Legal Separation in Utah

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Legal separation in Utah is also known as separate maintenance or temporary separation order. The option of reconciliation always remains open for the legally separated couple. They remain legally married but lead separate lives. Legal separation is generally sought due to the religious, social or financial benefits. Couples who are legally married but separated can avail the tax exemptions, insurance coverage as well as other joint financial benefits. Besides, there is no social stigma related to being “legally separated” as well as religious affiliations do not approve of divorce; hence legal separation is preferred.

Grounds for Legal Separation in Utah:

The grounds for legal separation in Utah are similar to the grounds for divorce. However, these grounds are specified by the statute of Utah.

Let's have a detailed look at these grounds:

  • Desertion - If a spouse is willfully deserted by the other spouse shortly after the marriage or the birth of their child, it is termed as desertion and the deserted spouse can file for legal separation on the basis of willful desertion. The court can order the deserting spouse to pay the compensation and the alimony and child support for the rest of their lives and the couple is separated legally.
  • Inability to Provide - If a spouse is unable or refuse to provide for the basic needs of the family, spouse and the children, it is considered as an offense and the dependent spouse can file for legal separation on the basis of inability to provide.
    Refusal to provide despite of being able to do so is a criminal offense and the court can order the respondent to pay for the time it thinks as appropriate.
  • Neglect - Staying in the same house and yet refusing to take any responsibilities related to household chores or not providing children with the education or the basic needs of the spouse, such a behavior is termed as neglect and the dependent spouse can file for legal separation on the basis of neglect on the part of the respondent.
    Neglect can also be termed as not spending time with the children, denying sexual relations to the spouse and being irresponsible.
  • Living Separate and Apart - If the couple has been living separate or apart for a period of more than one year in different houses or under the same roof without cohabiting, it is termed as mutual separation and the legal separation can be granted assuming that the couple does not wish to continue cohabiting.
    However, during this period, they are not supposed to indulge in sexual relations even once or socialize as a couple even for family gatherings, office parties or parent meetings.
  • Imprisonment - If either of the spouse is convicted of any criminal charges and is imprisoned owing to these charges, the innocent spouse can file for legal separation on the basis of imprisonment or incarceration which results in inability to provide the basic necessities of the family.
The proceedings of legal separation are similar to the proceedings of divorce. Utah is one of the states which recognizes the documentation for legal separation which is granted in the form of a court decree. This court order is known as “Decree of Legal Separation”.

For a couple to obtain legal separation, it is necessary to file for “Temporary Separation Order” which grants the couple trial separation by sorting all the family issues such as alimony, childcare, guardianship, property division, debts division and all the issues related to family. It provides the necessary time and space to the couple apart from each other so that they can do a little soul-searching and reflect upon the consequences of their separation knowing that the important marital issues have been sorted out.

The residency requirement for filing for legal separation is 90 days before the date of filing. The only difference between a legal separation and a divorce is that the divorce severs all the ties whereas the couple remains legally married and cannot remarry once the separation is granted.

Separation Agreement:

Separation agreement in Utah is also known as settlement agreement which puts on paper all the settlements the couple has reached upon mutually. It is advisable to take the help of a professional attorney while preparing a separation agreement as there are many intricacies which need to be addressed while making provisions for the adjustment of the marital issues.

Legal separation being similar to divorce, these provisions can be used as a blueprint for the divorce proceedings when the couple eventually decides to seek for it. The courts, thus, usually encourage the couple to come up with the provisions for their own good. Besides, the couple remains in control of their hard-earned property and make decisions accordingly.

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