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How to Serve Divorce Papers in Utah

We all know that serving divorce papers is a necessary step in the process of getting divorced. However, it can be difficult to find out what you need to do if you are not familiar with the legal system. If it’s time to serve your spouse with divorce papers, but you don’t know how. Then this blog post will help guide you through some important steps on how to serve divorce papers in Utah.

Serving divorce papers graphic - Served with divorce papers near Salt Lake City

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What Does It Mean to Serve Divorce Papers?

The process of serving papers also called service of process is as it sounds, the process of delivering a copy of the documents filed with the court to begin a case to the individuals opposing you. Divorce papers, more specifically, are a summons and complaint, or a petition, that informs the defendant that he or she must answer the complaint. These documents state the number of days he or she has as well as the default judgment that will occur if the individual doesn’t respond within the given time. You should keep the original documents, and your spouse should be served with copies of the following documents:

  • Copy of Complaint
  • Copy of Court Summons
  • Copy of Temporary Injunctions if needed

Download In-State Summons Form

Download Out-of-State Summons Form

Hiring a Utah divorce attorney can help you through this process and help you remain protected throughout it, especially in complex cases of custody or significant joint assets. Please review the information on this page carefully, as failing to properly serve your spouse can get your case dismissed, and then you will have to start all over again.

 

 

The Utah Service of Process

To initiate a divorce, one of the parties must file documents with the clerk’s office in the county where he or she lives. The initial paperwork, called a divorce petition or dissolution petition, begins this process. It:

To initiate a divorce, one of the parties must file documents with the clerk’s office in the county where he or she lives. The initial paperwork, called a divorce petition or dissolution petition, begins this process. It:

  • Outlines the marriage
  • Defines what the filer requests of the divorce
  • States the reason for filing for divorce

In addition, some cases include a temporary court order that dictates several things including:

After completing these forms, the original copies must then be filed with the proper county court. Papers must then be served to the other party within 120 days of the filing of the petition. The defendant or other spouse must be told about the case, given copies of all documents filed, and given time to respond to the action taken.

Download In-State Summons Form

FAQ – Serving Divorce Papers in Utah

Here are answers to some of the most frequently asked questions about getting a divorce in Utah:

It is up to the person who is filing the documents to ensure the spouse is served the required documents. This is not done by the courts. However, the petitioner cannot be the one to physically serve the documents. The petitioner is given 120 days to serve the documents to the spouse including copies of the petition, the summons, and other documentation. It’s important that copies of the documents are given to the spouse rather than the originals, which must be returned to the court for filing after the spouse is served. If the spouse isn’t served within that timeframe, the court may extend the time for serving the documents. However, the petitioner must file a request for the extension or the case is dismissed.

The spouse can be served at any location, his or her home, place of work, or other location. The individual serving the spouse will need to complete an Affidavit of Service. This document will outline where, when, and which specific documents were served to the spouse. There are several options for doing this:

  • Through the mail is an option if a commercial courier service is used or the US Postal Service if registered or certified mail with return receipt is utilized to do so. The individual receiving the documents must sign for the delivery and only that individual may sign for it. If anyone else signs, the papers don’t meet the qualifications set by the court for serving.
  • The sheriff’s department or a private process servicing company can also serve the documents. This is often done for a fee, paid by the petitioner.
  • A personal service can also be used in which the documents are given to the individual in people such as by a constable, US Marshal, or any person over the age of 18 who is not the petitioner or the attorney for the petitioner. The individual cannot be a respondent in any protective order or a convicted felon.

Download Service Assistance Form

The Utah courts require proof of service for served, or they will not take action on the petition until this is completed. The proof of service must provide specific information about the place data, and the manner in which the documents were served. It must include a receipt signed by the defendant or the defendant’s agent that is otherwise approved and recognized by the court. In situations where a US Marshal, sheriff, constable, or deputy of any of these, the proof must be completed in the form of an affidavit.
Download Utah Proof of Service Form Download Financial Declaration Form Checklist

Once the spouse is served, he or she has 21 days after they were served in Utah or 30 days if served outside of the state to “answer.” The state requires that involved parties exchange financial information including information about all assets and debts at this point in a Financial Declaration. This document must be filed with the court after the spouse responds to the original divorce petition he or she was served. In situations where the spouse files an answer, both spouses must complete the Financial Declaration including debts, assets, expenses, income as well as documentation supporting these claims, such as copies of tax returns, pay stubs, any applications for loans, real estate appraisal documents, and any other document that verifies this information. What happens next depends on if the spouse responds to the documents. If the spouse files an answer contesting anything, the case will go to mediation and potentially to trial depending on the conditions of the answer.

If the spouse doesn’t file an answer to the summons, the petitioner may ask the court to file a default judgment, which gives the petitioner what he or she asked for in the divorce petition. The non-answering spouse doesn’t have the opportunity to protest the move. The judge is unable to make any findings of anything not alleged in the complaint as it must be followed exactly. The court cannot grant relief for the complaint. It is possible for a previously filed judgment to be set aside, but only if a verifiable reason is available, such as an individual that is a service member with special rights.

Divorce documents can be served in person or by mail. The respondent’s signature is required by the court as proof that the documents have been received. For example, if the petitioner mails the divorce documents, those must be sent by certified mail with the return receipt requested, and the recipient’s signature must appear on the return receipt. IMPORTANT: A judge can permit the divorce case to proceed without the signature on the divorce papers in situations in which the petitioner shows repeated failed attempts to serve the papers. In such cases, the judge may permit alternative means of notification that do not involve ensuring receipt of notification actually occurred or obtaining the recipient’s signature.

The complaint served to you in a divorce explains what the petitioner (your spouse) is asking for. You may not need to respond if you agree with all your spouse has asked for in the complaint. If you choose not to respond to the complaint within 21 days, your spouse can ask the court to grant a default Divorce Decree that awards everything requested in the complaint. However, if you do not agree with something your spouse is asking for in the complaint, you must file a response. You should discuss your options and what actions you need to take in your best interest with your divorce lawyers in Utah.

In Utah, after the petitioner has filed the petition for divorce with the court, there is a required 30-day waiting period before the divorce can be finalized. If the respondent has fully agreed to all the petitioner’s terms as stated in the complaint, the divorce is uncontested. It is typically not necessary in Utah to have a court hearing in such cases to finalize a divorce. If there is disagreement about the terms, the divorce becomes contested. In that case, it will probably be necessary for you to attend hearings and work with an experienced Salt Lake City divorce attorney to resolve issues with the other party as needed to finalize the divorce.

In Utah, divorce documents can be served through the mail or in person. Whether delivery is by mail or in person, the receiving party’s signature is required as a proof for the court that the documents were received. For more information about how to serve divorce papers in Utah, see the Utah Courts page on serving papers in Utah.

Delaying a divorce cannot continue indefinitely. Utah law provides alternative means of having a respondent in a divorce legally served even if you are never actually notified of the divorce in any official way. For example, the judge may approve having a copy of the divorce petition with the citation simply put on your doorstep, or in the mailbox, or leaving it with someone else living with you. Or, the judge may allow the petitioner to have the notification posted on a bulletin board or published in a newspaper. At that point, it is no longer important to the court whether you actually read the documents or are even aware of the divorce case. The process server informs the judge with a citation explaining that he/she followed the required method of serving divorce papers in Utah. The service step of the process is then considered to have been completed, and the divorce can legally proceed.

After you request to have a legal process server deliver the divorce documents to your spouse, and after the process server delivers the documents, you will receive a confirmation. A Proof of Service acknowledgment also called an Affidavit of Service, is notarized by the process service agent and then provided to the party requesting to have the documents served. There is an abundance of helpful information about serving and signing Utah divorce papers online at the Utah Courts website.

We Can Help You Serve Divorce Papers in Utah

If you are considering filing for divorce in Utah, don’t go through this process on your own. Contact the Law Office of David Pedrazas to help ensure that your rights and interests are protected by hiring an experienced attorney who understands state law. The Law Office of David Pedraza is ready to provide you with a confidential consultation so that we can discuss how best to protect your rights as well as meet all legal requirements when it comes time for court proceedings. Schedule a consultation today or just give us a call at (801) 263-7078 when you’re ready.

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