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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 irreconcilable differences. 

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 Education? 

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 the parties. 

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 the court. 

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 Spouse?

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 comfortable. 

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 settlement. 


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

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