Washington DC Divorce Forms

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District of Columbia Divorce Law

Regardless of your reasons for seeking divorce, you are not done yet. You have to continue taking action by filling out the forms you have purchased and filing them with the appropriate court. The District of Columbia has its own conditions and requirements for divorce, and following the instructions that we provide you to file for divorce in the District of Columbia is essential. Once you do that, though, you will be that much closer to being able to resume living your life unhindered.

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Divorce residency essentials to get divorce in District of Columbia

Every state has residency requirements, and Washington, DC is no different. If you do not meet the requirements, either your case will be dismissed or it will go unaccepted entirely. For Washington, DC, the requirements are:

One of the spouses must have been a resident of Washington D.C. for six months immediately prior to filing for divorce. Military personnel are considered residents if they have been stationed in Washington D.C. for 6 months. [District of Columbia Code Anno¬tated; Title 16, Chapter 9, Section 902].


Reasons for divorce in District of Columbia

In order to file for divorce in Washington, DC, the proper grounds must be established. Both spouses are involved in establishing these grounds, and both must substantiate and agree upon these, unless the divorcing spouse is trying to prove otherwise to the court.

The District of Columbia only recognizes the following for as valid grounds for divorce:


  • Mutual voluntary separation without cohabitation for six months; and
  • Living separate and apart without cohabitation for one year. “Living separate and apart” may be accomplished under the same roof, if the spouses do not share a bed or food. [District of Columbia Code An­notated; Title 16, Chapter 9, Sections 904, 905, and 906].



Custody of the children in District of Columbia

A court in District of Columbia grants the custody of the children upon divorce. The child custody can be granted to either parent on the following grounds.

  • Best interests of the child, without regard to spouse’s sex or sexual orientation, race, color, national origin, or political affiliations.

Upon divorce, court make child custody decision for a divorce in District of Columbia, court may consider the following points:


  • The preference of the child, if the child is of sufficient age and capacity;
  • The wishes of the parents;
  • The child’s adjustment to his or her home, school, and community;
  • The mental and physical health of all individuals involved;
  • The relationship of the child with parents, siblings, and other significant family members;
  • The willingness of the parents to share custody;
  • The prior involvement of the parent in the child’s life;
  • The geographical proximity of the parents;
  • The sincerity of the parent’s request;
  • The age and number of children;
  • The demands of parental employment;
  • The impact on any welfare benefits;
  • Any evidence of spousal or child abuse;
  • The capacity of the parents to communicate and reach shared decisions affecting the child’s welfare;
  • The potential disruption of the child’s social and school life;
  • The parent’s ability to financially support a joint custody arrangement and; 
  • The benefit to the parents.

Property Distribution in Washington, DC


Washington D.C. is an “equitable distribution” jurisdiction. If no valid property distribution agreement exists, each spouse retains his or her separate property (acquired before the marriage or acquired during the marriage by gift or inheritance), and any increase in such separate property and any property acquired in exchange for such separate property. All other property, regardless of how title is held, shall be divided equitably and reasonably, based on:

  • The contribution of each spouse to the acquisition of the marital property, including the contribution of each spouse as homemaker;
  • The length of the marriage;
  • The occupation of the spouses;
  • The vocational skills of the spouses;
  • The employability of the spouses;
  • The estate, liabilities, and needs of each spouse and the opportunity of each for further acquisition of capital assets and income;
  • The assets and debts of the spouses;
  • Any prior marriage of each spouse;
  • Whether the property award is instead of or in addition to alimony;
  • Any custodial provisions for the children;
  • The age and health of the spouses; and
  • The amount and sources of income of the spouses.


The conduct of the spouses during the marriage is not a factor for consideration.  [District of Columbia Code Annotated; Title 16, Chapter 9, Section 910].

Spousal Support Guidelines in District of Columbia


Spousal support is handled on a case-by-case basis, and spousal support can be temporary, permanent, or not be awarded at all.  This is determined by either an agreement between the spouses, or at the court's discretion.

In applying the statewide uniform guideline, the courts will abide by the following principles:

  • Ability of the party seeking alimony to wholly or partly self-supporting;
  • Time necessary for the party seeking alimony to gain sufficient education or training;
  • Standard of living that the parties established during their marriage;
  • Duration of the marriage;
  • Circumstances which contributed to the estrangement of the parties;
  • Age of each party;
  • Physical and mental condition of each party;
  • Ability of the party from whom alimony is sought to meet his or her needs while meeting the needs of the other party; and
  • The financial needs and financial resources of each party. [District of Columbia Code Annotated; Title 16, Chapter 9, Sections 911 and 913].



District of Columbia Child Support Guidelines

Either parent may be ordered to pay reasonable child support during and after a divorce proceeding. Detailed specific child support guidelines are contained in Title 16, Chapter 9, Sections 916.01 and 916.02. Application of the guidelines is to be gender neutral. Variations from the official child support guidelines are allowed based on the following factors:

  • The child’s needs are exceptional;
  • The non-custodial parent’s income is substantially less than the custodial parent’s income;
  • A property settlement between the parents provides resources for the child above the minimum support requirements;
  • The non-custodial parent provides support for other dependents and the guideline amounts would cause hardship;
  • The non-custodial parent needs a temporary reduction [of no longer than 12 months] in support payments to repay a substantial debt;
  • The custodial parent provides medical insurance coverage;
  • 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
  • Any other extraordinary factors.

Child support may be ordered to be paid through the Clerk of the Superior Court. [District of Columbia Code Annotated; Title 16, Chapter 9, Sections 911, 916, 916.01, and Title 46, Section 201].

Divorce Mediation

The court may order either or both spouses to attend parenting classes in those cases in which child custody is an issue. [District of Columbia Code Annotated; Title 16, Chapter 9, Section 914].

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