Utah Divorce Law

Divorce – State Law Summary – Utah

Notes:  This section contains selected divorce statutes from Utah. Some may not be relevant to your case but are presented here as a general overview. The statutes listed are not intended to be an all-inclusive statement of all statutes but it does contain basic and other statutes.

Utah law provides permits no-fault divorces to be granted based upon irreconcilable differences between the parties, and also grants divorces based upon the following:

1. Impotency of the respondent at the time the marriage was contracted;
2. Adultery committed by the respondent;
3. Willful desertion of the petitioner by the respondent for a period of more than one year;
4.  Willful neglect of the respondent to provide the petitioner with the common necessities of life;
5. Habitual drunkenness of the respondent;
6. A felony conviction of the respondent;
7. Cruel and inhumane treatment of the petitioner causing bodily injury or great mental distress;
8. Incurable insanity, or;
9. When husband and wife have lived separately under a decree of separate maintenance of any state for three consecutive years without cohabitation. UCA 30-3-1

Residency Requirements
The party filing the divorce action must have been a resident of the State of Utah and a resident of the county where the divorce is filed for at least three months  prior to the filing of divorce.  UCA 30-3-1

Name of court and title of action/parties
Divorce actions are filed and heard in District Court, although some in some areas a Family Court Division of District Court has been created specifically to hear such matters.  The title of the action initiating the divorce proceeding is a Petition for Divorce, while the title of the action granting the divorce is referred to as the Decree of Divorce.  The party filing the action is the Petitioner, while the other party to the action is referred to as the Respondent.

Waiting Period
In Utah, there is a waiting period of thirty (30) days after the filing of the divorce action before a Decree of Divorce will be granted. UCA 30-3-18

Mediation or Counseling Requirement
Upon request of either or both parties, the court may refer either or both of the parties to a domestic relations Counselor. If there child custody is involved in the divorce action, both parties must attend a course on the effects of divorce on children and provide the court with proof of completion unless the requirement is waived by the court.  UCA 30-3-4

Property Distribution
Utah courts recognize the principles of equitable distribution, in that all of the parties’ property will be divided by the court in a manner that the court determines is equitable to each party.  UCA 30-3-5

The court may order either party to pay the other alimony after consideration of the following factors:

1. the financial condition and needs of the recipient spouse;
2. the recipient’s earning capacity or ability to produce income;
3. the ability of the payor spouse to provide support;
4. the length of the marriage;
5. whether the recipient spouse has custody of minor children requiring support;
6. whether the recipient spouse worked in a business owned or operated by the payor spouse;
7. 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, and
8. The court may consider the fault of the parties in determining alimony.

As a general rule, the court should look to the standard of living, existing at the time of separation, in determining alimony. However, 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. In marriages of short duration, when no children have been conceived or born during the marriage, the court may consider the standard of living that existed at the time of the marriage. UCA 30-3-5

Child custody
In determining custody, the court shall consider the best interests of the child and the past conduct and demonstrated moral standards of each of the parties. The court may inquire of the children and take into consideration the children’s desires regarding future custody or visitation schedules, but the expressed desires are not controlling and the court may determine the children’s custody or visitation otherwise.  In awarding custody, the court shall consider, among other factors the court finds relevant, which parent is most likely to act in the best interests of the child, including allowing the child frequent and continuing contact with the noncustodial parent as the court finds appropriate. 30-3-10.

Child support
Either or both spouses may be ordered to pay child support.  The child support order will also contain provisions relating to the medical insurance or expenses of the child.  The parties are required to file a financial affidavit.  Utah has enacted child support guidelines which establish the amount of support which is presumed correct.  The court may deviate from the guidelines upon a showing that the application of the guidelines would be unjust or inappropriate under the particular circumstances of the case.  Factors the court will consider when determining whether deviation from the guidelines is warranted include:
1. The standard of living of the parties;
2. The relative wealth and income of the parties;
3. The earning abilities of the parents;
4. The needs of the parents and child;
5. The ages of the parents and child;
6. Any other existing support obligation for others not of the marriage.  30-3-5

Restoration of Prior Name
Although there is no statutory provision for the restoration of a wife’s maiden name upon divorce, there is a general statutory provision which permits such a change upon petition to the court.  UCA 42-1-1

Inside Utah Divorce Law