Uncontested Divorce in Washington D.C.
In Washington, D.C., a married couple can obtain a dissolution of marriage in two ways: contested and uncontested divorce.
- In an uncontested divorce, the spouses agree on all issues related to the dissolution, so the judge does not need to conduct additional court hearings. What’s more, an amicable divorce allows intimate partners to do a DIY (do-it-yourself) divorce without hiring a lawyer.
- In a contested divorce, spouses have disputes on one or all of the marriage and divorce issues, such as property and debt division, child custody, and spousal support (alimony). Since the parties involved can not compromise independently, the court makes decisions according to the state laws.
Many Washington, D.C. residents prefer to do an uncontested divorce because it is faster and cheaper than a traditional divorce. And with an uncontested divorce, spouses do not need to provide proof and answer confusing questions.
Get Your Divorce Forms Completed Online
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Our online divorce platform offers help in selecting and filling out the necessary forms for couples seeking an uncontested divorce. For just $139, spouses will receive ready-to-sign documents and filing instructions.
Spouses just have to fill out our marriage-related questionnaire and provide the required information about their breakup. You can use our services anytime, anywhere. You do not have to complete the survey in one go. The system saves your progress.
When the couple completes the application form, they will receive the consumerized paperwork within two business days. After, the spouses can immediately file the obtained forms following the accepted guide.
We do not sell blank forms but provide services for the generation of top-notch divorce forms.
However, it is worth noting that you should consider hiring a lawyer if you have a contested divorce, as we do not provide legal advice.
Steps for Filing a Divorce in Washington D.C.
To be eligible to file for divorce in Washington, D.C., divorcing spouses should follow a few steps.
To file for divorce in Washington, D.C., at least one of the spouses must have been a resident of the District of Columbia for at least six months before filing. In addition, members of the military service will be considered residents of the District of Columbia if they permanently reside in the territory of D.C. during their military service.
To prove residence to the judge, spouses may provide a copy of their driver’s license, income tax return, or voter registration card.
The District of Columbia is a no-fault jurisdiction. It means that spouses do not need to prove the other spouse’s misconduct that led to the breakdown of the marriage. Alcoholism, cruelty, or adultery are no longer grounds for divorce.
There are two legally recognized reasons for divorce in the District of Columbia:
- both spouses have mutually and voluntarily lived separately and apart without cohabitation for at least six months before filing for divorce; or
- both spouses lived separately and apart without cohabitation for one year if one of the spouses disagreed with the separation.
A no-fault divorce allows spouses to reduce the costs and length of the divorce, as the judge will focus on ruling on significant legal issues such as alimony, marital property division, and child custody.
To begin the divorce proceeding in Washington, D.C., the petitioner must file the divorce papers with the court clerk for verification and stamping.
Divorce Papers in Washington, D.C.
Depending on the case circumstances (presence of minor children or their absence) and the district’s requirements, the list of needed forms may change. However, most divorcing spouses should provide the following documents:
- Absolute Divorce Complaint;
- Absolute Divorce Consent Answer;
- Absolute Divorce Joint Request for Uncontested Divorce Hearing;
- Absolute Divorce Joint Waiver of Appeal of Divorce Order Judgment;
- Absolute Divorce Reply to Counterclaim;
- DHS Certificate of Divorce, Dissolution of Marriage;
- Divorce Attachment A - Marital Property and Marital Debt;
- Divorce Attachment B - Child Custody; and
- Divorce Attachment C - Child Support.
Petitioner should make two copies of each document, which will be distributed between the spouses and the court.
Under District of Columbia law, the petitioner must pay a fee when filing.
In Washington, D.C., a petitioner needs to pay $80 an average. However, the fee amount may differ depending on the case’s specifics.
A petitioner can also file for a payment waiver if they have financial difficulty. The divorce proceeding begins as soon as the court considers the payment made.
In Washington, D.C., the waiting period is 30 days. However, this period may vary depending on the considered case specifics.
During this period, the petitioner should also serve the other spouse to have an opportunity to respond to the complaint.
When the divorce papers are filed with the court, the plaintiff must serve the other spouse with copies of their divorce papers. Under the laws of the District of Columbia, a plaintiff can do this in two accessible ways:
- personal service; or
- service by mail.
In personal service, anyone (other than the petitioner) over 18 may deliver a copy of the divorce papers to the other spouse. In the second option, the spouse sends the respondent legal forms with acknowledgment of receipt by certified mail.
However, the petitioner may ask the other spouse to complete a document called "Waiver of Personal Service" and submit it to the court to avoid the process of service.
When the service is confirmed, the clerk may schedule a final hearing. After a hearing and checking of the submitted documents, the judge signs the final divorce order, and the divorce proceedings are completed.
Getting a Divorce With Children
When minor children are involved in divorce proceedings, spouses need to resolve child custody, child support, and visitation issues.
Washington, D.C. court may grant parents joint or sole custody, with physical and/or legal rights and obligations.
In joint custody, the custodial parent and the non-custodial parent have equal rights and responsibilities regarding the child. The court prefers this type as it is in the best interests and well-being of the child.
In sole custody, the custodial parent is solely responsible for the child. The court could grant this custody type if there is evidence of cruelty and abuse in the family.
In Washington, D.C., the court makes custody decisions based on the following factors:
- the wishes of the child;
- the wishes of the parents;
- the child’s adjustment to home, school, and community;
- the relationship of the kid with each parent, siblings, and any other family member who may affect the child’s best interest;
- the physical and mental capability of each parent;
- each parent’s prior involvement in the child’s life;
- the willingness of the parents to share custody, communicate, and reach shared decisions;
- the age and number of children;
- the demands of parental employment and the parent’s ability to support a joint custody arrangement; and
- the sincerity of each parent’s request, and the benefits to the parent.
To decide on the type of custody, spouses also need to agree on a parenting plan and attend parenting courses (if required).
Whether married or not, both parents should support their children in the District of Columbia. Therefore, Washington, D.C. courts follow the “Income Shares Model,” estimating the amount parents usually spend on their children in a marriage and dividing that amount among the parents based on their income.
In addition, county courts refer to the Child Support Guidelines when awarding child support. It includes the Schedule of Basic Child Support Obligations, which lists the total child support that both parents must pay, based on the number of children and combined gross income.
A percentage of the total support obligation is assigned to each parent based on that parent’s share of income. If spouses want an exact amount of child payments, they can use the District of Columbia’s automatic child support calculator.
Filing for Divorce in Washington D.C. Without a Lawyer
In Washington, D.C., spouses can divorce without a lawyer to save thousands of dollars in legal fees. However, divorce without an attorney is only available to couples who seek an uncontested divorce.
If the spouses have minor disagreements and want an amicable divorce, they can turn to mediation. A neutral third party will help the couple compromise and sign a Settlement Agreement.
If partners have serious disagreements, many assets, and large debts, they should contact a family lawyer for legal advice.
Do-It-Yourself Divorce in Washington D.C.
- Washington, D.C. residents eligible for an uncontested divorce can file a do-it-yourself divorce.
- DIY divorce allows spouses to manage their divorce process and represent themselves in court independently.
- Spouses also deal with all the divorce paperwork. However, without specific training, legal forms can be confusing.
- DivorceOnline.com is an excellent supportive tool that helps couples select and fill out the required forms. As a result, spouses no longer need to delve into the intricacies of Family Law.
- Our online service will generate divorce forms for only $139 and two business days according to the latest state requirements and case specifics. In addition, the couple will receive a step-by-step guide for filing with the court along with a ready-to-submit package of documents.
Frequently Asked Questions:
The length of the divorce proceedings depends on the complexity of the case and the circumstances surrounding it. However, uncontested divorce cases can take up to 30 - 90 days from when the petition is filed.
The cost of a divorce depends on many factors. An uncontested divorce is cheaper than a contested one; however, an amicable divorce has its mandatory costs. For example, residents of Washington, D.C. should pay filing fees - $80. In addition, if minor children are involved in the divorce process, the couple may be required to pay for a parenting course.
If a petitioner has a low income or cannot pay the filing fees for some other legitimate reason, they may file a payment waiver. If the court finds that the petitioner can not pay, they will cancel the payment.
The petitioner can obtain the necessary form from the court clerk.
In addition, spouses can significantly reduce the cost of divorce by getting an amicable divorce without a lawyer.
Spouses in Washington, D.C. must file a Complaint for Absolute Divorce, a Summons, a Vital Statistics Form, and a Family Court Cross-Reference Form. In addition, if the spouses have minor children, the petitioner should file Divorce Attachment B - Child Custody and Divorce Attachment C - Child Support.
To get a complete list of required forms, spouses should contact the court clerk or use the services of DivorceOnline.com.