If you have questions about divorce, Pearson Butler has the answers you need. We have a long history of representing the interests of clients in divorce proceedings all across Utah. Some frequently asked questions are included below, to help you better understand your options at this point in time. You are welcome to review these and to call the firm at (800) 265-2314 to see how an attorney can assist you.
Q: Who are the parties?A:
The parties in a divorce case are called the Petitioner and Respondent. The Petitioner is the spouse who initiates the divorce case. The Respondent is the other spouse who responds to the Petitioner’s divorce documents. One attorney cannot represent both parties in a divorce.
Q: Who prepares the divorce documents?A:
In Utah, the Petitioner prepares a divorce petition and other documents needed to file for divorce and initiate the case. An attorney can help prepare the petition and other required documents to ensure they comply with Utah law and that they are properly filed and served.
Q: Where do divorce documents get filed?A:
A party can file his or her petition for divorce in the county where they have lived for at least three months. When children are involved, there are more complicated rules about where to file, particularly if the children have not lived in Utah for the last six months.
Q: What does the Respondent do after being served?A:
In Utah, once the Petitioner serves the Respondent with a petition for divorce, the Respondent has 21 days (if served in Utah) or 30 days (if served outside of Utah) to respond to the divorce petition. A lawyer who understands the divorce process in Utah can help the Respondent respond appropriately to a petition for divorce. It’s an important legal decision whether or not to file a counter-petition with your answer and you should consult counsel before making that decision so you understand your rights and options.
Q: When do the parties disclose financial documents?A:
Once the Respondent files an answer to the divorce petition, both parties must complete a Financial Declaration and provide mandatory financial disclosures to the other party. The due dates for these disclosures are quick so don’t be surprised if your attorney asks you to start working on these disclosures even before the divorce case is filed.
Q: What is a stipulation?A:
A stipulation is a written agreement between both parties that may resolve the whole case or a limited portion of the case. A knowledgeable lawyer can help explain what terms might be included a reasonable stipulation in your case.
Q: What if the Respondent fails to file an answer to the divorce petition?A:
At times, a Respondent may not answer the divorce petition. In that event, the Petitioner may request a default Decree of Divorce. A divorce lawyer can assist the Petitioner by preparing all the paperwork necessary for the court to process a default Decree and finalize the divorce even if the other side hasn’t responded to the divorce documents. If you are a Respondent who has failed to file an Answer to a divorce petition, an attorney can assist you with properly responding so that the divorce is not entered by default.
Q: Does Utah have a mandatory waiting period before a decree can be signed?A:
Utah law requires a 30 day waiting period between the date the divorce petition is filed and when the judge can sign the Decree of Divorce.
Q: Do I need to take a divorce education class?A:
It depends. If the parties have children under the age of 18, Utah law requires the Petitioner and Respondent to attend a divorce orientation and divorce education classes. These classes are now available online, though they are also presented live at courthouses around the state. A divorcing parent must prove that he or she has taken the class (or the court must waive a parent’s participation in the class) before a final decree may be signed. If the Respondent fails to file an answer to the divorce petition, the Petitioner’s participation is sufficient for the divorce to be finalized. The Respondent’s lack of participation will not prevent the divorce from being finalized.
Q: Is mediation mandatory?A:
The court will not allow parties to set a trial date unless the parties have attempted to resolve the case with a mediator who is certified to mediate domestic relations cases (divorce, custody, child support, etc.). Unless the parties are able to agree on terms quickly, they should expect that mediation will be part of the divorce process.
Q: When are temporary orders used?A:
Often parties are unable to immediately reach an agreement on the terms of a divorce and trial is still a long way away. Parties needs orders from the court to move forward until a final order of the court is reached. Temporary orders do not make a final division of assets or a final custody determination, but they can set a precedent which will likely affect the outcome of a trial or future settlement. Temporary orders usually address possession of the marital home, temporary custody and parent-time, temporary spousal support, temporary child support, payment on debts while the divorce is pending, possession and use of vehicles, and more.
Q: What rules govern the procedural steps of a divorce in Utah?A:
The Utah Rules of Civil Procedure provide the procedural steps in divorce cases. There are different rules to follow depending on whether your case is being heard by a commissioner or a judge. Learn more here.