Uncontested Divorce in Utah
Divorce is never easy, even when both spouses agree that it’s necessary. That said, some divorces are easier than others. An uncontested divorce is probably one of the easiest ways to unwind your marriage—and often one of the least expensive, too.
As the name suggests, uncontested divorce means that you and your spouse aren’t fighting about any of the issues in your divorce. Couples who are ending brief marriages with no children and few assets often choose to get an uncontested divorce, but even couples in longer-term marriages who have minor children or a lot of marital assets can divorce this way.
As you can imagine, we get a lot of questions about uncontested divorce, so here are answers to some of the most common.
What Are the Requirements for Filing for an Uncontested Divorce?
As with any divorce in Utah, you or your spouse must have lived in the county where you plan to file for at least three months immediately preceding the filing. If you have a minor child, together typically that child will have had to live with one of you in Utah for at least six months before you file for divorce. (There are some exceptions, such as if both parents agree that a Utah court can make decisions regarding their child.)
How Long Does It Take?
In Utah, a divorce cannot be granted less than 30 days after the petition seeking a divorce is signed. Of course, in most contested cases, a divorce takes much longer than that because the spouses need to work out whatever issues they disagree on.
In certain rare cases, the 30 day period can be waived. But in general, your uncontested divorce can be granted in not much more than a month.
How Much Does an Uncontested Divorce in Utah Cost?
The filing fee for an uncontested Utah divorce is $325 (the same as for any Utah divorce action). Beyond filing fees, the real savings in an uncontested divorce is attorney fees. As mentioned above, because you’re not fighting over the terms of the divorce, your attorney doesn’t need to conduct discovery, file motions and briefs, or appear in court to argue on your behalf. Some attorneys charge a flat fee for an uncontested divorce.
Do I Need a Lawyer for an Uncontested Divorce?
Technically, no. You also don’t need a professional stylist to cut your hair. But in both cases, it’s worth the extra money to be sure things are done right. Also, you will have to live with your divorce a lot longer than that DIY haircut.
A divorce ends your marriage, yes, but it also determines your rights and your responsibilities regarding things like property, alimony, child custody and child support. Even if your spouse hires an attorney to draw up your settlement, you will still want your own attorney to look it over, make sure everything complies with the law, and that you understand the legal implications of everything you are agreeing to. In the end, the fee you pay an attorney could wind up saving you money in the long run, and it will give you peace of mind.
What’s the Uncontested Divorce Process?
As with any Utah divorce, an uncontested divorce starts with one spouse filing a Petition for Divorce and other required documents, along with the required filing fee. You and your spouse will file a Stipulation, a document that describes your agreement regarding property, support, custody, and other issues in your divorce.
If you have children, you will have to attend a Divorce Education Class and get a certificate of completion to submit to the court. After 30 days pass from the date the Petition for Divorce was signed, you can submit your final documents to the court for review. If you have children, these documents will include information about both spouses’ income.
The court will review your documents, and, if everything is in order, sign your divorce decree. This will make the terms of your agreement with your now ex-spouse a binding order of the court which you must both follow.
Do I Have to Appear in Front of the Judge?
No. If the judge reviews your final documents and finds that they are properly completed (and in the best interests of any children), he or she will grant your divorce without the need for a hearing. The need to get those documents right the first time is another reason you should have a lawyer; having to redo any documents could lead to unnecessary delays in your divorce.
If you have questions about how to get an uncontested divorce in Utah that we haven’t answered here, please contact Barton Wood to schedule a consultation.