If you’re not from Utah, you may have heard that in some states you cannot get divorced unless you have a “legal separation order” and/or unless you have been separated for a certain amount of time. Not so in Utah. To get a divorce in Utah you have to meet these requirements: First, you have to be a resident. The petitioner (the one who files the divorce action) or respondent (the one against whom a divorce action has been filed) has been an actual and bona fide resident of Utah and of the county in Utah where the action is brought (if you and/or your spouse is a member of the U.S. military and thus not legal residents of Utah, then either of you can file in the county where the petitioner has been stationed in this state under military orders for three months prior to the commencement of the action). Second, you have to be married. Third, you have to have grounds for divorce. By far the most common grounds asserted for divorce irreconcilable differences, but other grounds include impotency of the respondent at the time of marriage; adultery committed by the respondent subsequent to marriage; willful desertion of the petitioner by the respondent for more than one year; willful neglect of the respondent to provide for the petitioner the common necessaries of life; habitual drunkenness of the respondent; conviction of the respondent for a felony; cruel treatment of the petitioner by the respondent to the extent of causing bodily injury or great mental distress to the petitioner; incurable insanity; or when the husband and wife have lived separately under a decree of separate maintenance of any state for three consecutive years without cohabitation. Although it’s not true, many lawyers and even judges will tell you that you must (except under extraordinary circumstances) wait at least 90 days from the date of filing before a divorce can be granted, so be prepared for that possibility. Divorce consists of two parts: dissolving the marriage and disposing of all the other issues, such as property and debt division, child custody, child support, and alimony. Usually, these two parts occur at the same time, but they don’t have to, if you want to do what’s known as bifurcate your divorce and dissolve the marriage up front and then reserve all the other issues of asset and debt division, child custody, alimony etc. for resolution later. Do you need an attorney to get a divorce? Although it is not recommended, some people choose not to use attorneys to handle their divorce. You may choose to complete a Do-It-Yourself Divorce, but if you have any questions, please contact an attorney BEFORE you sign any kind of agreement with your spouse AND BEFORE the court issues an order. If you have any issues relating to property distribution, debt allocation, child custody, or claims to alimony, please–for your sake–do not complete a divorce without consulting a good divorce attorney first. There is a reason we still exist.
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