Up until now, couples had to wait a whole ninety days from the day they filed their divorce before their divorce was granted and finalized. However, since May 8, 2018, the state of Utah has cut that period down to a third, fast-tracking all divorces. One thing to note is this new waiting period only applies to divorces filed on or after May 8th, 2018.
The bill now states “30-3-18. Waiting period for hearing after filing for divorce…(1) Unless the court finds that extraordinary circumstances exist and otherwise orders, no hearing for decree of divorce may be held by the court until 30 days have elapsed from the filing of the complaint, but the court may make interim orders as it considers just and equitable.”
Senator Todd Weiler who sponsored the bill believed that the 90 day period which was in place to try and give couples the chance to change their mind did more harm than good. “I have 10 years experience as a divorce attorney and I never saw the waiting period as helping anybody,” Weiler said. “I never saw any of my clients on the 89th day call me up and say, ‘Stop the presses, we’ve worked everything out.’ It just doesn’t happen that way.”
Initially, the bill attempted to completely get rid of the waiting period after a two year committee looked into the matter. This was later amended to 30 days. The study committee was commissioned by the courts and case back with the conclusion “after two years of studying the divorce process unanimously recommended that the waiting period be waived because it’s not helping people and in fact in many cases, people feel punished,”.
Last year, more than 13,000 divorce petitions were filed in Utah. Utah is one of 22 states that has a wait time for divorce; the other 28 states do not.
The committee also found that the divorce rate in states other than Utah were not higher or lower as a result of longer or shorter waiting times, allowing the conclusion that divorce rates are not at all affected by waiting times at all.
Even though the bill passed, it was not without hurdles or pushback. “There were some people that were very supportive and some people that really pushed back and said, ‘Oh no, this 90-day waiting period, we’ve got to keep that, it’s working.’ And I’m like, ‘show me how it’s working’ and nobody did,” Weiler said.
For many, the decision to get divorced is a permanent one and a waiting period will not change that. Getting a divorce should not be done alone as there are many things that need to be considered from alimony to custody. Our team understands this and provides an experienced Salt Lake City divorce attorney to fight for your rights. For support and guidance from a divorce lawyer in Salt Lake City call our offices at 801-804-5152.