Divorce is complicated. If you are feeling a little overwhelmed, you are not alone. Depending on your circumstances, you may have to deal with difficult issues like property division, child custody, child support, spousal support (alimony) and more. Each of these is challenging enough on its own. Taken together, these issues are enough to make anyone concerned about the future both for them and their family.
At Henriksen & Henriksen, we are often asked, “How much does a divorce cost in Utah?” Many new clients are also concerned about whether they will have to go to court. We offer this comprehensive guide to answer your questions and help you make the right choices for you and your family.
DIVORCE TOPICS COVERED:
- How much is this going to cost?
- How long is this going to take?
- Do I really need a divorce lawyer?
- Do I have to go to court?
- What happens if we get back together — did I just waste all of my money?
- What if we can agree on how is proper but not others?
- What’s the best way to keep my costs down in a contested divorce?
- What is a “no-fault” divorce under Utah law?
- On what grounds can I divorce my spouse in Utah?
- Does Utah allow legal separation?
- How is property divided between spouses in a Utah divorce?
HOW MUCH DOES IT COST TO GET A DIVORCE IN UTAH?
The old saying, “time is money,” is particularly true when it comes to divorce. The more complicated your divorce, the more time your attorney needs to spend on your case. The more time your attorney spends on the case, the more the divorce costs. If you and your spouse can agree to a non-contested divorce – where you come to an agreement on the terms together – the divorce is much faster and cheaper. But if you cannot agree to the terms and must pursue a contested divorce, the divorce is likely to take much longer and be more expensive.
From our experience, the average cost for a non-contested divorce in Utah ranges from $2,000 to $2,500 with court filing fees and other legal documents. However, if your divorce is contested it will drive up the price considerably with a base price, based on attorney time starting at about $2,500.
Complications that can increase the cost of divorce include custody disagreements, child support disagreements, spousal support, the division of a business and the division of other property.
HOW LONG IS THIS GOING TO TAKE?
It is technically possible to resolve an uncontested divorce in Utah in 30 days, but typically it takes 60 to 90 days to complete the process. However, if you have dependent children with your spouse it can take a minimum of 30 days to get your final divorce decree issued.
If you have a contested divorce, it can take much longer to complete the process depending on how difficult it is to resolve your disagreements. A contested divorce in Utah can take between 3 months to one year, or even longer depending on the issues.
DO I REALLY NEED A LAWYER TO GET A DIVORCE IN UTAH?
You can get a divorce in the state of Utah without hiring a lawyer. However, without a Utah divorce lawyer that knows how to navigate the system, it is much more difficult to protect your interests and ensure your needs are met. You may be able to find assistance through legal aid agencies with tools, forms and guidance, but even then you may not get the personalized assistance you would get with your own lawyer.
We think it is especially important for you to hire a lawyer if your spouse is hiring a lawyer. At Henriksen & Henriksen, we make certain your rights are protected and we offer a free, no-obligation consultation and quote on the estimated costs for your divorce.
DO I HAVE TO GO TO COURT?
Most people want to avoid going to court if they can. Fortunately, many cases do not “go to court.” Whether your case will “go to court” depends on the specifics of your case. For example, uncontested divorces tend to go fairly smoothly and do not often wind up in court. If the divorce is truly uncontested, the couple and their attorneys can reach a written agreement that allows them to avoid going to court.
Not every divorce goes so smoothly, however. There are many instances where couples disagree on issues regarding the divorce. They may be aware of those disagreements before the process even starts or they may discover them after attempting an uncontested divorce. When disagreements arise, further legal action is needed.
It is important to note that contested divorces do not always go to court. Divorce mediation is possible, a process where a neutral third-party works with each spouse to come to an agreement. There are several different types of mediation available. We can help you understand your options and choose which is best for your needs.
WHAT HAPPENS IF WE GET BACK TOGETHER AFTER FILING FOR DIVORCE — DID I JUST WASTE ALL OF MY MONEY?
You can always decide to halt the divorce before it is finalized. However, you cannot get a refund for any legal representation or court filing fees that have accumulated before you stop the process. There may also be costs associated with withdrawal depending on where your case is in the court proceedings. These costs are typically minor compared to the costs of the divorce.
WHAT IF WE CAN AGREE ON SOME ISSUES BUT NOT OTHERS?
It is quite common for spouses to agree on some issues but not all. This is the point where mediation becomes the preferred option. A trained mediator can help you and your spouse resolve disagreements related to child custody, child support, parenting time, property division, debt, assets and spousal support.
When you and your spouse cannot agree on all issues your divorce is considered contested. Utah courts require parties in contested divorces to participate in at least one session of mediation in an attempt to resolve their issues before the case can proceed in the court system. Mediation can be helpful because it allows both parties to identify what they want and understand what the other party wants. Mediators are trained to help resolve disagreements and many couples successfully reach an agreement that allows them to avoid going to court.
While the goal is for you and your spouse to come to an agreement, it is still important to have your attorney present to protect your interests. We will attend all mediation sessions with you to advise you along the way.
If some disagreements remain unresolved following mediation, the next step is to proceed to trial.
WHAT’S THE BEST WAY TO KEEP MY COSTS DOWN IN A CONTESTED DIVORCE?
There are several ways you can keep your costs down in your divorce. These include:
- Get a quote up front from your attorney regarding estimated costs for representation.
- Write down questions you have for your attorney and ask them all at once rather than asking them one at a time to save time.
- Try to reach agreements with your spouse without going to court if at all possible – while still ensuring your needs are met.
- Collect all of the documents necessary or requested by your attorney to proceed with the divorce.
WHAT IS A “NO-FAULT” DIVORCE UNDER UTAH LAW?
Utah is a No-Fault state. That means that you can get a divorce without needing to prove fault against your spouse for the end of the marriage. You can end the divorce due to “irreconcilable differences.
However, no-fault does not mean that the court cannot determine fault for individual issues in your case. If the court does find fault in one party, it may use that in considerations for issues such as child support, division of property and alimony.
ON WHAT GROUNDS CAN I DIVORCE MY SPOUSE IN UTAH?
The most common type of divorce in Utah is a No-Fault divorce, where you do not have to prove anything beyond what we mentioned above. However, if necessary you can seek divorce on grounds including:
- Impotency at the time of marriage
- Willful desertion for more than a year
- Willful neglect to provide for the common necessities of life
- Habitual drunkenness
- Felony conviction
- Cruel treatment to the extent of causing bodily injury or great mental distress
- Incurable insanity
- When the husband and wife have lived separately under a decree of separate maintenance of any state for three consecutive years without cohabitation
DOES UTAH ALLOW LEGAL SEPARATION?
Legal separation in Utah is known as separate maintenance. It is the process of legally dividing custody, parenting time and assets while staying legally married. If you are considering legal separation, we encourage you to contact our firm to ensure your interests are protected.
HOW IS PROPERTY DIVIDED BETWEEN SPOUSES IN A UTAH DIVORCE?
Generally, Utah law attempts to divide property equitably among spouses. Property that is typically considered in equitable division includes:
- Cash assets
- Vacation homes
- Health Insurance
- Stocks, bonds and investment accounts
- Retirement accounts included 401(k)s and pensions
Exceptions are made to equitable division when necessary, such as assets you purchased before you married or assets you inherited during the marriage. Consideration of how assets were obtained is part of divorce proceedings, so you can expect to go over all property with the court before decisions are finalized.
We strongly encourage you to hire a Utah divorce attorney if you have any property that the court will need to divide between you and your spouse. Our firm can help ensure that your personal property is viewed appropriately by the courts and not considered marital property.
Our goal is to ensure that your divorce is fair and equitable. Please contact our Utah divorce law team today using our secured online form or give us a call at (801) 521-4145. Busy schedule? You can even book your own appointment online at this link.