Uncontested Divorce in Idaho
Learn about the process of uncontested divorce in Idaho.
A staggering number of marriages end in divorce, and when they do, some spouses are so wounded, hurt, and betrayed that they’re unwilling to compromise with each other. These people, who can’t or won’t put their emotions aside, will go on to engage in the stereotypically “ugly” divorce. They’ll fight over everything and nothing, and they’ll get to know the courthouse like the back of their hands.
But there’s an easier way to end a marriage. If you and your spouse are reasonable people and are willing to sit down, talk, and make concessions, then you’ll be a candidate to move your divorce through the system much more quickly. In most states, this process is known as an uncontested divorce.
This article will explain uncontested divorces in Idaho. If you still have questions after reading this article, you should consult with an experienced family law attorney.
What Is an Uncontested Divorce in Idaho?
There are two kinds of uncontested divorces in Idaho: divorce by default and divorce by stipulation. Both options are available regardless of whether you have underage children.
In a divorce by default, the petitioner (meaning, the spouse who initiates the divorce) files and serves the papers, but the respondent (the other spouse) hasn’t filed a response in more than 20 days. In other words, the respondent “defaults,” or forfeits the right to be heard, by not responding within the prescribed time. If more than 20 days have passed, the petitioner can finalize the divorce without an answer from the respondent.
By contrast, in a divorce by stipulation, both spouses have worked out all the terms of their divorce. They have reached mutually agreeable decisions on all their divorce-related issues, and they are ready to ask a judge to finalize the divorce. Divorce by stipulation is quicker, cheaper, and more painless than having to go to court and argue in front of a judge.
You are not a candidate for an uncontested divorce if you and your spouse disagree about any of the following:
- child custody and visitation, including where your children will live
- child support, health and dental insurance, and medical expenses for the children
- tax deductions and exemptions
- division of the marital assets and debts
- the legal reason (also known as “grounds”) for the divorce, or
- any other dispute involving your marriage.
You can only get an uncontested divorce in Idaho if you meet the residency requirements. You have to have been living in the State of Idaho for at least six weeks before filing for divorce. In addition, you have to give the court a reason to grant the divorce. There are eight possible grounds for divorce:
- extreme cruelty
- willful desertion
- willful neglect
- habitual intemperance
- conviction of a felony-level crime
- permanent insanity, and
- irreconcilable differences.
Remember: the grounds for divorce don't matter in a default divorce. But if you’re trying to get a divorce by stipulation, then you and your spouse have to agree about the reason why your marriage ended. It’s very common for spouses to cite irreconcilable differences as the cause of their divorce, because it’s a non-specific way of saying that the marriage broke down and can’t be saved.
Where Do I Go to Get Started?
One of the most important things you’ll need to understand about getting divorced in Idaho is how the court system is structured.
The top courts in Idaho are the court of appeals and the supreme court. That’s where all the appeals go. But beneath that, Idaho is divided into seven judicial districts. Each county has its own district court, and every district court includes a special kind of sub-court known as a magistrate division. District courts and magistrate divisions have separate judges. Magistrate judges handle all divorce proceedings.
You’re responsible for knowing where to file your papers. If you file in the wrong place, your case could be tossed out and you might have to start over. The Idaho Judicial Branch has a website you can use to locate the correct court.
What’s the Process?
There is some variation depending on where you live and whether you have children, but generally speaking, the uncontested divorce process looks like this:
- The petitioner completes the summons and petition, as well as supplemental documents pertaining to income, expenses, assets, liabilities, and the children (if any). The petitioner signs the petition in front of a notary, makes two copies, and takes everything to the Court Assistance Office, where they will be reviewed for completeness.
- The petitioner files the originals and the copies at the courthouse and pays the filing fee ($137). (If the petitioner can’t afford the fee, fee waiver forms will be available.) The petitioner will also complete the divorce certificate and give it to the clerk.
- The clerk will keep the original petition, stamp the copies, and return the copies to the petitioner.
- The petitioner will serve the summons and petition by delivering it to the respondent through official means, like a process server. Service rules are very strict, so the petitioner must follow them closely.
- The petitioner must obtain a signed Acknowledgement of Service from the respondent or an Affidavit of Service from a professional process server. The acknowledgement or affidavit must be filed with the court, and a copy has to be provided to the respondent.
- The respondent may, but doesn’t have to, file and serve a response.
- If the spouses have children and were ordered to attend a parent education class, they must comply with the order.
- If the respondent doesn’t file a response within 20 days, the petitioner should fill out the motion and affidavit for default, the default, the affidavit in support of default decree, and other paperwork. Everything has to be filed and notarized, and the petition needs to give the clerk two self-addressed, stamped envelopes.
- If the spouses agree on everything and want a divorce by stipulation, they will fill out a sworn stipulation together and have it notarized. They must also submit additional documents, like child support order summaries. They should make two copies of everything, provide self-addressed, stamped envelopes, and take everything to the courthouse for filing.
- The judge’s final divorce order will be mailed out to the spouses in the envelopes they provided.
- Either spouse can consult with a private family law attorney, mediator, or legal aid organization at any point.
There are very detailed instructions for how to obtain an uncontested divorce. It’s critical that you obtain all the instructions and checklists and follow them exactly. Take your time and work carefully. Type everything on a computer or print neatly. If you rush through the papers and make mistakes, the judge may have questions or concerns about your paperwork.
The court clerks who work in the courthouse can’t give you any legal advice. If you have questions, you’ll either need to research the answers, see Idaho Statutes, Title 32 (Domestic Relations), or consult with a family law attorney.