Salt Lake City Divorce Attorney
Experienced Divorce Lawyers on Your Side
The legal process of divorce is often complicated by strong emotions and volatile tempers. The Salt Lake City divorce lawyers at Nelson, Taylor & Associates use their extensive knowledge of Utah family law to help our clients achieve the best possible outcome in the division of marital assets, child support, custody, and spousal support. We have represented clients in everything from simple, uncontested divorces to extremely complex, high-net worth divorces—and everything in between.
Experienced Legal Representation for Divorce
The laws pertaining to the various issues in a divorce are complex and nuanced. Our Salt Lake City divorce lawyers are knowledgeable of all aspects of divorce law and can provide reliable information about how the law pertains to your situation. We provide realistic advice about your situation and promote your rights in negotiations or in court.
We provide useful information and advice for:
- Child Custody – We work with clients to develop a parenting plan that works for both parents and the children. The court makes decisions based on the best interests of the children.
- Child Support – Generally, the noncustodial parent pays support. We can advise you about how Utah calculates these payments.
- Alimony – Spousal support is determined by the length of the marriage, age of each spouse, earning potential, number of children, marital standard of living, and other factors.
- Property Division – Our attorneys work to help negotiate terms that are fair and in the best interests of our clients.
Divorce is a difficult time, whether you wanted a divorce or not. Our Salt Lake City divorce attorneys offer free consultations to help you get the information you need, discuss your situation, and have your questions answered.
What Are the Requirements for Filing for Divorce in Utah?
To file for divorce in Utah, you must meet the following requirements:
- You must have resided in the state of Utah for at least three months before filing for divorce.
- If you are parents of a minor, you must have resided in Utah for at least six months.
- If you are parents of a minor, you may also need to take a divorce education class before filing for divorce.
Is Utah a No Fault Divorce State?
Yes, Utah is a no fault divorce state. You can file for divorce by citing "irreconcilable differences" with your spouse as grounds for the divorce.
Alternatively, you can also file for divorce citing one of the following reasons:
- Your spouse was impotent at the time of marriage
- Your spouse committed adultery post-marriage
- Your spouse abandoned you for more than a year
- Your spouse willfully neglects your well-being
- Your spouse abuses alcohol or other substances
- Your spouse receives a felony conviction
- Your spouse is cruel to you (committing domestic violence or emotional abuse, for example)
- Your spouse is determined "insane" by authorities like psychologists
- You and your spouse have lived apart for at least three consecutive years without cohabiting during that time
If you file for divorce based on one of the above reasons, it's called filing for a "fault-based" divorce (alleging a specific fault one party committed led to the divorce).
You should consult your Salt Lake City divorce lawyer before deciding whether to file for a no-fault or fault-based divorce. If you file for a fault-based divorce, you may need to go through a longer or more contentious court battle. In fault-based divorces, the judge presiding over the case often asks for evidence supporting one party's allegations that their partner committed the fault in question.
A fault-based divorce can also result in different outcomes than a no-fault divorce. For example, if you share children with your spouse and file for a no-fault divorce, the court will probably try to encourage a joint-custody arrangement so both parents can continue to spend time with the child.
In contrast, if you file for divorce alleging your partner is willfully cruel to you (engages in physical abuse, for example), and evidence supports that allegation, the court may provide you with sole physical and legal custody to protect your child.
Utah Divorce Waiting Period
Utah Code Ann. §30-3-18 states that a couple must wait 30 days after filing their divorce petition before a final order can be entered. In even the most ideal of circumstances, the waiting period cannot take less than 30 days.
How Long Does it Take to Get a Divorce in Utah?
While Utah couples must wait a minimum of 30 days before their divorce can be finalized, that doesn't take into account any other circumstances. Certain counties are much busier than others which can add more time. However, if you are facing a contested divorce, the wait time can take years.
On top of that, there are numerous information sheets, affidavits, and legal documents that must be filled out. Both spouses are required to disclose all assets and debts through the discovery period which may require the assistance of forensic accountants, appraisers for your home, and tax professionals. If minor children are involved in the divorce proceedings, that will only lengthen the duration that much more.
Understanding Uncontested & Contested Divorce in Utah
The divorce process in Utah varies from case to case, but the biggest determining factor is whether you decide to file for an uncontested or contested divorce.
In an uncontested divorce, both parties agree on how to handle every aspect of the divorce (property division, child custody and support, alimony, etc.).
In contrast, in a contested divorce, the parties disagree on how to handle one or more aspects of the divorce.
Many divorces start out contested and then transition into an uncontested divorce once the parties have more time to discuss their options and negotiate a mutually beneficial compromise.
If two parties cannot agree on how to proceed with their divorce even after extensive negotiations, the court will draw up terms for the divorce on behalf of the parties. However, courts typically prefer it when spouses can develop mutually beneficial terms for the divorce and draft a divorce decree (the document finalizing the divorce) without the court's assistance. This is because most judges assume that spouses know their (and their partner's) best interests more accurately than the court.
For this reason, judges will often ask parties to engage in a form of alternative dispute resolution, like mediation, that could help them peacefully resolve the divorce process.
How Do I File for Divorce in Utah? Understanding the Utah Divorce Process
If you and your soon-to-be-ex can agree on the terms for the divorce and file for an uncontested divorce, the process is relatively straightforward. To file for an uncontested divorce, you must:
- File a Joint Stipulation together, laying out the terms for the divorce you've agreed on and explaining why you've decided divorce is the best option for you.
- Wait at least 30 days after filing the stipulation with the court.
- File any additional documents the court requests (like an inventory of separate and marital property to verify the equitability of the property division arrangement stipulated in the initial filing, for example).
- Have the judge sign the divorce decree.
Once the judge signs the decree, you're officially legally divorced.
However, if you choose to file for a contested divorce, the process is a bit more complex. Filing for a contested divorce in Utah typically looks something like this:
- The party filing for divorce (the petitioner) files for divorce with their county court. After filing for divorce, the petitioner is responsible for serving notice of the divorce to their spouse (the respondent). Only a third party, like a law enforcement professional or a private service agency, can serve papers.
- The respondent files an "Answer." The Answer can also include a counterpetition to any allegations the petitioner made the respondent wishes to refute (this is common in fault-based divorces).
- The parties then appoint attorneys or decide to self-represent. They then exchange information pertinent to the divorce, like financial statements and the terms they want for the divorce.
- The parties can then either attend mediation in an attempt to resolve their differences or file an Application/Motion to Excuse Mediation if they want to proceed in court.
- If the parties come to an agreement during mediation, either party can file a Motion for Temporary Order. They can then file a Joint Stipulation together and proceed with an uncontested divorce.
- If the parties cannot negotiate terms during mediation, one spouse can file a Certification of Readiness for Trial to complete the divorce in court.
- At this point, the parties share any updated information (like new financial data) with the court and each other.
- The parties then attend a pre-trial conference to ensure they want to proceed to trial with the case.
- Finally, the court holds a trial. At the trial, the judge will decide the case and draft a divorce decree the court deems equitable on behalf of the divorcees.
- The judge signs the divorce decree, finalizing the case.
As you can see, filing for a contested divorce takes considerably longer and is more complicated than filing for an uncontested divorce. As a result, filing for an uncontested divorce is usually cheaper and less stressful than filing for a contested divorce. If you aren't sure whether contested or uncontested divorce is right for you, schedule an appointment with our experienced divorce lawyers.
How is Property Divided in a Divorce in Utah?
If the divorce parties cannot come to a mutual agreement, then the court will decide for them utilizing an equitable approach. In other words, the property will be split by how the court evaluates what is fair and just. This is not a 50/50 split, it is decided by many factors including:
- The contributions of each spouse during the marriage
- The income of each spouse
- The age and health of each spouse
Can You Afford To Keep Your House?
Having a home entails a great deal of obligation. Another significant question the court will make is if you can continue to retain the house. Is your salary adequate to support your pre-divorce lifestyle and family responsibilities? It's a vital topic that many too many homeowners going through a divorce overlook. Although you may have a deep sentimental commitment to your house, it may not be the most financially sound decision to retain it. There are several costs to pay for, including the lease, maintenance, and income taxes.
What is Divorce Mediation?
Divorce mediation is a process that allows couples who have decided to end their marriage to meet with a specially-trained, neutral third-party to settle common divorce-related issues. Mediation allows you to discuss and resolve issues like child custody, alimony, property division, and more without ever stepping into a courtroom.
You can attend mediation sessions on your own or with your divorce attorney present—often mediation is flexible enough to allow you and your spouse to proceed in a way that makes everyone feel most comfortable.
There are numerous benefits to choosing mediation over traditional divorce, including:
- Divorce mediation is far less expensive and time consuming than divorce court.
- Most mediations end in a fair settlement. If you and your spouse can’t come to an agreement, you still have the legal right to move things to trial.
- Unlike divorce, there is no public record of mediation on file, meaning you can handle things confidentially.
- You and your spouse have more control over the resolution, rather than leaving everything in the hands of a judge.
Mediation may not be the best path for you, but if you have questions about mediation, our divorce attorneys can help you.
Contact a Salt Lake City Divorce Lawyer Today
Our Salt Lake City divorce attorneys work tirelessly to represent your interests and defend your rights. We can help you take an active role in the process and provide the information you need to make decisive moves to better your situation and move forward with your life. When possible, we work to help our clients come to an agreement in an uncontested divorce, but we are always prepared to fight for your rights in court.
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