Contested Divorce v. Uncontested Divorce

Not all divorces go to trial. Only about 1%–2% ever get that far.

And only a fraction of divorces ever get before a judge. Most contested divorces (probably 75%–80%) go straight to mediation and get done there.

The stats above apply to “contested divorces” (i.e., divorces where people are actually fighting about something). There’s another entire group of divorces which are “uncontested” (i.e., no one’s fighting about anything).

I’m not sure about the exact proportion of contested to uncontested divorces in Utah, but uncontested is above 50%+ of the total. So, at least 1 out of every 2 divorces in Utah doesn’t involve any disagreement at all.

Default on Uncontested Divorces

Even if a Utah divorce is uncontested, it still goes through process in the courts to make sure all the paperwork has been done correctly.

Getting this process right is really important, because if it’s not done correctly, either the paperwork comes out screwed up or the court rejects the divorce and you have to start the process over again.

One of the last parts of the uncontested divorce process is default. Default is when the other person doesn’t contest the divorce and the paperwork filed goes through for the judge to sign.

(Note: even when Husband and Wife negotiated their divorce and agree on everything, you still go through default because the paperwork filed is what was agreed to.)

Utah Divorce Default Checklist

To make sure we get default right, we have a checklist we go through. This was we don’t miss anything and get the paperwork to the judge ASAP.

Here’s the checklist we use in our office.

Divorce Default Checklist

Timing

• Wait at least 20 days, plus three days for mailing

Insurance before preparing default packet

• Check court minutes to ensure no Answer or anything like an Answer has been filed
• Check Communication file to ensure you have not received a last-minute Answer

Default Packet

• Prepare the following pleadings in the following order (attach a Certificate of Service to each pleading)
• Motion for Default Judgment, to which the following are attached as exhibits
• Summons
• Declaration of Service
• Motion to Submit Entry of Default Judgment
• Notice to Submit for Entry of Default Judgment
• Default Certificate
• Affidavit Regarding Grounds and Jurisdiction
• Military Service Declaration, to which the following is attached as an exhibit
• Department of Defense Manpower Data Center Printout
• Order Regarding Military Service Declaration
• Statement of Compliance with Uniform Child Support Guidelines, to which the following may be attached
• Child support worksheet
• Most recent tax return
• 78B-12-201(2) Affidavit establishing defaulting party’s income, and possibly moving party’s income if records are not available, by best evidence possible (can also be used to explain missing tax return)
• Following divorce education documents if necessary
• (Stipulated) Motion to Waive Divorce Education Requirements and Declaration
• Request to Submit for Decision
• Order Regarding Motion to Waive Divorce Education Requirements and Declaration
• Certificate of Divorce, Dissolution of Marriage, or Annulment (if already completed as part of initial filings, provide anyway)
• Findings of Fact and Conclusions of Law
• Decree of Divorce
• Scan all documents
• Mail all documents to defaulting party and Court (personal service not necessary)

Post Mailing Procedure

• Wait approximately two weeks and check Xchange to determine if judge has signed Decree of Divorce
• If Decree has not been signed, contact judge’s clerk and inquire regarding (1) time frame and (2) if any further information is necessary for finalization
• When Decree of Divorce has been signed, ask the Court to email or mail a copy (fee may be required for mailing)

Case Finalization

• Provide each party with a copy of Decree of Divorce
• Determine final invoice
• Send invoice and case closing letter to client

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