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What Kind of Questions Might the Judge Ask at My Uncontested Divorce Hearing?

Authored By: D.C. Bar Pro Bono Center
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  • Please state your name, address, and telephone number for the record.

    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, or you can ask the judge to let you give your address privately, off the record.

  • How long have you lived in the District of Columbia?
  • Who is the defendant in this case?

    Your spouse is the defendant.

  • Do you or your spouse live in a state that permits samegender divorce?

    The judge will only ask this if you and your spouse are a same-gender couple that was married in D.C. and neither of you currently lives in D.C.

  • 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 marry?
  • Are you here today to get divorced?
  • Did you bring your marriage certificate? Is this a copy?

    Give your marriage certificate to the judge’s clerk, who will hand it to the judge

  • Do you have any children together by birth or adoption? Are any of them under age 21?

    If the answer is yes, the judge may also ask some of these questions:

    • Please state the name(s) and date(s) of birth of your child(ren).
    • Where does each child currently live?
    • Is there any previous order—from any court 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? Do you and your spouse agree that (if you will not have joint custody) the custodial parent is a fit and proper custodian?
    • Depending on your 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 health care and child care expenses for the children?
  • How long have you and your spouse lived continuously separate and apart without cohabitation (sexual relations)?

    If you have lived apart for 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 (such as your house, cars, pensions, bank accounts, or debts)?
  • Are you asking for a former name (birth-given name) to be restored?

    If the answer is yes, the judge will also ask, Is your request made for any illegal or fraudulent purposes?

Remember to...

  • ✔ Bring a certified copy of your marriage certificate, if you were married by ceremony;
  • ✔ Bring other evidence (your testimony is one kind of evidence) if you were married by common law;
  • ✔ If you are not a D.C. resident, and you used your spouse’s D.C. residency in order to file your case in D.C., bring your spouse or other evidence of your spouse’s residency;
  • ✔ Be early (it sometimes takes extra time to go through the security checkpoint at the courthouse entrance), but be prepared to wait a while if the judge needs to get though other cases before your case gets called;
  • ✔ Check in with the courtroom clerk when you get there (the clerk sits near the judge at the front of the courtroom).

The D.C. Bar Pro Bono Program provides general information only. This is not legal advice. You can only obtain legal advice from a lawyer. If you need legal advice for a specific situation, contact an attorney. We make every effort to keep the legal education materials up-to-date, but laws change frequently. Therefore the D.C. Bar Pro Bono Program does not guarantee the accuracy of this information.

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Last Review and Update: Oct 01, 2013