Utah Divorce Recovery
People going through the divorce and recovery process will need to embrace terms such as Utah divorce, child custody arrangements, child support, alimony, child visitation rights, divorce settlement agreements, parenting plans and uncontested divorce in Utah to name a few. How much you learn about the process will directly impact your degree (or lack thereof) of anxiety and worry. If you make surviving and prospering after divorce a project, you will get an advantage and propel yourself to a brighter future.
You will need to become familiar with certain aspects of Utah divorce law in order to successfully navigate the treacherous waters of becoming single again.
- Legal Custody
- Child Support
- Waiting Period
Q. I read about the term "best interests of the child". What does that mean?
Q. How does the court determine which parent gets primary child custody and which parent gets visitation.
A. Prior to the family court intervening, parents are permitted the opportunity to agree on a Parenting Plan and Child Custody Schedule. If the parents are unable to complete those plans, the family court will impose its own plan. UT divorce laws require that courts not be gender-biased when determining these issues. The truth is that most awards go to Mothers because the near universal belief by the judiciary that kids are better off with their Mothers. Some considerations might include:
- The past conduct and demonstrated moral standards of each of the parties,
- Which parent is most likely to act in the best interest of the child, including allowing the child frequent and continuing contact with the non custodial parent,
- The court will, in every case, consider joint custody but may award any form of custody which is determined to be in the best interest of the child,
- The desires of a child 16 years of age or older shall be given added weight, but is not the single controlling factor and
- In awarding custody, the court shall consider 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. In the end, the primary caretaker gets custody.
Q. Can my spouse and I decide a custody arrangement rather than allowing the court to make those decisions?
A. Yes, you and your spouse can. That assumes you two are capable of negotiating fairly and honestly, and not have emotional issues short-circuit the process. Its always better if the parents decide. Your agreement must comply with state divorce laws.
Download Utah Divorce Forms
[Utah Code - Sections: 30-2-10, 30-3-5, 30-3-10]
Q. Please explain the difference between a marriage annulment and a divorce.
A. A divorce terminates a legal condition (marriage) and resolves all legal issues around the marriage. Those issues can include child or spousal support, and division of marital assets. An annulment is the court’s decree that the marriage was never valid. In other words annulment is the declaration that the marriage never took place.
Q. How does one know if they are a candidate for a marriage annulment?
A. There are grounds for annulment just like there are grounds for divorce. To receive an marital annulment, a marriage must fit the description of a void marriage or a voidable marriage. Grounds include entering a marriage by Fraud and Duress, Mental Illness, Bigamy, Impotency, and Consanguinity (marrying a relative too closely related.)
Q. Please tell me the difference between void and voidable marriages. They both receive a marriage annulment?
A. A void marriage is a type of marriage which is on its face unlawful under the laws of the jurisdiction where it is entered e.g. One or both of the parties are below the legal age to marry even with parental consent, The parties degrees of consanguinity are too close, for example, a brother and sister or a parent and a child, The form of the marriage is forbidden by statute (such as same-sex marriage, and bigamy (multiple marriages). A marriage, however, which can be canceled at the option of one of the parties is merely voidable, meaning it is subject to cancellation if contested in court.
[Utah Code - Sections: 30-1-1 to 3; 17.1]
Q. How is Utah child support determined?
A. You and your spouse can make your own agreement, and it must be submitted to the court for approval. Your agreement must follow state guidelines unless you two agree to different terms that a court can find in the best interests of your child. The courts calculate a parent's child support obligation using three components: Base child support, medical care and child-care expenses.
Q. My spouse and I want to do a divorce ourselves because we have no kids nor any assets to fight over. What's the best way to do that?
A. You are describing someone acting pro se or for themselves. If you want to process a simple divorce, see the link near the top of this page that says: "Utah Low Income Self Help"and once there look for a link that reads: Online Court Assistance Program. You should be good to go from there.
Q. How long until I can get a final divorce and what does the process entail?
A. The amount of time will depend on how complex your divorce is, what the court docket looks like (full-not full) and and how many unresolved issues you and your spouse have. Plan on just a few months to years. In each divorce decree, the court will include:
- an order assigning responsibility for the payment of reasonable and necessary medical and dental expenses of the dependent children,
- if coverage is or becomes available at a reasonable cost, an order requiring the purchase and maintenance of appropriate health, hospital, and dental care insurance for the dependent children,
- an order specifying which party is responsible for the payment of joint debts, obligations, or liabilities of the parties contracted or incurred during marriage,
- an order requiring the parties to notify respective creditors or obligees, regarding the court's division of debts, obligations, or liabilities and regarding the parties' separate, current addresses,
- provisions for the enforcement of these orders and
- provisions for income withholding. A decree of divorce can be granted immediately if the parties have reached an agreement and, if they have minor children, if they have both attended the Divorce Education and Divorce Orientation classes. If parties do not have minor children, Utah family law requires a 90-day waiting period, which may be waived for good cause.
Q. How long is Utah child support paid, or asked another way, what age does the child need to be before child support is discontinued?
A. Utah divorce laws specify that the child no longer receives support payments at age 18 or when he or she finished High School, whichever is later.
Q. What are my choices as far as receiving child support each month? Can I get direct deposit?
A. Your spouse's pay will get garnished, and you can opt for a check mailed to you, direct deposit to your bank, or loaded onto a debit card.
[Utah Code - Sections: 30-3-5, 78-45-7]
Legal Separation - Marital Separation
Q. What is the difference between a marriage separation or legal separation and a divorce?
A. A separation of one kind or another allows the parties to live apart but remain legally married. The individuals' rights and duties to each other are determined in a Decree of Legal Separation which will cover custody and child support, spousal support, division of property, and payment of debts. A divorce ends the marriage and creates two single people while resolving the above issues. Either party may initiate a divorce after gaining a separation.
Q. What would prompt someone to choose a separation or legal separation as opposed to a divorce?
A. Legal separation is frequently pursued when one of the parties wants to stay married for religious reasons, wants the advantage of deductibility of spousal support payments for income tax reasons, wants to maintain various insurance coverage's, or does not want to wait the state statutory waiting period for termination of marital status.
Q. Can you and your spouse decide on the details of a divorce settlement?
A. Yes, by all means. Either fashion a divorce settlement with your spouse, or the court will so so for you. If the court has to create the divorce settlement, it will do so based on being an equitable distribution state meaning that the court will endeavor to divide the marital property equitably but not necessarily evenly.
Q. My husband wants to offer me a divorce settlement from his retirement accounts (401(k), IRAs, etc) using a QDRO, but I suspect the offer is very low. Is there somewhere I or we can go to get a fair valuation and distribution?
A. You have two choices. You can have your divorce attorney prepare a proposal (they usually hire an outside, third-party for an evaluation) at significant cost, or you can get your soon-to-be-ex to agree to an accurate but affordable method using The QDRO Desk software.
Q. What does the court look at if it ends up creating the divorce settlement agreement?
A. Factors considered can be:
- The financial condition and needs of the recipient spouse,
- The recipient's earning capacity or ability to produce income,
- The ability of the payer 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 payer spouse,
- Whether the recipient spouse directly contributed to any increase in the payer spouse's skill by paying for education received by the payer spouse or allowing the payer spouse to attend school during the marriage, and
- The court may consider the fault of the parties in determining alimony.
Lock up the assets
If you think your spouse might try to hide assets, or spend them, we suggest you file a petition for a financial temporary restraining order. This order prevents liquidating assets or spending money beyond the basic necessities of daily living. You might first consider allocating enough funds to see yourself through, because the restraining order will apply to you too.
[Utah Code - Sections: 30-3-5, 30-3-12]
Alimony - Spousal Support - Maintenance
Q. Is there such a thing as temporary alimony or spousal support? He left me high and dry with no money in our bank accounts.
A. Yes, you or your attorney must petition the court for temporary and immediate spousal support. The court can order a party to provide money, during the pendency of the action, for the separate support and maintenance of the other party and of any children in the custody of the other party.
Q. My spouse has all our money, so I am unable to hire my own attorney. What can I do? What will the court look at to determine if I get alimony?
A. The court may order a party to provide money, during the pendency of the action, for the separate support and maintenance of the other party and of any children in the custody of the other party. The court will consider at least the following factors in determining alimony:
- the financial condition and needs of the recipient spouse,
- the recipient's earning capacity or ability to produce income,
- the ability of the payer 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 payer spouse, and
- whether the recipient spouse directly contributed to any increase in the payer spouse's skill by paying for education received by the payer spouse or allowing the payer spouse to attend school during the marriage.
Q. Does marital misconduct (like an affair) weigh in when a court decides on alimony?
A. Yes, the court may consider the fault of the parties in determining alimony. Most states do not provide for this consideration.
[Utah Code - Sections: 30-3-3, 30-3-5]
Visitation - Your kids will move between two homes
Q. Can we determine what the Visitation Schedule should be?
A. Yes, the parties can fashion a co-parenting agreement and as long as it passes the courts inspection and Utah law, the court will likely approve.
Q. What would a typical Utah Visitation Schedule look like?
A. A visitation schedule will likely include: alternate weekend visitation (3-day weekends included), mid-week visitation, sharing of the children during periods of school recess -winter, spring and summer, New Year's Eve, Easter, Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, Thanksgiving, and Christmas with one parent or the other in alternate years, Father's Day with Father, Mother's Day with Mother, alternate years on the children's birthdays, and open communication by phone and computer.
Q. Any suggestions about what else might be included in a Visitation Agreement?
A. You may wish to get very detailed in the visitation schedule about what is acceptable and what is not. Consider the following: How is the decreed custody defined? What are the rights and responsibilities? Who has legal custody? Which holiday does the child spend with you? What time and where may the other parent pick the child up? What time should the child be returned home? What is the procedure to follow if either of you are running late and won't be there on time? How much notice should you be given if they are planning a vacation? How far away may the other spouse move? What about future partners? Should those partners stay overnight in front of the children? See this Visitation Schedule guide.
[Utah Code - Sections: 30-3-5]
Grounds for divorce
Q. What are the grounds for divorce in Utah?
A. Grounds for divorce include:
- Impotency at the time of marriage,
- willful desertion for more than one year,
- willful neglect to provide for the petitioner the common necessaries of life,
- habitual drunkenness,
- conviction of a felony,
- cruel treatment,
- irreconcilable differences,
- incurable insanity or
- when the husband and wife have lived separately under a decree of separate maintenance of any state for three consecutive years without cohabitation.
[Utah Code - Sections: 30-3-1]
Residency requirements - You must establish legal status to file
Q. What are the residency requirements to file for divorce in this state?
A. At least one of you must have been a resident of the county where the divorce was filed. for a minimum of three months immediately before filing the divorce petition. If there are children, generally the children must have resided in the state for a minimum of six months. To simplify divorce and custody proceedings, parents should wait until the children have lived within the state for six months before filing for divorce.
[Utah Code - Sections: 30-3-1, 30-3-18]
Q. I'm told there is a mandatory mediation or marriage counseling session if one of us files for divorce. True?
A. Yes, it's true. There is established a mandatory marriage counseling course for divorcing parents. The mandatory course is designed to educate and sensitize divorcing parties to their children's needs both during and after the divorce process.
[Utah Code - Sections: 30-3-4, 30-3-16, 30-3-18]
Q. Do grandparents have the right to ask for visitation of their grandchildren?
A. Yes, both Utah divorce laws and Federal statutes allow the petitions and will make visitation rulings if they are in the best interest of the child.
[Utah Code - Sections: 30-5-2]
Q. Is there a waiting period detailed in Utah divorce laws?
A. A decree of divorce can be granted immediately if the parties have reached an agreement and, if they have minor children, have both attended the Divorce Education and Divorce Orientation classes. If parties do not have minor children, Utah law requires a 90-day waiting period, which may be waived for good cause. Also, before proceeding to pretrial or trial, parties to a divorce must attend at least one mediation session to attempt to resolve disputed issues.
There are no restrictions against remarriage following a final divorce decree.
A Word On Your Journey Toward Healing And Recovery ...
At some point in the process, you may discover that you will not be able to manage the divorce recovery all by yourself. If you are a man, you are apt to bury the hurt and anguish and force yourself to Move On. However, unresolved feelings are just that- unresolved, and are likely to become issues later on. If you are a woman, you will feel the process more, and likely will experience a feeling of loss while feeling lost. We recommend you spend time discovering why things worked out as they did, so that you grow with the new knowledge. We offer a myriad of tools that can get you to the other side. The more you learn, the less you fear. Trust us on this. Spend some time and a few bucks and the return will be ten-fold.