Can you describe the divorce process in Utah?

Divorce is painful.  The decision is never easy and there are many family law issues to consider with each case.  An experienced divorce attorney will help you navigate the difficult areas in your case.  A compassionate divorce attorney will understand your unique circumstances and needs.  At Melanie Cook Law, you will have an experienced and compassionate divorce attorney on your side.

Personal Preparation

Once you have made the decision to proceed forward with divorce, gather financial information regarding you and your spouse.  We will need documentation regarding both spouses’ income, other financial resources, information regarding real property, investments, retirement accounts, and a listing of all debt.  At Melanie Cook Law, we have a client worksheet that will help you organize all of this information.  This worksheet is a helpful place to begin the process.  Please contact Melanie Cook Law for a divorce client worksheet.


In a divorce legal action, the Court requires each party to follow certain rules and procedures.  Timing and deadlines are extremely important in a divorce case.  There are consequences when a party fails to follow proper court procedure.

Filing the Petition for Divorce

The party filing the “Petition for Divorce” (or official paperwork) becomes the Petitioner and “serves” (delivers the paperwork to) the other spouse.  The other spouse will need to file an “Answer” (which is like a response), and thereby becomes the Respondent in the case.

Mandatory Divorce Education

If there are minor children involved in the divorce, Utah requires both parties to attend a divorce education class.  The primary focus of this class is to help both parties understand the impact of divorce on the minor children.  The class also teaches parties that open communication and co-parenting will prevent emotional harm to the children in a divorce case.

Mandatory Mediation

If there are contested issues in the divorce, such as property disputes, parent time, child support, alimony, or other issues, the parties must participate in at least one mediation session. Mediation can often solve very emotional issues in a more efficient and less costly manner for both parties.

Resolving Issues

Other issues that need resolution are:

  • Child Custody
  • Parent Time
  • Child Support
  • Alimony
  • Division of marital debt
  • Division of assets
  • Division of financial accounts
  • Division of personal property
  • Division of real property

With an effective attorney and negotiator, 90% of the cases can be resolved without the need of trial.  However, sometimes the issues are so difficult that only the Judge can resolve the case. At Melanie Cook Law, we can help bring your case to resolution in an effective manner.  If the other party is unwilling to resolve the issues, Melanie Cook Law will fight for you in a trial setting.

Trial Process

Going to trial is always risky.  Trial often results in the Judge making the final decision on child custody and property division.  A Judge is a third party making the decision on your case.  In mediation, you (the client) have the decision-making power for the result of your case.  Often, a mediated divorce agreement is stronger and more tailored to the needs of each individual client.  However, not all issues can be resolved in mediation.  As such, trial is necessary to resolve the divorce action.

Going to trial requires the divorce attorney to understand the rules and deadlines of the court.  Preparing for trial is often quite expensive.  The following list highlights the basic needs to prepare a case for trial.

  • Preparing Financial Declaration
  • Attending Temporary Orders Hearing
  • Drafting Disclosures
  • Initiating Discovery
  • Issuing Subpoenas
  • Participating in a Custody Evaluation
  • Drafting Affidavits
  • Formulating Interrogatories
  • Participating in Depositions
  • Attending Pre-trial Conferences
  • Creating Trial Exhibits
  • Appearing for Trial
  • The Judge’s Decision and the Divorce Decree

Modifying or Changing the Divorce Decree

A Divorce Decree can be changed, modified or even set aside. However, the result you are seeking will depend upon a variety of factors.  At Melanie Cook Law, we will discuss every aspect of you case and answer all of your questions.