If you and your spouse are willing to sit down, talk and resolve your differences, you may be able to move your divorce through the system much more quickly. In most states, this process is known as an uncontested divorce.
This article explains the process for obtaining an uncontested divorce 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 and your spouse have minor children together.
In a “divorce by default” the petitioner (spouse who initiates the divorce) files and serves the papers, but the respondent (other spouse) doesn’t file a response within the 20-day (or 30-day for out of state respondents) period for responding. In other words, the respondent “defaults,” or forfeits the right to be heard, by not responding within the prescribed time. If the time frame for responding has passed, the petitioner can finalize the divorce without an answer from the respondent.
An alternative way to obtain an uncontested divorce is through a “divorce by stipulation.” A divorce by stipulation is one where both spouses have worked out all the terms of their divorce and have reached mutually agreeable decisions—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 can’t seek an uncontested divorce if you and your spouse disagree about any of the following:
Only Idaho residents qualify to get divorced in the state. The spouse filing for divorce must have been living in the State of Idaho for at least six weeks before at the time of filing. See Idaho Code § 32-701 (2020). In addition, you have to give the court a reason to grant the divorce.
Idaho recognizes the no-fault grounds of “irreconcilable differences” and seven fault grounds for divorce:
If you are seeking 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. See Idaho Code § 32-616 (2020).
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. Underneath thee higher level courts, 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.
If you’re handling your case without an attorney, you’re responsible for knowing where to file your papers. A judge can toss or transfer your divorce if you file in the wrong court and you might have to start over. The Idaho Judicial Branch has a court locator you can use to locate the correct court.
Uncontested divorces in Idaho are relatively quick, depending on how quickly you and your spouse are able to reach a stipulation. Unlike some other states, Idaho has a very short divorce waiting period. If all goes right, your divorce could be finalized after the mandatory 20-day waiting period expires. This waiting period starts when the other spouse is served with the divorce paperwork and requires a judge to wait at least 20 days before granting your divorce. There is some variation on the divorce process depending on where you live and whether you have children, but generally speaking, the uncontested divorce process looks like this:
If you’re the spouse filing for divorce, you’ll complete the summons and petition, as well as supplemental documents pertaining to income, expenses, assets, liabilities, and the children (if any). Many Idaho divorce forms are available through the Idaho Court Assistance Office. You’ll sign the petition in front of a notary, make two copies, and take the documents to the court for filing. You’ll need to pay the divorce filing fee or request a fee waiver. A court clerk will provide you with a case number for your divorce.
With the case number and file-stamped divorce paperwork, you can arrange to have your spouse “served” by a sheriff or process server. Alternatively, if your spouse is willing to accept service of the divorce complaint from you, he or she must sign a waiver of service.
If you and your spouse have children and were ordered to attend a parent education class, you must attend and complete the class before your divorce will be granted. You and your spouse will also have to submit your signed written divorce stipulation to the court for approval. Couples can prepare a stipulation on their own or with the help of a mediator.
You may have to submit some additional default paperwork if you obtain a divorce by default. Additionally, a judge may also ask you to supply income information if child support or alimony is part of your divorce stipulation. It’s important to be prepared to file any other documents that the court requires.
Couples who want to obtain an uncontested divorce must follow specific rules and deadlines. It’s essential that you obtain all the instructions and checklists and follow them exactly. The court clerks who work in the courthouse can’t give you any legal advice.
If you have questions, you can try to research the answers on your own. Idaho Legal Aid is a good resource if you want a do-it-yourself divorce. You can also consult with a private family law attorney, mediator, or legal aid organization at any point.