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July 28, 2021

Is Utah a No-Fault Divorce State?

Are you considering filing for divorce in Utah, but you are not sure where to start? Before you file for divorce in Utah, you will need to meet two basic requirements. First, you must have been a state resident of Utah for at least three months. Additionally, you will need to decide whether you will file for a fault-based divorce or a no-fault divorce. A fault-based divorce points out a specific grounds or problem within the marriage that is the cause of the divorce, such as adultery. On the other hand, a no-fault divorce involves a general breakdown of the marriage, stated as irreconcilable differences.

What are the Fault-Based Grounds for Divorce in Utah?

Utah law establishes eight different fault-based grounds for divorce, specifically:

  • Impotence at the time of marriage: This means that your spouse could not produce children at the time of your marriage, and this applies to women and men.
  • Adultery committed after the marriage: This is one of the most commonly used fault-based grounds for divorce in Utah. You will need to prove that your spouse cheated on you after you became married.
  • Desertion or abandonment: Your spouse abandons or deserts you for at least one year. Your spouse must have abandoned you for 12 consecutive months, not a total of 12 months separated by periods during which you were together.
  • Neglected to provide the common necessaries of life: Your spouse willingly failed to provide you with the basic needs you need to survive, such as shelter and food.
  • Habitual drunkenness: Your spouse has chronic alcoholism and is habitually intoxicated by alcohol.
  • Felony conviction: Your spouse has been convicted of a felony involving sex offenses, drug possession, violent crimes, or something else entirely. The critical component in this ground for divorce is that your spouse has been convicted of a felony-level offense, not a misdemeanor. Most felony-level convictions carry a prison sentence of at least one year.
  • Cruel treatment: Your spouse subjected you to cruel treatment that resulted in great mental distress and/or a physical injury.
  • Incurable insanity: Your spouse has received a medical diagnosis that amounts to incurable insanity. This ground for divorce is difficult to prove. You will need to prove that the appropriate authorities had judged your spouse to be insane before you filed the petition for your divorce. Keep in mind that your spouse cannot have simply been deemed insane. The court must also find that the insanity is incurable based on the testimony of competent witnesses.

 

Seeking a No-Fault Divorce in Utah

Utah also offers residents a no-fault divorce. There are two acceptable ways to obtain a no-fault divorce in Utah. The first ground for no-fault divorce involves irreconcilable differences. You will simply need to state that you have differences that you cannot resolve, resulting in your divorce. You do not need to state the specific irreconcilable differences on your divorce petition. Irreconcilable differences often include differences in religious beliefs, parenting differences, and financial habits. The basic idea is that there is a fundamental and profound gap between you and your spouse that your marriage cannot withstand.

The second way to obtain a no-fault divorce is based on separation from your spouse. If you and your spouse have lived separately according to a legal separation agreement for three consecutive years without cohabitation, you can seek a no-fault divorce. Even if you were separated and living in a state outside of Utah, you can still pursue a divorce in Utah as long as you meet the Utah residency requirements. 

You must have spent 36 consecutive months living apart from each other physically. Suppose you were separated but decided to spend two weeks living together as a married couple to see if you could work out your problems. In that case, the clock would reset when you cohabitate with each other, and you need to live apart for at least another three years without cohabitation.

 

Utah’s 30-Day Waiting Period

Whether you decide to file for divorce based on no-fault or fault-based grounds, you will still be subject to the 90-day waiting period in Utah. Regardless of why you are getting a divorce, you must wait at least three months after the initial filing of your divorce petition and the granting of your final divorce decree. As a result, even if you file for a no-fault divorce and your divorce is uncontested, meaning you and your spouse agree on all critical issues, you will still have to wait 30 days before you can finalize your divorce.

However, it is possible to weigh the waiting period under certain circumstances. You or your spouse can file a motion to waive the 90-day waiting period. Filing a motion is not enough to waive the wait. You will also need to show that you have extraordinary circumstances that merit the court waiving the 90-day waiting period. You or your spouse can challenge the motion, but whether the court will grant the motion is ultimately up to the judge’s discretion. 

If you have children and your spouse, you will be required to attend mandatory education classes for divorcing parents. Many spouses can negotiate the issues upon which they cannot agree and settle their divorce out of court. However, if you cannot resolve all the significant issues in your divorces, such as property division and child custody matters, you will not need to proceed to trial.

Are you considering filing for divorce in Utah, but you are not sure where to start? Before you file for

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