Information about divorce in Guam. You will find more information about divorce, including the risks of taking your children out of state while a divorce is pending, on our general Divorce page. To watch brief videos about divorce in Spanish with English sub-titles, go to our Videos page. Lastly, learn more about the court process on our Preparing for Court – By Yourself page.
What are the residency requirements to get a divorce in Guam?
The amount of time that you must live in Guam before filing for a divorce is very different depending on if you and your spouse agree or disagree about getting a divorce.
To file for a divorce in Guam when you and your spouse disagree about getting a divorce (the divorce is contested), either you or your spouse must be a resident of Guam for 90 days right before filing. To be a “resident” of Guam, either you or your spouse must:
- be physically present in Guam for at least 90 days right before filing; or
- on military assignment to a unit or ship home-ported in Guam for at least 90 days right before filing.1
To file for a divorce if both you and your spouse agree in writing to a divorce, you can file for divorce after you have or your spouse has been physically present in Guam for seven days.2
1 19 G.C. § 8318 (a)
2 19 G.C. § 8318 (b)
What are the grounds for divorce in Guam?
Grounds are legally acceptable reasons for divorce. In Guam, you can get a no-fault divorce or a fault-based divorce.
A no-fault divorce is when you file for divorce without saying that your spouse is responsible for the end of the marriage because there are “irreconcilable differences,” which means there are substantial reasons the marriage should not continue.1
A fault-based divorce is when you file for divorce, and you claim that your spouse was responsible for the end of the marriage. Please note that some of these reasons apply to husbands and/or wives specifically. You can file for a fault-based divorce in Guam if:
- your spouse willingly had sex with someone outside of the marriage (adultery);2
- your spouse wrongfully caused you severe physical injury or severe mental suffering (extreme cruelty);3
- your husband fails to provide for your common needs for at least one year, even though he has the ability to do so; or because of laziness (idleness), extravagant habits (profligacy), or wastefulness (dissipation). According to how the law is written, this situation appears to only apply to husbands failing to provide, not wives;4
- your spouse is under the influence of alcohol so often for at least one year that s/he can’t manage normal activities or so often that it causes you intense emotional distress;5
- your spouse left the marriage6 for at least one year,7 and either:
- never intended to return to the marriage at the time s/he left (willful desertion);6or
- decided not to return to the marriage after leaving (desertion).”7 Desertion also includes these situations:
- your spouse refuses to have sex with you, even though s/he has no health or physical conditions which reasonably require refusal;9
- your spouse refuses to live with you without good reason (without “just cause”);9
- your spouse tricks you into leaving the home, and leaves the marriage while you are not in the home;10
- you and your spouse agreed to separate, and one of you left. However, one of you attempts to return and fix the marriage in good faith, but the other person refuses. The person who refuses to fix the marriage has deserted the marriage;11
- your spouse comes back before the one-year period ends, and tries to repair the relationship, but you refuse. If you refuse his/her attempt to fix the marriage, you are now considered the person who is leaving the marriage (deserting the marriage);12
- if your husband chose a reasonable place to live and you (if you are the wife) refused to live there, you have deserted the marriage.13 According to how the law is written, this situation appears to only apply to husbands choosing the home and wives leaving the home, not the other way around; or
- your husband chose a place to live that was unreasonable and extremely (grossly) unfit, and you (if you are the wife) refused to live there. This is desertion on your husband’s part. According to how the law is written, this situation appears to only apply to husbands choosing the home and wives leaving the home, not the other way around.14
Note: Desertion does not include the following situations:
- you or your spouse left the home because of cruelty or threats of physical injury, from which someone would reasonably fear danger;15 or
- you or your spouse left the home with the understanding that one of you would file for divorce.16
1 19 G.C. § 8219
2 19 G.C. § 8204
3 19 G.C. § 8205
4 19 G.C. §§ 8216; 8218
5 19 G.C. §§ 8217; 8218
6 19 G.C. § 8206
7 19 G.C. § 8218
8 19 G.C. § 8211
9 19 G.C. § 8207
10 19 G.C. § 8208
11 19 G.C. § 8212
12 19 G.C. § 8213
13 19 G.C. § 8214
14 19 G.C. § 8215
15 19 G.C. § 8209
16 19 G.C. § 8210
Can I get alimony?
Alimony is financial support paid by, or to, your spouse. A judge may grant temporary alimony during a divorce case and permanent alimony after a final divorce judgment.
A judge can also order temporary or permanent alimony as part of a “permanent maintenance and support action” (even if neither your or your spouse have filed for divorce) if:
- either spouse “willfully deserts” the other;
- there are any fault-based grounds for divorce, even if there is no divorce case pending; or
- a husband “willfully fails” to provide for his wife.1
Note: When a judge orders permanent maintenance and support, the judge must divide any marital property the spouses own, even if they are not getting a divorce.
During a divorce case, a judge may order either spouse to give the other spouse temporary alimony in the form of any money necessary for that spouse to:
- support himself/herself;
- support himself/herself and his/her children; and
- pay for the costs of getting a divorce.1
Any order for both temporary or permanent alimony can be enforced, changed, or ended (revoked) when a judge orders it.1
1 19 G.C. § 8402
What are the basic steps for filing for divorce?
While divorce laws vary by state, here are the basic steps:
First, you must meet the residency requirements of the state in which you wish to file.
Second, you must have “grounds” (a legally acceptable reason) to end your marriage.
Third, you must file divorce papers and have copies sent to your spouse. (To learn more about filing a summons, preparing a petition, and service of process, go to the Starting the Court Case page in our Preparing for Court - By Yourself section.)
Fourth, if your spouse disagrees with anything in the divorce papers, he will then have the opportunity to file papers telling his side. This is called “contesting the divorce.” In this case, you will have to attend a series of court appearances to sort the issues out. If your spouse does not disagree with anything, he should sign the papers and send them back to you and/or the court. This is called an “uncontested divorce.” If a certain period of time passes and your spouse does not sign the papers or file any papers of his/her own, you may be able to proceed with the divorce as an uncontested divorce anyway. You should speak to a lawyer in your state about how long you have to wait to see if your spouse answers the divorce papers before you can continue with the divorce.
Fifth, if there is property that you need divided, or if you need financial support from your spouse, you will have to work that out in an out-of-court settlement, or in a series of court hearings. Custody may also be decided as part of your divorce.
You can find more information about service of process in our Preparing for Court – By Yourself section, in the question called What is service of process and how do I accomplish it?
Where can I find additional information about divorce?
We hope the following links to outside sources may provide helpful information.
The U.S. Navy Judge Advocate General’s Corps (JAG) has information regarding divorce, including information about residency requirements, grounds for divorce, and alimony, in Guam.
WomensLaw.org is unrelated to the above organization and cannot vouch for the accuracy of its site. We provide this link for your information only.