In Idaho, divorce is a form of adversarial civil litigation. Meaning, whether you and your spouse are in 100% agreement about every aspect of the divorce or whether the two of you cannot agree on anything, the initial process is the same. One party will file a petition for divorce, summons, and a Family Law Case Information Sheet (see link to these forms below). That party will be designated as the “Petitioner” and the other party as the “Respondent.” Example:

Jane Doe,

        Petitioner,

V.

John Doe

      Respondent.

There will also be a summons issued that will include language such as:

NOTICE: YOU HAVE BEEN SUED BY THE ABOVE-NAMED PETITIONER: THE COURT MAY ENTER JUDGMENT AGAINST YOU WITHOUT FURTHER NOTICE UNLESS YOU RESPOND WITHIN 21 DAYS. READ THE INFORMATION BELOW.

After receiving the initial filing by the petitioner, the court will typically send out one to three other documents, which will need to be served to the other party. 

The petitioner must formally “serve” the respondent all the initial paperwork. (Click here to learn how the respondent must be served.)

The “petitioner v. respondent” title and the language in the summons are simply procedural requirements in order to start the divorce process.

Technically, an “uncontested” divorce is when one party files a petition for divorce and the other party does not file a response to contest the divorce. You may not need to file a response if you and your spouse are in agreement, but in the vast majority of cases, you should file a response.

Filing a response gives you more options and provides you certain protections. If you file a response to the petition, it may be that the case is no longer considered “uncontested,” but you and your spouse can still avoid trial and settle the case yourselves. In my experience 90% of cases settle before going to trial.

As the summons states, if a response is not filed within 21 days, the petitioner has the ability to finalize the divorce without further notice to you. The petitioner would likely be awarded whatever they asked for in the petition. For that reason, you should speak with an attorney as soon as possible after you have been served even if you and your spouse are working together.

As an aside, if you and your spouse want to hire one attorney to help with the paperwork, the attorney can only represent one party. In that case, if the other party does not hire their own attorney, the hired attorney can speak with both their client and the spouse together and/or individually, but they can only represent the interests of their client.

Navigating divorce is a confusing process even if you plan on an “uncontested” divorce. Contact our office for a free consultation today.

Sample forms:

The materials at this web site have been prepared for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice or legal opinion on any specific facts or circumstances. These materials do not, and are not, intended to constitute legal advice. Readers should not act upon this information without seeking professional counsel. The information provided at this site is subject to change without notice.