You can file for divorce in District of Columbia (“DC”) if either you or your spouse has been a resident of DC for six months before the date you file the divorce papers with the court. It does not matter where you are married. Only one of you has to meet the DC residency requirement. One can only ask for alimony and distribution of marital property in your divorce case. You will lose your opportunity to obtain alimony and distribution of marital property if you do not ask for them in your divorce case.
One may include requests for child custody and child support in a divorce case. You also can ask for child custody and/or child support in a separate case from the divorce case. In some instances a divorce can be filed in the District of Columbia but child custody and/or child support must be filed in another state. There are two grounds for divorce in DC
Separation without cohabitation for at least six months, if the separation is mutual and voluntary (in other words, if you and your spouse agree to separate), OR Separation without cohabitation for at least one year, if one of you does not agree to the separation and divorce, then the required separation period is one year.
Filing For Legal Separation
Legal Separation is a court-decreed right to live apart, with the rights and obligations of divorced persons, but without divorce. The parties are still married and cannot remarry. A spouse may petition for a legal separation usually on the same basis as for a divorce, and include requests for child custody, alimony, child support and division of property. For people who want to avoid the supposed stigma of divorce, who hold strong religious objections to divorce or who hope to save a marriage, legal separation is an apparent solution. With more states allowing no-fault divorce, the use of separation agreements and informal separation, legal separation is rarely used.
Mutual and Voluntary Separation
This ground is the same as the ground for absolute divorce described above. However, there is no minimum time period required for the separation prior to filing the legal separation case. Continuous Separation for One Year This ground is the same as the ground for absolute divorce described above. Additional information You can obtain additional information concerning divorce or legal separation and receive help completing the necessary court papers to file a divorce or legal separation by visiting the Family Court Self Help Center, Room JM 570 of the Superior Court.