Getting An Uncontested Divorce
Authored By: Children's Law Center
- Read this in:
- Spanish / Español
What if my spouse and I agree to divorce?
This is called an uncontested divorce.
A divorce is uncontested if:
You and your spouse are eligible for a divorce (one of you has been a D.C. resident for six months prior to filing, and you and your spouse have been separated the required period of time), and
You and your spouse both SIGN the required COURT PAPERS stating that you AGREE that you are eligible for a divorce, you agree about what you want the court to do, and you are not asking the court to make any decisions about anything in dispute.
A divorce is not uncontested, even if you and your spouse agree to divorce, if there is an issue that you and your spouse do not agree on that one of you is going to ask the court to decide as part of the divorce case - for example, custody of your children, child support, or division of your marital property.
What is the procedure for an uncontested divorce – what do I need to do?
FILE these documents at the Family Court Central Intake Center:
YOUR COMPLAINT FOR DIVORCE
- Click here for a Complaint for Divorce you can fill out online. You will need to print it and file it with the court You can also fill it out by hand. You sign the Complaint. Notarization is not required.
YOUR SPOUSE'S ANSWER
- Click here for an Uncontested Answer that can be filled out online. You will need to print it and file it with the court You can also fill it out by hand. Your spouse must sign the Answer Notarization is not required.
- Click here for an Uncontested Praecipe. Both you and your spouse sign. You do not have to sign it at the same time. Notarization is not required.
FAMILY COURT CROSS-REFERENCE FORM
- Click here for a Family Court Cross-Reference Form. This is a general information sheet You can fill it in to the best of your knowledge. If you don’t have the information, you can leave the space blank.
- $80 FILING FEE (cash or money order), or you can file a request for a fee waiver. For more information on fee waivers, read the section on Filing for a Fee Waiver.
- YOUR COMPLAINT FOR DIVORCE
- You can file all the documents yourself, as long as your spouse has signed the Uncontested Answer and the Uncontested Praecipe.
- If all the uncontested divorce papers are filed at the same time, the divorce hearing will be scheduled at the time you file The hearing will usually be approximately 20 to 40 days from the date you file.
What if my spouse and I agree about getting divorced but not about other things we want to resolve, like child custody or division of property?
If there is an issue that you and your spouse do not agree on that you are asking the court to decide as part of the divorce case, then your divorce is not uncontested and it will not be scheduled on this fast track. You will also have to get your spouse served with the divorce papers.
What happens at the uncontested divorce hearing?
- The plaintiff must come to the court hearing. If you are the person who filed for the divorce, you are the plaintiff. Your spouse is entitled to come to the hearing but is not required to.
Judges usually require you to bring a certified copy or the original of your marriage certificate.
- If you were married in D.C., you can obtain a certified copy of your marriage certificate from the Marriage Bureau, Room 4555. If you were married in another state, check with the state’s marriage or vital records office to find out how to order a copy. If you truly cannot obtain a certified copy or the original of your marriage certificate, explain that to the judge.
- Go to the courtroom. Try to arrive early and check in with the courtroom clerk.
- Have a seat in the courtroom. The judge will come in. When your case is called, walk up to the table and state your name.
- The judge will put you under oath and ask questions to see whether you are eligible for a divorce. You will be giving the judge the same kind of information that you put in your divorce complaint: your name and address, whether you or your spouse has been a D.C. resident for the six months immediately before filing the divorce complaint, when and where you were married, and how long you have been separated.
- If you changed your name when you got married, the judge will ask whether you want your former name back.
- An uncontested divorce hearing typically takes about 20 minutes. At the end of it, the judge will state that s/he is granting your divorce.
- The judge will sign a written divorce decree, also called a divorce order or "Findings of Fact, Conclusions of Law, and Judgment of Absolute Divorce."
- Some judges will give you a copy of the signed divorce order before you leave. Otherwise, the court will mail you a copy of the signed divorce order.