help you through that process. It is the lawyer's role to give
you up-to-date information on laws involving children, support and property
division. The lawyer acts as your advocate and assists you in negotiating an
agreement that is in your best interest and that will minimize problems in the
future. If the agreement cannot be reached, the lawyer will help represent you
at court appearance.
Can the Same Lawyer Represent Both Me and My
No. There is always a conflict of interest
between spouses. A lawyer cannot adequately represent both sides in a divorce.
What Does a Divorce Cost?
Costs and fees for a divorce can vary greatly.
As of 1997, the filing fee for a divorce is $82.00. A counterclaim by the other
party costs $60.00 to file. There may be other costs such as service fees by the
sheriff or constable.
Some lawyers charge a flat rate for divorces, depending on the amount
of work involved. Other lawyers charge an hourly fee. Contact the particular
lawyer you're interested in to inquire about costs and fees, and be sure you
have a complete understanding of the charges and billing rates. There are many
qualified lawyers available. Be sure you find one with whom you are
If I "Settle" My Case, Who Decides What
Settlement I Accept, Myself or My Lawyer?
The client must always make the decision about
settlement terms. The lawyer's role is to advise whether or not in his or her
view, the proposed terms are reasonable. The lawyer is required to submit every
settlement proposal to the client for the client's review and decision. If you
use the services of a mediator, the client must still approve all terms of the
Child Custody - What Kinds of Child
Custody are There and How will Custody be Decided?
Utah recognizes several custodial arrangements
for minor children. Either party can be awarded the "sole" custody of the
children. That means one parent has physical custody of the children and makes
the major decisions regarding the children's lives. "Joint" custody can be
divided into two different types of joint custody. Joint "legal" custody can
have several interpretations and, minimally, means that both parents make joint
decisions regarding major issues affecting the children. Joint legal custody
does not effect the physical residence of the children. Joint "physical" custody
means that the parties share physical time with the children and that the
children live in both homes. Either form of joint custody usually works best
when the parents are willing to work together to address th