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New Year, New You: Knowing When to File for Divorce

The realization that a marriage has come to an end is never an easy one. But sometimes, it’s a necessary one.

Although there may be no “right” time to file for divorce, there are several questions to ask yourself to determine if it’s the right path to take at a certain point in your life.

When to File for Divorce

It’s fair to say that no one really wants to get a divorce. But sometimes, getting a divorce is necessary in order to live a happier, healthier life.

However, you may consider your circumstances when deciding when to initiate filing for divorce:

Financial Considerations

In many marriages, one spouse may have greater access to or control over finances. Before filing for divorce, you may want to prepare for your divorce by gathering up and copying (or taking pictures of) any paperwork that may help you uncover assets, debts, and accounts during the divorce process.

This includes getting copies of financial statements or envelopes that document where any financial accounts may exist. Request copies of the annual tax assessment on your home. Make copies of tax returns or any other sensitive documentation that may be stored in the marital home. Track what mail comes to the house and from what institutions for a month or two.

The more comprehensive your information, the easier it is to get a divorce case settled. This may include documenting account numbers if possible, though anything is better than nothing. Keeping a list of this information can save you significantly in the divorce, if only by reducing your legal fees to have your attorney uncover this information. The more you know about the marital finances, the less likely it is you walk away without claiming your portion of marital assets.

Consider Personal Needs

Do you have a large medical expense coming up? Are there procedures you need to have done before your insurance lapses (if you’re on your spouse’s insurance)? Are the holidays a stressful time for your kids already? Is there a special event that would justify delaying the divorce for a few weeks or months? Many people choose to file for divorce right after the new year because the holidays are over and they want to get a parent-time schedule in place before the summer. Other times, filing immediately may benefit you by preventing the other party from selling or dissipating a marital asset. Each couple has different circumstances that may impact the ideal timing of filing a petition for divorce.

Are You Already Planning Your Exit Strategy? Do You Need a Safety Plan?

Already planning an exit strategy from your marriage indicates you have one foot out the door. It’s not possible to have a happy, healthy marriage when your heart is only half in it.

In instances of domestic violence, it is particularly important to develop a safety plan to ensure the process is physically and emotionally safe for you. A safety plan may include identifying a safe location to stay if you feel unsafe at your home, setting up a separate financial account in advance of separation, speaking with an attorney, and packing a go-bag in case you need to quickly leave your residence for a short period of time.

If domestic violence or concerns of physical safety are involved, speak with an attorney or a domestic violence advocate immediately.

Utah’s Divorce Requirements and Process

If you have come to the decision that ending your marriage is the best option for you and your family, it’s important to educate yourself on the divorce laws in your state.

Divorce is complicated and the laws regarding it vary from state to state. In general, Utah’s divorce process has the following requirements:

State Residency

In order to get divorced in Utah, the Petitioner (or their spouse) must reside in a single county in the state for at least three months immediately before filing the divorce petition. If a minor child is involved, the child must reside with at least one of the parents in Utah for at least six months. However, there are exceptions to this rule.

Grounds for Divorce

Every state has different grounds for divorce. In Utah, the grounds for divorce may include:

  • Impotency at the time of marriage
  • Adultery after marriage
  • Willful desertion for more than one year
  • Willful neglect of the common necessities of life
  • Habitual drunkenness
  • Conviction for a felony
  • Cruel treatment causing bodily harm or mental distress
  • Irreconcilable differences
  • Incurable insanity
  • Living separately for three consecutive years without cohabitation

The Process

The divorce process can be complicated depending on the circumstances. Spouses who cannot agree on the aspects of their divorce, for example, are likely to experience a longer divorce process than those who undergo an uncontested divorce.

In general, however, the Utah divorce process follows these steps:

  • One spouse files for divorce and becomes the Petitioner. The other spouse becomes the Respondent.
  • Once a divorce is filed, the court will automatically issue an order called a Domestic Relations Injunction, which requires the spouses not to harass one another, change insurance or beneficiary coverage, and more.
  • The Petitioner serves the Respondent with the petition for divorce no later than 120 days after it is filed.
  • The Respondent has 21 days (if served in Utah) or 30 days (if served outside Utah) to “answer” the divorce petition.
  • Once the answer is filed, both parties must provide disclosures to each other, including a Financial Declaration.
  • The Respondent may agree to the terms of the divorce petition or indicate issues they have with it.
  • Both parties must wait at least 30 days between filing the petition and signing it. This is Utah’s “waiting period” for divorce.
  • Spouses who have children together must attend a divorce orientation and education class before the divorce is granted.
  • If the Respondent files an answer, both spouses must attend one mediation session to try to resolve any issues.
  • Both spouses may go to trial if they are not able to reach an agreement on what the divorce decree should say.

Considering Divorce? We’re Here to Help

If you have decided that divorce is the right option for you, our Utah family law attorneys are here to help. We know how emotionally taxing this process can be, and our main goal is to make the process as easy as possible for you.

Call Pearson Butler at (800) 265-2314 to schedule a consultation.