Updated February 2024
Divorce law in the District of Columbia was changed to eliminate the waiting period to file for divorce.
There is no longer a requirement to be separated for six months mutually and voluntarily or one year if the separation is not mutual.
However if you do want to file for an Uncontested Divorce in DC you still need to have an agreement about the issues.
How To Get an Uncontested Divorce in DC?
It is always best to attempt to move forward with a divorce that is uncontested and amicable than to proceed with a contested divorce. An uncontested divorce is one in which you are able to resolve all of the issues through a Separation Agreement or Marital Settlement Agreement. If you settle all of the issues then once you have been separated for either six months (if the separation is mutual and voluntary) or one year (if the separation is not mutual) you are able to file for a simple uncontested divorce. This keeps the decision-making in your hands instead of with a Judge. You also may start out without the issues settled and end up settling them through negotiations with your spouse directly; between your attorneys; or through mediation.
It is best to have a Separation Agreement or Marital Settlement Agreement so you can file for an Uncontested Divorce.
If you are able to arrive at a settlement of all the issues arising from your marriage, such as division of your marital assets and debts and custody and child support for your children if you have children, then it is important to have a written Separation Agreement or Marital Settlement Agreement in place. This Agreement is a contract between you and your spouse that clearly spells out how you are resolving the issues so you can move forward in your lives. Then the divorce process is uncontested and very simple.
The process of filing for an Uncontested Divorce is easy as long as you have an Agreement settling all the issues.
- You need to meet a residency requirement to file in DC. In order to file for an Uncontested Divorce in DC either you or your spouse must have lived in Washington, DC continuously for at least six months before you file.
- If either of you have lived in the District of Columbia for six months and you have been separated mutually and voluntarily you are able to file six months after your separation date. If the separation is not mutual and voluntary then you must wait one year from the date of your separation to file. See 2024 updated law eliminating this waiting period.
- You can be separated even if living under the same roof as long as your separation is continuous.
- If you and your spouse cooperate in signing and filing the divorce documents your hearing date will be set when you file your case with the court.
The Uncontested Divorce hearings are short and are being held virtually. However, you must be certain you have all the issues in your situation settled in order for the Judge to grant your divorce.
To help you understand and navigate the Uncontested Divorce process and to decide whether you should have a Separation Agreement or Marital Settlement Agreement it is best to speak with a DC Divorce lawyer.