While it is generally advisable to have a lawyer involved in anything as potentially complicated as a divorce, the laws governing divorce in Utah do allow for individuals to file for divorce without the assistance of a Utah divorce lawyer. In fact, the state court system has gone one better and established a computer system, Quick Court, to assist the individual in completing the necessary paperwork to file for divorce. Detailed information about the use of the Quick Court system can be obtained from the Administrative Office of the Courts.
Either party to the marriage can initiate a divorce in Utah. This action does not require the consent of the other party to either apply for the divorce or for the divorce to be granted. Of course, if one party has objections to the divorce or any element of the agreements that are elements of the divorce, a series of hearings before a judge, there are no jury trials for divorce in Utah, will be required before the divorce will be granted. Even in a contested divorce representation by a Utah divorce lawyer is not required, but it is certainly advised.
If both parties to the marriage can agree to the divorce, division of assets, procedures for paying their common debts and support requirements, and there are no minor children in the marriage, the divorce procedure is relatively simple and may require no appearance before the judge. Written, signed agreements on these matters will usually be given pro forma approval by the judge as long as the rights of both parties are appropriately protected.
In the event that there are minor children involved in the divorce in Utah, the divorce procedure becomes a little more complex, even if there is agreement on all matters. After all, the judge has to ensure that the rights and welfare of the children are protected in the divorce agreement. In addition the state requires that both parties attend a two-hour training session before appearing in court. This training will cover the impacts of divorce on children as well as the legal responsibilities that both parents have for the support of the child or children involved in the divorce.
If the parties to the divorce cannot agree on all of the matters to be settled, even after mediation, the court will make the appropriate decisions. In many jurisdictions the initial hearings will be held before a commissioner that specializes in divorce proceedings. Even though the final determination will be made by the judge, the state of Utah has provided detailed guidance in many of these matters. Both child support and alimony rules are fairly detailed and usually followed by the judge in all but the most extreme circumstances.
While divorce is not an action to be entered into lightly, divorce in Utah does not have to be complicated legally. If both parties to the divorce can enter into agreements on such issues as child custody and support, division of assets and responsibility for debts, and provisions for alimony, the judge will review the agreements and approve them if the rights of all parties are legitimately protected.