Utah Divorce Laws FAQs


To dissolve a marriage, one should understand the basic laws and regulations governing the divorce process in a given state. Utah divorce laws are quite specific and may seem intricate, especially for someone unfamiliar with legal issues.

To facilitate your understanding of the court proceedings, we have collected the answers to the most important and frequently asked questions. In this article, we intend to explain the state’s key regulations and requirements for dissolving a marriage, the approximate duration and cost of the process, and the main stages of filing for divorce in Utah.

Is Utah a No-Fault Divorce State?

Utah can be called a mixed divorce state since “irreconcilable differences” are among the legal grounds for marriage dissolution, along with fault-based reasons. Another legal ground for the no-fault divorce process in Utah is voluntary separate living. No-fault grounds mean the petitioner does not need to prove that the other party is guilty of some misdeed that ruined the relationship. Therefore, either party’s testimony may be enough to show that spouses are irreconcilably different and can’t live together for the court to grant them divorce.

On the other hand, the petitioner may file for divorce on one of the fault-based grounds listed in the corresponding statute. According to Utah Code § 30-3-5(10)(b), the court may consider marital misconduct when determining the eligibility and terms of alimony. However, this factor is not enforced due to the Utah Appellate Court’s argument. So, it is possible that claiming the respondent’s fault may only complicate and prolong the process, cause strife between the parties, and even negatively affect their relations with children.

At the same time, even if you file for a no-fault divorce due to irreconcilable differences, you have the right to present any evidence of the other party’s misconduct if it may impact the court decisions. First and foremost, the court admits and considers the respondent’s fault in custody-related matters.

What are the Grounds for Divorce in Utah?

As mentioned above, Utah laws recognize no-fault and fault-based grounds for divorce. No-fault grounds do not necessitate the petitioner to claim and prove the other party’s fault in the ruined marriage and are a perfect option for an uncontested divorce. Any fault-based reason acceptable by the court will require proof, compelling evidence, and probably witnesses to confirm the misdeed.

No-Fault Grounds

A no-fault divorce in Utah is possible if you state one of the following grounds in the petition:

Fault-Based Grounds

One of the following grounds will mean a Utah fault divorce procedure:

  • Adultery;
  • Impotence;
  • Incurable insanity;
  • Chronic alcoholism;
  • Willful desertion for more than a year;
  • Refusal to provide for the petitioner’s needs;
  • Cruel treatment;
  • Conviction of a felony.

What are the Residency Requirements?

Any state sets forth residency requirements for a person to be eligible to start any legal action in its jurisdiction. So, the answer to the question, “Do you have to have residency in Utah to file for divorce?” is affirmative.

As stipulated in Utah Code § 30-3-1(2), the court may grant a divorce if one of the spouses “has been an actual and bona fide resident” of Utah and the specific county they file in for at least 3 months prior to filing the petition. A divorce court may require some proof of residency in the form of a driver’s license, receipt of mail, residency bills, tax receipts, etc.

How to File for Divorce in Utah?

When getting a divorce in Utah, you may need to take the following steps:

  • Collect and fill out the papers necessary for your specific case;
  • File the completed forms with the district court’s clerk or submit them via the e-filing system in the county in which either you or your spouse lives;
  • Pay a filing fee as defined in your location;
  • File motions for temporary orders if needed;
  • Take the time-stamped copies and the Domestic Relations Injunction issued by the court from the clerk;
  • Serve one of the copies received on the respondent within 120 days;
  • File a Proof of Service form with the court;
  • Wait 21 days (or 30 days if they live outside Utah) for the respondent’s answer to the petition and file it with the court;
  • Attend mandatory Education and Orientation classes if you have minor children;
  • Attend the Case Management Conference if the respondent answered the petition;
  • Share your initial disclosures and financial declarations with the respondent;
  • Attend a mandatory mediation session if scheduled by the court;
  • Complete the necessary final pleadings required by the court in your county and file them with the clerk;
  • Attend the final trial;
  • Get a copy of your final divorce decree.

The process may vary depending on the case type and your individual circumstances. Utah uncontested divorce, for example, is likely to be shorter and simpler since you can skip some steps like mediation or trial, having agreed on all the issues with your spouse. Similarly, you will not have to attend the classes if you do not have children.

What Is the First Step in Divorce?

The divorce process starts with filing the initial paperwork, including a Petition for Divorce, with Utah court. So, the first step is collecting and filling out the necessary forms suitable for your specific case.

The basic set of initial forms you must complete greatly depends on your individual circumstances but may include the following:

  • Petition for Divorce;
  • Domestic Relations Cover Sheet;
  • Summons;
  • Proposed Parenting Plan;
  • Child Support Obligation Worksheet;
  • Certificate of Divorce, Dissolution of Marriage, or Annulment.

Besides, you may need additional forms related to children, certificates about mandatory class attendance, motions for any additional orders or waiving fees, notices, or classes, etc.

If you are unsure which forms are needed in your situation and need some assistance, you can turn to our online document preparation service. We will select and fill out the necessary Utah divorce paperwork suitable for your specific case based on your answers in our online questionnaire. If your divorce is uncontested and you agree with your spouse on all the terms, you can undergo the process yourself, without involving legal help, with the full package of ready-to-file court-approved forms that we offer for a moderate fixed fee.

What Court Handles Divorce in Utah?

Civil cases, including divorces, are normally handled by the district court. So, when the paperwork is ready, you must file it with the clerk in the district court of the county where either you or your spouse lives. The list of courts may be found on the Utah State Courts website.

Does it matter who files for divorce in Utah? Not really. In fact, the initiator of the action gets no specifc advantages in the case. The only benefit you have as a petitioner is the choice of the location if you and your spouse live in different states or counties.

How Much Does It Cost to File for Divorce in Utah?

The official divorce filing fee in Utah is $325. This cost may vary depending on the county, additional motions you may need to file, and copies you will have to make. If your economic situation does not allow you to cover court fees, you can ask the court to waive them. Check if you are eligible for a fee waiver on the Utah State Courts website.

How Much Does a Divorce Cost in Utah?

The average cost of divorce in Utah may range from about $500 to $20,000 and more. Your overall expenses will depend on the case type and your unique situation.

A full-agreement, uncontested divorce may cost you as little as $500 you will pay for court fees and other legal services. If you involve an attorney for a consultation or paperwork preparation help, you may spend about $1,000-$2,000 in total.

Contested cases entail much higher expenses due to their complexity and duration. If you cannot agree with your spouse on divorce-related matters, you will need to hire a lawyer to defend your rights in court. Average family attorney’s fees in Utah range from $200 to $400 per hour, so the total cost will depend on the time the law expert spends on your case, including court hearings, paperwork preparation, emails, phone calls, investigations, negotiations, etc.

Do not forget about mandatory fees for filing, certificates, copies, service of process, mandatory mediation and educational courses, etc. In most complicated cases, you’ll need to engage other experts, such as vocational experts, custody evaluators, business and property appraisers, forensic accountants, etc., all charging hourly for their services. So, the more disputes you have and the more complex they are, the more money you will need to spend. In the long run, your contested divorce may cost you $20,000+.

What Is the Divorce Waiting Period in Utah?

According to Utah Code § 30-3-18, the mandatory waiting period is 30 days after filing the complaint. It may be waived in case of extraordinary circumstances, and interim orders may be issued if the court considers it fair.

If you wonder, “How long does a divorce take in Utah?“ there is no definite answer. The court cannot initiate a hearing until 30 days have passed since you filed the petition. So, even in the most amicable case, your marriage may be dissolved no earlier than in a month. However, complicated contested divorces involving minor kids and disputes will drag on for months, considering mandatory educational classes, mediation, and all the court hearings you will need to attend.

Is Utah a Community Property State?

Utah is not a community property state. Like most other states, it is a common law state, which means that the court is guided by equitable distribution principles when dividing assets in a divorce case.

In community property states, all property and assets are typically divided 50-50 if they were obtained during the marriage. In contrast, when you get a divorce in Utah, you will get your fair share of everything you have jointly acquired during your marriage. The court will consider numerous factors in the case to determine the division, or you can agree with the spouse on your own if the case is uncontested.

How Are Property and Assets Divided Up During a Utah Divorce?

As mentioned earlier, Utah marital property laws presuppose equitable distribution of assets, which is not always equal. The court considers marriage duration, the parties’ age, health, needs, earning capacity, and some other factors when dividing marital property acquired by the spouses. Separate property – assets owned by either party before the marriage or received as a gift or inheritance – is typically left with the owner.

How is money split in a divorce in Utah? Monetary assets are divided the same way as all movable and non-movable property. Money received from the sale of the family house or any other marital property will be divided equitably between the parties, as the court considers fair.

Utah State Courts website offers a more detailed explanation of the property division principles utilized by the local divorce courts, including nuances about premarital agreements, retirement and pension plan benefits, etc.

How to Manage Child Support and Alimony Under Utah Divorce Laws?

Decisions concerning child support and alimony in Utah are mostly governed by Utah Code § 30-3-5 and Recovery Services and Administration of Child Support.

Any divorce in Utah with a child would engage child support arrangements since both parents are legally responsible for maintaining their children until they are 18 or have graduated from high school, whichever happens first. Its amount is based on both parents’ gross monthly income and the number of overnights spent by the child in each household. Calculations are made based on the tables provided in the Utah Child Support Act.

Alimony, also known as spousal support in Utah, may be awarded to either party temporarily or for a longer period after the marriage is dissolved to help them maintain a sustainable standard of living. In making this decision, the court considers a range of factors, including but not limited to:

  • Marriage duration;
  • The receiving party’s needs, economic condition, and earning capacity;
  • The paying party’s ability to make payments;
  • The receiving spouse’s contribution to the other party’s education and employability enhancement;
  • Child custody-related issues;
  • Any other factors the court considers relevant.

Is Adultery a Crime in Utah?

In Utah, adultery used to be a class B misdemeanor punishable by fines and jail time. Indeed, anyone who had voluntary sexual intercourse with a person other than the spouse had to pay a $1,000 fine and serve up to 6 months of jail term.

However, Utah’s adultery law was repealed in 2019 by Senate Bill 43. Today, cheating on the spouse is one of the fault-based grounds for divorce that may or may not be considered by the judge while making decisions concerning alimony.

Can You Get a Divorce Without a Lawyer in Utah?

Filing for divorce in Utah on your own, not involving lawyers, is quite possible in case of a full-agreement, uncontested marriage dissolution. If you and your spouse agree on all the issues concerning children and property, you can fill out the necessary papers and file them with the court without outside assistance. You can use the Online Court Assistance Program (OCAP) the Judicial Branch of Utah offers for a certain fee or act independently if you wish to save on their services.

If you decide to complete the entire process on your own, we can help you with paperwork preparation. For a moderate fixed fee, we will fill out the necessary papers suitable for your uncontested case and provide you with a full package of ready-to-file forms and step-by-step instructions on the filing process.