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Divorce in DC | DC Divorce Forms | 3 Step Divorce

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This easy to use online divorce is a "do it yourself (without a lawyer)" solution for any uncontested divorce (with or without children) that will be filed in Washington D.C.. An uncontested divorce is one in which you and your spouse are in agreement and eliminates the stress and expense of settling your divorce in court.

With 3StepDivorce TM you can complete and print your DC divorce forms (including a marital settlement agreement) instantly. Follow our step-by-step filing procedures to file your own divorce in a timely, professional, and hassle free fashion. The online software is designed to give you full control of your divorce and also avoids the use of third party data entry, thus helping protect your personal information and privacy.

Online Divorce FAQ: Washington, D.C.

Filing for divorce (also called “absolute divorce” in Washington, D.C.) can seem overwhelming. Like starting almost any other legal proceeding, it takes finding the right forms, filling out the forms properly, and understanding the court’s requirements for the next steps you’ll need to take.

Traditionally, most people have hired a lawyer to take care of all the legal matters in their divorce. But more and more couples are turning to a much cheaper option that’s still easier than figuring out everything on their own: filing for divorce online.

If you want to know more, read on for answers to some of the most common questions about online divorce in Washington, D.C.

How Does Online Divorce Work in Washington, D.C.?

Washington, D.C., 3StepDivorce™ takes care of the divorce paperwork for you. Once you sign up for the service, you’ll answer some questions about your situation. Based on your responses to the questionnaire, Washington, D.C., 3StepDivorce™ will fill out the forms the state requires to start the divorce process, along with instructions for adding any further information that’s needed. You’ll be able to print out the forms yourself immediately or, if you prefer, get hard copies by mail.

Can I File for Divorce in Washington, D.C.?

Washington, D.C., has two basic requirements to file for divorce in the state: a residency requirement, and a mandatory separation period.

What Are the Residency Requirements for Divorce in Washington, D.C.?

To get a divorce in Washington, D.C., one of the spouses must have lived in the district for at least six months immediately before filing. (D.C. Code § 16-902 (2022).)

What Are the Grounds for Divorce in Washington, D.C.?

Washington, D.C., allows only “no-fault” divorces. This means that the filing spouse doesn’t have to prove that the other was at fault for ending the marriage. Rather than requiring the spouses to provide a reason (or “grounds”) for divorce, the District of Columbia requires that the spouses demonstrate that they have been separated for a certain amount of time in order to get a divorce.

The length of the required separation period depends on whether the spouses agreed to live separate and apart:

  • If the spouses agreed to live separate and apart, they must live without cohabitation for at least six months in order to get a divorce.
  • If one of the spouses didn’t agree to live separate and apart, they must live without cohabitation for at least a year in order to get a divorce.

You can still live under the same roof as your spouse during the separation period–the only requirement is that you not have sexual relations. In other words, your relationship must be more like that of roommates than a married couple. (D.C. Code § 16-904 (2022).)

Do I Need a Lawyer to File for Divorce in Washington, D.C.?

Many Washington, D.C., residents are finding that they can file for divorce and get through the process without the expense of hiring a lawyer if they’re filing for an “uncontested divorce” in the state. That means that they’ve agreed with each other about all of the legal issues in their divorce, including:

If you still have disagreements with your spouse about these or any other issues involved in ending your marriage, you’ll have to file for a traditional, contested divorce. Because that will involve legal battles and presenting evidence and arguments at court hearings, it would be risky to pursue a contested divorce without a lawyer to navigate the process for you—especially if your spouse has an attorney.

Can I Use Washington, D.C., 3StepDivorce™ in My Situation?

We follow standard procedures for uncontested, DIY divorces based on the local process. Our service requires both parties to be cooperative and in full agreement. Therefore, our services use no-fault grounds (for example, "irreconcilable differences") and each party will waive certain procedural rights.

We cannot accommodate cases that involve: existing cases or support orders; domestic violence; restraining orders; contested issues; missing spouses; protected addresses; common law marriages; dissolution of registered domestic partnerships; pregnancy; temporary or retroactive support orders; lack of jurisdiction over the children under the UCCJEA; exclusive jurisdiction over the case by another court; third-party child custody or support; or children who are emancipated or otherwise not dependent on the parties. Some cases may require additional forms or filing requirements that are not provided by our service, including but not limited to cases involving: filing fee waivers; change in address; recipients of public assistance; division or transfers of retirement accounts; and multiple visitation plans.

What If My Spouse and I Can’t Agree on the Issues in Our Divorce?

Just because you haven’t been able to agree with your spouse about everything in your divorce, that doesn’t necessarily mean that you have to go through an expensive and time-consuming contested divorce. You could try divorce mediation. If you’re able to resolve your disagreements with the mediator’s help, you can then use Washington, D.C. 3StepDivorce™ to prepare the written settlement agreement, along with the other divorce paperwork.

Can I Get an Online Divorce in Washington, D.C., If I Have Children?

Generally, you can use Washington, D.C., 3StepDivorce™ even when you have minor children with your spouse, as long as you agree on all of the issues related to your kids, including legal and physical custody, a parenting (visitation) schedule, child support, health and dental insurance, and tax deductions. Washington, D.C., 3StepDivorce™ will allow you to address these issues in your settlement agreement. We provide a standard parenting schedule, but you’ll have an option of customizing the schedule to meet your individual needs.

However, you won’t be able to address custody-related issues with Washington, D.C., 3StepDivorce™ if the affected child or children don’t meet the “home state” requirement. Usually, that means the child must have lived in Washington, D.C., with a parent (or a parent figure) during the entire six-month period before you file for divorce (or since birth if the child is younger than six months old). (D.C. Code § 16-4602.01 (2022).) If you don’t meet the six-month rule, you should speak with an attorney to find out whether you might qualify for one of the complicated exceptions to this rule.

How Will My Online Divorce in Washington, D.C., Deal With Child Support?

In Washington, D.C., both parents have an obligation to support their children. And like all states, Washington, D.C., has child support guidelines for calculating how much support the parents should pay, based largely on their incomes and custody arrangements.

3StepDivorce™ provides the Washington, D.C., Child Support Guideline Worksheets, so you can easily calculate the state's guideline level of support. You and your spouse may agree to an amount of child support that differs from the guideline amount, but the judge will need to review and approve your agreement. Washington, D.C., law requires that any time the amount of child support deviates from the guideline, the judge must find that applying the guideline would be “unjust or inappropriate” under the circumstances.

In your settlement agreement, you and your spouse may include child support provisions that aren’t legally required, such as a parent’s contributions to private school tuition or the cost of a child’s college education. You may also agree on some specific questions like which parent will claim the children as dependents on tax returns.

Will We Be Able to Change the Amount of Child Support After Divorce?

After your divorce in Washington, D.C., is final, you (or your spouse) may request a change in the amount of child support, but you’ll need to show that your circumstances have changed significantly. The judge will review your request based on the same legal requirements for an original child support order.

If you want to save the time and expense of a court battle over a request to modify child support, you and your spouse may agree to a modification on your own. As a general rule, you’ll need to submit your agreement to a judge or child support agency.

Every three years, you can ask the attorney general’s Child Support Services Division (CSSD) to schedule a review and adjustment conference. At this conference, the CSSD will evaluate both parents’ situations and decide whether support levels should be changed. When there has been a substantial change in circumstances, you also have the option to either request a review and adjustment conference with CSSD or ask the court to modify the child support order. To request a change in child support from the court, you’ll need to file a Motion to Modify Child Support Order. You can find more details about modifying child support in Washington, D.C., on the CSSD website.

How Will Online Divorce Handle Property and Debts From Our Marriage?

When you fill out your questionnaire for Washington, D.C., 3StepDivorce™, you’ll answer a series of questions about your separate and marital property and debts, including how you’ll divide your marital property and allocate responsibility for payment of the marital debts.

What About the Family Home?

If you own a home with your spouse, your agreement can spell out what will happen to it when you get divorced. Here again, the questionnaire will include a few questions about the property and how you’ve chosen to deal with it, such as:

  • selling the house and splitting the proceeds
  • transferring ownership to one spouse, with the other spouse receiving money or other assets in exchange for that spouse’s share, or
  • continuing to own the property together while allowing one spouse to stay in the house for a period of time (and, if so, how you’ll handle paying the mortgage and other ongoing costs).

What About Retirement Accounts?

In your Washington, D.C., 3StepDivorce™, you may also agree on whether and how you’ll divide any retirement accounts that you and your spouse have, including 401(k)s, individual retirement accounts (IRAs), and defined-benefit pensions.

If you started contributing to the retirement plan before you were married, you’ll start by figuring out how much of its current value is marital property and how much is your separate property. There are experts and firms that will do this for you (for a fee, of course). The service is usually known as a pension appraisal or valuation. You’ll almost always need this kind of expert help when you’re dealing with a defined-benefit pension.

Once you know the marital value of your work-related retirement accounts, the easiest way to handle the division of the assets is not to split them but to transfer other assets as an offset. Here’s how that works: Say you have a 401(k) through your job, and the marital portion of the account is worth $100,000. If you and your spouse agree to divide that portion down the middle, and you have other marital assets to divide (such as a regular savings account), your spouse could receive an extra $50,000 from those assets while you keep the entire 401(k). That way, you don’t have to hire another expert to prepare the kind of special order that’s needed to tell the 401(k) administrator how to divide the account.

The rules are different for IRAs. You may simply agree to have your spouse’s share transferred to another IRA account in that spouse’s name. (You’ll have to submit a special form to the bank, along with a copy of your divorce decree.)

Can I Get Alimony With an Online Divorce in Washington, D.C.?

You and your spouse may waive any right to alimony in your Washington, D.C., divorce, or you may agree on the specifics of alimony payments: who will pay, how much, and for how long. Your agreement may also state whether a court could modify alimony at any time in the future, and it could cover related issues like health insurance and life insurance.

How Do I File My Divorce Papers in Washington, D.C.?

When you get your completed forms with Washington, D.C., 3StepDivorce™, your next step will be to file the paperwork. Take your forms to the clerk at the Family Court’s Central Intake Center. You can also electronically file your divorce paperwork if that’s more convenient. After you file your divorce, you will need to serve your spouse with the paperwork. You can find detailed information about how to serve divorce paperwork in the superior court’s Handbook for People Who Represent Themselves in Divorce, Custody, and Child Support Cases.

How Much Is Washington, D.C.’s Filing Fee for Divorce?

When you file your divorce, you’ll have to pay a filing fee. The filing fee for divorce in Washington, D.C., is $80.

What If I Can’t Afford to Pay the Divorce Filing Fee?

If you can’t afford to pay the filing fee, you can request a fee waiver from the court. To request a waiver, file an Application to Proceed Without Prepayment of Costs, Fees, or Security (Form 106A In Forma Pauperis) with the court clerk. If the court grants your application, you won’t have to pay any court fees or costs during your divorce.

How Long Does an Uncontested Divorce Take in Washington, D.C.?

Unlike some states, Washington, D.C. doesn’t have a waiting period after you file your paperwork before the court can grant your divorce. How quickly the court can decide your divorce depends on the court’s schedule. Usually, the court can decide an uncontested divorce within eight weeks or so after filing.

Note that there is, however, a 30-day waiting period after the court issues your divorce decree before the divorce is considered final. (D.C. Code § 16-920 (2022).)

How Can I Get More Help With Washington, D.C., Online Divorce?

Washington, D.C., 3StepDivorce™ provides unlimited support for customers. If you have any questions about how uncontested divorce works, e-mail us at [email protected].

Please keep in mind that we are not lawyers and so cannot give out legal advice. If you have questions about Washington, D.C., law or need legal advice, we recommend that you contact an experienced family law attorney in your area.

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