Everyone knows what a Utah divorce is.

Divorce ends a marriage. After a divorce, you’ve split everything, and you’re done as a couple.

Not everyone knows what a Utah legal separation is.

A legal separation doesn’t end a marriage. Think of it as something that puts a marriage on hold temporarily.

A legal separation deals with all the same issues as a divorce: child custody, alimony, child support, what to do with the home, etc.

What is doesn’t do is deal with those issues permanently.

This is because a Utah legal separations only last 1 year. That means if you want the separation to last longer, you need to go back to the court and ask that it be extended.


Here are a few questions people ask us when deciding on a divorce or legal separation:

  1. What is the benefit of getting a legal separation?

Maybe you have hope you’ll get back together and you don’t want to end things just yet. Maybe you need to stay on your spouse’s insurance, and if you get divorced, the insurance company will kick you off the policy.

In those types of situations, it may make sense to stay married but live apart, which is what a Utah legal separation allows you to do.

  1. Who files for legal separation?

Usually, those who file for legal separation are: (1) people whose culture doesn’t allow divorce, (2) people whose religion doesn’t allow divorce, (3) people who want to stay on their spouse’s insurance.

  1. How often do people file for legal separation?

Almost never.

When people compare Utah legal separation with Utah divorce, and they realize the restriction on legal separation, they almost always choose to file for divorce.

Utah Legal Separation Law

If you would like to read the Utah law that governs legal separations (Utah Code, Section 30-3-4.5), here it is:

(1) A petitioner may file an action for a temporary separation order without filing a petition for divorce by filing a petition for temporary separation and motion for temporary orders if:

(a) the petitioner is lawfully married to the respondent; and


(b) both parties are residents of the state for at least 90 days prior to the date of filing.


(2) The temporary orders are valid for one year from the date of the hearing, or until one of the following occurs:

(a) a petition for divorce is filed and consolidated with the petition for temporary separation; or


(b) the case is dismissed.


(3) If a petition for divorce is filed and consolidated with the petition for temporary separation, orders entered in the temporary separation shall continue in the consolidated case.


(4) Both parties shall attend the divorce orientation course described in Section 30-3-11.4 within 60 days of the filing of the petition, for petitioner, and within 45 days of being served, for respondent.


(5) Service shall be made upon respondent, together with a 20-day summons, in accordance with the rules of civil procedure.


(6) The fee for filing the petition for temporary separation orders is $35. If either party files a petition for divorce within one year from the date of filing the petition for temporary separation, the separation filing fee shall be credited towards the filing fee for the divorce.

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