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Divorce Laws in District of Columbia

While fault is not a factor, divorce in the District of Columbia takes six months to one year to become final.

Residency and jurisdiction
One spouse must have lived, or been stationed by the military, in the District of Columbia for at least six months.

Fault or no fault
The District of Columbia only permits no fault divorce. Grounds are as follows:

  • Mutual voluntary separation without cohabitation for 6 months
  • Living separate and apart without cohabitation for 1 year


Separation can occur with both spouses living under the same roof.

Division of property
The District of Columbia follows the principle of equitable distribution, does not consider fault, and must consider the following when determining the division of property:

  • Duration of the marriage
  • Prior marriages
  • Age
  • Health
  • Occupations
  • Income
  • Vocational skills
  • Employability
  • Non-marital assets
  • Debts
  • Needs
  • Custody
  • Is distribution in lieu of alimony
  • Future opportunity to acquire assets and income
  • Contribution (up or down) to value of assets
  • Contributions to the family unit (e.g., as homemaker)
  • Other relevant factors that the court considers appropriate

Spousal Support
Spousal support is indefinite, not rehabilitative. Living with someone can terminate spousal support whether the relationship is sexual or not. When determining spousal support the court considers many factors including:

  • Length of the marriage
  • Age and health
  • Respective financial positions
  • Need for support
  • Ability to pay
  • Contributions to the family during marriage
  • Prospects for future earnings

Child Custody
Factors the court must consider when determining child custody include:

  • Child’s wishes, if the child is of sufficient age and capacity
  • Wishes of the parents
  • 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
  • Willingness of the parents to share custody
  • Prior involvement of the parent in the child’s life
  • Geographical proximity of the parents
  • Sincerity of the parent’s request
  • Age and number of children
  • Demands of parental employment
  • Impact on any welfare benefits
  • Any evidence of spousal or child abuse
  • Capacity of the parents to communicate and reach shared decisions affecting the child’s welfare
  • Potential disruption of the child’s social and school life
  • Parent’s ability to financially support a joint custody arrangement

Child support is normally paid until the child turns 21 years old.

If you are considering or facing divorce in the District of Columbia, contact an experienced Washington D.C. divorce attorney today.

Click here to select from District of Columbia and Washington DC divorce lawyers in your area.

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Disclaimer: Divorce law information contained throughout this page is intended to generally inform you about divorce law in the District of Columbia and introduce you to divorce lawyers throughout the U.S. The information regarding divorce and divorce law is not meant to be taken as legal advice. If you like to speak with an experienced divorce attorney, click on the link to your state to find an experienced divorce attorney in your area for an initial consultation.
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