Understanding the Difference Between Contested and Uncontested Divorce in Utah

If you’re considering divorce, you’re probably aware of the financial and emotional investment it represents. You’re the only one who can know what’s best for your own future. What you might not know is that in the state of Utah, the type of divorce you pursue can affect the level of time, money, and stress that you expend in the process. Take a look at the main differences between contested and uncontested divorce to see which route may be best for your personal circumstances.

Contested Divorce

A contested divorce occurs when the two divorcing parties fail to agree on the terms of the divorce. Issues like child custody, visitation, and child support can be a very emotional subject of debate, even if a mutual agreement is more likely to benefit the child. You might also disagree on how to divide things like real estate, personal property, debts, and assets. One of you might request spousal support or alimony if you would have difficulty supporting yourself financially. Any circumstances unique to your marriage can also be addressed in the divorce terms.

When you can’t reach a mutual agreement, your contested divorce goes to trial. A judge will rule on any undecided terms, from division of property to child custody. You will need to provide strong arguments to prove your case and evidence to back them up. If you can’t afford to go through a long and expensive trial, all while trying to navigate the complex and intimidating court system, you should do your best to avoid a contested divorce.

You may end up in a contested divorce if:

  • You can’t agree on one or more of the issues
  • Your spouse doesn’t want a divorce
  • You are on very poor terms with your soon to be ex-spouse.

Uncontested Divorce

Uncontested divorce usually makes for a faster and less melodramatic experience. If you wish to pursue an uncontested divorce, you and your spouse will need to meet certain requirements. Either one of you must have been a Utah resident for at least 3 months, or 6 months if minor children are involved. You must also be able to agree on every issue which must be decided in your divorce. The final criterion requires that you have not requested child and spousal support, custody, and visitation, or that you have both signed and notarized a written agreement to resolve those issues.

An uncontested divorce can provide the following:

  • A better outcome for your children
  • No time spent in “limbo” while at trial
  • A substantially shorter and cheaper divorce process
  • Less emotional turbulence
  • An outcome that reflects both of your interests.

If you meet the criteria, all you have to do is file the correct documents with the correct Utah court. Utah requires a 90-day mandatory waiting period to complete a divorce, as well as a Divorce Education Course for parents of minor children. You are not required to attend a court hearing before your uncontested divorce is finalized.

If you are considering a divorce, whether you believe you may be eligible for an uncontested divorce or will need to pursue a contested divorce, please do not hesitate to contact the law firm of Arnold, Wadsworth & Coggins today. We can provide you with a knowledgeable approach to your legal concerns, as well as compassionate and effective guidance should your divorce end up proceeding to court.

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Written by Arnold Wadsworth Coggins

Arnold, Wadsworth & Coggins Attorneys is a premier Utah law firm serving the Wasatch Front in the areas of family law, bankruptcy, criminal law, and civil litigation. Our attorneys provide clients with exceptional legal representation and personal attention. With over 35 years of trial practice and litigation experience, we bring big firm expertise at affordable rates