Divorce in Utah: Everything You Need to Know

1 min readLast updated April 30, 2024by Unbiased team

Discover more about the costs, processes, and grounds for filing for divorce in the state of Utah.

Summary

  • Utah recognizes three primary divorce types - contested, uncontested, and default. 

  • The divorce filing fee in Utah is $325. 

  • At least one spouse must have been a resident of Utah for at least three months before filing.

  • A financial advisor can help you protect your finances through a divorce and develop a long-term plan to rebuild afterward. 

What are the different types of divorce in Utah?

Utah recognizes three primary divorce types, each addressing different levels of agreement between spouses:

  • Contested divorce: When spouses disagree on key issues like asset division or child custody, the divorce is contested. This type requires a trial where a judge decides on the disputed terms.

  • Uncontested divorce: This type occurs when both spouses agree on all significant divorce terms, streamlining the process without needing a trial.

  • Default divorce: If one spouse does not respond to the divorce filing, the court may issue a default divorce, typically granting the filing spouse's requests.

How much does a divorce cost in Utah?

On average, the cost of a divorce in Utah ranges from $1,000 to $6,000, depending on your situation, with some divorces costing even more. 

The financial aspect of filing for divorce in Utah includes a range of costs, including: 

  • Filing fees: The process begins with a filing fee, usually about $325. This mandatory charge is for submitting divorce paperwork to the court.

  • Attorney fees: Those who need legal representation when going through a divorce will have to pay an hourly fee for an attorney. In Utah, the average you should expect to pay on these fees is about $3,000. 

  • Mediation fees: If spouses opt for mediation, they will still have to pay a fee. According to the Utah State Courts, mediation fees are set by the individual mediator and generally range from $30 to $300 per hour.

How do you file for divorce in Utah?

Filing for divorce in Utah requires following a set of steps to ensure the process is handled correctly. 

Below is an overview of what you can expect when filing for divorce in Utah: 

  1. Determine eligibility: At least one spouse must have been a resident of Utah for at least three months before filing.

  2. Prepare the necessary documents: This includes the Petition for Divorce and other related forms detailing the grounds for divorce, proposed arrangements for any children, asset division, and alimony.

  3. File the documents: Submit the divorce paperwork to the district court in the county where either spouse resides. The filing fee, typically around $325, must be paid at this time.

  4. Serve your spouse: The other spouse must be legally notified of the divorce filing, a process known as serving. This can be done through a private process server, sheriff’s office, or, in some cases, by mail.

  5. Wait for a response: The served spouse has 21 days (if served in Utah) or 30 days (if served outside of Utah) to respond. If they agree, the process may proceed as an uncontested divorce. If not, it becomes contested.

  6. Attend required education: If the divorce involves minor children, both parents may need to complete court-ordered education classes about the effects of divorce on children.

  7. Finalize the divorce: For uncontested cases, once all agreements are in place and necessary waiting periods have passed, the court can finalize the divorce. Contested divorces may require mediation or court hearings to resolve disputes.

How do you split assets in a divorce in Utah?

Asset division in Utah divorces follows equitable distribution principles, ensuring fairness based on the marriage specifics. 

If you cannot agree with your spouse about how to divide your assets, the court will step in.

It's important to note that divorce proceedings divide marital property only. This is property acquired during the marriage. Separate property, which belonged to one spouse before marriage or received as gifts or inheritances, is not divided.

When making its decision, the court will go through a set process and consider the following:

  • Financial circumstances of each spouse.

  • Marriage duration.

  • Contributions to acquiring and enhancing marital assets, including homemaking efforts.

  • The needs of the custodial parent regarding the marital home.

The court will also consider the length of the marriage. For long-term marriages, a fair division often approaches a 50-50 split, but adjustments may favor one party to ensure equity. Short-term marriages may see assets divided in a way that aims to revert spouses to their pre-marriage economic states.

The goal is a division that reflects the marriage's unique contributions and circumstances, with special rules for certain assets like retirement accounts.

How does alimony work in Utah?

Alimony, or spousal support in Utah, is designed to address economic imbalances between spouses following a divorce. 

In Utah, both spouses are entitled to request financial support based on their needs and the other's ability to pay.

When evaluating alimony, judges consider:

  • The financial condition and needs of the requesting spouse.

  • Each spouse's earning capacity and the standard of living during the marriage.

  • Marriage duration, as alimony, typically doesn't extend beyond the marriage length.

Alimony is usually awarded for a period that doesn’t exceed the length of the marriage, but it can be adjusted or terminated if there’s a significant change in either party's circumstances.

This framework ensures that alimony decisions are made fairly. It focuses on the financial disparities that divorce may create and aims to support the less financially stable spouse toward independence.

What happens to children during a divorce in Utah?

In Utah, divorce proceedings carefully consider children's needs, emphasizing their overall welfare. 

Parents are urged to draft a plan detailing parenting arrangements and decision-making. When disputes arise, the court determines what’s best for the child, potentially involving evaluations and mediation to decide on custody and support.

When the parents cannot agree on a resolution, the court will make a final ruling looking at the following areas: 

  • Custody: Sole custody can be awarded to either parent, with the custodial parent making key decisions about the children's lives. The non-custodial parent is typically granted visitation to ensure ongoing involvement. Alternatively, the court can award joint custody between both parents. 

  • Child support: The court will calculate this based on a state-wide formula. Child support takes into account both parents' incomes, the number of children, and the custody arrangement, aiming to maintain the children's standard of living.

Custody and support orders may be modified as circumstances change, prioritizing the child's best interests.

Get expert financial advice

A financial advisor can help you assess your current financial status, create a post-divorce budget, and develop a long-term financial plan that aligns with your needs and goals.

Unbiased can connect you with a financial advisor perfectly suited to meet your needs. Simply provide some details about what you’re looking for, and Unbiased’s platform will match you with your advisor.

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Unbiased team

Our team of writers, who have decades of experience writing about personal finance, including investing and retirement, are here to help you find out what you must know about life’s biggest financial decisions.