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Utah Court Records

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How to File For Divorce in Utah

Utah allows for the dissolution of marriages recognized under state laws when the marriage breaks down, and there is no possibility of reconciliation. The procedure for litigation, requirements, and law empowering the Utah judiciary to dissolve a marriage is found in the divorce code. At 9.3 per 1000 residents in 2018, the divorce rate in Utah is higher than the national rate of 7.7 per 1000 women, according to the United States Census Bureau. Generally, the Utah courts finalize divorces within thirty days, but this timeline is not universal due to caseload and the nuances involved in the dissolution if contested.

Do I need a Reason for Divorce in Utah?

No. If a person files for divorce based on irreconcilable differences of marriage, the petitioner does not need to provide additional information. Such a filing is generally called a no-fault divorce. Conversely, for a fault-based divorce, a petitioner must file on one of ten (10) grounds enumerated in Section 30–3–1(3) of the Utah Code. Some of these grounds include adultery, habitual drunkenness, impotence, cruel treatment, and conviction for a felony. The law restricts filing for divorce on the grounds of insanity unless the case meets the requirements enumerated in paragraph 5.

Why do I need a Divorce Lawyer?

Divorce lawyers are notoriously expensive, and it is understandable if a petitioner prefers to go pro se. Nevertheless, one cannot cast aside the importance of a lawyer in a divorce proceeding. Apart from the expertise that comes with years of legal training and practice, a petitioner should consider a lawyer because divorce proceedings are unpredictable. Unlike most civil filings, the emotional nature of divorce means that either side may change or try to get the upper hand at any time. Thus, it is no wonder that divorce proceedings tend to be adversarial, with parties employing underhanded-but-legal tactics for financial or custodial advantage. A general rule of thumb is to at least consult a lawyer before filing for divorce. Many experienced divorce lawyers offer consultation services with affordable fees without the financial burden of retainers. Furthermore, do not act on experiential advice from people who have gone through a divorce without doing due diligence. No two divorces are the same for the same reasons discussed in this section.

How do I Get Started in a Divorce in Utah?

Before initiating a divorce suit in Utah, one of the spouses must be resident in a Utah county for at least three months before the date of filing (Section 30–3–1(2)).. Likewise, a petitioner who intends to file for a temporary separation order must be domicile in Utah for at least 90 days (Section 30–3–4–5).. Under no circumstance must either party remarry before the court grants an absolute decree of dissolution (Section 30–3–8)..

These known, steps for filing a divorce in Utah goes viz:

  • Court filings: The plaintiff must fill out a set of divorce forms, pay the filing fees, and submit them to the clerk of courts. A filing begins with a divorce complaint; other required documents depend on the type of divorce.
  • Service: Upon submitting a divorce complaint with the clerk of courts, the defendant must serve the defendants with the divorce papers, i.e., a notice of hearing and a copy of all documents filed. The server may be the sheriff, a private process server, or an indifferent party.
  • Mediation: Mediation is a court-ordered process for parties involved in a contested divorce to work out disputes such as child custody, support, and alimony, as well as asset and debt division.
  • Scheduling a hearing date: Upon completing the steps above, the plaintiff must schedule a date and time of hearing on the court calendar with the clerk. Between service and the court date, the parties will engage in mediation and discovery. The latter is a multi-stage process that involves sharing information, especially financial documents, interrogatories, and depositions. To schedule a hearing date, visit the office of the clerk or contact the clerk via telephone if the court allows scheduling over the phone.

How to File for Divorce in Utah without a Lawyer?

Self-represented plaintiffs will also go through the above stages in a divorce filing. For each of the processes listed above, there are official resources useful to self-represented litigants. These resources are also applicable to represented litigants doing personal research. Some of these resources include:

  • The self-help section on the judiciary website (includes resources to fee waivers and filing an appeal)
  • Online Court Assistance Program (OCAP) for knowing the applicable filing documents
  • How to serve papers in Utah Courts
  • Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) for litigants who have to go through mediation

How Does Utah Divorce Mediation Work?

Mediation is one of two methods of alternative dispute resolution (ADR) in Utah courts. It is a mandatory program recommended for parties to iron out differences and serve their best interests before the court delivers a final verdict (Section 30–3–39).. Divorce mediation does not replace conventional hearing in the courtroom. Instead, it brings more flexibility in resolving disputes, avoids a drawn-out divorce, and saves legal fees.

The process involves intending divorcees having a series of collaborative meetings with a skilled, neutral third party. Mediation is informal, and more importantly, it is confidential. The final agreement is not legally binding before the judge issues a verdict: the parties can request a review at any time pending final adjudication. The ADR department of the judiciary oversees mediation programs in Utah.

How Long After Mediation is Divorce Final in Utah?

It depends. Mediation may be over after a few sessions spanning a few days or take several weeks if the issues are complicated. After a successful mediation, however, the court will issue an absolute decree after reviewing the agreement. If mediation fails, the petitioner must schedule a hearing date after consulting the clerk or the judge’s secretary. The timeframe for when divorce is final after mediation depends on the court calendar.

Are Divorce Records Public in Utah?

No. Records of divorce filed after April 2012 are private records under the Government Records Access and Management Act (GRAMA). Thus, only authorized court personnel, the parties involved, and their legal designees can access documents that are filed in a divorce record. Other entities must obtain a court order to inspect specific documents in a divorce record. Even at that, the record custodian may redact information deemed sensitive, confidential, or potentially injurious to the parties. Nevertheless, court orders and the divorce decree are considered public.

Records that are considered public may be accessible from some third-party websites. These websites often make searching simpler, as they are not limited by geographic location, and search engines on these sites may help when starting a search for specific or multiple records. To begin using such a search engine on a third-party or government website, interested parties usually must provide:

  • The name of the person involved in the record, unless said person is a juvenile
  • The location or assumed location of the record or person involved. This includes information such as the city, county, or state that the person resides in or was accused in.

Third-party sites are independent of government sources and are not sponsored by these government agencies. Because of this, record availability on third-party sites may vary.

How do I Get Utah Divorce Records?

Records of divorces after Utah attained statehood in 1896 are only accessible at the office of the designated custodian during business hours. The designated custodians of divorce records filed before this time vary according to the Utah Division of Archives and Records Service. Upon identifying the county of filing, use the Utah judicial directory to access the address and contact information of courts. Bear in mind that all requesters must provide the necessary information to help court staff perform a search if the record is public.

The required information to perform a search includes the name of the parties, their attorneys, date of filing or adjudication, case number, and the name of the presiding judge. Instructions on how to submit mail requests vary with jurisdiction, and a requester who intends to use this means must contact the court or visit the court’s official website. Meanwhile, XChange is a central repository for accessing divorce records in the state. The database pools information from all district courts in Utah and makes court records accessible to the public. To use Xchange, create an account, and use a search parameter to query the database.

Bear in mind that record custodians and Xchange charge a reasonable fee for searching and reproducing divorce records (Section 63G–2–203).. The requester must pay these fees via the payment method accepted by the court, i.e., check, money order, or card. 

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