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Divorce in Washington D.C.

If you are considering divorce, chances are you have already gone through your fair share of frustration and stress. Now that you have gotten to this point, you probably want to find the quickest and least expensive way to get divorced. Fortunately, Washington DC makes the divorce process fairly straightforward, particularly if you and your spouse are seeking an uncontested divorce – one where you agree on all important issues like property division and child custody (if you have children). In most cases, you only need to fill out the appropriate divorce papers for Washington DC and file them with your court clerk to get started. CompleteCase.com’s divorce form preparation service makes the process of completing a divorce in Washington D.C. even simpler by providing the correct divorce documents online and ensuring that those forms are filled out accurately from the beginning.

If you and your spouse are struggling to reach terms you can both be satisfied with, you may find divorce mediation helpful. For more challenging or complex situations, you may want to seek the services of a divorce attorney.

The following information will help you to understand the basics of divorce in Washington DC and how you can begin your own divorce.

Washington D.C. Divorce Facts

According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), in 2011, the divorce rate in the District of Columbia was 2.9 out of every 1,000 residents. The divorce rate in Washington DC is lower than many states in the U.S.  Washington DC allows both fault-based and no-fault divorce. In a fault-based divorce you must prove that your spouse has done something to cause the divorce citing grounds accepted by the courts, such as adultery or extreme cruelty. In a no-fault divorce you only need to state that your marriage is irretrievably broken; it will not be repaired. Most people prefer no-fault divorces because they are usually less-costly and faster than fault-based divorces.

You may also divorce if you and your spouse have been separated for at least a year. Washington DC requires that either you or your spouse be a resident of the district for at least six months before you are allowed to file for divorce.

Washington D.C. Divorce Papers and Forms

The specific divorce papers required for Washington D.C. will depend on your individual circumstances – such as if you and your spouse have minor children together or not. Some of the common divorce forms in Washington DC include the “Complaint for Absolute Divorce”, the “Summons” and the “Vital Statistic Form”.

The District of Columbia State Bar has a website where you can find information on representing yourself. There is also a section on the District of Columbia Courts site for “Divorce Matters”, where you can learn more about filing for divorce. The DC Bar site offers a section containing a range of legal forms including divorce papers, where you can find documents to help you file for divorce.

If you feel overwhelmed by the legal language and the various forms you could possibly fill out, you are not alone. Many people choose to avoid the confusion by getting their divorce papers online from CompleteCase.com.  Our service will ensure you can get the right forms for your circumstances and that you’ll get the assistance needed to complete forms. This can help you avoid unnecessary costs or delays in your divorce due to incorrect paperwork.

Whenever you fill out your divorce documents, avoid signing any statements or affidavits. The DC courts require that you have your documents notarized before they will accept them. Most courts offer a notary service to visitors, but not all courts do. You should check to see if your local court has a notary before you attempt to file.

How to File Divorce Papers in Washington D.C.

When you have filled out all of your divorce papers, you will need to make two additional copies of your documents. The court will take one set of documents when you file. You will use another set to serve your spouse, while keeping the third set for your records.

Before you leave for the court it is always a good idea to check with the clerk to make sure you have everything you are going to need to file. You will need to pay the district’s filing fee using a form of payment that the court accepts. Ask the clerk about payments before you leave for the court.

You may be able to get the fee waived if you complete a waiver form. You can ask the clerk for this waiver when you file. If your request is granted, you will not have to pay a fee for filing.

When your filing fee is considered paid, the clerk will stamp and file your forms. Now you are ready to serve your spouse.

How to Serve Divorce Papers in Washington D.C.

To “serve” your spouse simply means to give him or her a copy of the divorce papers. This ensures that your spouse has a chance to respond to your complaint and present his or her side to the court.

Washington DC does not allow you to serve the papers to your spouse directly. You will need to either use a friend or family member – who must be over 18 and not involved in the divorce in any way – or you will need to hire a private process server to deliver the documents. When your spouse has accepted the documents you will need to provide a signed document to the court from either the friend or family member or the private process server to verify the papers were served.

You may also send the papers through the mail if you think your spouse will sign for them. You’ll need to use certified mail to show that you sent the papers, and provide a return receipt from the post office to demonstrate that your spouse signed for the papers.

Do you qualify for an online divorce?

Do you know the location of your spouse?
Is your spouse in agreement regarding this divorce and willing to sign the divorce papers with you?
Do you and your spouse have any children under the age of 18 from this marriage?