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Divorce in District of Columbia

Divorce in District of Columbia


Residency and Filing Needs


Washington D.C., our country’s capitol, is unfortunately not exempt from some of the family issues that can occur. Such as divorce. So if you need to know what to do about a petition for divorce in District of Columbia, here’s the one requirement necessary:


• Either party must be a resident in the district for at least six months.


Reasons for Divorce in District of Columbia


First off, recognize that there are two parties to every petition. The party filing for divorce is known as the ‘Plaintiff,’ and the party receiving the petition for divorce is known as the ‘Defendant.’


There are two categories for the grounds for divorce:


• No-Fault Divorce

• Fault Divorce


The District of Columbia, however, has no specific stipulations to differentiate between either. Grounds for divorce can be determined in two ways:


1) Mutual Full Voluntary Separation for at Least Six Months

2) Or “Living Separate and Apart” in the Same or Separate Households for at Least a Year


The phrase “Living Separate and Apart,” of course, refers to sleeping arrangements and food requirements being “separate” responsibilities among both parties.


The Definition of “Legal Separation” Versus “Divorce”


What is ‘legal separation’? It simply means the parting of ways between a husband and wife but without dissolving the marriage. There are several reasons for that, not excluding issues involving health insurance obtained through marriage, and tax reasons.


It’s common, though, that a petition for divorce may follow a legal separation given the reasons behind the separation in the first place typically involve irreconcilable differences.


The Primary Documents For a Divorce in District of Columbia


They are listed as follows:


• Marital Settlement Agreement

• Schedule for Visitation/Parenting Time of Minor Children

• Affidavit of Residency

• Commission to Take Testimony

• Affidavit Regarding the Children

• Answer, Waiver, and Agreement for Taking Testimony

• Complaint for Divorce

• And Judgment of Divorce


Property Distribution


Divorce in District of Columbia follows an “equitable distribution” standard by which each party receives a ‘fair share’ of the property assets. This commonly isn’t determined by monetary value, though. Both the Plaintiff and Defendant, however, can come to a mutual agreement about which pieces of property and assets go to who. Additionally, the wife may obtain her former or maiden name upon request for such a change to the court.


On the Subject of Spousal Support


The court determines the need for spousal support, also known as “alimony,” if direct evidence is brought to the attention of the court stating that either party is in need of financial assistance due to the dissolution of marriage. Each case can differ, though, on the subject of spousal support.


Divorce in District of Columbia : Dealing With Child Custody


For types of child custody exist when it comes to divorce in District of Columbia:


Joint Physical Custody – Both Parties Accept Physical Responsibility for the Child(ren)

Sole Physical Custody – Only One Party Accepts Physical Responsibility for the Child(ren) 

Joint Legal Custody – Both Parties Accept Legal Responsibility for the Child(ren)

Sole Legal Custody – Only One Party Accepts Legal Responsibility for the Child(ren)


The important thing to address with child custody, is that ‘physical’ custody revolves around residency, food, clothing, transportation to and from a doctor’s office and school, that sort of thing.


Whereas ‘legal’ custody involves more of the long-term aspects of parenting, such as which school the child(ren) will attend, which church the child(ren) will join, what doctor to go to, etc. etc. Long-term decisions surround this type of custody, including the long-term decision to retain or not retain the last name of the child(ren).


Divorce in District of Columbia : How to Determine Child Support If Necessary


In any case, the no-custodial parent is responsible for child support. In D.C., the Percentage of Income Formula is used to determine that amount. By combining all sources of income, a percentage is then figured and then ordered by the court upon the non-custodial parent.


Of course, both parties can mutually agree on a specific amount if necessary and forego the need for the Formula.