Every Utah divorce is different.
Different spouses. Different kids. Different circumstances. Different attorneys. Different judges. Different goals. You get the idea.
These differences are why we treat every divorce as a unique situation and tailor our approach accordingly.
And while we treat each divorce with respect and individually tailor our approach, we’ve been around long enough, and helped so many hundreds and thousands of families, that we’ve noticed patterns in how Utah divorces go.
Stages of a Utah Divorce
Before I talk about how divorces usually go, I need to lay out the stages of Utah divorces.
Stage 1: Initial documents.
Every Utah divorce starts with a divorce complaint. The complaint is only the first item that initiates a divorce, though. You also have financial declarations, and initial disclosures, as well as notices about mediation, divorce education, etc.
Stage 2: Mediation.
Mediation very regularly (read: almost always) comes right after the initial documents stage. The reason for this is (1) people want to get their divorce done, and mediation is the quickest way to do that; and (2) if you did everything you should have in the initial documents stage, you’re usually ready for mediation.
Stage 3: Temporary orders.
Temporay orders sometimes follow the initial documents stage, and sometimes follow mediation. When you go to temporary orders depends entirely on your case. If you need to get something done right now (e.g., temporary custody, temporary alimony, temporary child support), then you’ll go to temporary orders. If there is no pressing need, then you’ll go to mediation first to negotiate things out.
Stage 4: Discovery/Custody evaluation.
If you go through stages 1-3 and still haven’t finished your case, you’ll need to move on to discovery, and, if you have kids, probably a custody evaluation. This stage takes around six months to a year.
Stage 5: Trial.
Not many cases go to trial. Case that do go to trial usually have at least one of three characteristics: (1) one spouse has a mental illness, (2) there is no middle ground to negotiate, (3) one spouse wants to punish the other spouse.
Getting ready for and having trial takes three to four months. That’s on top of the six months to a year for the discovery/custody evaluation phase.
So, how Do Utah Divorce Cases Usually Go?
Here’s how we’ve seen Utah divorces break down.
75% are done after Stages 1 and 2. In other words, initial documents and mediation take care of 75% of divorce cases.
90%-95% are done after Stages 1, 2, and 3. When you add temporary orders to the mix, that take care of the vast majority of Utah divorces.
98%-99% are done after Stages 1, 2, 3, and 4. Once you get done with discovery and/or a custody evaluation, almost no case goes to trial.
All of this means only 1%-2% of cases go to trial.