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District of Columbia Residency Requirements
In order to file for a divorce in District of Columbia, you or your spouse must meet the strict residency requirements. These requirements permit the court to have jurisdiction of your case, resulting in allowing you to use their judicial system. These requirements are only a concern for spouses who have recently relocated or plan to relocate in the near future. They are as follows: Either spouse must be a resident for at least 6 months prior to filing for a divorce. All active military members that are stationed in Washington D.C. are considered a residents as long as they have been stationed for at least 6 months. (District of Columbia Code - Title 16 - Chapter 9 - Sections: 902)
District of Columbia Divorce Grounds:
(1) Mutual voluntary separation without cohabitation for 6 months; (2) living separate and apart without cohabitation for 1 year. "Living separate and apart" may be accomplished under the same roof, if the spouses do not share bed or food. (District of Columbia Code - Title 16 - Chapter 9 - Sections: 904, 905, 906)
District of Columbia Property and Debt Division
If the parties have not stipulated to a property settlement, the court will distinguish what property is separate and what is marital. Separate property includes, but is not limited to, any property acquired prior to the marriage, gifts, and inheritances. Any property other than separate property will be divided equitably by the court after considering the following factors: (a) the contribution of each spouse to the acquisition of the marital property, including the contribution of each spouse as homemaker; (b) the length of the marriage; (c) the occupations of each spouse; (d) the vocational skills of the spouses; (e) the employability of the spouses; (f) the estate, liabilities, and needs of each spouse and the opportunity of each for further acquisition of capital assets and income; (g) the separate property and debts of the spouses; (h) any prior marriages; (i) whether the property award is instead of or in addition to alimony; (j) any custodial provisions for the children; (k) the age and health of the spouses; and (l) the amount and sources of income of the spouses. (District of Columbia Code - Title 16 - Chapter 9 - Sections: 910)
District of Columbia Spousal Support, Maintenance, or Alimony:
The court may, at its discretion, may order temporary or permanent alimony during a divorce proceeding if it feels it is appropriate. In making such an award, the court will consider a number of economic factors, but marital fault is not a consideration. (District of Columbia Code - Title 16 - Chapter 9 - Sections: 911, 912)
District of Columbia Custody and Visitation:
If the parents are in dispute regarding the custody of the children, the court will make the custody award with the best interest of the children at the forefront of the decision. Each parent is given equal consideration by considering the following factors: (1) the child's wishes, if the child is of sufficient age and capacity; (2) the wishes of the parents; (3) the child's adjustment to his or her home, school, and community; (4) the mental and physical health of all individuals involved; (5) the relationship of the child with parents, siblings, and other significant family members; (6) the willingness of the parents to share custody; (7) the prior involvement of the parent in the child's life; (8) the geographical proximity of the parents; (9) the sincerity of the parent's request; (10) the age and number of children; (11) the demands of parental employment; (12) the impact on any welfare benefits; (13) any evidence of spousal or child abuse; (14) the capacity of the parents to communicate and reach shared decisions affecting the child's welfare; (15) the potential disruption of the child's social and school life; and (16) the parent's ability to financially support a joint custody arrangement. There is a rebuttable presumption that joint interest is in the best interests of the child unless child abuse, neglect, parental kidnapping or other intrafamily violence has occurred. The court may order the parents to submit a written parenting plan for custody. (District of Columbia Code - Title 16 - Chapter 9 - Sections: 911, 914)
District of Columbia Child Support:
The court will determine the support amount according to the current child support guidelines that are in place. If the court finds that the calculated amount is not appropriate form a specific case, it shall deviate from that amount by considering the following deviation factors: (1) the child's needs are exceptional; (2) the non-custodial parent's income is substantially less than the custodial parent's income; (3) a property settlement between the parents provides resources for the child above the minimum support requirements; (4) the non-custodial parent provides support for other dependents and the guideline amounts would cause hardship; (5) the non-custodial parent needs a temporary reduction [of no longer than 12 months] in support payments to repay a substantial debt; (6) the custodial parent provides medical insurance coverage; (7) the custodial parent receives child support payments for other children and the custodial parent's household income is substantially greater than that of the non-custodial parent; and (8) any other extraordinary factors. Child support may be ordered to be paid through the Clerk of the Superior Court. (District of Columbia Code - Title 16 - Chapter 9 - Sections: 911, 916)
How Do I Know if I Should File in District of Columbia?
One would typically file for divorce in the state in which he or she or his or her spouse resides. If you have recently moved to a new state and wish to file in that new state, you may have to establish residency prior to filing.
If you are in the military and are stationed on a base outside your residency state, you typically are able to file in that state or in your residency state.
If you are in the military and are stationed overseas, you would typically file in your home residency state.
Can I Use 3StepDivorceTM if I Have Children?
Yes. The system and your documents will address all the issues regarding your children such as, but not limited to; custody arrangements, visitation and time-sharing, child support, and medical coverage.
How Much Are the District of Columbia Filing and/or Court Fees?
The filing and/or court fees are not included in our fee and typically range from $50.00 to $350.00 in total depending on your location of filing and whether or not you have children. The 3StepDivorce service will typically help you yield the lowest filing fee for you because both you and your spouse are in agreement.
How Long Will the Process Take in District of Columbia?
The process takes an average of less than 1 hour to answer the required questions and generate the documents. Once you file your documents with the court according the filing procedures, the length of time will vary depending on the number of cases in front of yours. Each court has only one or just a few Judges, Masters, or Referees to review all the pending cases.
Should I File or Should My Spouse File?
As a rule of thumb, for uncontested divorces, the spouse who really wants the divorce to be finalized typically does the filing.
Where and How Do I File My Documents?
The documents are filed at your local county courthouse in the family law or domestic relations division or department. Inside your account you will receive step-by-step filing procedures.
Can I Mail or Fax My Documents to the Clerk?
Many courts do permit you to mail and/or fax the documents. This will vary from county to county and state to state, so it will be best to check with the clerk at the courthouse when you are ready to file.
Do I Have to Go to Court in District of Columbia?
Depending on your state and your situation, you may or may not have to attend a short hearing. Most of the time when a hearing is required, it only lasts 10-15 minutes and only the filing spouse must attend. The hearing is where you will be granted your divorce and the judge will sign the final judgment or decree.
Do I Have to Also Hire a Lawyer?
3StepDivorce is designed for you to do your own uncontested divorce without hiring a lawyer. You will be acting as your own lawyer and filing for your own divorce. Should you need or desire legal advice or should your divorce become contested, we do suggest you hire the services of a lawyer.
Will My Name Also Be Changed?
The wife has the option to change her name back to her former or maiden name through the 3StepDivorce solution.
When is the Divorce Actually Finalized in District of Columbia?
The divorce is typically finalized when the Judge signs the final judgment or decree. We give a window of 30-90 days from the filing date, but this will vary due to case load at the courthouse and any mandatory waiting periods.
District of Columbia Forms: Our question and answer technology will allow you to easily complete your DC divorce forms for an uncontested divorce. Our goal is to give you full control and make "doing your own divorce", fast, easy, and affordable.District of Columbia Divorce Forms List
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A total of 95 people have started their divorce through 3StepDivorceTM in the last 24 hours and 922 in the last 10 days. The streamlined and user-friendly process, instant document delivery, and unlimited free support makes us the go-to solution to do your own divorce. Our simple and inexpensive process provides you with all your completed divorce papers in as little as 20 minutes. Instantly access your completed divorce forms after a short online interview. It is that easy, no lengthy completion or delivery times.
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. If you're not ready to file for divorce in DC, learn more about getting your Separation Agreement .
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.
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.
Washington, D.C., has two basic requirements to file for divorce in the state: a residency requirement, and a mandatory separation period.
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).)
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:
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).)
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.
You may use Washington, D.C., 3StepDivorce™ as long as you have an uncontested divorce and meet the state’s residency requirement. You’ll need to have a written marital settlement agreement, signed by both you and your spouse, that covers all of the issues in your divorce. Washington, D.C., 3StepDivorce™ will guide you through the process of creating this agreement, based on your answers to the questionnaire.
Washington, D.C., 3StepDivorce™ can also help if you aren’t ready to file for divorce–for instance, because you haven’t met D.C.’s separation requirements–but you want a separation agreement with your spouse. For instance, you might want to work out arrangements for support, custody of your children, who has to move out of the family home, and how to take care of the bills while you’re separated but still legally married.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
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.)
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.
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.
When you file your divorce, you’ll have to pay a filing fee. The filing fee for divorce in Washington, D.C., is $80.
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.
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).)
Washington, D.C., 3StepDivorce™ provides unlimited, live, person-to-person support for customers. If you have any questions about how uncontested divorce works, call our Washington, D.C., Divorce Online Help Center at (888) 665-6782 (toll free), Monday through Friday from 8 am to 5 pm (Pacific Time).
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.
3StepDivorce TM is a premium online divorce solution, a sister company of Divorce Source, the owner and operator of the Divorce Source Network, the web's largest and most visited online divorce resource since 1997.
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