Top Divorce Lawyers Washington DC

top divorce lawyers washington dc

When looking for the best divorce lawyers in Washington, DC, it is important to educate yourself and know what you can expect. Doing this will allow you to select the top Washington, DC divorce lawyer for you. The following information may be useful to you in your search for a divorce lawyer in Washington, DC:

Divorce Process in Washington, DC

Every divorce that takes place in Washington, DC is filed in the Superior Court of the District of Columbia – Family Division. For the court to hold jurisdictional rights to aid and award a divorce, at least one spouse needs to be a resident of the District of Columbia for 6 months before filing for divorce. Should either spouse qualify as an active military member, he or she must have been stationed in Washington, D.C. for a minimum of 6 months. The legal reasons for divorce in Washington, DC are:

  1. Mutually agreed upon, willing separation without cohabitation for 6 months; or

  2. Living independently from each other without cohabitation for one year. Living separately and independently can be completed in the same domicile should the spouses not share food or bed.

In order to begin the divorce process, a Complaint for Absolute Divorce has to be filed by the Plaintiff with the court. This form establishes the parties involved, the reasons, and the relief sought. After the divorce has been filed, both parties may apply to restore their names to his or its pre-marriage state. This paperwork will be managed by the court clerk’s office, who will also keep each party and their Washington DC divorce lawyers up-to-date throughout the process regarding dates and times of hearings, and paperwork that must be completed. The need to complete further paperwork relies on the circumstances of each divorce. For a divorce to be finalized in Washington, DC, a Final Decree of Divorce has to be entered by the court.

Some issues that regularly come up during a divorce are: distribution of property, spousal support, custody of children, and support for children.

Property Distribution

Property is defined as assets, debts, pensions, retirement benefits,insurance benefits, and stock options that an individual owns. Washington, DC is an “equitable distribution” state, which means that all marital property is split justly; equitable distribution doesn’t have the same meaning as equal distribution. In general, the court encourages the individuals involved to come to an agreement concerning any property and debt disputes, but if an arrangement cannot be agreed upon, the court shall discriminate between independent and marital property and proclaim a property award. Marital property, including the home, pensions or retirement accounts, is split up according to these factors:

  • Weighing the contribution to the property, including that of the homemaker.

  • Length of marriage.

  • Work, skills, and ability to obtain work.

  • Estate, obligations and liabilities for each spouse, and the opportunity of both for future acquisition of such.

  • Individual debt and property.

  • Previous marriages.

  • Alimony.

  • Health and age.

  • Child custody.

  • Income.

Spousal Support

Alimony, or Spousal Support, is determined depending on the specifics of each individual case by the agreeing parties or at the discretion of the Washington, DC court. There are 2 types of alimony that the court can grant: rehabilitative (temporary) or indefinite (permanent). Conditions such as standard of living, physical or mental health and education are evaluated when determining alimony; marital fault can also be taken into consideration.

Child Support

Child support can be defined as court-mandated payments from one parent (the non-custodial parent) to the other (custodial) parent in order to take care of a minor child. In Washington, D.C., children are entitled to support up to 21 years of age. A percentage of the obligated parent’s income is taken into consideration when calculating the amount of child support that is to be paid. The court may increase or decrease this amount based upon the following factors:

  • Extraordinary needs such as medical bills.

  • The income of the obligated parent in relation to the other parent.

  • Property settlement.

  • Other dependents who receive child support.

  • Substantial debt.

  • Medical insurance coverage.

Child Custody

Child custody can be an issue in divorce proceedings if the parties involved have children under the age of 18. For Washington, DC, the best interest of the child is the driving factor in awarding custody. Joint Custody is preferred in DC, with stipulations agreed upon by both parties. Joint Custody refers to an arrangement in which both parents have equal rights to a minor child, or both parents collaboratively decide upon the child’s medical care and education. There are cases where a parental agreement form has to be produced and notarized by both parents and the court to guarantee that the child will be properly cared for. Parental agreements are legally binding and may contain visitation schedules or orders for parenting classes. Either parent could be considered not suitable for custody due to a history of abuse or neglect of children, substance abuse, abandonment, or parental kidnapping.