Understanding Washington D.C. Divorce Laws
Divorce Requirements for Washington D.C. Residents
If you are a petitioner of divorce in the District of Columbia, make sure that you or your spouse has lived in Washington D.C. for at least six months. D.C. divorce laws specifically cite that all active military members stationed in the capital are considered as residents if they have been stationed also for at least six months.
Washington D.C. Grounds For Divorce
D.C. laws acknowledge no-fault divorce filings. The grounds are:
- Mutual voluntary separation without cohabitation for six months; and
- Living separate and apart without cohabitation for one year.
D.C. divorce laws state that to live separate and apart can be accomplished even under the same roof, especially if the spouses do not anymore share bed or food. When it comes to divorce proceedings, D.C. is considered as an equitable-distribution state.
Child Custody Law in Washington D.C.
As with most states, D.C. divorce laws recognize that the two parties shall agree to child custody arrangements to the best interest of the child. Giving each parent equal consideration, the courts may award joint or sole custody based on the child’s best interests.
Among others, the following factors are considered when deciding on D.C. child custody:
- Child’s wishes, if the child is of sufficient age and capacity;
- Wishes of the parents;
- The child’s adjustment to his or her home, school, and community;
- Mental and physical health of all individuals involved;
- Relationship of the child with parents, siblings, and other significant family members; and
- Willingness of the parents to share custody.
Guidelines for Washington D.C. Child Support
D.C. divorce laws courts calculate child support based on the official child support guidelines. Until the child reaches adulthood, support will continue and may be extended through the child’s secondary education.
Support usually continues until the child is emancipated, which usually occurs when the child turns 21. But emancipation can also happen before 21 years of age if the child gets married, joins the military, or becomes self-supporting.
Where to file for a divorce?
D.C. divorce forms may be filed in the petitioner’s or respondent’s county of residence.
The court responsible, the Superior Court of the District of Columbia-Family Division, has jurisdictional rights to facilitate and grant orders related to property and debt division, support, custody, and visitation, among others.
For a fast and inexpensive divorce process, you can file Washington D.C online divorce forms.
Refer to the “Divorce Requirements for Washington D.C. Residents” above and also review the best online divorce sites.
Before or after filing of D.C. divorce papers, either of the parties may file a motion requesting mediation of their disputed issues. The two parties may then proceed in court to the divorce proceeding if they submit to mediation.
Need information for a different state?
You may also visit the Washington D.C. Courts for more information