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The Divorce Process in Utah

Divorce Laws in Utah

Regardless of the instigating factors, divorce is a stressful and draining situation for all parties involved. With a divorce rate higher than the national average–3.6% for Utahans versus 3.4% for all Americans, according to a U.S. Census Bureau study–Utahans face this potentially complicated and often overwhelming process more than most.

To help remove some of the confusion and anxiety surrounding getting divorced in Utah, here is a step-by-step overview of the divorce process in the state. Because divorce can easily get messy and contentious, hiring a knowledgeable divorce attorney is often in your best interests to help protect your assets and child custody concerns.

Salt Lake County divorce attorney Eric. M. Swinyard specializes in all aspects of family law, serving Utahans from his offices in Salt Lake City and Provo. Read our reviews page to see what our clients have to say about working with our team.

Filing for divorce in Utah? Please contact Eric M. Swinyard or give us a call at (801) 515-4133 today to schedule a consultation.

Part 1: File for Divorce

As you begin the process of filing for divorce, be aware that Utah allows for divorce based both on fault and no-fault grounds. You should also know that Utah’s courts impose a residency requirement on divorce proceedings.

This means that either you or your spouse must have lived in the state for a minimum of three months prior to the filing date. When custody of minor children will be an issue in the divorce proceedings, your children generally must have resided in Utah for a minimum of six months before you can file.

Consult an Attorney

You aren’t required to use an attorney in order to file for divorce in Utah. However, the legal issues surrounding divorce are often complicated, and you may face obstacles representing yourself if there are any complex matters such as child custody or division of significant assets.

A qualified divorce attorney can help you navigate the process and help safeguard against critical mistakes. Learn more about our divorce lawyers serving Salt Lake County.

Prepare Your Divorce Documents

If you are using a lawyer, your attorney will prepare your documents for you. If not, you may use the state’s Online Court Assistance Program (OCAP) to prepare the divorce petition and related documents; there is a $20 fee for using this service. Completed forms must be notarized by a notary public before they can be filed.

File Your Divorce Documents

Your divorce case is only open once you’ve filed all forms in the office of the court clerk in your home county and paid the filing fee of $310.

Serve Your Spouse

After filing your divorce petition, you have 120 days to serve this petition, a summons and any other filed documents to your spouse. Service can be completed via certified mail or by the sheriff’s department or a private company. Proof of service is required to have the court act on your divorce petition.

Wait for Your Spouse’s Answer

After being served, your spouse will have 21 days–or 30 days if they are out of state–to respond. If they do respond, both parties will have to submit a Financial Declaration form to each other outlining all relevant financial items.

If your spouse does not respond, you can request that the court issue a default judgment which will grant you everything you requested in your petition.

If your spouse agrees with all issues as presented in your divorce petition, they can file a stipulation instead of a response. At this point, the OCAP Divorce Stipulation questions can be used to prepare the necessary documents and proceed to a final divorce decree.

Part 2: Complete Required Divorce Education Classes and Mediation

After your spouse has been given a chance to respond to your divorce petition, several steps must be taken before a trial will be scheduled. Many Utah divorce issues are resolved during this stage in the process, eliminating the need for a trial in front of a judge.

Complete a 90-Day Waiting Period

Utah law stipulates that judges must wait 90 days after the date that the divorce petition was initially filed to sign the final divorce order. This is true even if both spouses agree on all issues.

Attend Required Divorce Education Classes if Necessary

All divorcing couples in Utah who have minor children are required to take both a divorce education class and a divorce orientation class before the final divorce decree will be signed. Both classes can be taken online or in person; the orientation class covers alternatives to divorce, while the education class seeks to provide information on how divorce affects children and how parents can make the process easier.

Take Part in Mandatory Mediation for Any Contested Issues

If your spouse responds to your divorce filing, Utah statute requires that both parties take part in a mediation session before a divorce will be granted. The parties are jointly responsible for locating and paying for a mediator.

Ask for Temporary Order if Necessary

Sometimes there are issues that must be addressed before the divorce order is final, such as who can use the marital home or who has custody of any minor children during the pending divorce. In these cases, either party can request that the judge issue a temporary order on the matter that will be effective through the final divorce decree.

Complete Name Restoration

If you had your name changed upon getting married, you can return to your pre-marriage legal name at this stage in the divorce process. To do so, simply include a statement along with your divorce petition to indicate the name change.

Part 3: Go to Trial (If Necessary)

If you and your spouse are unable to reach an agreement about any issues in your divorce decree, the next step in the Utah divorce process is going to trial.

Seek a Child Custody Evaluation

If you disagree with your spouse regarding child custody or child support issues, you can request that a professional evaluator conduct a custody evaluation. During this evaluation, the evaluator will observe both parties and the children; the evaluator will then submit a report to the court on all factors that pertain to the child’s best interests.

Appear at Pre-Trial Conferences

You will be required to attend a conference prior to your trial being scheduled to make a final attempt to settle the case. If this fails, the trial date will be set and the list of issues to be addressed at trial will be determined.

Attend Your Trial

If you have hired a divorce lawyer, they can help you prepare for the trial, including assembling any documents and necessary evidence to be presented to the court. Arrive at the courtroom early on the day of your trial, dressed professionally and with any witnesses that you intend to call upon. Remember to treat the judge respectfully and never interrupt your spouse when they are testifying.

Get Copies of Your Divorce Decree

Once the judge has signed the final decree following mediation or trial, you are legally divorced. At this point, you should obtain a copy of the finalized decree for your records. Note that you must file any appeals to the judge’s decision within 30 days.

Contact Salt Lake County Family Law Attorney Eric M. Swinyard Today

Divorce can be complicated. The best way to safeguard your interests throughout the process is to choose a qualified divorce attorney to represent you. Based in Salt Lake County, experienced family law attorney Eric M. Swinyard has helped hundreds of Utahns navigate the divorce process. His broad range of experience allows him to provide personalized and high-quality legal support regarding all family law-related legal issues.

Have questions regarding divorce laws in Utah? Schedule your 30-minute consultation, by contacting Eric Swinyard at (801) 515-4133.


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Meet Our Team

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  • Eric M. Swinyard Photo
    Eric M. Swinyard

    Founding Attorney

    Eric M. Swinyard is a divorce and family law attorney who serves clients throughout the State of Utah. Eric’s practice is primarily focused on providing personalized, high-quality legal services to individuals involved in divorces, paternity actions, adoptions, estate planning, and other family law matters. It’s incredibly easy to be taken advantage of during litigation, especially if you are unrepresented by legal counsel. Protect Your Rights You don’t want to be in a situation where you need ...
  • Ryan  Ficklin Photo
    Ryan Ficklin


    Ryan Ficklin is an associate attorney at Eric M. Swinyard & Associates, PLLC. Prior to practicing law in Utah, Ryan practiced family law in Southern California. In 2017, Ryan relocated back to his home state of Utah to focus on serving the people of Utah who need legal representation, particularly in the family law realm. Ryan graduated with honors from California’s Whittier Law School in May of 2015. While in law school, Ryan was a staff member for The Journal of Child and Family Advocacy. Ryan ...
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    Keith L. Johnson


    Keith joined Eric M. Swinyard & Associates in Fall 2020, bringing more than a decade of experience as a trial attorney in various types of legal cases. He has successfully guided hundreds of individuals through Utah’s court system. Keith previously worked at an established civil litigation firm in Salt Lake as well as a mid-sized regional law firm. He has substantive experience in a variety of practice areas and is now primarily devoted to serving individuals involved in family law cases. Keith ...
  • Mark  Hales Photo
    Mark Hales


    Mark Hales has over 17 years of legal experience in the areas of family, criminal, and civil law. He handles all types of domestic matters, including custody, divorce, child support, alimony, annulment, termination of parental rights, paternity, modifications, and adoptions. In addition, he defends clients charged with domestic violence and abuse, stalking, violations of protective orders, and other and criminal charges. Mark is a certified mediator for all legal matters and is also a certified ...
  • Justin  Stringfellow Photo
    Justin Stringfellow


    Justin Stringfellow has practiced family law in Utah for 20 years, bringing a wealth of experience to Eric Swinyard & Associates in areas such as divorce, custody, paternity, modifications, child support, and adoption proceedings. In the early years of his career, Justin appeared on an estimated 1,500 Protective Order matters. He is an expert in dealing with abuse and domestic violence components in family law matters. As such, he was distinguished by Utah's Domestic Violence Coalition. Justin ...
  • Eliza  Crespo Photo
    Eliza Crespo


    Eliza Crespo is an associate attorney at Eric Swinyard & Associates. Prior to joining the firm, Eliza practiced estate planning in Utah. Eliza offers a fresh set of eyes to difficult situations and is passionate about providing excellent and compassionate legal services to her clients. Through personal experience, she appreciates the impact of a listening ear and an effective advocate, especially during times of challenge or transition. Eliza obtained her bachelor’s degree and law degree from ...

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