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Divorce in DC

What types of divorce are there in D.C.?

In D.C., there is only one type of marriage dissolution. Divorces are no-fault; fault was eliminated as a ground for divorce but can be used in determining an equitable distribution of marital property.

What is the D.C. residency requirement?

At least one spouse must be a resident of the district for a period of six months.

What are the grounds for divorce in D.C.?

Because D.C. is a no-fault jurisdiction, there are no required “grounds” for seeking a divorce. However,

spouses must have participated in one of the two following living situations prior to filing:

  • Mutually lived separate and apart for 6 months
  • Lived separate and apart without cohabitation for one year.

Parties can live in the same house and still get a divorce provided they have lived separate and apart.

Generally this is not the case in Maryland.

How is marital property divided through divorce in D.C.?

The District of Columbia, like Maryland is an equitable distribution jurisdiction. Equitable distribution means if the couple cannot reach a mutual agreement on property division, the court will divide said property equitably. However, “equitable” does not mean equal. We are experienced in getting our client what they deserve.

What is the child custody situation in D.C.?

The best interest of the child is the primary factor in determining which parent receives custody of the child or children. This is the same standard in Maryland. Custody in the District can be joint or sole.

Factors which influence custody awarded by the court are intrafamily violence, such as abuse, neglect, or parental kidnapping. We help our clients to serve the best interest of their child or children.

How much is child support in D.C.?

In the District of Columbia payment of child support is gender-neutral and is based on what is known as an “income-shares model”, meaning, the amount of child support and to which spouse it is awarded is determined by the income of both parties. We have the experience and expertise to get our clients the best outcome. D.C. also has child support guidelines.

How is alimony determined in D.C.?

Alimony in the District of Columbia may be awarded to either party of the divorce. Factors which the court takes into consideration for spousal support are: length of the marriage, the age, health and mental conditions of each party, and the standard of living established during the marriage. The court also looks at each party’s income and income potential.

Our firm is experienced in dealing with alimony, getting the best outcome for our clients.

Can the terms of a divorce be changed in D.C.?

Yes. To change the terms of a divorce, the two parties must enter into a modification agreement. This agreement allows terms of the divorce to be changed should the circumstances warrant such a change. We assist our clients in the complex process, helping them to get what they seek.

The process of divorce is very complex and can be very emotional and confusing. Contact us to speak with a family law attorney for help with all issues relating to divorce and other matters of family law.

What are the rights of grandparents?

Grandparent visitation rights and the visitation rights of other non-parents did not exist more than 40 years ago. Visitation rights, until recently, only applied to a child’s parents. Today, however, every state has created statutes to govern the visitation rights of grandparents and certain other non-parents, such as foster parents, caregivers or stepparents. These visitation laws grant grandparents and these non-parents the legal right to visit a child.

Grandparent visitation rights and the visitation rights of other non-parents did not exist more than 40 years ago. Visitation rights, until recently, only applied to a child’s parents. Today, however, every state has created statutes to govern the visitation rights of grandparents and certain other non-parents, such as foster parents, caregivers or stepparents. These visitation laws grant grandparents and these non-parents the legal right to visit a child. Grandparents may have a right to visitation with their grandchildren in Maryland under certain circumstances. In D.C. grandparents can file to have custody of their grandchildren. In all custody and visitation disputes the Court is concerned with the best interest of the child.

Sometimes a dispute about grandparent visitation rights can be resolved without seeking court-ordered visitation. Mediation is often an effective way to settle disputes without going to court. In mediation, a neutral third party will help the parties communicate and come to a legally binding solution that benefits both sides.

What factors are considered in determining the best interests of the child?

Remember, no list of factors can be complete, because of the unique character of each case. That said, here is a list culled from Maryland cases: (1) Fitness of parents. (2) Character and reputation of parties. (3) Desire of parents and agreements between parties. (4) Potentiality of maintaining natural family relations. (5) Preference of the child. (6) Material opportunities affecting the future life of the child. (7) Age, health and sex of the child. (8) Residences of the parents and opportunities for visitation; or geographic proximity of parental homes. (9) Length of child’s separation from parent. (10) Prior voluntary abandonment or surrender.

More factors, especially important when considering joint custody: (1) Capacity of parents to communicate and reach shared decisions affecting child’s welfare. (2) Willingness of parents to share custody. (3) Relationship between child and each parent. (4) Potential disruption of child’s social and school life. (5) Demands of parental employment. (6) Sincerity of parent’s request. (7) Financial status of parents. (8) Benefit to parents.

 

 


     

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