Ending a marriage is never a simple or easy matter, from an emotional or legal standpoint. Salt Lake City residents who are thinking about filing for divorce, or who have recently been served with divorce papers, often have many concerns about the process. For example, what are the grounds for a divorce in Utah? How long does the Utah divorce process take? And what happens if my spouse doesn’t respond to the divorce petition after being served?
As a highly experienced family law attorney serving men and women throughout Utah, Rex Bray can help you answer these and many other critical questions while upholding your rights, explaining your responsibilities, protecting your interests, and guiding you through the legal process for getting divorced in Utah. If you need assistance with any aspect of the divorce process, no matter how minor, turn to Rex Bray for efficient and personalized legal representation. For a free and completely confidential consultation regarding divorce proceedings or related matters, such as alimony or child support, call Rex Bray at (801) 708-0913 today.
Grounds for Divorce in Utah
Before you file for divorce in Salt Lake City or elsewhere in Utah, there are two basic points you will need to consider:
- Utah’s residency requirement for getting divorced.
- The grounds for divorce that you will choose to proceed upon in your petition.
With regard to the first point, the residency requirement is very minimal, requiring only that either you or your spouse lived in Utah for at least three months prior to filing the petition for divorce. If neither of you meet this requirement, Utah’s courts do not have jurisdiction over your case, meaning you will either have to wait to file, or will have to handle your case in the state where you were previously living. A divorce attorney in Salt Lake City can help you understand whether you satisfy the residency requirements to proceed with your case in Utah.
What’s the Difference Between Fault and No-Fault Divorce?
Once you meet the residency requirements, the next step is identifying the reason, or “grounds,” for terminating your marriage. The grounds will determine whether your divorce is categorized as a fault divorce or no-fault divorce. In plain terms, fault refers to an issue with your spouse’s behavior, whereas no-fault means you were either separated on a long-term, mutual basis, or simply have irreconcilable differences.
Utah’s laws recognize the following as acceptable grounds for fault divorce:
- Cruel Treatment
- Desertion (Abandonment)
- Failure to Provide
- Felony Conviction
- Habitual Drunkenness
It’s worth noting that proving insanity is often exceptionally difficult for complainant (plaintiff) spouses, as Utah’s laws impose several additional requirements for demonstrating “incurable insanity,” including mental health examinations by qualified physicians.
How Long Does it Take to File for Divorce?
Utah imposes a minimum 90-day waiting period between filing for divorce and the granting of the final decree. In other words, obtaining a divorce decree will take a minimum of three months, though couples should be advised that the process may take as long as several years, depending on factors such as:
- Your assets and property.
- Whether you and your spouse run a business together.
- Whether you have children who are under the age of 18.
- The extent to which you are able to agree on matters such as child custody, child support, and alimony, where applicable.
If you are determined to finalize your divorce as soon as possible, it may be possible for you to waive the 90-day waiting period which normally applies. If you wish to have the regular waiting period waived, your family law lawyer can help you file a document called a motion, aptly named a “motion to waive the 90-day waiting period.” However, you should be advised that simply wanting to expedite the process isn’t a valid legal reason. You must demonstrate that extraordinary circumstances that would warrant or justify granting the waiver.
What if My Spouse Doesn’t Respond to the Divorce Papers?
Once your spouse has been served with the appropriate documents, which include the divorce petition as well as a summons identifying the time and venue for further hearings, he or she must respond by filing a counterclaim or answer. Residents of Utah must respond within 21 days of being served, while people located outside of Utah have an extended response deadline of 30 days.
When responding, your spouse may or may not wish to contest some of the points you raise on your petition, such as allegations of adultery or demands related to child custody. But what happens if your spouse simply never responds at all?
Some people have the incorrect idea that if they ignore and do not acknowledge the papers, the divorce cannot be granted. On the contrary, if you fail to respond to the complaint within the allotted time limit, the judge may grant your spouse a default judgment, which not only permits dissolution of the marriage, but effectively deprives you of your opportunity to challenge the plaintiff’s assertions or demands. If you have been served with divorce papers in Utah, it is critical to contact an attorney for help filing a timely response, or the judge may issue a default judgment against you.
Salt Lake City Divorce Lawyer for Men and Women
When you are processing the emotional effects of a divorce from your wife or husband, it can seem like an impossible task to even begin addressing the complex and often confusing legal procedures that are involved. During this often difficult time, you shouldn’t have to navigate the complicated waters of property division, spousal support, child support, and child custody on your own. With a skilled and compassionate attorney from Overson & Sheen on your side, you don’t have to go through the process alone.
Utah divorce lawyer Rex Bray is experienced in handling complex divorce cases, including high-asset divorce proceedings, and understands how sensitive these matters can be. When you are represented by Rex Bray, your case will be handled with care and professionalism, and you will always be kept informed of the details as your case develops.
If you are getting divorced in Utah, you need experienced legal representation as soon as possible. Call Rex Bray at (801) 708-0913, or contact us online today for a free and private legal consultation.