Divorce is often a complicated and lengthy process, the legal jargon can be confusing, and trying to balance emotional and practical aspects can be stressful on the entire family. So, where do you start?
Fortunately, divorce mediation can speed up the process and save you a significant amount of money. In the state of Utah, you do not need to hire a divorce lawyer if an agreement can be constructed through mediation. Find out more about the benefits of divorce mediation.
If you plan to file for divorce in the state of Utah, here are a few things to consider before taking any initial steps:
- You or your spouse must have legal Utah residence for at least 3 months immediately prior to filing. When child custody is an issue, the child must be residing with one or both of the parents in Utah for at least six months with some exceptions. See all Utah divorce residency requirements.
- Determine your grounds for divorce. Usually you can say “there are irreconcilable differences”
- Be prepared financially for the costs associated with divorce. Divorce mediation can significantly reduce your total costs, even in cases where collaboration between the parties seems impossible.
- Divorce mediation is required by HB 004, which was passed in 2005 by the state’s legislature. While there are some exceptions, a majority of the cases still legally require mediation.
Ready to File for Divorce?
As an approved mediator on Utah’s Court Roster, I can assist with the paperwork required to file divorce. In cases where mediation is successful in defining settlement terms, divorce attorneys are unnecessary. If you have retained a divorce attorney, they can file the initial paperwork with the district court on your behalf as well. As the petitioner (individual requesting the divorce) looking to file on your own, you will find the OCAP document preparation site helpful. However, be aware that you merely answer questions on this site and it prints about 100 pages of information based on your answers to the questions. It does not give you the opportunity to be creative or vary from the stock answers. It also does not explain the legal terminology.
Before Filing, to Simplify:
- After reaching agreement in mediation a Stipulation can be prepared setting forth all of the terms of your Final Decree of Divorce
- Process DOES NOT have to be served because everything is agreed upon
- ALL required documents are filed at one time, shortening the process so the paperwork can be signed by the Judge
- NO COURT APPEARANCE IS NECESSARY
Next Steps After Filing for Divorce, if simplified process above is not followed:
- The petitioner must serve the documents to their spouse within 120 days of filing. The respondent has 20 days (within Utah) and 30 days (outside of Utah) to file an answer to the divorce petition.
- After a response has been received, financial declarations are made.
- In most cases with no children in the marriage, a 90-day waiting period is required between the filing date and the signing of the divorce decree. I can file a Request to Waive the waiting period.
- Divorce education classes are mandatory in Utah when minor children are involved. Optional divorce education classes specifically designed for children are offered, but not required.
- Mandatory divorce mediation occurs when there are contested issues around the final settlement terms. Even when both parties are in agreement, a single mediation session can be helpful to ensure that the end settlement is equitable and beneficial to all individuals involved.
- Temporary orders can be obtained through the court to provide direction on issues such as child custody, financial situations, and more during divorce proceedings.
- The divorce is finalized after a judge signs the decree.
Please note that the above steps outline Utah’s divorce process and are only intended to give a general guide around what to expect. Most divorce cases are not straightforward and sometimes involve a trial, appeals, and modifications to the original settlement terms. Please refer to the Utah State Courts Divorce website for complete information on all legal requirements, or contact me to get started with a free initial consultation.
Again, remember that mediation can save you time and money during your divorce, typically with better outcomes!