1. People & Relationships

Utah Divorce Laws

By

Utah Divorce Laws:

RESIDENCY REQUIREMENTS AND WHERE TO FILE:

In order to file for a divorce in Utah, either the petitioner or respondent must be an actual and bona fide resident of this state and of the county where the action is brought, or if members of the armed forces of the United States who are not legal residents of this state, where the petitioner has been stationed in this state under military orders, for three months next prior to the commencement of the action. [Based on Utah Code 30-3-1]

LEGAL GROUNDS FOR DIVORCE:

The following are grounds for divorce:

  • Impotency of the respondent at the time of marriage.
  • Adultery committed by the respondent subsequent to marriage.
  • Willful desertion of the petitioner by the respondent for more than one year.
  • Willful neglect of the respondent to provide for the petitioner the common necessaries of life.
  • Habitual drunkenness of the respondent.
  • Conviction of the respondent for a felony.
  • Cruel treatment of the petitioner by the respondent to the extent of causing bodily injury or great mental distress to the petitioner.
  • Irreconcilable differences of the marriage.
  • Incurable insanity.
  • When the husband and wife have lived separately under a decree of separate maintenance of any state for three consecutive years without cohabitation.

[Based on Utah Code 30-3-1]

MEDIATION OR COUNSELING REQUIREMENTS:

If the petitioner and the respondent have a child or children, a decree of divorce may not be granted until both parties have attended the mandatory educational course, and have presented a certificate of course completion to the court. The court may waive this requirement, on its own motion or on the motion of one of the parties, if it determines course attendance and completion are not necessary, appropriate, feasible, or in the best interest of the parties. [Based on Utah Code 30-3-4]

PROPERTY DISTRIBUTION:

Utah is an equitable distribution state, meaning that if the parties can't agree, the property will be distributed in an equitable fashion, not necessarily equally. When a marriage of long duration dissolves on the threshold of a major change in the income of one of the spouses due to the collective efforts of both, that change shall be considered in dividing the marital property and in determining the amount of alimony. If one spouse's earning capacity has been greatly enhanced through the efforts of both spouses during the marriage, the court may make a compensating adjustment in dividing the marital property and awarding alimony. The court shall also include an order specifying which party is responsible for the payment of joint debts, obligations, or liabilities of the parties contracted or incurred during marriage. [Based on Utah Code 30-3-5]

ALIMONY/MAINTENANCE/SPOUSAL SUPPORT:

Either spouse may be awarded alimony, and the court may consider the fault of the parties in determining alimony. The court shall consider all relevant facts and equitable principles and may, in its discretion, base alimony on the standard of living that existed at the time of trial. The court shall 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 payor 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 payor spouse; and
  • Whether the recipient spouse directly contributed to any increase in the payor spouse's skill by paying for education received by the payor spouse or allowing the payor spouse to attend school during the marriage.

[Based on Utah Code 30-3-5]

SPOUSE'S NAME:

Although there are no specific provisions for the restoration of a wife's maiden name upon divorce, there is a general provision which permits such a change upon petition to the court. Any natural person, desiring to change his name, may file a petition therefore in the district court of the county where he resides, setting forth:

  • The cause for which the change of name is sought.
  • The name proposed.
  • That he has been a bona fide resident of the county for the year immediately prior to the filing of the petition.

[Based on Utah Code 42-1-1]

CHILD CUSTODY:

The court shall, 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. In determining any form of custody, the court shall consider the best interests of the .

.

In determining whether the best interest of a child will be served by ordering joint legal or physical custody, the court shall consider the following factors:

  • Whether the physical, psychological, and emotional needs and development of the child will benefit from joint legal or physical custody.
  • The ability of the parents to give first priority to the welfare of the child and reach shared decisions in the child's best interest.
  • Whether each parent is capable of encouraging and accepting a positive relationship between the child and the other parent, including the sharing of love, affection, and contact between the child and the other parent.
  • Whether both parents participated in raising the child before the divorce.
  • The geographical proximity of the homes of the parents.
  • The preference of the child if the child is of sufficient age and capacity to reason so as to form an intelligent preference as to joint legal or physical custody.
  • The maturity of the parents and their willingness and ability to protect the child from conflict that may arise between the parents.
  • The past and present ability of the parents to cooperate with each other and make decisions jointly.
  • Any history of, or potential for, child abuse, spouse abuse, or kidnapping.
  • Any other factors the court finds relevant.

[Based on Utah Code 30-3-10]

©2014 About.com. All rights reserved.