An Introduction to Washington DC Divorce Laws

Planning a divorce in Washington DC? As many people can tell you, a divorce can be an emotional and stressful process, so getting your questions answered early will make you feel more prepared for the process ahead. In this article, we will answer the most important questions related to divorce in Washington DC to make sure you’re prepared on what is ahead. 

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Am I Allowed to Divorce in Washington D.C.? 
Solon Phillips, Esq
March 8, 2021

Planning a divorce in Washington DC? As many people can tell you, a divorce can be an emotional and stressful process, so getting your questions answered early will make you feel more prepared for the process ahead. In this article, we will answer the most important questions related to divorce in Washington DC to make sure you’re prepared on what is ahead. 

Am I Allowed to Divorce in Washington D.C.? 

If you’re planning a divorce in Washington D.C., there are three requirements you must meet. You must meet residency requirements for divorce, provide proof of marriage, and prove sufficient grounds for divorce. 

What are the Residency Requirements for Divorce in Washington DC? 

If you’re seeking a divorce in Washington DC, either you or your spouse (or both) must have lived within Washington DC continuously for at least 6 months. If one spouse lives outside of DC, they are not required to establish residence within DC prior to the divorce, as long as the other spouse meets residency requirements. 

What is Proof of Marriage in Washington DC? 

You must prove to the divorce courts that you have been married before the divorce can be investigated. In order to prove marriage, your best option is to provide your marriage certificate. You can bring in either the original (be careful!) or a copy (make sure it’s certified!). If you were married in Washington DC, you can get a copy at the D.C. Superior Court (500 Indiana Avenue, NW, room JM-690). 

If you were married under common law or without a marriage certificate, you must rely on documentation and testimony of friends and family to provide proof of marriage. 

What are the Grounds for Divorce in Washington DC? 

Washington DC is a no-fault divorce jurisdiction, meaning wrongful behavior such as cheating is not required when dissolving a marriage. However, there are still grounds that must be met to prove the divorce valid. 

If you are non-mutually separated, meaning living apart without the approval of one or both spouses, you will need to remain separated for at least one year. 

If you have been voluntarily separated, meaning both spouses agreed on separation, you must have been separated for at least 6 months. 

What if I do not Meet Divorce Requirements in Washington DC? 

If you do not yet meet divorce requirements, there are still several options for separation. You may wish to pursue a legal separation, which allows a couple to set legal standards such as child visitation without dissolving the marriage. Reach out to an attorney to explore your legal options if there is a specific reason you are unable to meet requirements (i.e.: living together out of financial dependency).

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Authored by

Partner

Solon Phillips, Partner of the General Litigation Group at Remus Enterprises Law Group, is an experienced legal professional with extensive experience working in large law firms while devoting much of his spare time in volunteer work in public service.

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