Uncontested divorce is possibly the most cost-effective and least stressful methods of divorce, as there’s no prolonged court battle or arguing over who deserves what. Instead, you and your spouse come to an agreement before filing any paperwork, making the process faster.
How Long Does an Uncontested Divorce Take?
In most cases, an uncontested divorce can be finalized two or three months after you first file the initial paperwork.
A contested divorce, by contrast, can take 18 months or more from filing to finalized.
What’s Required for an Uncontested Divorce?
To qualify for an uncontested divorce, you and your spouse must meet certain requirements.
In Washington, D.C., you or your spouse, or both of you, must have lived in the city for at least six months before filing for divorce.
When you file for divorce, you must state your grounds, or reason, for divorce. Washington, D.C., only recognizes two grounds for divorce: voluntary separation for at least 6 months, or non-voluntary separation for at least one year.
For those couples who have agreed to divorce and voluntary separation, they only have to have lived apart for 6 months before filing. For this condition, both spouses must agree to the separation.
Couples where one spouse did not agree to the separation, such as the other party moving out against the other spouse’s protest, must have lived apart for one year before they can file for divorce.
There is no need to prove any fault (infidelity, irreconcilable differences, abuse, etc.) to file for an uncontested divorce in Washington, D.C.
To get an uncontested – or absolute – divorce in Washington, D.C., you must file a Complaint with the Central Intake Center in the D.C. Superior Court. You also must file a family court cross-reference form and a vital statistics form.
At this point, if you are seeking child support or alimony, you must include it in your Complaint. Only one party in a divorce can receive alimony, and if it isn’t asked for at the time of filing the Complaint, it may cannot be granted later on.
You also must serve your spouse with copies of the Complaint and all accompanying documentation.
To serve your spouse, you must have someone else deliver the documents, or you can send them by certified mail. Your spouse also can agree beforehand to accept service, and in this case formal service isn’t necessary.
Once your spouse has been served with the Complaint and accompanying paperwork, they have 20 days to file an Answer.
This Answer must address all terms of the Complaint and be officially filed with the court.
Property Settlement Agreement
Since you and your spouse agree to all the terms of your divorce, you should jointly file a Property Settlement Agreement.
This document lays out who gets what property, including real estate, financial accounts, retirement benefits, and personal property. It also should include information on child support and your child custody agreement.
The Property Settlement Agreement is considered a contract between you and your spouse, meaning you both agree to what’s included in it before signing.
Creating your own Property Settlement Agreement, even with the help of an attorney, can save both you and your spouse time, stress, and money that would be spent bickering over how all those items should be divided up.
Even though you and your spouse agree to all the terms of your divorce, a final hearing before a judge must be held before your divorce can be finalized.
Only the spouse who filed the Complaint is required to attend the hearing. However, if the other spouse wants to change their name following the divorce, they must also attend the hearing.
The judge may ask you or your spouse some brief questions to determine that your divorce truly is uncontested, but most final hearings for uncontested divorces only take a few minutes.
Your divorce will be final 30 days after the final divorce order is stamped by the court, which typically happens a few days after the hearing.
Do I Need a Lawyer for My Uncontested Divorce?
You do not need a lawyer to get an uncontested divorce. You and your spouse can prepare and file the paperwork, and attend the final hearing, without any representation.
However, many couples choose to have an attorney look over their agreements to be sure they aren’t missing any important details and to help guide them through the process.
Because you and your spouse are doing much of the work of the divorce on your own, hiring an attorney for your uncontested divorce will be far less expensive than in an uncontested divorce. Many couples find the peace of mind provided by the guidance and expertise of a divorce lawyer for their uncontested divorce to be well worth the money spent.
Uncontested Divorce Lawyer in Washington, D.C.
At Lopez Law Firm, we’ve helped countless couples in Washington, D.C., navigate the legal system during their uncontested divorces. Our experienced team can give you the guidance and advice necessary to make your divorce as smooth and quick as possible, allowing you to move on with your life. Schedule a consultation today!