Same-Sex Divorce in Utah

Same-Sex Divorce
in Utah

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The history of same-sex divorce in Utah began in 2013 when the state began granting unions between same-sex partners as a result of the Kitchen v. Herbert case. In 2014, however, there was a short ban for these marriages. In June 2015, by the ruling of the Supreme Court, same-sex marriages were proclaimed legal in all states. Therefore, judges in Utah also had to recognize any lesbian and gay divorces.

Since then, same-sex couples have shared equal rights with heterosexual ones. For example, a common-law marriage is legally recognized if the spouses comply with the requirements established by law, disregarding the sexual orientation. The rules that regulate the marriage dissolution process in Utah are collected in Utah Code Chapter 3.

Same-sex divorce online

Same Sex Divorce

The only condition for a couple to file for same-sex divorce in Utah is the need to meet the state’s residency requirements. The rest of the procedure is standard, although some counties may have specific local rules. Every resident married to a same-sex partner can get a divorce in Utah by filing a petition of marriage dissolution with the court. Then the other spouse will receive a copy of it and will have to submit a response.

Same-sex divorce paperwork in Utah does not differ from the paperwork that heterosexual couples have to prepare. In the past, the spouses usually hired lawyers to help them with this task. Nowadays, another more affordable and quick option is gaining immense popularity. Divorce over the Internet for spouses with an uncontested divorce is a proven inexpensive and easy alternative to prepare for marriage dissolution without a lawyer. For example, the website offers help with a do-it-yourself divorce and provides the necessary printable documents for only $139.

Same-sex divorce papers in Utah

The divorce process in Utah for same-sex partners proceeds according to the established scheme, and the paperwork is the most important part. There is a lot of information about the procedure on the Internet, including how to file same-sex divorce in Utah. Essentially, it comes down to submitting the necessary documents with the court, attending a hearing, and waiting for the final decree.

Same-sex divorce forms in Utah vary depending on each situation. For instance, the presence of minor children or marital property may require additional paperwork. The exact package of documents has to be specified before filing.

Same-sex divorce papers in Utah can be prepared either with the help of a lawyer or by yourself. The latter option saves a lot of money because the services of a legal representative are not that affordable for most people.

Valid grounds for same-sex divorce in Utah

According to Utah Code Section 30-3-1, to file for divorce in Utah and dissolve a same-sex marriage, one or both spouses must be bona fide resident of the state. Additionally, they must have lived for 90 days in the county where they are filing for divorce.

Under Utah law, a no-fault divorce can be obtained in two instances: “irreconcilable differences” (serious problems between spouses that prevent them from living as a couple) and if the spouses lived separately for three years.

The couple can also get a same-sex divorce in Utah by using one of the following fault-based grounds:

  • impotency
  • adultery
  • abandonment for more than one year
  • alcohol abuse
  • intentional neglect to provide for the needs of the family
  • conviction of a felony
  • cruel treatment causing physical and mental injuries
  • incurable insanity of a respondent.

Custody of the Child

Custody of the child

If a divorcing couple has minor children, the court will decide on custody with the child’s best interest as a priority. Family law does not discriminate against any parent’s rights based on gender or sexual orientation when determining custody. The important factors which can influence the judge’s decision regarding custody award are stated in Utah Code Section 30-3-10:

  • if either spouse was charged with child abuse or cruel behavior
  • evidence of substance abuse or domestic violence
  • relationship of each parent with their child, their parenting skills
  • the parent’s financial and mental stability
  • other factors relative to the case.

By default, joint legal custody is considered as the best option for a child unless some facts contradict this presumption. Both spouses must attend a parenting class where they will be instructed about how to minimize the harmful effects of marriage dissolution on their children.

Child Support

Both parents are obligated to provide financial support to their child until he or she reaches 18 years of age. The judge determines the amount of payment based on the combined gross income of the spouses. It includes but is not limited to salaries, wages, pensions, bonuses, interest, alimony, annuities, and compensation benefits.

According to Utah Code Section 78B-12-108, child support follows the child. For instance, if there are physical custody changes, the parents switch the roles of obligor and obligee. Child support can be modified at any time after the order is issued. The judge will review any substantial changes to the spouses’ financial standing or a shift in custody.

Spousal Support

In Utah, a judge can grant alimony, or spousal maintenance, to support one of the spouses financially with the funds of another spouse. The amount of support is determined according to the following factors ( Utah Code Section 30-3-5):

  • the financial situation of the spouse seeking alimony
  • the ability of the paying spouse to provide support
  • whether the recipient spouse paid for the education of the other spouse
  • the presence and custody of a minor child who needs support
  • earning capacity of the spouse seeking alimony
  • the length of marriage
  • whether the requesting spouse worked in the other spouse's business

Alimony may be modified in cases where a substantial change in the income of both spouses takes place. To apply for a modification, the filing spouse must provide financial information that proves the need for change. For instance, if the spouse receiving alimony gets married, then the payments are automatically terminated.

Property Division

Property Division

Divorce laws in Utah for property division in case of marriage dissolution are the same for same-sex unions and heterosexual couples. The procedure for property division is defined by Chapter 2 and Section 30-3-5 of the Utah Code. The judge will distribute assets, debts, and other joint marital property equitably between the spouses. All separate property acquired by either spouse before marriage or obtained as a personal gift or inheritance stays with its initial owner.

The easiest way to divide assets and exclude the attorney from the process is to reach an agreement with the other party. How is property divided if the couple established their own terms beforehand? The judge reviews the settlement agreement compiled by the spouses and usually, if both spouses are happy with the agreement, he will approve it. Therefore, although negotiating with a spouse may be challenging, this option is better than leaving your property division to a third party.

Mediation support

According to Utah Code Section 30-3-39, there is a mandatory mediation program to help the spouse resolve their conflicts. If there are contested issues after the filing of a response, the parties must attend at least one session before the court hearing.

Going through the process of mediation requires the presence of a qualified person (a mediator) who has appropriate training. The cost of mediation varies in different counties. If an amicable resolution is out of the question, the couple will have their issues decided by the judge during a divorce trial.

Filing fees for same-sex divorce in Utah

A person can file for same-sex divorce in Utah if at least one of the spouses meets residency requirements. A divorce proceeding starts when a petition for marriage dissolution is filed with the court. The fee for its submission is $318, which is the same amount that heterosexual couples pay.

Additional paperwork and court motions may be required, depending on each case, especially for couples with children. Information about prices or specific fees can be obtained at the county district court where the petition for marriage dissolution is to be submitted.

How long will it take

Divorce for same-sex couples in Utah includes specific stages, starting with a filing of a petition for marriage dissolution and ending with a final decree. The duration depends on many factors. For instance, those who are married to same-sex partners, and want to get a divorce in Utah if the spouse is out of state, might spend more time trying to make contact with their partner.

Various factors can affect the length of divorce process: how the documents are served, whether the serving was fast, whether there are no contested issues between spouses concerning property and children, and how quickly the other party files a response. Regardless of what factors come into play with the divorce, Utah has a mandatory waiting period of 90 days after the case is initiated before the case can be finalized. Complicated cases for couples with children and property issues can often exceed the given period.

Frequently asked questions

Frequently asked questions
How can I get a same-sex divorce in Utah if I don’t know where my spouse is?
To get a divorce if your spouse is missing or hiding, you have to take several steps. First, diligently look for him or her on your own and present an Affidavit of Diligent Search to the court. If the judge decides you did everything you could, you will be able to get a “divorce by publication” in a newspaper. If your spouse then fails to respond to it, you will get a marriage dissolution by default.
Can I have custody of a child in Utah if I am not a biological parent?
The custody of a child is awarded either to a biological parent or a legal parent/guardian. If you are not a biological parent, you have to adopt the child to be eligible for custody or visitation after the divorce. Both biological and adoptive parents have equal rights to be a custodial parent, regardless of their gender and sexual orientation.
How much does a same-sex divorce without a lawyer cost in Utah?
If you can agree on terms of your marriage dissolution with your spouse, you can get divorced without a lawyer. You must collect the necessary documents to file with the court. If you do it yourself, you will only have to pay the filing fee for the petition for marriage dissolution which is $318 in Utah. You can also pay an online service to prepare your documents for you. Most charge between $100-$300.
Do I have to pay alimony to a cheating spouse in Utah?
Although Utah is a no-fault state, meaning that you do not have to prove the other spouse’s fault for your marriage falling apart, spousal infidelity can be taken into account when it comes to alimony. The cheating spouse might be denied maintenance payments if adultery was stated as a reason for the marriage breakdown.
Can I date other people before my divorce is finalized?
Divorce can be a long process, and naturally, one or both of the spouses sometimes decides to date other people before the divorce is final. However, dating before you get a marriage dissolution decree is usually not recommended. Particularly, it can affect the child custody decision. For example, your spouse can try to show to the judge that this new relationship harms your child.
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