How Does Utah Law Treat Marital Debt in Divorce?

How Does Utah Law Treat Marital Debt in Divorce?

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What are the Requirements for Divorce in Utah?

In the State of Utah, a divorce may be granted if certain requirements have first been upheld. One such requirement is that both parties involved must be residents of Utah and a resident of the county where the divorce was filed at least three months prior to the filing for the divorce. A divorce may also be granted if one party is a member of the U.S. military and has been stationed in Utah for three months prior to filing despite not being a Utah resident.

What are Recognized Grounds for Divorce in Utah?

The State of Utah may grant either a no-fault or a fault-based divorce. For a no-fault divorce, a couple can state irreconcilable differences and incompatibility as a cause. A no-fault divorce may also be granted if two spouses have lived separately with a court order of separate maintenance for three consecutive years. A fault-based divorce may be granted if one party can prove any of the following faults in the other party:

  • Impotence: the male partner is unable to perform sexually
  • Adultery: one party had a sexual relationship with a partner besides his or her spouse
  • Willful desertion of more than one year
  • Habitual drunkenness
  • Conviction for a felony
  • Cruel treatment, including bodily injury or great mental distress
  • Incurable insanity

How is Property Divided During the Divorce Process?

Utah law enforces an equitable division of all marital property during a divorce. It is important to note that “equitable” means fair, not necessarily equal. When both parties agree on how property will be divided, a judge will review the terms of the agreement to ensure it is fair. Once the property division has been decided, it is only possible to appeal this decision under limited circumstances.

Deciding what is a fair distribution of property will include many factors. One factor is how long the marriage lasted. For a longer-term marriage, equitable division may mean a 50/50 split of assets, or the court may decide it is fair to grant one party more or less than 50% of the property. For a shorter-term marriage, a judge will typically reinstate all property to its original owner. That means that each party will leave the marriage with whatever property and assets they brought into it.

What is Considered Marital Property?

When property is divided following a divorce, it is important to remember that only marital property is subjected to this. Marital property is considered to be any property or assets acquired during the marriage, regardless of one or both parties’ names being included on a deed or title. Separate property may also be included if it was purchased prior to the marriage and became commingled by mutual use. Examples of marital property include:

  • The marital home, vacation homes, and other real property such as business and investment properties
  • Bank accounts, stocks, and bonds
  • Partnership interests and business assets
  • Pensions, profit-sharing plans, stock options, and other retirement and employment benefits
  • Household items such as clothing, furniture, jewelry, and art
  • Vehicles, including aircraft and watercraft
  • Outstanding debts
  • Life insurance policies
  • Lottery winnings

What is Considered Separate Property?

Separate or personal property is generally considered to be any property or asset that each party had prior to the marriage. This type of property may be regarded as marital property in divorce proceedings through commingled use of the asset. For example, if one party owns a home before marriage and that house becomes the marital home, it would be considered marital property, and its value would be equitably divided. Examples of separate property would be as follows:

  • Property acquired before the marriage
  • A gift or inheritance given to one party, either during or before marriage
  • Property awarded by judgment from one party to the other or after legal separation
  • Income from a non-marital asset

What Factors Affect Property Division?

When deciding how to distribute property following a divorce equitably, the court considers several factors, including:

  • Each party’s financial situation
  • The length of the marriage
  • Each party’s contributions to the marriage, such as homemaking and child-rearing
  • The earning capacity and future financial prospects of each party
  • The value of the marital property
  • Any agreements between the two parties, such as a prenuptial agreement

How is Marital Debt Divided During Divorce?

Marital debt is considered marital property and will be divided fairly between the two parties. One party may receive a higher amount of debt than the other party if the judge deems this to be fair. Instances where this may occur, include if only one party contributed to a majority of the marital debt or if other assets or earning potential offset the debt.

How Can an Attorney Help During This Process?

Filing for a divorce without the help of an attorney can lead to a longer and more expensive divorce process due to:

  • Mistakes on paperwork
  • An agreement does not accurately represent the wishes of one or both parties
  • A disagreement on an important topic, like custody, may result in unknowingly forfeiting rights

Do I Need an Attorney?

If you are filing for divorce and you know there is outstanding debt that should not be your responsibility, you cannot afford to gamble without representation. Here at RCG Law Group, we are ready to help. Give us a call today at (801)-396-9656 or fill out a contact form for a consultation.

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