The divorce process
Rules of procedure
The Utah Rules of Civil Procedure govern procedures in divorce cases.
The spouse starting the divorce case is the petitioner. The other spouse is the respondent.
Petitioner completes the documents
The petitioner may prepare the petition and other documents to file for divorce. If either party has a lawyer, the lawyer will prepare the documents required of that party. Some websites offer forms that might not be legally sufficient in the Utah courts and might be rejected by the judge. And you may have to pay a fee for the forms. You might want to consider hiring a Utah lawyer to prepare documents for you rather than paying for a form that might be rejected.
Petitioner files the documents
The petitioner must file for divorce with the district court in the county in which at least one of the parties has resided for at least three months immediately before filing the divorce petition. For more information about how to file documents, see our page on Filing Procedures.
Petitioner serves the documents
The petitioner must serve the respondent with the petition for divorce, summons and other documents no later than 120 days after the petition is filed. The petitioner must file a Proof of Service form once service has been completed.
Respondent files an answer
The respondent has 21 days (if they were served in Utah) or 30 days (if they were served outside of Utah) to respond to or "answer" the divorce petition. If an answer is filed, then both parties must disclose to each other a Financial Declaration.
The respondent may also stipulate—or agree—in writing to the petition and the divorce decree.
If Respondent does not file an answer.
If the respondent does not file an answer within the time specified in the Summons, the petitioner may ask for a default judgment. This means the petitioner gets what they have asked for, and the respondent won't have a chance to tell their side of the story.
If the respondent has signed an Acceptance of Service, Appearance, Consent and Waiver form, the petitioner can ask for a judgment in accordance with what was asked for in the petition.
Ninety-day waiting period
Utah law requires that there be 90 days between the date the petition is filed and the date the decree is signed. A party can ask the court to waive the waiting period for extraordinary circumstances.
Mandatory divorce education classes (if there are minor children)
If the parties have minor children together, they must attend a divorce orientation class and a divorce education class before the divorce will be granted. There is also a Divorce Education Class for Children, designed to help children through their parents' divorce. The class is available in Logan, Ogden, Provo, and Salt Lake City. The class is not mandatory.
Mandatory mediation (if there are contested issues)
If the respondent files an answer, the parties usually must attend at least one mediation session to try to resolve the issues before the case can move forward. Either party may ask the court to excuse the mediation requirement. If the respondent files an answer and the parties agree to the terms of the divorce, with or without mediation, the parties may stipulate to the terms.
The parties may need to ask for a temporary order governing the parties while the divorce case is moving forward. A temporary order can include provisions for child support and custody, parent time, use of the marital home, payment of debts, and other matters.
Divorcing spouses may restore the legal name they used before the marriage by including a statement in the petition and decree indicating that their name is being changed. The party should include the complete legal name that is being restored and that will be used again after the divorce.