Washington, DC Divorce

Choosing to get a divorce is one of the most difficult decisions you may ever have to make.  For many, it seems easier to just stay in a troubled marriage; however, in the long run, this may not be the best option for everyone in the family, including your children.

One of the main reasons people are afraid of getting divorced is because they do not understand how the process works.  To help out with this issue, our Washington, DC divorce attorneys would like to share with you how the process works in the District of Columbia.  You should note that this is only general advice, and you should contact an experienced DC divorce attorney for a complete and confidential consultation to learn how the law applies to your actual situation and what you should expect.

What are the Grounds for Divorce in Washington, DC?

Getting a divorce in the District of Columbia is not exactly like getting a divorce in surrounding states, such as Maryland or Virginia.  In other states, there is what is known as fault grounds for getting a divorce.  This includes fault grounds that most people have heard of, like adultery (cheating), abandonment, and physical or mental cruelty, as well as some other fault grounds that may be less familiar to the average person contemplating a divorce.

However, in Washington, DC, all divorces are filed under a no-fault theory.  This means that common fault grounds, like those mentioned above, generally do not matter.  This is outlined in D.C. Code § 16–904.  While there are no fault grounds, there are still certain requirements that must be met to file for a divorce in the Superior Court for the District of Columbia.

Six-Month Voluntary Separation

One possible ground for filing a divorce is if the parties to a marriage in Washington, DC have been living separate and apart for six months or more, and they are living apart based upon a mutual agreement.   This means that both parties must agree to live separate and apart.  If one spouse moves out without the other spouse’s consent, this may not be considered an agreement to live separate and apart, and your complaint for divorce might get dismissed.  However, this is a complicated issue, and you should speak with an experienced Washington, DC divorce attorney about the facts of your particular case. It should be noted that this does not necessary mean that you must be living in separate homes, as this may not be possible given your financial situation. It may be possible to live separate and apart while sharing the same roof.

One-Year Separation as Grounds for Divorce in Washington, DC

If you have lived separate and apart from your legal spouse for at least a year, you may be able to file for a divorce in the District of Columbia Superior Court, regardless of whether your spouse agreed to the separation. However, this requires that you not cohabitate with your spouse during the entire year.  Essentially, if you have any period of time during the year where you decide to move back in with each other or are engaged in intimate activity, the clock may reset, and you will have to wait an additional year.

The family law attorneys at DiPietro Family Law Group have years of experience handling domestic relations cases in jurisdictions across Northern Virginia, Washington, DC and Maryland.  Contact us to schedule a consultation.

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