Grounds For Divorce In Utah
In Utah, you must state the “grounds,” or the reason for your divorce. The reason you choose to list determines whether you’re seeking a “No-Fault” or an “At-Fault” divorce. Deciding to file a no-fault divorce shows the court that you don’t blame either party for the divorce while filing an at-fault divorce shows that you assign blame to your spouse for the downfall of the marriage. There are advantages and disadvantages to both of these options.
What Are The Grounds For Divorce?
You can choose from 10 options when citing the grounds for your divorce:
- Adultery during the marriage
- Desertion, or leaving one’s spouse for more than a year
- Neglect or refusal to provide the basic necessities of life
- Habitual drunkenness
- Conviction of a felony
- Cruel treatment to the point of bodily injury or great mental distress
- Irreconcilable differences in the marriage
- Incurable insanity
- When spouses have been legally separated for 3 years without cohabitation
Without question, the most common reason for divorce is irreconcilable differences. Citing irreconcilable differences means you’re seeking a no-fault divorce. The second most cited reason for divorce is probably a close tie between adultery and cruel treatment.
Advantages of an At-Fault Divorce
Most spouses who want to assign fault in a divorce do so because they want justice, they want to gain an advantage on the issues of alimony and custody, or both. Undoubtedly, it can be vindicating if the court finds that one spouse’s actions were so egregious that they should be held at fault for breaking up the marriage. Additionally though, assigning fault to one spouse may result in a more favorable alimony and/or custody award. For example, if a spouse is found at fault for the breakdown of the marriage because of adultery, the court may award them less alimony. If a spouse is found at fault for habitual drunkenness or cruel treatment (i.e. abuse), the court may also find that parent unfit for joint physical custody and award them less parent-time with the children.
Disadvantages of an At-Fault Divorce
As you can imagine, assigning blame to one spouse for the breakdown of a marriage isn’t typically received well. So, filing for an at-fault divorce immediately sets the tone for the divorce proceedings to be acrimonious. Acrimonious divorces usually cost more money and take longer to resolve, so a spouse should consider what approach they want to take before deciding to assign fault.
Secondly, it’s incredibly difficult to prove that one spouse is responsible for the breakdown of the marriage relationship. It’s usually not enough to prove to the court that a spouse committed adultery, you must then prove that your spouse’s adultery was a main factor in the divorce. So, if the adultery happened years ago, and the couple attended therapy, and then stopped attending therapy, and then lived together for another 10 months after that, the court may not be convinced that the adultery itself was the reason for the divorce, but the adultery was simply a symptom of bigger problems in the relationship.
Third, it can be time-consuming and expensive to prove fault. Proving anything to a court requires evidence, and sometimes evidence around areas of fault is hard to obtain. In some of the cases our firm has handled, we’ve subpoenaed phone records, dating website records, and internet records, hired private investigators, and taken depositions of people that may have been witnesses to abuse, infidelity, etc. As you can imagine, that amount of effort, and the subsequent effort to review all the documents gathered, takes a lot of time and money.
What Are The Best Grounds For Divorce?
If you want your divorce done as fast as possible, cite irreconcilable differences as the reason for the divorce. If you have evidence of your spouse’s bad actions, you can still bring that evidence to the court to prove they lied, cheated, were physically abusive, or took some other bad action without having to prove that they were “at fault” for the divorce. However, if you have an airtight case to show your spouse is at fault for the divorce, supported by convincing evidence, you may gain some advantages in alimony and custody by filing for an at-fault divorce.
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Divorce is both liberating and stressful. The attorneys at Red Law will help make your divorce as smooth as possible. Get started now by scheduling a consultation.