What are the grounds for filing for a divorce in Utah?

First, you need to understand that Utah, like every other state in the U.S. has what are known as a “no-fault divorce law”. No-fault divorce means that you don’t have to plead or show that your spouse committed any kind of marital “fault” to obtain a divorce. Previous to the creation of no-fault divorce laws, you could not get a divorce unless you could prove your spouse had committed one or more of the recognized faults constituting grounds for divorce.  

Utah’s no-fault ground for divorce is the “irreconcilable differences of the marriage” basis (Utah Code § 30-3-1(h)). If you assert irreconcilable differences as your ground for divorce, you do not have to prove any kind of fault to obtain a divorce on that ground. Because it doesn’t matter whether your spouse wants a divorce too– you can prove that there are irreconcilable differences of the marriage by simply saying that you subjectively feel that there are irreconcilable differences. Sometimes a court might ask you to explain in more detail what the irreconcilable differences in your marriage are, but courts will accept something as simple and ambiguous statements like “we are not compatible anymore” or “our differences prevent the marriage from continuing” or “our differences have rendered the marriage unsalvageable”.  

Fault-based grounds for divorce still exist, which means that one can still assert one or more of these faults as grounds for divorce, but it’s not necessary to assert fault-based grounds to obtain a divorce. 

I have provided for you below Section 30-3-1 of the Utah Code, which articulates both the no-fault ground and all the other legally recognized grounds for divorce in Utah. 

Utah Code § 30-3-1.  Procedure — Residence — Grounds. 

(1) Proceedings in divorce are commenced and conducted as provided by law for proceedings in civil causes, except as provided in this chapter. 

(2) The court may decree a dissolution of the marriage contract between the petitioner and respondent on the grounds specified in Subsection (3) in all cases where the petitioner or respondent has been an actual and bona fide resident of this state and of the county where the action is brought, or if members of the armed forces of the United States who are not legal residents of this state, where the petitioner has been stationed in this state under military orders, for three months next prior to the commencement of the action. 

(3) Grounds for divorce: 

(a) impotency of the respondent at the time of marriage; 

(b) adultery committed by the respondent subsequent to marriage; 

(c) willful desertion of the petitioner by the respondent for more than one year; 

(d) willful neglect of the respondent to provide for the petitioner the common necessaries of life; 

(e) habitual drunkenness of the respondent; 

(f) conviction of the respondent for a felony; 

(g) cruel treatment of the petitioner by the respondent to the extent of causing bodily injury or great mental distress to the petitioner; 

(h) irreconcilable differences of the marriage; 

(i) incurable insanity; or 

(j) when the husband and wife have lived separately under a decree of separate maintenance of any state for three consecutive years without cohabitation. 

Utah Family Law, LC | | 801-466-9277  

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