how long does a divorce take

How Long Does A Divorce Take If One Party Doesn’t Agree?

When facing a situation where one party doesn’t agree, individuals often wonder, ‘How long does a divorce take if one party doesn’t agree?’ This question underscores the potential challenges and uncertainties inherent in such circumstances, sparking a sense of urgency.

Ending a marriage is never easy, even when both spouses agree it’s time to get divorced. But what if your spouse doesn’t want the divorce, then how long could it potentially drag out the process? This is a common question for those filing for divorce in Utah without their partner’s consent.

Thankfully, Utah divorce laws allow for one spouse to get a divorce without the other party’s agreement. However, that doesn’t necessarily mean it will be quick and smooth.

How Long Does a Divorce Take in Utah?

Getting divorced in Utah can take anywhere from 3 months to over a year, depending on your situation.

If you and your spouse agree on all divorce terms, an uncontested divorce will likely take about 3 months to complete. You’ll file the paperwork, await the state’s 90-day waiting period, and get a final decree. Simple and fast.

But when spouses fight over issues like money, property, and kids, the divorce gets bogged down in delays. A contested divorce with lots of complicated assets can drag on for 9 months or longer. The case has to go through discovery, legal motions, and sometimes a full trial. Still, most contested divorces do eventually settle before reaching a final verdict.

The absolute minimum time for any divorce in Utah is 30 days. This mandatory waiting period gives couples a chance to think twice before finalizing. After that, an easy divorce wraps up in around 3 months. High-conflict divorces can take 9+ months. But with legal guidance, even the messiest divorce will conclude so that you can move on.

Utah’s No-Fault Divorce Laws

Unlike some states, you do not need to prove fault or wrongdoing on your spouse’s part to file for and be granted a divorce in Utah. This is due to Utah having “no-fault” divorce laws, meaning irreconcilable differences can be grounds for dissolving a marriage even if one person doesn’t agree to the divorce.

You have to show that the marriage is irretrievably broken – for example, by showing you and your spouse have developed such serious marital problems that there is no reasonable chance of saving the marriage. This makes getting a divorce possible without consent, but the rules still do not set specific timelines.

Factors That Influence The Timeline

The exact length of your Utah divorce takes with an unwilling spouse depends on several variables, including:

  • How contentious the divorce is – The more your spouse contests or drags their feet to prevent the divorce, the longer the process. For example, if they fail to respond on time or refuse to sign documents.
  • If you have children – With kids in the picture, there are custody factors the court must resolve, which adds to the timeline. Courts want to ensure arrangements are made in the children’s best interests.
  • Complexity of financial and asset division – Sorting out finances, investments, real estate, retirement funds and personal property while factoring in debts takes time.
  • How crowded the local family court docket is – Family court judges have a high volume of cases like all courts. The more cases ahead of yours, the longer you may have to wait for a hearing date.
  • If your spouse hires an attorney to contest – Having a lawyer drafting motions and arguments against the divorce can effectively drag out the timeframe.
  • How reasonable both sides can remain during mediation sessions – Court-ordered mediation aims to resolve contestations amicably, but is less effective if one spouse stonewalls the process.
  • If intervening events delay proceedings – Things like a change of legal counsel, requests for new hearing dates, continuances the court allows, other legal issues arising, or anyone falling ill can all temporarily halt the wheels of justice.

What Makes a Divorce Possible in Utah?

Like all states, you can’t simply decide one day you want to be divorced in Utah without actual legal grounds to terminate the marital contract.

Utah law explicitly outlines appropriate justifications that qualify as adequate causes to legally prove why this marriage is irreconcilable and should be dissolved by the court.

Of course, every situation is unique, but the generally approved bases for divorce in Utah are as follows:

Irreconcilable Differences: This “no-fault” standard encompasses irreparable loss of trust, insurmountable disagreements, continuous conflicts making harmony impossible, loss of intimacy, and grown apart values and goals. 

Also, other fundamental yet subjective reasons the marriage has collapsed from within over time with no repair possible. Utah courts recognize and regularly grant a divorce on these incompatibility grounds.

Adultery: Being cheated on by a straying spouse represents objective and time-tested grounds for divorce across most states, including Utah. 

Impotence: If either spouse is medically and irrevocably physically unable to engage in sexual intimacy required to consummate the marriage after adequate time and treatment efforts, it becomes a legal cause.

Willful Desertion: When one spouse deliberately abandons all marital duties and the home for over a year, this abandonment meets Utah criteria for divorce.

Abuse/Cruel Treatment: Allegations of domestic violence, child abuse, emotional abuse, or physical harm toward a spouse provide urgent grounds for ending the marriage.

Speeding Up An Unwanted Divorce

If your spouse doesn’t agree with your desire to get divorced, unfortunately, you cannot force them to consent or take actions like signing divorce papers. Utah requires both spouses to be allowed to have their side heard in court.

However, there are a few key things you can do to help prevent excessive stalling and work towards finalizing the divorce on time:

Mediate in good faith: At least attempt to resolve property division, money, child arrangements, and other divorce issues together before battling it out in court.

Avoid unnecessary disputes: Pick your battles and settle minor grievances reasonably versus fighting over everything. Slovenly, the courts have to intervene frequently, and the longer a ruling on your case can take, the more it can take.

Submit court papers promptly: Supply requested affidavits, documentation, financial records, and other evidence on time. Missing deadlines can negatively impact your case.

Accept when compromises must be made: Although compromise can be difficult when you strongly oppose your soon-to-be-ex-spouse, picking unwinnable fights over possessions or pride is rarely worth elongating the battle.

Stay flexible with court dates: While inconvenient, being open to various court scheduling and last-minute hearing date changes can prevent stalling tactics.

Consider including a mediation clause: If an unwilling spouse excessively lengthens proceedings, requesting mediation be officially ordered by the court can help resolve issues. A professional mediator may even recommend a resolution the judge accepts.

Hire an experienced family law attorney: Insight from a divorce lawyer familiar with Utah laws and courts, especially for contested divorces, is invaluable to ensure proper filings and speedier finalization. Legal expertise goes a long way toward efficiently navigating this complex legal transition.

Frequently Ask Questions

How long does it take to get a divorce in Utah?

An uncontested divorce usually takes around 3 months in Utah. If it’s contested and complicated with disputes over assets or child custody, it can take anywhere from 6 months to over a year. 

What is the residency requirement to file for divorce in Utah?

To file for divorce in Utah, the petitioner or respondent must have resided in the state for at least 6 months prior. This is to make sure Utah courts have proper jurisdictional oversight. 

What if we mutually agree to divorce in Utah?

If you and your spouse mutually agree to get a divorce in Utah, you can pursue a divorce by consent, also known as an uncontested or no-fault divorce. This is when both spouses consent to the divorce and agree on the terms without fighting over issues like asset division, alimony, or child custody.

Bottom Line

In the end, there is no definite way to know precisely how long it could take from initially filing for divorce to the day your marriage legally ends if your spouse intends to be uncooperative. The process takes a minimum of three months per Utah law. 

However, it isn’t uncommon for contested divorces to remain disputed for closer to a year, often longer in extreme cases, if an estranged spouse leverages every avenue to stall a divorce they do not want.

The good news is Utah legislation allows for one party to obtain a divorce without the other party agreeing to it. How smoothly and swiftly that divorce proceeds through the court system greatly depends on the cooperation level of both individuals.