A divorce based on irreconcilable differences of the marriage can mean a multitude of things, but ultimately it means that there is no reasonable hope that the marriage can continue. The court may approve or reject a marital settlement agreement of the spouses. Standard financial disclosure forms may be required to be filed.
To receive a court-approved divorce it is not necessary to show that either one of the parties was at fault in the decline of the marriage. All that is necessary to prove is a breakdown in the marital relationship to the extent that the objects and goals of marriage have been destroyed and that no reasonable possibility remains that the marriage can be saved.
The assignment of fault may make a difference in terms of a court's final determination of the division of the marital estate and an alimony award, although the court does not "punish" a party for fault when dividing property. If a party's fault caused the innocent party financial hardship, then that can affect how much of an award property or alimony a court makes to the innocent party.
Mediation (See Utah Code § 30-3-39)
The parties must use a mediator recognized by the court as qualified to mediate domestic disputes. Unless otherwise ordered by the court or the parties agree upon a different payment arrangement, the cost of mediation shall be divided equally between the parties. Either party may be excused from the requirement to mediate if they show the court, director of dispute resolution programs for the courts, or the mediator good cause.
Utah case law defines marital property extensively. See Elman v. Elman 45 P.3d 176 (Utah Ct. App. 2002): All assets acquired by the parties during marriage are to be considered by the trial court when making an equitable distribution, unless the law specifically prevents the court from considering a particular asset. Dunn v. Dunn (802 P.2d 1314, 1317-18 (Utah Ct. App. 1990)) broadly defines marital property as ordinarily all property acquired during marriage and it encompasses all of the assets of every nature possessed by the parties, whenever obtained and from whatever source derived.
The general rule is that equity requires that each party retain the separate property he or she brought into the marriage, including any appreciation of the separate property." Dunn v. Dunn, 802 P.2d 1314, 1320 (Utah Ct. App. 1990). Such separate property can, however, become part of the marital estate if (1) the other spouse has by his or her efforts or expense contributed to the enhancement, maintenance, or protection of that property, thereby acquiring an equitable interest in it, or (2) the property has been consumed or its identity lost through commingling or exchanges or where the acquiring spouse has made a gift of an interest therein to the other spouse. Mortensen v. Mortensen, 760 P.2d 304, 308 (Utah 1988) (citation omitted). Child v. Child, 194 P.3d 205, 210 (Utah App., 2008). Even when neither of these elements is met to bring separate property into the marital estate, under an equitable property division, an interest in a spouse's separate property may still be awarded to the spouse "in lieu of alimony or in other extraordinary situations where equity so demands." (Id. citing Burt V. Burt, 799 P.2d 1166, 1169 (Utah Ct. App. 1990).
In making its equitable distribution awards the courts are not only authorized to make monetary awards to one of the parties, but may also divide or order sold or transfer jointly owned marital property to one of the parties., but may also divide or order sold or transfer jointly owned marital property to one of the parties. The court in making its equitable distribution awards is not required to divide the marital property on an equal basis.
Alimony (See Utah Code § 30-3-5(8 - 10)
The court may consider the fault of the parties in determining alimony. As a general rule, the court should look to the standard of living, existing at the time of separation, in determining alimony. However, the court must consider all relevant facts and equitable principles and may, in its discretion, base alimony on the standard of living that existed at the time of trial. In marriages of short duration, when no children have been conceived or born during the marriage, the court may consider the standard of living that existed at the time of the marriage. The court may, under appropriate circumstances, attempt to equalize the parties' respective standards of living.
When a marriage of long duration dissolves on the threshold of a major change in the income of one of the spouses due to the collective efforts of both, that change shall be considered in dividing the marital property and in determining the amount of alimony. If one spouse's earning capacity has been greatly enhanced through the efforts of both spouses during the marriage, the court may make a compensating adjustment in dividing the marital property and awarding alimony. In determining alimony when a marriage of short duration dissolves, and no children have been conceived or born during the marriage, the court may consider restoring each party to the condition which existed at the time of marriage.
Alimony may not be ordered for a duration longer than the number of years that the marriage existed unless, at any time prior to termination of alimony, the court finds extenuating circumstances that justify the payment of alimony for a longer period of time. Unless a decree of divorce specifically provides otherwise, any order of the court that a party pay alimony to a former spouse automatically terminates upon the remarriage or death of that former spouse. However, if the remarriage is annulled and found to be void ab initio, payment of alimony shall resume if the party paying alimony is made a party to the action of annulment and his rights are determined.
Any order of the court that a party pay alimony to a former spouse terminates upon establishment by the party paying alimony that the former spouse is living with another person and is in a sexual relationship.
Spouse support is not awarded to punish a guilty spouse but rather is to lessen the financial impact of divorce on the other spouse.
Child Custody (See Utah Code §§ 30-3-10, -10.1, -10.2, -10.3, -10.4, -10.7, -10.8, -10.9, -10.10)
Other factors considered may include the age of the parent and child, the physical and mental condition of the parent and child, the relationship existing between each parent and each child, the needs of the child, the role played by each parent in the upbringing and caring for the child, the home where the child will live and the child's wishes if the child is of sufficient age, intelligence and maturity to make such a decision. Custody may be changed if there is a material and substantial change in circumstances necessitating or warranting a change in the custody award. Child custody is not easily modified, and the material substantial change in circumstances that causes a change in custody are not easily established.
Visitation (See Utah Code §§ 30-3-32, 30-3-33, 30-3-34, 30-3-35, 30-3-35.5, 30-3-36, and 30-3-37)
The State Resource pages are provided for informational purposes only. Do not take any actions based upon the information contained within the State Resource pages without first consulting an attorney licensed in your state. We at DadsDivorce.com strive to keep our information up-to-date; however state laws are not static and subject to change without notice.