Divorce

   What is a divorce?

A divorce ends a marriage. After a divorce, you are no longer married. The court issues a divorce decree. 

The decree can cover different issues. Visit one of the linked pages below for more information on:

  • Alimony - Money paid to help support an ex-spouse
  • Child Support - Providing money to help cover children's costs
  • Custody
    • Legal Custody - Who will make decisions about the children 
    • Physical Custody - who the childrene will live with
  • Parent-time - When each parent spends time with the children
  • Splitting of - debt, property, retirement funds

 

   Before filing for divorce

To file for divorce in Utah, you or your spouse must have lived in a single Utah county for 3 months or more right before filing.

Utah Code Section 30-3-1.

If you need a custody order for a child under 18, usually the child needs to live in Utah with one parent for at least 6 months before filing. There are exceptions.  Our Finding Legal Help page has resources if you need help.

When you ask for divorce you need to give the court a reason for your divorce. Once reason is that you and your spouse have serious marital problems that cannot be fixed. This is called irreconcilable differences.

You can see all of the other grounds for divorce in Utah Code 30-3-1(3).

Costs and fees for a divorce can vary. They can include:

  • Fee to file the petition
  • Online Court Assistance Program (OCAP) fees
  • Fee for the Office of Vital Records and Statistics
  • Fees to serve the petition and summons
  • Attorney fees
  • Copying costs
  • Fees for the Divorce Education class and the Divorce Orientation class if there are minor children.

If you cannot afford the fees, you can ask the judge to waive them. For more information, see our page on Fee Waiver.

Most court records can be viewed by anyone. However, starting April 1, 2012, divorce records are private.

Only certain people can see divorce records, like:

  • the people getting divorced
  • their lawyers

But the orders and decrees are public. For example if a motion to waive the 30-day waiting period is approved, that order is public and can be vieweed by anyone.

When filing a private document, you say the document iss private. For more information, see our page on Public and Non-public Records.

Some information is always private, like:

  • Social Security numbers
  • Birth dates
  • Information that identifies minors

Be careful not to include private information in public documents like court orders.

   Steps in a divorce case

See the Roadmap for divorce cases for an overview of the process and timelines.

The spouse starting the divorce case is the petitioner. The other spouse is the respondent.

Click below to see an explanation of the different steps in a divorce case

You can use the Online Court Assistance Program (OCAP) to prepare the petition and your other divorce papers. Follow the OCAP instructions. 

File with the district court in the county you or your spouse has lived for the past 3 months. See our page on Filing Procedures for more information.

When you file the court will give you a case number and the name of your assigned judge.

If you have children under 18 with your spouse, you must take some required classes within 60 days of filing the petition. There is a discount if you take the in-person classes within 30 days of filing. Learn about the classes on our Required Classes for Parents page.

You might need temporary orders while your case is pending. 

Temporary orders cover issues like:

  • Child support
  • Custody
  • Parent-time 
  • Using the home
  • Paying debts

Temporary orders last until the divorce is final. Get forms and information on our How to get a Temporary Order page.

When you file your petition, the court automatically issues an order called a Domestic Relations Injunction. This is to prevent issues while the case is pending.

The injunction says you and your spouse cannot:

  • harass each other
  • change insurance or beneficiaries,
  • transfer property 
  • take long trips with your minor children 

There are other rules. Read the injunction carefully.

The injunction starts when you file your petition. It controls your spouse when it is delivered to them. See the Domestic Relations Injunction page for more information.

Within 120 days after filing, the petitioner must:

  • Have the divorce petition, summons, and documents served on the respondent
  • File a Proof of Service form with the court

This is called "service." Our Serving Papers page has details.

The respondent must officially respond to the divorce petition by the deadline. This is called "filing an answer."

If served in Utah - must answer within 21 days
If served outside Utah - must answer within 30 days

See our page on Answering a Complaint or Petition to learn more.

Read below to see your next step - it will depend on whether or not the respondent answers. 

If you have children under 18, both parents must take these classes:

  • Divorce orientation class
  • Parenting class

Learn about the classes on our Required Classes for Parents page. 

If your children are 6-17 years old, they can also have them take a free online class. It teaches coping strategies for the divorce transition. Mental health professionals teach the children's course.

Enroll your kids by visiting Divorce Education for Children Online.

1. Attend the Case Management Conference
This is a hearing with the court to set dates for your case.

The court might schedule dates for:

The court could schedule other issues. It depends on how complicated your case is.
Utah Rule of Civil Procedure 100A

2. Share your information
You and the respondent must share information about the case. For more information and forms, see the Initial Disclosures web page and the Financial Declarations web page.

The respondent can agree with the divorce petition terms. This is called a stipulation.

If you both agree on everything, use OCAP to make the papers. OCAP allows stipulations when first filing or anytime you reach agreement.

Your final papers must match what your stipulation says. If your final papers say something different, the cour could reject your papers. 

Follow OCAP instructions to complete your divorce in your OCAP Divorce Interview.

If the respondent misses the deadline to file an answer, you can ask for a default judgment. This means you get what you asked for in the divorce petition.

You can also get a default judgment if the respondent signed an Acceptance of Service, Appearance, Consent and Waiver form. 

Your final papers must match what you asked for in your petition. If your final papers say something different, the cour could reject your papers. 

Get default judgment forms in your OCAP Divorce Interview. Some - but not all - of the forms are also availabl our page on Default Judgments

 

Mandatory mediation (if the respondent filed an answer)

If the respondent files an answer, you usually must mdiation before your case can move forward. Mediation is a meeting where both parties try to resolve their differences by talking with neutral third person, the mediator. See our page on Divorce Mediation for more information. 

You or the respondent can ask the court to skip mediation if needed. Get forms from and information on our Motion to Excuse Mediation page.

If you come to an agreement in mediation, use your OCAP Divorce Interview prepare the your final papers.

Final documents

OCAP might not produce all the papers you need to finish your case. What else you need to file will mostly depend on whether or not you have children. You can look at these checklists to see what is required:

Going to trial

The following procedures apply only if the parties are not able to reach an agreement about what the divorce decree should say.

Child custody evaluation

You or the respondent can ask for a custody evaluation. This is done by a professional evaluator. The judge can order a custody evaluation even without a motion from a party. A custody evaluation may be expensive. The cost is usually split between you and the respondent. Our page on Custody Evaluation has more information. 

Utah Code of Judicial Administration 4-903 

Trial

See the Getting Ready for Trial web page for information about going to trial.

 

 Divorce decree

The parties are not divorced until the judge signs the decree.

 

 After the divorce

If you disagree with the judge's decisions and thinks they made a legal mistake, you can file an appeal. You must do so within 30 days after final entry of the divorce decree. See our page on Appeals for more information. 

If there is a clerical mistake in the decree, your or the respondent can ask the court to correct the decree. A clerical mistake is something like if the monthly child support payment amount is supposed to be $300 but was listed as $30. Our Motion to Correct Clerical Mistake has information and forms.

You or the respondeent can ask the court to enforce the divorce decree.

You or the respondent can also enforce enforce temporary orders. 

Our page on Motion to Enforce Order has forms and information. 

To get a copy of your divorce decree, contact the court that handled the divorce case. Use the Court Directory to find contact details.

The court charges a fee for copies. There special types of copies for extra fees:

Certified Copy

A certified copy of a court record is dated, signed, and stamped by the Clerk of Court. They certify that the copy is a true copy of the court record.

Exemplified Copy

An exemplified court record is an authenticated copy of a certified copy. The judge certifies that the court is a court of record and that the clerk's signature appearing on the certification is original. The Clerk of Court then certifies that the judge is a judge and has control over the court records. The Clerk of Court also states that the judge's signature is genuine. This might be required to record your decree in another state.

Apostille

An apostille provides extra autheentication. Some foreign countries require this. In Utah, the Lieutenant Governor provides this authentication. The Apostille Request Form is available on the Lt. Governor's website.

If you have a good reason for it, you can ask the court to set aside the judgment and reopen your case. A military service member has special rights to set aside a default judgment.

See our Motion to Set Aside Judgment page for details.
You can also read more on Default Judgments.

Forms

Forms for the petitioner

Forms for the respondent

  • Use Online Court Assistance Program (OCAP) to prepare an Answer to a divorce case and optional Counterclaim, or to prepare a Stipulation.
  • To prepare and Answer and optional Counterclaim, use the generic forms on the Answering a Complaint or Petition web page.
  • 1204XXTo be used by the respondent to tell the court that they are not on active duty military service.

Requests

Going to trial

Final documents

  • 1051FA
  • 1052FAIf the parties have children together under 18, or if a party is asking for alimony.
  • 1004FATo be used by either party to tell the court what they know about how much money the other party earns.
  • 1113FA
    (Used to object to the proposed order or Judgment)

Other forms