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.
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:
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:
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.
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.
There is some variation depending on where you live and whether you have children, but generally speaking, the uncontested divorce process looks like this:
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.