Utah Uncontested Divorce

This information is an overview of the uncontested Utah divorce filing process and a summary of the divorce papers that are typically filed with the family law or domestic relations clerk. This overview is not intended to be an exact step-by-step guide for those "do it yourself divorce" filers, due to the fact that many cases are unique and the overview presented here is often not the only method of obtaining an uncontested divorce in Utah.

To file for a divorce in Utah, a spouse must be a resident of the state (or a member of the military stationed in the state) and a resident of the county of filing for more than three months immediately prior to starting the action. In addition, there is a 90-day waiting period after the filing before the divorce can be granted.

Grounds for divorce are No-Fault, which means 1) "[i]irreconcilable differences of the marriage" or 2) "living separate and apart without cohabitation for three years under a judicial separation."

General grounds include 1) impotence, 2) adultery, 3) conviction of a felony, 4) willful desertion for a year, 5) cruel and inhuman treatment, 6) willful neglect, 7) incurable insanity, and 8) habitual drunkenness.

Actions are filed in the District Court of the county. The filing spouse is called the Petitioner; the responding spouse is called the Respondent.

Grounds for a legal separation are 1) willful desertion, 2) living separate and apart without cohabitation, and 3) gross neglect. The deserting spouse must be a resident of Utah, or he or she must own property in the state in which the victim spouse lives.

In the case of an uncontested divorce, a hearing may be held before a court commissioner. In these cases, a divorce cannot be granted upon default; legal evidence and testimony must be taken in every case. When one party does default, the evidence may be contained in an affidavit submitted by the Petitioner.

To begin an uncontested divorce, the Petitioner must file the following forms:

> A Utah Courts Cover Sheet for Civil Actions, which identifies the parties and the type of action;

> A Certificate of Divorce, Dissolution or Annulment, which is used for statistical purposes;

> An Affidavit of Military Service, which asserts the Petitionerís claims that the Respondent is not in the military (and, therefore, enjoys no protections from civil litigation under the Servicemembersí Civil Relief Act);

> An Order Regarding the Respondentís Military Service, which establishes the Petitioner made reasonable efforts to establish the military status of the Respondent;

> A Verified Petition for Divorce, which identifies the parties and states the grounds for divorce and the relief sought;

> A Motion and Affidavit and Application for Waiver of Court Fees, which is filed only when the fees in the action are a burden;

After the above documents have been filed, the Petitioner must serve the Respondent with a Verified Petition for Divorce as well as the following;

> An Acceptance of Service, Appearance, Consent and Waiver, which the Respondent signs and returns to the Petitioner when he or she agrees with the terms and conditions in the Petition;

> The Respondentís Military Service Affidavit, which establishes that the Respondent is not in the military, or waives his or her rights to any protection under the Civil Relief Act and which is returned to the Petitioner.

By signing the Acceptance of Service, Appearance, Consent and Waiver, the Respondent 1) enters his appearance, 2) consents to the personal jurisdiction of the courts, 3) waives the statutory time to answer or respond and 4) consents to a Default Judgment.

If the Respondent will not sign the Acceptance of Service, Appearance, Consent and Waiver, the Petitioner must serve him or her. When the action moves along this route, the Respondent must be served the Petition with a Summons, which gives the Respondent 20 days, if in the state of Utah, and 30 days, if outside the state, to file and answer if he or she wishes to dispute the action. When this happens, the divorce papers are served by Certified Mail, Return Receipt Requested, and the green postal card, signed by the Respondent, is the Proof of Service by Mail, after which the Plaintiff must file an Affidavit of Mailing, which documents the mailing of the divorce papers.

If the Respondent cannot or will not be located, the Petitioner must file the following:

> A Motion for Alternative Service, which asks the court for permission to serve process by alternative means;

> Affidavit for Alternative Service, which documents the Petitionerís efforts at locating the missing spouse;

> An Order for Service by Alternative Service, which is the courtís approval for alternative service.

Alternative service means service by publication in a newspaper.

When minor children are involved in the divorce, the Respondent is also served a Notice of Divorce Education Requirement. Both the mother and father receive and file a Divorce Education Certificate, after attending a parenting class or viewing a parenting video.

In addition, the following forms must be filed:

> Child Support Obligation Worksheets, which describe the terms and conditions of child support (sole custody, joint physical custody or split custody);

> An Affidavit of Income Verification and Compliance with Child Support Guidelines, which includes a Verification of both the Petitionerís and Respondentís Income through pay stubs and latest income tax returns;

> A Petitionerís Affidavit of Respondentís Earnings, which is used only when the Respondent refuses to provide income verification documents.

When the Respondent 1) agrees to the divorce and its terms and conditions and has signed the Acceptance of Service, Appearance, Consent and Waiver, or 2) fails to respond to the Petition in 30 days when he or she is served, the Petitioner files the following:

> A Motion for Entry of a Default Certificate, which documents that the action may move by default; and

> A Default Certificate, which certifies the default and allows the action to move forward.

To bring the divorce to a conclusion, the Petitioner must also file the following:

> An Affidavit of Jurisdiction and Grounds for Divorce, which documents the legitimacy of the action and its grounds;

> Notice to Submit for Entry of Decree of Divorce, which certifies that all the necessary filing steps have been taken;

> Finding of Fact and Conclusions of Law, which establishes the courtís evaluation of the case;

> A Decree of Divorce, which when signed ends the marriage.

If the Respondent files an Answer or makes a counterclaim, the divorce becomes contested and moves along a difference trajectory.