Couples rarely take the decision to live apart lightly, especially when they have spent considerable time making a life together and having and raising their children.
For many Utah couples, divorce is not their first choice when faced with serious marital problems, including infidelity or abuse.
Many people in the Ogden area, for example, have strong moral and religious convictions about marriage, which may lead then to explore other options.
Others may choose not to divorce for financial or even personal issues, while still others may not want to upset their children with a decision that seems so final.
Utah couples may be able to file a separate maintenance action
A person with concerns about a divorce could consider an action for separate maintenance. Following a separate maintenance case, a couple will remain legally married. However, a court will issue orders dividing property and debt and establishing child custody and parenting time.
The court may also order child support and spousal support. In other words, separate maintenance can give a person the protections of a divorce without legally ending a marriage.
As a caveat, though, separate maintenance is not the same as the legal separation process allowed in many other states. A person can only ask for it in very narrow circumstances, such as if his or her spouse has been imprisoned or has abandoned the spouse.
Separate maintenance can also apply if a spouse refuses to provide support to the other spouse or if one spouse is living in a separate home through no fault of his or her own.
Annulments are also alternatives to divorce
Utah law also allows for a person to seek an annulment of his or her marriage. After an annulment, the law will presume that the marriage never existed in the first place.
As such, insofar as possible, the court may choose to try to get the parties back to the same financial position as before the marriage.
Like separate maintenance, a person who wants an annulment will have to provide a reason recognized by Utah law.