Utah Divorce Laws

In Utah, filing for divorce can be a stressful process. Take some time to learn a little more about the laws so you can know what to expect as you enter into this challenging period of your life.

Who Can File For Divorce and On What Grounds

In order to file for divorce in Utah, one of the parties must be a resident of the state and the county in which they will file for a period of at least three months. They will then wait 90 days after filing to hear the court’s decree.

Utah allows couples to file for divorce on a no fault basis if the marriage has irreconcilable differences or if the husband and wife have lived separately for a period of three consecutive years without cohabitation. Fault reasons for divorce allowable in Utah include:

  • Impotence at the time of marriage
  • Adultery
  • Willful desertion for a period of over one year
  • Willful neglect
  • Habitual drunkenness
  • Conviction of a felony
  • Cruel treatment causing bodily injury or great mental distress
  • Incurable insanity

Anyone who is in the military and wishes to file for divorce in Utah can do so if they meet the residency requirement. However, doing so also requires the couple to follow any military family law legislation that applies to their specific situation. To ensure that they do this, a military family law attorney is a valuable asset.

Division of Property

Utah is an equitable distribution state, so couples who cannot decide on their own how to best divide property will find the courts dividing it based on what is fair. Each case is looked at on an individual basis to determine the proper award for each spouse. Spouses are not responsible for the other spouse’s debts that occurred before, during, or after the marriage, except as it relates to family expenses.

Child Custody

Child custody is determined based on what is in the child’s best interests. The factors considered may include:

  • The child’s physical, psychological, and emotional needs
  • The ability of each parent to give first priority to their child and reach shared decisions
  • Whether the parents can encourage and accept a relationship between the child and the other parent, including sharing the child’s love, affection, and contact
  • Whether the parents participated in childrearing prior to the divorce
  • Geographical proximity of the homes to the parents
  • Preference of the child if the child is old enough to have such a preference
  • Maturity of the parents and their ability to protect their child from conflict between them
  • Past and present ability of the parents to cooperate and make joint decisions
  • History of abuse
  • Other factors the courts deem necessary to consider


In some instances, the courts will require one spouse to pay support to another. When making this determination on a case-by-case basis, the courts will look at the following factors:

  • Financial conditions and needs of the one receiving support
  • The earning capacity or ability to produce income for the one receiving support
  • Ability of the payer to provide the support
  • Duration of the marriage
  • Whether the recipient is the custodial parent of minor children who also need support
  • Whether the recipient was employed in a business owned or operated by the supporting spouse
  • Whether the one seeking support contributed to the supporting spouse’s skill or earning capacity

When determining child support, the Income Shares Model will be used. This divides the income between both parents in proportion to their incomes. Sometimes this amount can be increased or decreased based on the court’s findings about the individual situation of the children and each party.