Petition for Conciliation: What Is it and how Does it Work?

Who has ever heard of a petition for conciliation? I know I hadn’t until I was reading through the Utah family law statutes (something us legal dorks do) and happened upon it.

Essentially, if you want to keep your husband or wife from filing for divorce, or you want to put a hold on a divorce trial, you can file a petition for conciliation.

When you file for conciliation, you want the Court to help you save your marriage and reconcile. You can also use conciliation to produce “an amicable settlement” to avoid going to court and fighting about things.

And how does the Court help people reconcile?

When conciliation is filed, the Court refers people to a “domestic relations counselor” (i.e., a marriage counselor) in hopes that will help.

This petition only buys you a little bit of time — sixty days — though. If people don’t reconcile within sixty days, or the marriage counselor tells the Court reconciliation will not happen, then the divorce moves forward.

If you want to give getting back together one last chance, then a petition for conciliation might work. It puts the breaks on divorce and gives people a little bit of breathing room to talk and work things out.

Utah Laws

If you want to read the laws regarding Utah petitions for conciliation, here they are:

Utah Code, Section 30-3-16.2

Prior to the filing of any action for divorce, annulment, or separate maintenance, either spouse or both spouses may file a petition for conciliation in the family court division invoking the jurisdiction of the court for the purpose of preserving the marriage by effecting a reconciliation between the parties or an amicable settlement of the controversy between them so as to avoid litigation over the issues involved.

Utah Code, Section 30-3-16.3

The petition for conciliation shall state:

(1) A controversy exists between the spouses and request the aid of the court to effect a reconciliation or an amicable settlement of the controversy.
(2) The name and age of each child under the age of 17 years whose welfare may be affected by the controversy.
(3) The name and address of the petitioner or the names and addresses of the petitioners.
(4) If the petition is filed by one spouse only, the name and address of the other spouse as a respondent.
(5) The name, as a respondent, of any other person who has any relation to the controversy and, if known to the petitioners, the address of such person.
(6) Such other information as the court may by rule require.

Utah Code, Section 30-3-16.4

When a petition for conciliation is filed in the family court division of the district court, the court shall refer the matter to the domestic relations counselor or counselors and shall cause notice to be given to the spouses, by mail or in a form prescribed by the court, of the filing of the petition and of the time and place of any hearing, conference or other proceeding scheduled by the court or domestic relations counselors under this act.

Utah Code, Section 30-3-16.5

The court may fix fees to be charged for filing a petition for conciliation and for use of the courts’ counseling services.

Utah Code, Section 30-3-16.6

Neither the names of petitioners nor respondents, nor the contents of petitions for conciliation filed under this act, shall be available or open to public inquiry, except that an attorney for a person seeking to file an action for divorce, annulment or separate maintenance may determine from the clerk of the court if the other spouse has filed a petition for conciliation.

Utah Code, Section 30-3-16.7

(1) The filing of a petition for conciliation under this act shall, for a period of 60 days thereafter, act as a bar to the filing by either spouse of an action for divorce, annulment of marriage or separate maintenance unless the court otherwise orders.
(2) The pendency of an action for divorce, annulment of marriage or separate maintenance does not prevent either party to the action from filing a petition for conciliation under this act, either on the party’s own or at the request and direction of the court as authorized by Section 30-3-17.
(3) The filing of a petition for conciliation shall stay for a period of 60 days, unless the court otherwise orders, any trial or default hearing upon the complaint.
(4) Notwithstanding any other provision of this section, when the judge of the family court division is advised in writing by a marriage counselor to whom a petition for conciliation has been referred that a reconciliation of the parties cannot be effected, the bar to filing an action or the stay of trial or default hearing shall be removed.


Published On: April 8th, 2022Categories: CourtComments Off on Petition for Conciliation: What Is it and how Does it Work?
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About the Author: Marco Brown
Marco C. Brown was named Utah’s Outstanding Family Law Lawyer of the Year in 2015. He graduated with distinction from the University of Nebraska College of Law in 2007 and is currently the managing partner of Brown Family Law, LLC.
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