A Summary of Utah Divorce Laws
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Grounds for Divorce Under Utah Divorce Laws
Utah divorce laws permit no-fault divorces to be granted based on irreconcilable differences between the parties. They also grant divorces based on the following grounds:
- Impotency of one spouse at the time the marriage was contracted
- Willful desertion of one spouse by the other for a period of more than one year
- Willful neglect of one spouse to provide the other spouse with the common necessities of life
- Habitual drunkenness
- A felony conviction
- Cruel and inhumane treatment by one spouse to the other, causing bodily injury or great mental distress
- Incurable insanity
- When husband and wife have lived separately under a decree of separate maintenance of any state for three consecutive years without cohabitation.
You must be a resident of the State of Utah in order to file the divorce action. Additionally, you must have been a resident of the county where the divorce is filed for at least three months prior to filing for divorce.
Name of Court and Title of Action/Parties
Divorce actions are filed and heard in District Court. In some areas, however, a Family Court Division of District Court has been created specifically to hear such matters.
The Petitioner is whichever one of you files for the divorce, and the Respondent is the other spouse included in the action. A Petition for Divorce is the action that gets the process started, while the court order granting the divorce is referred to as the Decree of Divorce.
Utah divorce laws call for a waiting period of 90 days after the filing of the divorce action before a Decree of Divorce will be granted.
Mediation or Counseling Requirement
Upon request of either or both parties, the court may refer either or both to a domestic relation counselor.
If there are children involved in the divorce action, both parties must attend a course on the effects of divorce on children and provide the court with proof of course completion unless the court waives this requirement.
Utah divorce laws recognize the principles of equitable distribution, which means that the court will divide the martial property in a manner that the court determines is equitable to each party.
Utah divorce laws stipulate that either party could be ordered to pay alimony after consideration of the following factors:
- The financial condition and needs of the recipient spouse
- The recipient’s earning capacity or ability to produce income
- The ability of the paying spouse to provide support
- The length of the marriage
- Whether the recipient spouse has custody of minor children requiring support
- Whether the recipient spouse worked in a business owned or operated by the paying spouse
- Whether the recipient spouse directly contributed to any increase in the paying spouse’s skills by financially contributing to an education received by the paying spouse or allowing the paying spouse to attend school during the marriage
Utah divorce laws allow for the consideration of fault of the parties in determining alimony.
As a general rule, the court should look to the standard of living at the time of separation in determining alimony. However, the court shall consider all relevant facts and equitable principles and may, in its discretion, base alimony on the standard of living that existed at the time of trial.
In marriages of short duration, when no children have been conceived or born during the marriage, the court may consider the standard of living that existed at the time the wedding took place.
In determining custody, the court will consider the best interests of the child and the past conduct and demonstrated moral standards of each of the parents.
The court may interview the children and take into consideration their feedback. But their expressed desires are not controlling, and the court may determine the children’s custody or visitation by considering other factors.
In awarding custody, the court shall weigh heavily which parent is most likely to act in the best interests of the child including allowing the child frequent and continuing contact with the non-custodial parent as the court finds appropriate.
Either or both spouses may be ordered to pay child support according to Utah divorce laws. The child support order will also contain provisions relating to health insurance or expenses of the child.
Both parties must file a financial affidavit. Utah has enacted child support guidelines, which establish the amount of support that is presumed correct. The court may deviate from the guidelines upon a showing that the application of said guidelines would be unjust or inappropriate under the particular circumstances of the case. Factors the court will consider when determining whether deviation from the guidelines is warranted include:
- The standard of living of the parties
- The relative wealth and income of the parties
- The earning abilities of the parents
- The needs of the parents and child
- The ages of the parents and child
- Any other existing support obligation for others not of the marriage
Restoration of Name
Although there is no statutory provision for the restoration of a wife’s maiden name upon divorce outlined within Utah divorce laws, there is a general statutory provision that permits such a change upon filing a special petition to the court.
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