Do I Really Need to Hire a Family Law Attorney?
Even if you and your spouse agree that divorce is best for you, it will be beneficial to have an expert guide you through the process. Even if a divorce is amicable, an attorney can take the necessary actions to advise you on things and situations that may come up in the future. An attorney can also help educate you about what you’re legally entitled to, make strategy recommendations, and help prepare documents. Having a Utah Divorce attorney is especially important if children are involved.
Getting a divorce can be an emotional roller coaster. At Wall Legal Solutions we understand how difficult a divorce can be and are here to help you navigate the legal proceedings. Listed below are answers to some of the most common divorce-related questions.
Like so many things in life, the answer to this is that it depends. There is a fee to file the divorce petition, there are fees for the court assistance program, fees for the Office of Vital Records and Statistics, fees to have the petition and summons filed, copying fees, and then if children are involved, there are also Divorce Education classes and Divorce Orientation classes. Then, there is the attorney fee which can vary depending on how long the entire process lasts.
According to Utah law, the time between the dates of the petition was filed for the divorce and the final decree must be at least 90 days. That time can be altered for situations such as child custody, arbitration and/or mediation. The more disagreements, the more likely a divorce is to be extended. Once the divorce is final, neither party can remarry for at least 30 days.
Under Utah law, the length it will take to divorce is determined by the individual divorce situations.
- Contested Divorce – These types of divorces can take months or years depending on how long it takes for the parties to come to an agreement.
- Uncontested Divorces – A divorce where all parties agree to the terms will require a 90 day waiting period before it can be finalized. Additionally, if children are involved, the divorce will require that both parties complete a Divorce Education for Parents Class and a Divorce Orientation.
In certain circumstances when a married couple decides to end their union, an annulment can be obtained. When an annulment is granted, it is as though the marriage never happened in a legal sense. Some considerations for an annulment:
- There is no time frame or time limit before a Utah couple can file for an annulment.
- Annulments are allowed for two people who are not legally allowed to get married due to their relationship, i.e. a brother and sister.
- If a couple married prior to May 3, 1999 and one was under 14 years of age, or if married after May 3, 1999 and one party was under 16 an annulment may be granted.
- If a person was married while still legally married to a second person, therefore creating a bigamous marriage they may be granted an annulment.
- If one party in the marriage was under 18 and did not have parental consent.
Referred to a separate maintenance in the state of Utah, a legal separation involves living separately while remaining married to your spouse. Even though you are still married, you may still file for custody, child support, and other division of property.
An annulment will terminate a marriage by proving that the marriage was void under Utah law. You can also file for an annulment if you can prove that your spouse withheld information that would have affected your decision to marry them. In an annulment, the court can order child support, property and debt division, set alimony, and determine custody and visitation.
A divorce is a termination of a marriage where the court can determine custody and visitation issues as well as property, debt, and asset division.
Mediation is a step required for couples filing divorce to attempt to come to an agreement regarding issues of a divorce with the help of a neutral 3rd party divorce mediator. If both people in the divorce can agree on issues such as the division of assets/debts, the child support agreement, custody of children, alimony, then a judge will sign off on a divorce, and neither party will need to go to court. If an agreement cannot be reached in mediation, then a trial will be set.
Representing two parties in the same case is considered a legal conflict of interest, but the respondent to the divorce does not need to have legal counsel for the divorce to proceed.
There is no real advantage to filing for divorce first unless you live in different areas of the state and want the proceedings to be held by your area’s court system.
Legally you can move, but if children are involved, it is always best to notify your spouse before making a move. Additionally, the cost of transportation required for visitation can fall on the person who moved the children away once a schedule has been established.
The state of Utah is a no-fault divorce state, so cases of adultery can not lead to higher compensation.
There is no waiting period before remarriage in Utah. After your divorce has been finalized, you are free to remarry.
You can not continue on your spouse’s health insurance after your divorce but will be able to continue it with Cobra payments for a short period if necessary.
Even if your name is not on the title, you may still have rights to the car or house as they can both be considered marital assets.
The discovery process will gather the financial information from your spouse so that your lawyer will have a full view of the financial situation.
If the property stayed solely in your name and was owned by you before the marriage, it is often not considered marital property and therefore not subject to part of the settlement. It becomes a gray area if it can be proven that the value was increased due to a marital effort.
You will have the ability to try and change an order by appealing the judge’s decision to a higher court to overturn.
To get a certified copy of your divorce papers, you will need to contact the court that handled the divorce and usually pay a processing fee.
If you are the victim of domestic violence, you should file for a protective order. The court will often provide an interim order protecting you until the protection order can be fully processed as the accuser will have a right to defend themselves in court.
If you feel you are being harassed during divorce proceedings, you can file for a restraining order, but it is important to realize that violating a restraining order is a violation of court and not the same as the criminal violation of a protective order.
Your spouse will be served, typically by the sheriff’s office or a constable, with the divorce papers. If they are served within the state of Utah, they will have 21 days to respond, if served outside of the state they will have 30.
You may request temporary orders to help get you through the divorce proceedings, but they will require a hearing to be processed. They will try to schedule these hearing as soon as they can, but they are not always immediate.
In the state of Utah, there is a residency requirement for divorce proceedings. You will be required to be a state resident for at least six months before filing if you have children and three months in the county if you don’t.
Many cases are resolved without requiring a court appearance. You will only be required to attend court if the terms can not be agreed on.
If you live in Utah and need more information on divorce proceedings or require legal representation, contact the divorce attorneys at Wall Legal Solutions today for a consultation.
Going through a divorce is naturally a stressful, emotional, and confusing time. It’s rated as one of the top few most stressful events that a person may experience in a lifetime. So, it makes sense to use a checklist like this one to keep organized and be sure you make all the necessary preparations to get through the process as smoothly as possible:
- Hire the best divorce attorney Utah has available to you.
- Figure out whether you can settle your divorce case out of court.
- If you have minor children, create a proposed parenting plan. (See Utah> Courts page)
- Gather tax documents and other financial documents.
- Gather your marriage documents, divorce papers, and other relevant documents.
- Take the necessary steps to live your life separately from your spouse.
- Figure out the living arrangements for the children during the divorce.
- Start thinking about and planning for new employment, if applicable.
- Retain any documentation or other evidence you think may be needed in court.
- If you are concerned about domestic violence, seek help immediately.
After the petitioner notifies the respondent that he/she has filed with the court a case for divorce against him/her, the defendant should first read the complaint carefully. The respondent must file an answer with the court by the deadline indicated. In Utah divorces, that’s usually 21 days in Utah or 30 days if the respondent resides out of state.
Suppose the respondent does not agree with some or all parts of the petition. In that case, he/she can use the answer to make affirmative defenses and raise new issues the plaintiff’s complaint did not include—for example, alimony. The respondent can also file a counterclaim, per URCP 13.
If the person served does not file an answer or motion by the deadline, the petitioner may ask the court to issue a default judgment. If granted, that means the petitioner may be granted all the terms he or she asked for in the petition, and the respondent will not be given an opportunity to have his/her side of the case heard.
On average, an uncontested divorce takes about three months to complete in Utah. However, a contested divorce can take 9 to 10 months or longer. The timeframe for completing a divorce case typically depends on the complexity of the division of marital assets. Cases involving extreme child custody conflicts can also take longer than average. Other factors in the case or impacting the court system, or issues of Utah divorce laws, can also impact the length of time to finalize a divorce. The quickest divorce takes a minimum of 30 days, which is equal to Utah’s mandatory waiting period.
The complaint delivered to the respondent will indicate the deadline for response. That date is usually 21 calendar days following the date the complaint was served or 30 calendar days after service for people living out of state (URCP 12.a). If the respondent does not file his or her answer with the court or file a relevant motion by the deadline issued by the court, the petitioner is entitled to request that the court enter a default judgment. That means the other party can be granted all he or she asked for in the petition, and the respondent will not have an opportunity to be heard.
You must complete the Mandatory Education in Divorce and Temporary Separation course with a court-approved provider online or in person. The cost of the course is $35. If the court waives the course fee in your case, the instructions for submitting the waiver are available through the link. The USU Extension is the only online provider of the course currently approved by the court.
A Motion for Temporary Order governs alimony, child custody, child support, property distribution, and other primary matters of the divorce during the proceedings. Both parties are required to obey the temporary court order until the judge changes it or enters the final judgment in the divorce case. Motions may be filed along with or after the divorce petition (per a legislative change effective March 2022). This motion cannot be filed with the court until after a divorce petition has been filed.
For Any Other Divorce Questions, Contact the Utah Divorce Attorneys at Wall & Wall
Often people find that the only thing more difficult than divorce is a complicated divorce. For experienced help from professional family law attorneys, complete the contact form on this page to book a free, no-obligation 30 consultations to discuss your case.