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Modification of a Divorce Decree

Introduction

This page includes information and forms for modifying a final divorce decree. This page is specific to issues unrelated to children, such as the division of retirement funds. For these kinds of modifications you can only modify a divorce decree issued from a Utah court. You might need to modify other aspects of your final order. If you need to modify:

 

Was there a material and substantial change in circumstances?

If you want the court to change your decree you must show that there has been a material (important) and substantial (major) change in circumstances since the divorce decree was issued. The change could involve one or both parties or any children from the marriage.

To modify alimony there must be a material and substantial change in circumstances not expressly stated in the divorce decree or in the findings that the court entered at the time of the divorce decree. And the court will not modify alimony to address needs of the recipient that did not exist at the time the decree was entered, unless there are special reasons for doing so.

You can look at our alimony page to see what things the court considers when deciding about alimony.

Modifying alimony can be complicated if the parties are not in agreement. You may want to get advice from a licensed professional. See our Finding Legal Help page to learn more.

If you are asking to change alimony in your decree, you might need to ask more questions before continuing. 

If yes, is retirement mentioned in your divorce papers? Read the divorce decree and the findings of fact and conclusions of law carefully. Do they clearly say that retirement is not a substantial material change in circumstances? If they do, then you cannot request a modification of alimony based on retirement. If they don't say this, then you can ask for the change.

If the court decided in the divorce that the spouse receiving alimony could make a certain amount of income that was more than they were earning at that time under Utah Code 30-3-5.5 then it can be a substantial material change in circumstances if the recipient can show they have made reasonable efforts to improve their employment situation but barriers have prevented a significant improvement of their employment situation. The recipient spouse can ask the court to review their income and modify alimony. 

Alimony terminates if the recipient cohabits with another person after the order for alimony is issued, but the other spouse cannot just stop paying alimony. They must first prove the cohabitation to the court. Cohabit means to live together, or to reside together on a regular basis, in the same residence and in a relationship of a romantic or sexual relationship.

A motion to terminate alimony for cohabitation must be filed no later than one year from the day on which the party knew or should have known that the former spouse has cohabited with another person. The party asking the court to terminate alimony does not need to prove that the former spouse was cohabiting on the date they file their motion to terminate alimony.

Do not use the petition forms on this page for this type of request. See the Motions webpage for generic motion forms and the process. 

Alimony automatically terminates upon the remarriage or death of the recipient unless the divorce decree says otherwise. (There are exceptions for if the remarriage of the alimony recipient is annulled.)

If alimony automatically terminated in your case but you have a reason you need a court order showing that alimony has ended, you may want to consult with a licensed professional to see if you need to file a petition to modify or have other options.  See our Finding Legal Help page.

The modification process

Complete the documents

Either party can request a modification. The party asking for the modification files the forms in the Forms section below.

No matter who is asking for the modification, whoever was the petitioner in the original case is still the petitioner, and whoever was the respondent in the original case is still the respondent.

Domestic Relations Injunction

When a Petition to Modify Divorce Decree is filed, the court will automatically issue an order called a Domestic Relations Injunction. The injunction is a court order requiring parties not to harass one another, change insurance or beneficiary coverage, transfer property or make non-routine travel with the parties' minor children while the case is pending. There are additional prohibitions in the injunction. Be sure to read it carefully.

The injunction is effective for the petitioner when the Petition to Modify is filed. The injunction is effective for the respondent when the petitioner gets a copy of the injunction to them. See the Domestic Relations Injunction web page for more information.

File the documents

The party asking for the modification must file the documents in the same court that issued the decree. The documents will use the same case number as the decree. For information about how to file documents, see the Filing Procedures web page.

The party asking for the modification must pay a filing fee when they file the papers with the court. If they cannot afford the fees they can ask the judge to waive them. For more information, see the Fees and Fee Waiver web page.

Have the documents served

The party asking for the modification must have the other party served with the Petition to Modify Divorce Decree, summons, and other documents no later than 120 days after the petition is filed. The documents must be served on the other party by one of the methods described in Utah Rule of Civil Procedure 4(d). The party asking for the modification must file with the court a proof of service once service has been completed. For more information about service, see the Serving Papers web page.

The other party's options

The other party has 21 days (if they were served in Utah) or 30 days (if they were served outside of Utah) to respond to ("answer") the Petition to Modify Divorce Decree if they disagree with anything stated in the petition. For more information, see the Answering a Complaint or Petition web page.

If the other party…

Then…

Files an answer

The court will schedule a case management conference. This is a hearing to schedule important dates in your case. This can include dates for:

There could be other things to schedule – it depends on how complicated your case is.
Utah Rule of Civil Procedure 100A

Agrees with everything asked for in the petition before it is filed, or the parties come to an agreement after it is filed.

See the Stipulation section below.

Does not file an answer

If the other party has been properly served and does not file an answer within the time specified in the Summons, the party asking for the modification may ask for a default judgment. This means the party asking for the modification gets what they have asked for, and the other party won't have a chance to tell their side of the story. For more information and forms, see the Default Judgments web page.

 

 

Stipulation

A "stipulation" is a written agreement that shows the parties agree about everything requested in the Petition to Modify Divorce Decree.

The parties can agree on everything in the Petition to Modify Divorce decree before it is filed. In that case, they can file a stipulated petition.

If you are using the forms provided on this web page:

  • Check the "and Stipulation" box on the first page of the Petition.
  • Both parties must sign the Petition.
    • The party asking for the modification signs on the second-to-last page, and
    • the other party signs the last page, in the "Stipulation" section.

The parties might come to an agreement after the Petition is filed because the parties mediated or had some other negotiation.

If you are using the forms provided on this web page:

  • Fill out a new Petition to Modify Divorce Decree. Write "Amended" above "Petition to Modify Divorce Decree" on the first page and check the "and Stipulation" box.
  • Both parties must sign the Petition.
    • The party asking for the modification signs on the second-to-last page, and
    • the other party signs the last page, in the "Stipulation" section.

 

Temporary order

Either party can ask for a temporary order if needed during the modification case if the requirements in Utah Rule of Civil Procedure 106 are met. For more information and forms, see the How to get a Temporary Order web page.

 

Asking for Default Judgment

See the Default Judgment web page for information and forms.

 

Going to Trial

See the Getting Ready for Trial web page for information and forms.

 

Forms

Forms to Petition to Modify Divorce Decree

Required forms
  • 1158.5XX
  • Petition and Stipulation to Modify Divorce Decree - PDF | Word
    (if the parties agree and sign the stipulation, they only need to file the Petition and Stipulation, Findings of Fact and Conclusions of Law on Petition and Order on Petition. They can file these all at the same time)
  • Summons
    • 1015FA
    • 1016FA
  • Proof of Service
  • 1905FA
    (See our Initial Disclosures page for more information)
  • Findings of Fact and Conclusions of Law on Petition to Modify Divorce Decree - PDF | Word
  • Order on Petition to Modify Divorce Decree - PDF | Word
  • 1354FA

Forms to Oppose a Petition to Modify Divorce Decree

Required forms
  • 1008FA