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Legal Grounds for Divorce in DC: A Comprehensive Guide

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This guide covers details how divorce works in Washington DC including the divorce process, eligibility, legal requirements, how to file and more. If you still have questions, don’t worry—Petrelli Previtera, LLC lawyers are here to walk you through all the needs and grounds for divorce. Let’s dive deeper:

D.C. Is a No-Fault Divorce State

Once upon a time, couples could divorce if either party proved that the other was at fault. For example, if a wife engages in domestic violence, the husband would apply for divorce.

But nowadays, finding fault isn’t necessary—the judge can grant a “no-fault” divorce. This divorce saves people from presenting their marriage’s details in public.

NB: No-fault divorce is different from an uncontested one. The former may have contested matters like alimony while an uncontested divorce means you’ve agreed with your spouse concerning all matters.

Eligibility for divorce in D.C.

For the court to grant your request for divorce, you must satisfy three conditions:

  • Residency
    You or your partner have been DC residents for a minimum of 6 months.
  • Proof of marriage

You must be legally married to your spouse. The judge will ask for an official marriage certificate copy to prove that you’ve met this requirement.

Is yours a common law marriage, which means you don’t have a marriage certificate? Friends and family’s testimony or other valid documents will save the day.

  • Grounds for divorce

The court will also require proof that you’ve been living apart and separate for a certain period. If you’re seeking a divorce in D.C., you only have two grounds for it:

  • 6 months’ voluntary and mutual separation: There was a mutual and voluntary agreement to separate, and you’ve been living apart without sexual relation for a minimum of 6 months.
  • 1-year separation: Whether or not the separation was mutual and voluntary, you’ve been living apart and separate without sexual relations for a minimum of 1 year (C. Code Ann. § 16-904 (a))

In both situations, you must have lived in D.C. for a minimum of 6 months before applying for divorce. This is according to D.C. Code Ann. § 16-902. How can you show your residency? Documents showing your address can come through for you: Voter registration, driving license, and income tax.

The judge will decide on all issues before declaring the marriage null and void. We are talking about issues like child custody, alimony, assets division, child support, etc. Once the divorce sails through, you are free to marry another person.

Would you like to exercise control over the legal issues? Your best bet is to apply for a separation agreement instead of filing for divorce immediately. Be sure you’ve engaged the services of an independent attorney for comprehensive direction.

Living Separate and Apart

For the two grounds to hold in your particular case, you must show that you’ve been pursuing separate lives apart from each other for a certain period. But having two homes can be financially challenging. And the court understands that.

So if you live under one roof, the grounds for no-fault divorce will hold if you prove that you lived separately and didn’t share meals or bed (D.C. Code Ann. § 16-904 (c)).

Get Award-Winning Petrelli Previtera, LLC Lawyer

Don’t let the legal issues of divorce cause you sleepless nights. Petrelli Previtera, LLC lawyers are ready to shove all the chaos out of the divorce process and help you fight for your rights. Our award-winning lawyers care for every client that walks through our doors. Schedule an initial consultation now to see how we are the right fit for your case.

Client Testimonials

Here's what our clients have to say about working with us. Please note, results may vary based on individual circumstances.

Melinda Previtera, Esq. came highly recommended to our family. Her knowledge base, professionalism, and compassion paved the way for a successful outcome. Melinda is efficient, detailed, and informative. She helps manage expectations, and postures her client for a fair and equitable result. We are happy to recommend Melinda!

Jennifer A.

My experience was very good. Everyone was professional and attentive to my needs, keeping me updated every step of the way. I couldn’t ask for a better result, highly recommended.

David R.

My marriage life has been a hell for me for the past four years until I decided to put an end to what has to be ended. Choosing a lawyer was another additional stressful part of the long process. I’m so glad that I’ve found the right one for me at Petrelli Previtera. Life isn’t always fair, but at least having her in my corner, felt even better. I couldn’t recommend her highly enough!

Caitlin B.

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