Divorcing spouses are often bitter combatants. Firmly entrenched in ideas about being “in the right,” “in the wrong,” and “at fault” tend to die hard. The most common image that most people have when they think of divorce proceedings are entrenched attorneys, shouting back and forth. While many divorces result in that type of adversarial litigation, not every divorce has to.
TIP: Click here for the complete guide to filing for uncontested divorce.
At the end of the day, most people are reasonable people and are willing to at least sit down and listen to each other if it means making lives easier. This is as true of spouses as it is of any other normal people. While not every spouse may be willing to sit down for a civil discussion immediately, over time, it is possible to bring almost anyone to the negotiating table.
The mechanism for avoiding courtroom drama and settling a divorce through negotiation and agreement rather than through a courtroom battle is called an uncontested divorce (as discussed further below, in Idaho, this is known as a divorce by stipulation or default). In an uncontested divorce, the spouses generally must agree on the key terms of the divorce.
This article will explain the nature of an uncontested divorce and Idaho uncontested divorce law. If you still have any questions after reading this article or would like to file for an uncontested divorce, you should consult with an experienced divorce attorney.
Uncontested Divorce in Idaho, Defined
Unlike in some states, the state of Idaho does not have a formal mechanism for filing an uncontested divorce. Rather than having separate categories for contested vs. uncontested divorces, Idaho simply has one category: divorce. When filing for divorce, however, the non-filing spouse is allowed to stipulate to the terms of the divorce proposed by the filing spouse.
Thus, the normal type of uncontested divorce in Idaho is what is known as a “divorce by stipulation.” In a divorce by stipulation, both spouses must mutually agree on the terms of a divorce. Rather than the spouses asking a judge to decide the issues for them, a divorce by stipulation merely asks a judge to finalize a pre-determined divorce agreement. This method of seeking a divorce is generally less expensive and faster than adversarial divorce proceedings.
Additionally, the non-filing spouse could simply choose not to contest the divorce filing. If both parties agree, the filing party can submit the divorce paperwork, and the non-filing spouse can choose to “default”. A legal default is essentially a mechanism to not contest a legal filing. In Idaho, a court rendering a default judgment on divorce filings will enter judgment on the divorce paperwork as filed.
Requirements for Seeking an Idaho Uncontested Divorce
To file for uncontested divorce in Idaho, the filing spouses must meet certain requirements. Any questions about these requirements can be answered by an experienced Idaho divorce attorney or family lawyer.
The first requirement that anyone seeking an uncontested divorce in Idaho must meet is the residency requirement. Prior to seeking a divorce under Idaho law, you must have lived within the state for at least six weeks.
Second, the spouse filing for the divorce must provide a sufficient reason for getting the divorce (also known as the “grounds” for the divorce). In Idaho, there are eight possible grounds for divorce ranging from adultery to the conviction of one spouse of a felony1. Most spouses seeking an uncontested divorce, however, will simply allege irreconcilable differences, which simply means that the marriage is not working.
The final requirement is that the spouses agree on the terms of the divorce. If either spouses disagrees about any of the following issues, the spouses are ineligible for an uncontested divorce:
- Division of marital assets, property, and debts;
- Alimony payments (also referred to as spousal support);
- Tax deductions and exemptions;
and if the couple has children born of that marriage:
- Child custody and visitation (this includes deciding which parent the children will live with) and
- Child support (including an agreement on the costs of medical expenses and health insurance).
The Process for Filing an Uncontested Divorce
Spouses must file their Idaho divorce paperwork in the proper Idaho family court. Each Idaho District Court also houses a local Magistrate Court, which handles family and divorce matters. Each county in Idaho has its own Magistrate Court. A list of Magistrate Courts that handle divorce matters can be found on Idaho’s judiciary website2. Additional information about family courts in Idaho can also be found online3.
Once you have determined which court is the proper court for filing, the general flow of the process is follows:
- This step is optional, but you should begin by consulting a family law attorney who can either answer any questions that you may have, or who can help you file your divorce paperwork properly;
- Obtain the required divorce paperwork, either online4 or from the courthouse;
- The filing spouse must then complete the required divorce paperwork, which must be notarized. This includes a summons, divorce petition, and filling out any supplemental documents (financial statements and child-related documents). Deliver the originals as well as two copies of everything to the courthouse;
- Once the court ensures that the paperwork is correct, the court will keep the originals and the petitioner must pay the filing fee (if you cannot afford the court’s filing fee, the clerks working at the courthouse can help you work out a payment arrangement or a fee waiver);
- When the courthouse employees return the signed copies to you, you must serve the paperwork on your spouse (or hire an official process server);
- Discuss the divorce with your spouse and come to an agreement on the terms for the divorce;
- Together, you and your spouse should fill out a sworn stipulation and have it notarized, make two copies, and mail everything to the courthouse;
- When the judge makes his or her ruling on the divorce, the spouses will be notified by mail.
To see an example of a filing procedure for a divorce either with or without children involved, please see the Idaho state court’s website.
Note: This article is not legal advice. Please consult a lawyer for your specific situation.
- The other types of divorce grounds available in Idaho are extreme cruelty, willful desertion, willful neglect, habitual intemperance, and permanent insanity.
- Family Court Services Managers-by District, State of Idaho Judicial Branch
- Family Court Services, State of Idaho Judicial Branch
- Forms: Family Related, State of Idaho Judicial Branch