Washington DC

What Happens at My Uncontested Divorce Hearing?

Authored By: D.C. Bar Pro Bono Program
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FAQ

What will the judge ask me at my uncontested divorce hearing?
  • Please state your name, address, and telephone number for the record.  Note: if you are frightened for your safety, or fear harassment or harm from someone, you can tell the judge you want to give a "substitute address" which might be a post office box, or the address of a friend or relative.
  • How long have you lived in the District of Columbia?
  • Who is the Defendant in this case?  [Your spouse is the defendant in your case.] 
  • Please state your spouse's full name, address and telephone number for the record. 
  • How long has your spouse lived at that address?
  • Where and when did you and your spouse marry?
  • Are you here today to get divorced? 
  • Did you bring your marriage certificate?
  • Is this a copy of your marriage certificate?  [Give your marriage certificate to the judge's clerk, who will hand it to the judge.]
  • How long have you and your spouse lived continuously separate and apart without cohabitation [sexual relations]? 
    • If more than six months, but less than one year, the judge might ask:  Have you and your spouse mutually and voluntarily lived separate and apart from each other without cohabitation for more than six months?
  • Are there any personal or real property rights that need to be decided here today?
  • Are you asking for a former name [such as your maiden name] to be restored?
    • If the answer is "yes," the judge will also ask you:  Is your request made for any illegal or fraudulent purposes?
  • Do you have any children together by birth or adoption?
    • Are any of them under age 21?
    • Please state the name(s) and date(s) of birth of your child(ren). 
    • Where does each child currently live? 
    • Is there any order - from any court - Maryland, Virginia, anywhere - about the custody, visitation or support of the child(ren)?
    • Have you and your spouse agreed about custody of the child(ren)?
    • Do you and your spouse agree that:
      • [If you will have joint custody] you are both "fit and proper custodians"?
      • [If one of you will have custody] [the custodial parent] is a "fit and proper custodian"?
    • Depending on your custody agreement, the judge might also ask:  Have you and your spouse arranged for visitation?
    • Depending on your child support arrangement, the judge might also ask:  Have you and your spouse arranged for child support?
    • Are you aware of the D.C. Child Support Guideline? 
    • What are the names, addresses, and phone numbers of your and your spouse's employers? 
    • What are your social security numbers?
    • What are your gross annual incomes?
    • What are your healthcare and childcare expenses for the children?
How will I know about my uncontested divorce hearing?

The court will mail you a notice with the date, time and courtroom for your divorce hearing.

Who has to be at the hearing?  Does my spouse have to be there?

The plaintiff (the person who filed for the divorce) must be at the hearing.  The other spouse may attend but is not required to.

What else should I know about the hearing?
  • Bring the original or a certified copy of your marriage certificate, if you were married by ceremony. 
  • If you were married by common law, bring any evidence you can that you and your spouse held yourselves out as married.
  • Bring birth certificates if custody, visitation, or child support will be discussed.
  • Try to arrive early.  If court has not yet started, check in with the Courtroom Clerk when you get there.  Otherwise, have a seat in the courtroom.
  • The judge will write up and sign your divorce order.  Some judges will give you a copy at the hearing; others will mail it out.