asked divorce questions:
What is an Uncontested
What is an Annulment of Marriage?
I need a lawyer?
can I find and download free printable online uncontested
does the term Uncontested Divorce mean?
much will it cost to file for a divorce in family
I get legal advice from this web site or employees
of the court?
does Grounds For Divorce mean?
if I do not know where my spouse is living or how
to contact them?
can I do if my spouse is hurting or threatening me
or my children?
happens with my health or life insurance benefits?
What is an Uncontested Divorce?
uncontested divorce is one in which the parties negotiate
their own settlement rather than going to trial and
letting a judge decide the divorce issues for them.
Many people find that an uncontested divorce or no
fault divorce will benefit them for several reasons.
The divorce process seems to be faster and less expensive.
The parties maintain control over their future by
reaching their own decisions. The Court does not impose
a judgment on them after a trial. The parties are
also better able to maintain (or establish) a civil
relationship if they are not involved in protracted
litigation with all of the positioning and leverage
that a contested divorce may invoke. The reduced hostility
makes it easier for divorced parents to raise children
What is an Annulment of Marriage?
Annulment is a way of terminating a marriage that
is different from divorce and separation. Annulment
is the process of nullifying of a marriage where the
court declares that the marriage never took place.
In order to annul a marriage, the person seeking the
legal action must have sufficient grounds for annulment.
What follows is a list of a few of the requirements
or grounds for annulment which must be presented to
the courts to terminate a marriage in this way. Grounds
for annulment typically involve one party's lack of
capacity for marriage or some type of fraud. One ground
for annulment is if one party had another living husband
or wife at the time of marriage. This is valid even
if the spouse knew about the other spouse prior to
marriage. In some cases a person may have been legally
denied the right to remarry, in which case this is
sufficient grounds for annulment.
I need a lawyer?
You do not need to hire a lawyer, but it is a good
idea to retain one if you and your spouse do not agree
on the terms defined in your Petition For Divorce
or if your spouse has a lawyer. If you are afraid
for your safety or your children's safety, or if you
want help with your divorce even if you started the
divorce without a lawyer.
divorce case is different, and specific laws vary
from state to state, but divorce cases generally follow
one of two paths. The parties may reach an agreement,
submit that agreement to the court in the form of
a marriage settlement agreement for approval, and
receive a final divorce decree ending their marriage
and setting forth the terms of the divorce or dissolution
of marriage they’ve agreed upon. If the parties
can’t reach an agreement, the case will be scheduled
for a contested divorce hearing, where a judge will
consider evidence like financial records, witness
testimony, and expert reports on issues like valuation
of property and custody arrangements.
can I find and download free online divorce forms?
for free and get instant access to download
online state specific divorce form papers and instructions.
Each "do it yourself divorce" forms packet
and kit includes easy to understand instructions.
The online divorce paperwork and informational packets
found in our online uncontested divorce forms library
are court approved and updated regularly.
does Uncontested Divorce mean?
Divorce means your spouse has agreed with what you
have asked for in your Petition For Divorce, or your
spouse is not fighting your Petition For Divorce,
or your spouse does not answer your Petition For Divorce
before your court date.
much will it cost to file for a divorce?
you bring your Original Petition For Divorce to the
court clerks office for filing, you should expect
to pay between $150.00 to $300.00 depending on your
state and your county. You will also need to have
several forms notarized. A notary public will charge
between $5.00 and $10.00 to notarize a document. When
children are involved, other additional court expenses
may arise if the court orders DNA tests or drug screens.
These tests typically cost $125.00 for drug screens
and $500.00 for DNA tests. If the court orders you
or your spouse to submit to these tests, in most cases
they will require you to take them the same day you
appear for your initial hearing. Also, most often
when children are involved in the divorce, the court
will appoint an attorney for the children. This is
done to have a neutral opinion on the children's best
interests. The typical fee for the Ad Litem attorney
is around $500.00. You are expected to pay this fee
and any other court ordered expenses promptly to avoid
the possibility of putting your case in jeopardy.
The court may not allow you to wait until you get
paid. Some judges may want to test to see if you have
a support group with enough resources to act on behalf
of the children in an emergency type situation. This
will be the case even if you are able to get the judge
to agree to an "inability to pay affidavit."
This affidavit is only for paying the court cost for
filing your petition and not the judges special orders.
You will be required to pay for court ordered drug
tests, DNA tests, parenting classes, Ad Litem legal
fees, etc. if ordered to do so.
I get legal advice from this web site or employees
of the court?
Only lawyers can give you legal advice. No one at
this site or at court can tell you what to do about
your divorce case. This means you cannot ask us, the
judge, court clerks or other court staff for advice
about your divorce case. If you do not use a lawyer,
make sure that you learn about your rights and follow
the steps outlined in your divorce instructions. Getting
a divorce can be very complicated. Even if you cannot
afford to hire a lawyer, you should try to speak with
a lawyer in your area about what to put in your Petition
For Divorce. Some lawyers will give you advice as
you need it. This is called "unbundled services".
Other lawyers are only available if you retain their
does Grounds For Divorce mean?
for divorce is the term used to describe the reason(s)
you are seeking a divorce. You can ask the court to
grant you a divorce based on adultery, cruelty, abandonment,
your spouse has been convicted of a felony offense
and has been incarcerated. You have been living apart,
or your spouse has been committed to a mental institution
with little or no hope of recovery. These reasons
are not all inclusive. If you are uncertain as to
what grounds for divorce you wish to claim then you
will want to consult with a licensed attorney or your
local legal aid office.
if I do not know where my spouse is living or how
to contact them?
do not need to know where your spouse is in order
to get divorced. However you will need to complete
a few special divorce forms which will prove to the
court that you have done everything within reason
to try and locate your spouse.
can I do if my spouse is hurting or threatening me,
my children or family?
Every state has laws designed to protect victims of
family violence whether they are getting a divorce
or not. If you have already filed for a divorce, the
court may grant you emergency orders to protect you
and the children involved in your divorce. If you
have not started the divorce process, you can apply
for a protective order if you fear that you or your
children are in danger. Your local woman's shelter,
county attorney's office, district attorney's office
or your local legal aid office can assist you in applying
for a protective order. To locate the office nearest
you and to obtain information on the various services
they can offer please contact the National Hotline
For Domestic Violence at 1-800-799-SAFE.
is a protective order?
is a court order which protects you from someone who
has been violent or has threatened to be violent.
The court takes this subject very seriously.
can a protective order help me?
protective order can order the person for whom you
are seeking protection from:
Not to hurt or threaten to hurt you, your
children or your family.
Not to contact you or go near you, your
children, other family members, your home, where
you work, or your children's schools.
Not to have a gun or a license to carry
police can arrest you or your spouse for violating
much will it cost to file for a protective order?
nothing. There is not usually a fee for filing the
application for protection.
do I ask for a protective order?
out the protective order application forms available
from our library. Take two (2) copies of them to the
county courthouse in which you or the other person
resides. If you have already filed for divorce or
you have a custody case pending against the other
person, you should file these forms in the same county
where you live or the court where you have filed your
divorce or custody case.
happens with my health or life insurance benefits?
Insurance coverage may become
an issue for you or your children during or after
a divorce. If you are concerned about your health
or life insurance coverage or you want to see what
it will cost you for reasonable insurance coverage,
you will want to look into the options available by
for insurance coverage. Internet insurance quote
engines provide you the ability to compare
multiple insurance rates from trusted insurance providers
by filling out one short form. This makes the process
of finding quality insurance much faster and at the
same time providing you with many policies and coverage
options to choose from. Most people can get a quality
insurance plan for less than they think. It is even
possible to save money over the rate you would have
to pay for health or life insurance through your employer.
Health insurance for yourself or your children could
cost as little as $65.00 per month. Quality life insurance
coverage may cost even less. Usually around $25.00
per month for $100,000 worth of coverage.
can find out exactly what quality insurance coverage
will cost you by visiting DirectConnectInsurance.com
and requesting a free online quote.
web site is designed to give you general information.
The information on this web site is in no way intended
to be legal advice. Legal advice can only be obtained
by a licensed attorney who has the appropriate legal
skills and knowledge related to your specific circumstances.
time to time this web site may advertise the services
of attorneys in your state. The hiring of a lawyer
is an important decision and should not be based solely
on the advertisements listed on this or any other
web site. The lawyers advertising on our site have
paid us for the listings we provide. Any listing on
this site does not constitute a recommendation of
the attorney. Before hiring an attorney you should
investigate their reputation and qualifications yourself.
overview of divorce in the United States
the United States divorce, like marriage, is the province
of the state governments, not the federal government.
Laws vary from state to state, but no-fault divorce
on the grounds of "irreconcilable differences"
is now available in all states. However, in recent
years many states, including North
Carolina and New
York requires a one-year legal and physical separation
prior to a formal divorce decree. This legal requirement
has led to the creation of a separate, somewhat ambiguous
category of relationships - "separated".
Once a more informal term used by individuals, it
has now become a legal category designating someone
who is neither married nor divorced.
in the U.S. is a matter of state rather than federal
law. In recent years, however, more federal legislation
has been enacted affecting the rights and responsibilities
of divorcing spouses. For example, federal welfare
reform mandated the creation of child support guidelines
in all 50 states in the 1980s. ERISA
includes provisions for the division of qualified
retirement accounts between divorcing spouses. The
established rules on the deductibility of alimony,
and federal bankruptcy laws prohibit discharging in
bankruptcy of alimony and child support obligations.
COBRA allows a divorced spouse to obtain and maintain
Insurance. The laws of the state(s) of
residence at the time of divorce govern, not those
of the location where the couple was married. All
states recognize divorces granted by any other state.
All states impose a minimum time of residence, Nevada
currently being the shortest at 6 weeks.
to the latter decades of the 20th century, a spouse
seeking divorce had to show a cause such as cruelty,
incurable mental illness, or adultery. Even in such
cases, a divorce was barred in cases such as the suing
spouse's procurement or connivance (contributing to
the fault, such as by arranging for adultery), condonation
(forgiving the fault either explicitly or by continuing
to cohabit after knowing of it), or recrimination
(the suing spouse also being guilty). By the 1960s,
however, the use of collusive or deceptive practices
to bypass the fault system had become ubiquitous,
and there was widespread agreement that something
had to change. The no-fault
divorce "revolution" began in
1969 in California,
and was completed in 1985 (the last to fall was North
Dakota and New York is the last holdout). However,
New York does impose a mandatory separation period
before a divorce can be granted.
a county court’s family division judges review
for dissolution of marriages. The National
Association of Women Lawyers was instrumental
in convincing the American
Bar Association to help create a Family Law section
in many state courts, and pushed strongly for No-Fault
Divorce Law around 1960. In some states fault
grounds remain, but all states except New York now
provide other grounds as well, variously termed irreconcilable
differences, irremediable breakdown, loss of affection,
or similar. For such grounds no fault need be proven
and little defense is possible. However, most states
require some waiting period, typically a 1 to 2 year
separation. Some have argued that the lack of means
to contest a no-fault divorce makes a marriage contract
the easiest of all contracts to dissolve, and in very
recent years some have begun to favor moderate divorce
reforms such as requiring mutual consent for no-fault
divorce. However, no such laws have been passed as
of this writing.
grounds, when available, are sometimes still sought.
This may be done where it reduces the waiting period
otherwise required, or possibly in hopes of affecting
decisions related to a divorce, such as child custody,
child support, alimony, and so on. States vary in
the admissibility of such evidence for those decisions.
In any case, a no-fault divorce can be arranged far
more easily, although the terms of the divorce can
be and often are contested with respect to child-related
matters and finances. Ultimately most cases are settled
by the parties before trial.
is a growing way of resolving divorce issues. It tends
to be less adversarial (particularly important for
any children), allows the parties greater control
and privacy, saves money, and generally achieves similar
outcomes to the normal adversarial process. Also,
courts will often approve a mediated settlement quickly.
in concept, but with more support than mediation,
is Collaborative Law, where both sides are represented
by attorneys but commit to negotiating a settlement
without engaging in litigation. Because of the additional
support of attorneys and expert neutrals (such as
financial specialists and coaches), the success rate
of a collaborative divorce is very high. In the rare
event that the collaborative divorce process ends
without the parties reaching a settlement, the collaborative
lawyers become disqualified, and are replaced by new
counsel. The reasoning is that the collaborative lawyers'
sole interest will be to settle the case; and lawyers
who specialize in collaborative divorce will often
have additional training and skills to assist parties
based dispute resolution approaches such as a simple
uncontested divorce may reduce the trauma of the divorce
for all parties. Some believe that mediation may not
be appropriate for all relationships, especially those
that included physical or emotional abuse, or an imbalance
of power and knowledge about the parties' finances,
for example. Collaborative divorce, because of its
additional support for parties, is better equipped
to handle relationships with a history of abuse.
litigated or contested divorces, in contrast, are
expensive both financially and emotionally, and can
tend to poison any future relationship the parents
may have, which may be important for future co-parenting.
Fault grounds can be unpleasant enough when true,
and may sometimes be falsely alleged, as may anything
else that an unethical spouse can think of. In the
1990s, heated debate arose over accusations of domestic
violence and of child sexual abuse arising in the
course of hostile divorces. Some found a rapid increase
in such charges and in the percentage of them eventually
that were found baseless; others found there to be
no such problems. It is unlikely the truth will ever
be fully known.
vary in their rules for division of assets in a divorce.
Some states are "community property" states,
others are "equitable distribution" states,
and others have elements of both. Most "community
property" states start with the presumption that
community assets will be divided equally, whereas
"equitable distribution" states presume
fairness may dictate more or less than half of the
assets will be awarded to one spouse or the other.
Attempt is made to assure the welfare of any minor
children generally through their dependency. Thus,
the spouse given custody (or the spouse with the greater
share of residence time in the case of joint custody),
may receive assets to compensate their greater child-care
expenses. Commonly, assets acquired before marriage
are considered individual, and assets acquired after,
marital. Depending on the state, an equitable or equal
division of assets is then sought.
also known as 'maintenance' or 'spousal support' is
still being granted in many cases, especially in longer
term marriages. Connecticut, for instance grants alimony
in over 25% of cases. Alimony is also likely in cases
where a spouse has remedial needs that must be met
in order for the spouse to become fully employable,
for example that one spouse gave up career opportunities
or development in order to devote themselves to the
family. Permanent alimony becomes likelier in marriages
that exceed 12 years.
of divorce will generally not be granted
until all questions regarding child care and child
visitations and custody, division of property
and assets, and ongoing financial support are resolved.
Since the mid 1990s, a few states have enacted covenant
marriage laws, which allow couples to voluntarily
make a divorce more difficult for themselves to obtain
than in the typical no-fault divorce action. For example,
couples who choose to undertake a covenant marriage
may be required to undergo counseling before a divorce
can be granted, or to submit their conflicts to mediation.
In states lacking such provisions, some couples sign
contracts undertaking the same obligations.
recent years, a few high-profile court cases have
involved children "divorcing" their parents,
or being legally declared emancipated minors. Perhaps
the best known are those of actor Macaulay Culkin
and Olympic gymnast Dominique Moceanu. However, these
are not properly "divorce" cases, and different
Divorces obtained by US couples in a different country
Due to the complex divorce procedures required in
many places, especially including many states of the
United States, some people seek divorces from other
jurisdictions that have easier and quicker processes.
Most of these places are commonly referred to negatively
as "divorce mills."
are four main reasons that people look to another
jurisdiction for a divorce:
York does not have a no-fault divorce, such as "irreconcilable
differences" as a legal cause for divorce, and
fault is required (often with strict legal requirements)
or a separation agreement in force for a year, such
as New York State, thus requiring one year from the
time the legal separation went into effect unless
fault can be proven (possible in some cases just by
affidavit however, but the other spouse must not contest
the charges otherwise an often lengthy contested divorce
jurisdictions have complex and long residency requirements
as well as paperwork.
Many jurisdictions take a long time to issue a finalized
divorce, anywhere from 3 months to a year or even
several in unique circumstances.
some people are simply out to get around the financial
hardship of a divorce, and get a divorce from a jurisdiction
that allows fast uncontested divorces that offer little
or no spousal support to the defendant.
Divorces granted by other countries are generally
recognized by the United States as long as no person's
rights were infringed upon. The most notable in this
situation is the notion of "due process",
which is required by the Constitution of the United
States and thus is not flexible. This means that the
spouse who is the defendant in the case must be notified
of the proceedings and be given a certain time frame
to respond to the allegations and state their case.
This is only the case in a contested divorce, as in
an uncontested divorce both spouses agree to the terms
and sign off on the divorce; although in almost any
if not all of these jurisdiction only one spouse is
required to physically visit the country. While a
contested divorce where due process was not observed
is likely to be ruled invalid by a court in the United
States if challenged, it is not illegal, as matrimonial
law is private law and not criminal law, and is valid
by default unless or until it is challenged (usually
in the state or country of residency of either spouse.)
getting a contested divorce in another country is
not likely to achieve the goals of the spouse requesting
it, and is possible to even create a larger problem
than before. An uncontested divorce is likely to be
upheld in a court of law however, regardless of the
general validity of contested divorces from these
jurisdictions. While a "quick" contested
divorce is likely if challenged to be declared invalid,
it is, by case law, not considered bigamy if you remarry
as long as the obtainer believed the divorce to be
are 5 major jurisdictions people look towards for
a divorce in another state or country:
State of Nevada
The Dominican Republic
Mexico, and The Dominican Republic are fairly similar
in this regard. These countries people typically go
to get an overnight/long weekend divorce, or to get
a quick and relatively painless contested divorce
(which are not valid unless due process has been observed.)
Divorce in the Dominican Republic is available to
foreigners or Dominican citizens residing abroad,
when both spouses agree to file this divorce before
Dominican Courts. This procedure is very simple and
only requires the attendance of one of the spouses
during the hearing which takes usually less than half
an hour and you can leave Dominican Republic the same
day in the afternoon. It takes ten to fifteen days
to obtain a divorce decree.
parties should sign a settlement agreement revised
by an attorney in their jurisdiction in order to confirm
it complies with spouses local laws. This document
should include spouses complete data, a list of property,
or statement of non-property, the statement regarding
minor children and support agreement, your desire
of divorcing before a Dominican Court and the authorization
of one of the spouses to the other to attend to hearing
on her/his behalf. The settlement agreement can be
drafted by an attorney in your jurisdiction. Both
these documents settlement agreement and power) must
be signed by the parties before the Dominican Consulate
nearest to your jurisdiction. A detailed instruction
on legalization is to be provided to you when instructions
to proceed are received.
State of Nevada is commonly used for a few reasons.
It only requires a 6-week stay to meet the residency
requirements, the lowest in the United States. One
easy way to demonstrate that you have met this requirement
is by having another resident of Nevada simply sign
an affidavit testifying to your residency there. Nevada
allows for "irreconcilable differences"
as a cause for divorce, the importance of which are
mentioned above. Also, it has an extensive and straightforward
system for marriage annulment, and attracts people
who would prefer an annulment (which declares the
marriage wasn't valid in the first place) than a divorce.
One major reason this attracts people is it allows
for an easy bypassing of the mandatory 50/50 split
in community property states, most notably the adjoining
State of California. Nevada, however, is also a community
property state and hence will follow similar rules
in a divorce proceeding.
had (and still has some) very attractive reasons for
obtaining a divorce there. Guam is a territory of
the United States. Because Guam is a territory of
the United States, its courts are United States jurisdictional
courts and the divorces it issues are valid in all
of the states in the US. Prior to January 1, 2006,
Guam allowed for an uncontested divorce without either
spouse visiting the territory at all. After being
charged as a "divorce mill", including by
many in its own government, an agreement was made
with the lawyers and other lobbyists who did not want
to change the law to now require a 7-day stay in Guam
(as opposed to the much longer ones proposed) to obtain
a divorce. Guam allows for "irreconcilable differences"
as a cause for divorce, and Guam is much quicker to
award a finalized divorce than many US states, taking
a few weeks at most. Before the law was changed, it
was a very attractive alternative for many Americans,
as it was also quite affordable. However, due to its
location in Southeast Asia, a trip there would be
very expensive and not a viable alternative for most
the case of disputed custody, almost all lawyers would
strongly advise you stay to the jurisdiction applicable
to the dispute, i.e. the country or state of you or
your spouse's residence. Even if not disputed, the
spouse could later dispute it and potentially invalidate
another jurisdiction's ruling.