Guide to DC Separation Agreements
There is a specific period of time you must be separated before you can file for divorce in DC. You have to be separated continuously (even if separated under the same roof), either mutually and voluntarily for six months or one year if the separation is not mutual and voluntary.
However, there is no required period of separation to begin working on an out of court divorce settlement. You can begin working on a settlement as soon as the day after you separate. You may not be emotionally ready to do so, but you do not have to meet any specific period of separation in order to begin the process.
Whenever you are ready to do so you can begin.
Negotiating a DC Separation Agreement
It is therefore best to first try to reach an out of court settlement of the issues before filing for divorce in DC. If you are able to reach a negotiated settlement, then filing for divorce is quicker, less expensive, and in the end hopefully less stressful. You are able to maintain control over your life if you are able to negotiate an agreement rather than leaving a resolution up to a Judge who does not personally know you, your spouse, or your specific situation. A negotiated settlement can also lead to a more amicable outcome so you and your spouse may be able to move forward in a friendlier way. This is particularly helpful if you have children together.
If you are able to reach an out of court settlement, your divorce is scheduled on the Uncontested Divorce calendar for a simple hearing.
There are several ways to negotiate an out of court settlement……whether by working out the details with your spouse, attending mediation, or retaining attorneys to negotiate a resolution after discussions with you. Depending on your situation and your relationship with your spouse you know best if you are comfortable negotiating directly with your spouse.
How a Washington, DC Divorce Lawyer Can Help With Your Separation Agreement
Separating from your spouse can be a very emotional period in your life. There is a tendency sometimes to just want everything done so you can move on. However, you want to be sure you are protecting your rights and not just agreeing to any outcome just to speed the process. You do not want to regret a hasty decision that can affect you for years to come.
No matter how you choose to resolve the marital issues, it is best to have advice from an experienced DC Divorce lawyer so you are aware of your rights and are able to make an informed decision about what is best for you and how to achieve the resolution you think is best for you and your family.
Once you have a Marital Settlement Agreement (also called a DC Separation Agreement or Separation and Property Settlement Agreement) completed, you will be able to cooperate with your spouse to file for an Uncontested Divorce. All the documents necessary to file for an Uncontested Divorce can be filed at one time to simplify the process and you will then be provided with a hearing date by the court. A DC Divorce Lawyer can prepare the necessary documents for you and walk you through the entire process or you can choose to prepare the paperwork yourself.
What if You Can’t Negotiate a Separation Agreement in DC?
If you are unable to reach an out of court divorce settlement then you ultimately have to file for divorce and your case becomes a contested divorce in the court system. This is a much longer and more expensive process.
To talk through your specific situation to discuss the best way to reach an out of court divorce settlement, contact a patient and experienced DC Divorce lawyer who will listen to your needs and questions and will assist you in navigating the options available to you.