Skip to main content
Find a Lawyer
Please enter a legal issue and/or a location
Begin typing to search, use arrow keys to navigate, use enter to select

District of Columbia Divorce Laws

Just as states have regulations on the marriage process, so too do they have them for divorces. The legal requirements for divorce define the procedures a person must go through in order to get divorced. And while no-fault divorce exists in every state now, often the circumstances surrounding a divorce can matter when it comes to property distribution and child custody considerations.

Here is a quick summary of the District of Columbia's divorce laws.

District of Columbia Divorce Laws: The Basics

In order to file for a divorce in Washington D.C., one party must have been a bona fide resident of the district for at least six months. Washington D.C. requires a period of separation before granting a divorce. For couples who mutually and voluntarily separate, a six-month separation period is required.

When there isn't a mutual and voluntary separation, a one-year period is required before the divorce. Separation and divorce petitions are filed with the Superior Court of the District of Columbia and become final once the period for an appeal has passed.

Code Section

§ 16-901, et seq.

Residency Requirements

One party must be a bona fide resident for six months before proceedings.

Waiting Period

Divorce is not final until the time for appeal is up

"No Fault" Grounds for Divorce

Voluntary separation (six months) or separation for one year without cohabitation

Defenses to a Divorce Filing


Other Grounds for Divorce


Note: State laws are always subject to change through the passage of new legislation, rulings in higher courts (including federal decisions), ballot initiatives, and other means. While we strive to provide the most current information available, please consult an attorney or conduct your own legal research to verify the state law(s) you are researching.

District of Columbia Divorce Laws: Related Resources

You can find more information about legal separation and divorce here at FindLaw. Divorce is a major decision and the legal process is long and complicated. For specific questions, we recommend speaking with a local divorce lawyer.

Get Legal Help with Your D.C. Divorce

Even in the best of circumstances, a divorce can be emotionally and legally challenging. Whether you've already decided to get divorced, have just been served with divorce papers, or are considering beginning the process, it helps to understand the laws and procedures in your jurisdiction. An attorney will understand the process and work tirelessly to achieve the best possible outcome.

Get started today by having a D.C.-area divorce lawyer evaluate your situation.

Was this helpful?

You Don’t Have To Solve This on Your Own – Get a Lawyer’s Help

Meeting with a lawyer can help you understand your options and how to best protect your rights. Visit our attorney directory to find a lawyer near you who can help.

Or contact an attorney near you:

Next Steps: Search for a Local Attorney

Contact a qualified attorney.

Begin typing to search, use arrow keys to navigate, use enter to select

Can I Solve This on My Own or Do I Need an Attorney?

  • Divorces are tough and a lawyer can seek the best outcome
  • A lawyer can help protect your children's interests
  • Divorce lawyers can secure alimony, visitation rights, and property division

Get tailored divorce advice and ask a lawyer questions. Many attorneys offer free consultations.


 If you need an attorney, find one right now.

Copied to clipboard

Find a Lawyer

More Options