To be eligible to file for divorce, three requirements must be met and one of those is residency. The other two are proof of marriage and grounds for divorce. You must be able to show that either you or your spouse has lived in Washington D. For those who are members of the armed forces, one spouse must have resided in D. To satisfy the proof of marriage requirement, you must show, via an original or certified copy of your marriage certificate, that there is a valid marriage to be dissolved.
Common law marriages must be proven through the testimony of friends and family. Divorces are either contested or uncontested.
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An uncontested divorce means that both parties agree about the divorce, and agree about asset division, spousal support, and issues related to the children. A contested divorce means there are areas of disagreement. In truth, a large portion of those divorces which begin as uncontested can quickly turn contested—or even hotly contested. Even when a couple agrees there should be a divorce issues related to who will get what—and who will have primary custody of the children—can turn the divorce ugly very quickly. Many states have shifted to no-fault divorce.
There are currently 17 states plus DC which allow a couple to only file for divorce on no-fault grounds.
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In Washington D. The alternative to this requirement is that you and your spouse have been living separately and apart, even if there was no agreement to separate. Although spouses must live apart prior to filing for divorce in D. Some people, however, will choose a legal separation rather than a divorce for a number of reasons, including financial issues and religious beliefs.
When a divorce is over, the couple is no longer married, but when a legal separation is over, the parties remain married. Both a legal separation and a divorce must answer important questions regarding asset division, child custody, child support and spousal support. A legal separation may turn into a divorce, or the couple may reconcile after petitioning the court to remove the legal separation decree and resume their marriage.
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A separation agreement is signed by both spouses, and is legally binding. This document can be extremely complex and detailed, or fairly simple. If you have a Final Legal Separation Order, then decide you want to reconcile with your spouse, your attorney will attempt to vacate or cancel the final legal separation order, however these orders are only vacated in certain cases.
If you decide to divorce before your legal separation has been finalized, you will then file a Petition for Divorce to start the divorce proceedings. If you have a Final Legal Separation Order, then you can convert this order into a Final Divorce Order by waiting at least six months after the entry of your decree of legal separation.
A motion must be brought before the court to convert the legal separation to a divorce, then a motion for hearing must be scheduled.
The other party must be given notice of the hearing, and proof of that notice must be brought to the hearing. Even if both parties are not in agreement to divorce, the court will still grant a motion to convert a legal separation to a divorce. Regarding the division of assets and debts during a divorce, states operate under either community property law or equitable division law. Under community property law, the assets and debts of the couple are divided right down the middle regardless of extenuating circumstances.
Washington DC operates under equitable division, and will take all relevant factors into account when determining how to divide property and debts. These relevant factors include:. In addition to the above factors, judges in Washington D. Alimony—also known as spousal support—is money paid to one spouse by the other to help financially support that spouse. Alimony may be paid during a separation, during the divorce, or for a period of time after the divorce—or both.
Since women had many fewer employment options, husbands were required to continue to support the wife following a divorce. While the majority of women now work outside the home, alimony is a method of maintaining economic fairness following a divorce.
The courts typically will require the higher wage-earner to assist the lower wage-earner for at least a period of time following the divorce. Permanent alimony is usually awarded only in marriages of long duration, or when one spouse has very limited future opportunities for employment due to age or health. A judge will take into consideration a number of factors when determining alimony—many of them are the same factors considered in the division of assets.
Further, the judge will consider whether one spouse gave up educational or employment opportunities in order to further the career of the other spouse, or gave up those opportunities in order to stay home and raise a family when considering alimony. In the District of Columbia, you are allowed to change your name through a divorce or legal separation by filing a name change application in court.
Your attorney will file a name change application in court, and you may also be required to appear before the judge and to notify certain third parties. Like most states, Washington D. The court will begin on the assumption that joint custody is in the best interests of the child or children unless there is a compelling reason to believe otherwise, such as a history of child abuse, child neglect or family violence. Parenting plans must be submitted to the court, and the judge will use these plans in the determination of custody.
It must be clear which parent will make the major decisions for the children, such as those pertaining to education, religion and health. One parent may be granted primary physical custody, meaning the children will primarily live with that parent, while having liberal visitation with the other parent. Some meet for a limited number of sessions to help you learn how the legal system works, how to manage communication with your ex, and how to handle your finances. Some provide ongoing support for as long as you need it.
Having people who know you and care how you are doing is a big part of what makes these groups valuable. Northern Virginia already had long-term support groups based in Alexandria and in Ashburn.
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A new group has opened to fill that gap. Some meetings will include expert speakers. Most future meetings should be free.
Brilliant Exits provides free TLC get-togethers and very good educational programs with a variety of expert speakers. Alexandria area. Ever Changing River provides a support system and very good educational programs in the Ashburn area and in Maryland. The group meets in the District of Columbia. If you know of other divorce, co-parenting, or single parent support groups in northern Virginia, please mention them in comments below. She is not an attorney or a therapist. This article is for informational purposes only. Nothing here should be construed as legal advice. Nearby Places. Neighbor News Divorce and Co-Parenting Support Groups NoVa has a number of support groups for people coping with divorce and for single parents who have trouble with their children's other parents.
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