So, the Utah Legislature doesn’t like divorce. And to show how much it doesn’t like divorce, it tries to make it difficult to get one.

One way it does this is by saying couples have to wait ninety days before they can finalize their divorce. (If you think this is bad, try North Carolina. You must be separated for a year before you can even start a divorce out there.)

Until recently, Utah courts didn’t really enforce the 90-day waiting period. That changed about two years ago. See, before that, you could file a motion to waive the ninety days, and most judges would grant it as a matter of course. Now, however, judges follow the law, which says no waiving unless there are “extraordinary circumstances.”

Oddly, however, some courts will, even now, allow couples to work around Utah’s 90-day waiting period. If you have kids, take the necessary divorce education classes, and get all your finalization paperwork in, sometimes judges will overlook the waiting period and sign the divorce decree.

Whether a judge will waive depends completely on the particular judge. We used to see the waiting period waived for couples with kids almost 100% of the time before a year ago. For the least year, though, some judges have tightened down. It’s about a 50/50 shot now that a judge will make couples wait out the ninety days.

How to Shorten the Ninety-day Waiting Period

If you aren’t one of the lucky couples described above, you will need to file a motion to shorten the ninety-day waiting period. You will need to explain to the Court what extraordinary circumstances require signing your divorce before the ninety days have passed.

Last time we had a motion to waive the waiting period granted was when a guy came in and was getting married in two weeks. He had been separated for thirteen years. (His fiancée was none too happy he waited that long to take care of the pesky problem of his existing marriage.) Anyway, we filed the motion and explained the situation. Thankfully, the judge granted the motion and he got married on time.

We have filed many other motions to waive that have been declined. Extraordinary circumstances are pretty hard to come by.

Utah Law

Here is the Utah law regarding the ninety-day waiting period:

Utah Code, Section 30-3-18(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 90 days has elapsed from the filing of the complaint, but the court may make interim orders as it considers just and equitable.”

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