Utah Divorce Laws - What You Need to Know!

Are you thinking about getting a divorce or in the middle of the proceedings right now? Are you considering marriage, and just doing your homework in advance so that you know what to do if a divorce becomes necessary? Either way, it is worth it to look into the laws and regulations in Utah. The overall process of filing for divorce works similarly everywhere, but the smallest details can make a big difference. Check out the information below, and consider seeking legal assistance if you have further questions.

Required Residency

You do not have to have lived in Utah for long to file for a divorce. The required residency period if just three months (90 days). It is important to note that only one spouse has to satisfy this requirement.

Grounds for Divorce: A Mixed State

Utah is said to be a mixed state when it comes to the reasons for filing for divorce. This means that you do not have to show fault if you do not want, instead using a no-fault divorce. If you want to use fault, this is always an option, however. For example, you may be seeking to leave your husband or wife because you do not think the home is safe for your children. If you also want to get custody of those children, using the spouse's actions as grounds, since they make the home unsafe, could be of assistance.

How Property Is Divided

In states with community property laws, the judge will typically seek an equal division of property, meaning that you get half and your spouse gets half. Utah is not one of those states, however, and is instead known as an equitable division state. While people often confuse equitable division and equal division, the reality is that they are quite different.

Rather than splitting things 50/50, the judge in your case will try to find a split that is thought to be fair to both parties. To do this, you are still given ownership of things that you bought personally, rather than as a couple, and to income that you made. This can be helpful if you made a lot more money than your spouse, for instance, as you may be entitled to this money while your spouse is just entitled to what he or she earned—and not what you earned.

Also, if there are things that you bought during the marriage, but that you bought yourself -— like real estate or cars, for instance -— you have a better chance of keeping them. However, this is all up to the judge, so you may not get everything that you desire. The judge seeks a fair split.

Child Custody and Child Support

Utah is similar to other states when looking at both child custody and child support. For custody proceedings, it is hoped that both parents will be involved, as this is better for the child. However, if one parent is deemed to be a danger to the child for any reason, the other parent may be given sole custody. This can be sole physical custody, sole legal custody, or both. Physical custody refers to the physical location in which the child lives, while legal custody refers to decision-making power held by a parent —- like the power to decide where the child can get care from a doctor or where he or she can go to school.

Child support is also aimed at the best interests of the child. Both parents do have to pay a portion of the support. Who actually has to write a check, though, usually is determined based on which spouse makes more money or has to invest more time in the child. However, neither spouse will be asked, in most situations, to cover the full expense without help from the other.

The information on this page is meant to provide a general overview of the law. The laws in your state and/or city may deviate significantly from those described here. If you have specific questions related to your situation you should speak with a local attorney.

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