Regarding: Your Initial Divorce Documents Have Been Filed; Now What?

Dear XXXX,

This is a letter explaining what happens now that your Divorce Complaint/Answer and Counter-claim has(ve) been filed. This letter is a general explanation of the process and not necessarily specific to your case. If you would like greater explanation regarding what happens now, please, feel free to call us and ask any questions you may have. We will be happy to speak with you.

Enclosed is a divorce flow chart that explains the divorce process.

If we filed a Complaint for Divorce, we must serve your spouse within 120 days. We employee professional service processors to accomplish this task. If we know your spouse’s residence, service usually takes between one and two weeks. Expedited service can be accomplished, but it costs more. Please let us know if you would like rush service or you feel rush service is necessary (e.g., your spouse is leaving the country in a week and you would like to serve him/her before departure).

After service of process, your spouse has twenty days (if served within Utah) or thirty days (if served outside Utah) to respond to either your Divorce Complaint or your Answer and Counter-claim. In reality, your spouse has about twenty-five or thirty-five days to respond because some extra days are afforded for mailing.

If your spouse does not file an Answer in response to your Divorce Complaint in a timely manner, we will file for default, which means you win by default and receive everything you asked for in your Complaint. If your spouse does not file an Answer to your Counter-claim, then we will move on to either mediation or Temporary Orders. (The Court almost never grants default on a Counter-claim because, if there is a Counter-claim, the Court automatically knows there is a dispute, and default is really only granted in undisputed cases.)

If you have children, please remember to attend the divorce education course. You should have already received information regarding this course. If you have not, please call Jodi at 801.685.9999 and she will be happy to provide it. If you do not have children, the divorce education course is not required, but you must wait ninety days from the date your Complaint was filed in order to finalize your divorce. The only way around the ninety-day waiting-period is to motion to have the waiting-period waived, but the Court usually rejects such motions unless they demonstrate a compelling reason for waiver.

Depending on your individual situation, we may request Temporary Orders. Temporary Orders are just that: temporary orders made by the court to govern the parties until a case is finalized. Temporary Orders can address any issue in a divorce or child custody case, including: (1) child custody, (2) child support, (3) alimony, (4) parent-time, (5) payment of debts, and (6) and possession of the marital home. If we decide to file for Temporary Orders in your case, you will receive a letter explaining them in more depth.

You will almost certainly attend mediation since mediation is required in contested divorce cases. While the Court might order mediation, mediation is ultimately a voluntary process based on good-faith negotiation. The parties come together (usually not in the same room; that is just awkward), and with the help of a mediator (a third-party neutral) to discuss their situation and negotiate toward a settlement everyone can live with. If mediation is successful, you will reach an agreement and sign a settlement agreement. That agreement will become the basis for your final Divorce Decree. If we attend mediation in your case, you will receive a letter explaining the process in more depth.

In order to address alimony or child support, a Financial Declaration will need to be filed, either with the Court or with the opposing party (depending on the situation). If you have not already completed a Financial Declaration, please do that as soon as possible. Our goal is to have Financial Declarations filed at the beginning of the litigation process. If Financial Declarations are not filed in a timely manner, it may cause a delay in your case or preclude you from asking for child support and/or alimony.

If your case progresses past mediation and Temporary Orders, discovery will be necessary, and a custody evaluation may be required. All of these possibilities will be explained (if necessary) in later letters and discussions.

Hopefully, this letter has helped explain what happens now that we have filed your initial divorce pleadings. Again, if you have any questions regarding your case, please call 801-685-9999.

/s/ Marco Brown

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