Utah law allows married individuals to file for a temporary separation, without filing for divorce, and obtain temporary orders such as as might be entered in a divorce case.
In order to do so, the parties must be legally married and both parties must have been residents of the state for at least ninety days prior to filing.
The petition is filed and served upon the opposing party, along with a twenty day summons.
The filing party, or petitioner, must take the divorce orientation class (but not the divorce education class) within sixty days of filing the petition and the respondent must take the class within forty-five days of being served with the petition.
The temporary separation orders can last up to one year, or until the case is dismissed or consolidated with a divorce case.
Either party may file a petition for divorce and move to consolidate the two cases. The filing fee for the temporary separation ($35) may then be credited towards the much higher filing fee for divorce ($310 plus $8 for the vital statistics form).
If a divorce is filed and the cases are consolidated, the temporary separation orders will continue as temporary orders in the divorce case.
People often call our office and ask if legal separation is required before a divorce can be obtained in Utah. The answer is no. But this interesting provision of Utah law allows the parties to obtain a temporary legal separation with orders that are binding but not permanent.
Although I have not often filed temporary separation cases, I have had clients utilize this procedure when they are going through difficulties and need certainty with respect to things such as child custody and child support, but do not necessarily want a divorce.
The temporary separation statute is set forth at Utah Code Section 30-3-4.5.
This material should not be construed as legal advice for any particular fact situation, but is intended for general informational purposes only. For advice specific to any individual situation, an experienced attorney should be contacted.