Stephen J. Buhler, Attorney at Law

What are residency requirements and grounds for divorce in Utah?

If a couple in Utah chooses to move forward with the end of a marriage, there are certain legal matters to consider. The court has the ability to dissolve a marriage provided the petitioner or respondent in the case has been a legitimate resident of the state and the county where the action is brought. If the people in the marriage are members of the U.S. armed forces and are not legal residents of the state, it can be filed where the person was stationed for three months before commencing with the divorce.

Regarding grounds for divorce in the state of Utah, there must be the one of the following: one respondent must be impotent at the time of the marriage; the respondent must have committed adultery after the couple was married; there must be a willful desertion by the respondent for a time period that goes beyond one year; there must be a willful neglect of the respondent in providing the common needs of life; the respondent must be habitually drunk; the respondent must have been convicted of a felony; the respondent has been subjected to cruel treatment of the petitioner and it has caused bodily injury or mental distress; there were irreconcilable differences; there was incurable insanity; or if the husband and wife were living separately under a decree of separation in any state for three straight years and did not live together during that time.

There are certain rules when one of the participants is considered insane. There cannot be a divorce based on insanity unless the responded was determined to be insane by the appropriate authorities in Utah or in another state before the action was taken, and the court has found the testimony of competent witnesses that the insanity is incurable.

A guardian ad litem will be appointed to protect the interests of the respondent. The merits will be investigated and, if the respondent lives out of state, depositions will be taken, proceedings will be attended and a defense will be provided. The judge will have the jurisdiction over support payments, property and child maintenance as well as other divorce legal issues. The respondent can have be brought to trial and questioned by competent physicians to determine his or her mental condition.

The above laws are to make certain that the process is fair and valid for both parties. When there is a decision to divorce, having an understanding of what must be done in the interest of completing a divorce agreement is key. For that, having legal help is imperative.

Source:, "30-3-1. Procedure -- Residence -- Grounds," accessed on Dec. 19, 2016

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