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Washington D.C. Divorce Self-Help Center

Many customer District of Columbia divorce questions are answered here.  Browse from the topics below or use the search box to narrow your search.
 
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STATE PROCEDURES
Will either of us be required to attend a court hearing? 2784
Yes. The Plaintiff must attend a brief court hearing before the divorce can be finalized. The Defendant is not required at attend although if Defendant wants to resume a former or maiden name, the Judge will expect the Defendant to be present. Additionally, if Plaintiff is not a resident of D.C. and the Defendant is, the Defendant will be required to attend the hearing.
What is considered to be the date of separation in District of Columbia? 2786
The date of separation is the date when the spouses began living separate and apart at different residences without interruption.

Note: Spouses are considered to be separated in District of Columbia even if they live under the same roof as long as they do not do things commonly associated with being a married couple. They must have separate bedrooms, sleep in separate beds and not engage in a sexual relationship.

DivorceWriter cannot assist you in determining if you meet the separation requirement. Contact an attorney if you have an questions on this matter.
What are the District of Columbia residency requirements for filing for divorce? 2788
To file for divorce in D.C., at least one spouse must have lived in D.C. continuously for at least six months at the time the divorce is filed. However, as of May 2012, one very specific exception was made to the six-month residency requirement. Same-sex couples who (1) married in D.C. and (2) now live outside D.C. in a state or jurisdiction that does not allow same-sex couples to divorce are not required to meet the six-month residency requirement. Any couple not meeting both criteria must meet the six-month residency requirement before filing for divorce.
What are the grounds for filing for divorce in District of Columbia? 2789
The two no-fault grounds for divorce in D.C. are:
  1. Both spouses have agreed mutually and voluntarily to separate and have been living apart, without a sexual relationship, for at least six months before the date the divorce is filed; OR
  2. The spouses have been living separate and apart, regardless of whether both spouses agreed, without a sexual relationship, for at least one year before the date the divorce is filed.
Note: Spouses are considered to be separated in District of Columbia even if they live under the same roof as long as they do not do things commonly associated with being a married couple. They must have separate bedrooms, sleep in separate beds and not engage in a sexual relationship.

DivorceWriter cannot assist you in determining if you meet the separation requirement. Contact an attorney if you have an questions on this matter.
What are the basic steps to getting a divorce in District of Columbia? 2792
  1. File a Complaint for Absolute Divorce. If the Defendant's Answer to Complaint is filed at the same time as Plaintiff's Complaint, there is no need to formally serve Defendant with divorce papers. If no Answer is filed, Defendant must be served with divorce papers, and then Plaintiff must wait for the 20-day answer period to pass.
  2. If Defendant's Answer to the Complaint was filed in Step 1, the spouses will sign a Separation Agreement and related documents. If no Answer was filed, Plaintiff will file documents asking the Court to grant a divorce by default.
  3. Plaintiff attends a brief divorce hearing. The Judge will sign and mail a Judgment of Divorce to both spouses. The divorce is not final until 30 days after the Judgment of Divorce is signed unless Defendant's Answer was filed with the Complaint, in which case the parties will also file a Joint Waiver of Appeal waiving the 30-day waiting period and allowing the divorce to be final immediately.
How much is the filing fee in District of Columbia? 2793
The DivorceWriter price does NOT include the filing fee charged by the court clerk when you file for divorce. The divorce filing fee in District of Columbia is approximately $80.00 and must be paid in cash or by money order.
How do I serve my spouse with the divorce papers in District of Columbia? 2796
The two procedures for serving the Defendant with divorce papers in District of Columbia are as follows:
  1. Plaintiff selects an adult who is not involved in the case (not a party and not a child of the marriage) to hand-deliver a copy of the divorce documents to either the Defendant or an adult who actually lives in the same home as Defendant; or
  2. Plaintiff sends the divorce documents to Defendant by certified mail with a return-receipt requested and either Defendant or an adult who actually lives in Defendant's home signs for the papers when they are delivered.
Do we have to be separated to get a divorce in District of Columbia? 2797
Yes. If the spouses have agreed to a mutual and voluntary physically separation, they need only live separate and apart without interruption and without living together for six months before filing for divorce. However, if one spouse did not agree to the separation, the spouses must lived separate and apart without interruption and without living together for a year before filing for divorce.
Can I change my name in District of Columbia divorce proceedings? 2798
Either spouse is allowed to resume a former or maiden name through the divorce proceedings.
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