Although all 50 U.S. states now have some form of no-fault divorce, this wasn’t always the case. Prior to 1969, spouses who wished to end their marriage were forced to pin the blame on one party, citing a reason such as adultery or abandonment. If the judge hearing the case decided that the allegation was untrue or that both spouses were at fault, they could deny the divorce and force the spouses to remain married. Since many people just didn’t want to be married anymore, this led to an epidemic of false allegations and set-ups to manufacture “evidence” between the soon-to-be-exes to obtain permission from a judge for divorce. Since this situation was beginning to make perjury a common occurrence in American courtrooms and threatening the integrity of the justice system, a movement to eliminate the fault requirements began, with California adopting the law first, quickly followed by most other states within the next 15 years. New York State was the last holdout, waiting until 2010 to allow no-fault divorce.
Grounds for Divorce in Utah
No-fault divorce is the most popular option that divorcing spouses choose. For a no-fault divorce, the spouses just have to testify to a judge that they have irreconcilable differences. A no-fault divorce can also be granted if the spouses have been separated and living apart for at least three years. Reasons for a fault divorce in Utah include:
- Willful desertion for at least one year
- Being convicted of a felony
- Habitual drunkenness
- Willful neglect
If you choose to apply for a fault-based divorce, then you will have to present evidence supporting your claim.
Why should you choose no-fault divorce?
The most appealing reasons to request a no-fault divorce are that you and your spouse don’t have to publicly air your grievances in front of a judge and that you don’t have to allege any particular reason for the divorce. If you want to make your divorce as painless a process as possible, no-fault is usually the best option, since it doesn’t require you to accuse your spouse of cheating or any other wrongdoing. As long as you both agree that your marriage is no longer working out, a judge will generally grant the request.
Other Requirements for Divorce
Utah requires that the filer of a divorce petition must have been a resident of the state for the past three months. There is a 90-day waiting period after filing before a hearing may be scheduled for your divorce action. This is intended to give the spouses time to amicably resolve differences like property division or alimony. If the divorcing couple has minor children, then Utah also requires each parent to attend a divorce orientation class and a divorce education class before the divorce can be finalized.
How does no-fault divorce affect issues like alimony and custody?
Even if a no-fault divorce is granted, fault of one party may be considered when deciding associated issues such as alimony and child custody. For example, if one of the spouses has engaged in criminal activity or abusive behavior, the other spouse may ask the judge to consider this grounds to reduce or deny custody to the offending parent. If one spouse has deliberately spent or squandered marital assets with the intention of reducing the overall amount that will be awarded to the other spouse from a generally equitable division of marital assets, the judge may consider this behavior and award more property to the innocent party. A spouse who lives with a third party in a romantic relationship before the divorce is finalized may be considered guilty of adultery. If you are alleging any of these sorts of offenses, then you will have to present evidence backing up your claim to the judge. Although no-fault divorces may be pursued without the assistance of a lawyer, any complicating matters such as disagreements on alimony or custody may be better handled with the guidance of an Ogden Divorce Attorney.