What if my Divorce Decree Is not from Utah; Can I File a Petition to Modify in Utah?

Example 1

It’s a story we encounter often: couple gets married in Michigan, moves to Florida where they divorce, the spouse with the kids moves home to Utah, the other spouse moves to Utah to be closer to the kids, then there are issues and someone wants to change the divorce decree.

Problem is the divorce decree is in Florida and not Utah where everyone lives.

What do you do in a situation like this?

The process is usually pretty simple. First, you move the decree from Florida to Utah. You do this by filing a Registration of Foreign Order.

Second, after registration of the decree in Utah, you can attempt to change the decree by filing a petition to modify.

(Note: I say “usually” because sometimes it’s not simple. Sometimes, one spouse wants to keep the decree in whatever state it’s in now — Florida in the example above. If, however, neither parents lives in the old state and they both live in Utah, Utah will almost certainly take control of the case.)

Example 2

It’s a story we hear almost as often as Example 1: couple gets married in Michigan, divorced in Florida, and the noncustodial parent moves to Utah and wants to change the divorce decree.

Problem here is that not only the divorce decree is in Florida, but so are the kids and one parent.

This situation likely has an outcome different than Example 1.

Rule of thumb is this: if the children and one parent are still in the state where the decree was entered, then the decree will stay there, and the parent who lives in Utah will need to go back to the other state to change the decree.

Example 3

And then there’s this story (which we hear only slightly less often): couple gets married in Michigan, divorced in Florida, and the custodial parent moves to Utah and someone wants to change the divorce decree.

This situation’s interesting because it can turn in to a race to the courthouse.

What I mean is if the parent who still live in Florida files for a modification in Florida, the Florida court might keep jurisdiction of the modification, even if the kids have moved to Utah. Likewise, if the parent in Utah files first, Utah could well take control of the case.

Usually, Florida will give up its control over the case when the children have been gone for more than six months. So, the general rule is if you make it more than six months in Utah, you can file your Registration of Foreign Order and Utah will become the home state for the divorce, and then you can file your petition to modify.


Hope these examples (the most common situations we see) have given you some guidance on what happens when someone lives in Utah and their decree or is in another state.

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