District of Columbia Divorce Law

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District of Columbia Divorce Guidelines

District of Columbia's Residency Requirements

Either the spouse must have been a District of Columbia resident for 6 months or more before filing for divorce.

Military personnel stationed in the District of Columbia for 6 months or more are considered residents.

 

District of Columbia's Grounds for Divorce

District of Columbia residents may file under only no-fault grounds for divorce.

District of Columbia's no-fault grounds include:

  • mutual, voluntary separation without cohabitation for 6 months or more
  • living separate and apart for 1 year

Living separate and apart may be accomplished under one roof if the spouses do not share the same bed or food.

 

District of Columbia's Child Custody Guidelines

Divorcing parents are allowed to collaborate on a child custody arrangement. If the parents cannot reach a decision, a District of Columbia court will make a ruling.

District of Columbia courts consider factors such as:

  • the wishes of the child, if of sufficient age and mental capacity
  • each parent's work demands
  • any potential disruption to the child's schooling and social life
 

District of Columbia's Child Support Guidelines

If the parents cannot agree on the amount of child support and the paying parent, child support will be decided by state-specific calculations and guidelines.

District of Columbia courts consider factors such as:

  • the noncustodial parent's earning capacity
  • the distribution of property
  • the child's needs
 

District of Columbia's Spousal Support Guidelines

Spousal support can be paid in one lump sum, in installments, or periodically. The spouses may determine the spousal support amount and payment schedule, or the courts may award spousal support.

District of Columbia courts will consider factors such as:

  • duration of the marriage
  • the cause of the divorce
  • each spouse's ability to support themselves
  • the standard of living experienced during the marriage
 

District of Columbia's Property Division Guidelines

District of Columbia has adopted equitable distribution guidelines, which means all property (including gifts and inheritances) will be divided as fairly and equally as possible. Spouses may collaborate on the property distribution, but if they are unable to agree the courts will make a ruling.

District of Columbia courts will consider factors such as:

  • each spouse's contribution to the property, including acquisition and upkeep of property
  • each spouse's marketable skills, employability, and income
  • duration of the marriage
  • any alimony arrangements
 

District of Columbia's Venue Guidelines

The petitioner may file the divorce forms in their District of Columbia county of residence, or in the respondent's District of Columbia county of residence.

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