Are you and your spouse thinking of ending your relationship? Divorce can be emotionally and financially draining, even if it’s a mutual decision. Understanding the steps involved, and hiring a divorce lawyer to help you navigate the process, are the keys to making divorce a little easier. Here’s what to expect each step of the way.
1. File the Divorce Petition
The process begins with a petition, which one or both spouses must file, asking the court to terminate the marriage. The petition must include:
- A statement verifying that at least one spouse meets Utah’s residency requirements;
- Legal grounds for divorce, which may include at-fault reasons (adultery, abuse, mental illness) or no-fault reasons (irreconcilable differences, incompatibility, irretrievable breakdown); and
- Any other statutory information the state requires.
2. Ask for Temporary Orders
The court understands that you may need immediate solutions during your pending divorce. If so, you can attend a hearing asking the court for temporary orders regarding:
- Alimony and/or child support
- Child visitation schedules
- Attorney’s fees and costs
Typically, the judge acts quickly, and their decision remains in force until the divorce is finalized.
3. Serve Your Spouse and Wait for a Response
Provide a copy of the divorce petition and temporary orders to your spouse or your spouse’s attorney. This is known as “serving” the divorce papers. The judge cannot proceed with the case until you do.
4. Negotiate a Settlement
A neutral third party can help negotiate any issues you and your soon-to-be-ex disagree about. This is known as mediation, which saves significant time and money compared to taking your case to trial. Because of this, Utah requires divorcing couples to “participate in good faith in at least one session of mediation.”
If mediation is successful, you and your spouse submit a settlement agreement disclosing how you have agreed to handle certain issues, such as:
- Custody arrangements
- Child support
- Spousal support
- Asset and debt division
- Name changes
5. Go to Trial, if Necessary
If negotiations fail, your case goes to trial. Both sides present evidence and call witnesses to support their claims. The judge—and in some cases, a jury—considers the evidence and testimony, rendering a final and binding decision.
6. Finalize the Judgment
The marriage officially ends when the judge signs a judgment of divorce, also called an order of dissolution. If you and your spouse negotiated a settlement, the filing spouse’s lawyer typically drafts the judgment. One or both spouses then attend a final hearing to testify that the marriage is irrevocably broken. Hiring a divorce attorney in Utah is not legally required. However, this is the best way to protect your interests, especially if your spouse has a history of domestic violence or substance abuse. Richards & Richards Law Firm is an experienced divorce and custody lawyer in Ogden, UT. We’re here to make sure you get your fair share of marital property, financial support, and child custody or visitation. Contact us at (512) 461-4836 to request your free divorce consultation.