Frequently Asked Questions About Divorce in Washington, D.C.
Uncertainty about the divorce process can make a difficult situation worse for spouses seeking a change. Some people even stay in bad marriages because they’re worried about going to court. At the Law Offices of Jesse A. Gadson, PLLC in Washington, D.C., I ease the burden on my clients and make sure that they understand their options and the relevant laws clearly. You can start by getting answers to questions such as:
- How long does the divorce process take?
- How much does divorce cost?
- Is there a way to get divorced without going to court?
- What is the difference between legal separation and divorce?
- Will alimony be awarded in my case?
As a no-fault divorce jurisdiction, Washington, D.C. allows spouses to file for divorce if they have voluntarily lived apart for at least six months. If one party did not agree to the separation, this period is extended to one year. Once the necessary documents are filed with the court and served on the other party, how long the divorce process takes depends mostly on if the parties agree on terms relating to finances and parenting arrangements. With a settlement in place, the divorce usually can be finalized a little more than 30 days after the court hearing takes place.
Each divorce is different and it is impossible to make an accurate cost estimate without knowing specific details. However, there are ways in which you can ease the financial burden associated with marriage dissolution. By remaining open to compromise and working to resolve conflicts outside of court, you can reduce divorce expenses. You should also remember that some extra cost during the divorce process might be the key to securing a result that benefits you financially for years to come.
Even in uncontested divorces, there is a court hearing prior to the entry of a marriage dissolution order. Usually, the filing party attends the proceeding. The defendant can choose to appear as well. If all of the terms are agreed upon and a martial settlement agreement has been executed, the hearing should be relatively brief. Unless there is some complication, the judge’s divorce order will be entered onto the docket within a week or so.
If you obtain a legal separation in Washington, D.C. or a limited divorce in Maryland, you remain legally married to your spouse. You might choose this path for religious reasons, to maintain access to spousal benefits or because you believe reconciliation is possible. Like couples who are ending their marriages, separating spouses must address issues such as property division, spousal support, child custody, child support and visitation. However, you cannot marry a new partner until you finalize your divorce (sometimes referred to as an “absolute divorce” in court documents).
Whether alimony will be awarded in a particular divorce depends on the circumstances of that case. Sometimes, couples will agree on spousal support terms or will rely on the arrangements outlined in a prenuptial agreement. Should a decision on alimony go before a judge, he or she can examine any relevant information when drafting an order. Key factors often include the duration of the marriage, each party’s earning ability and whether the proposed recipient has a medical condition or child-care responsibility that would prevent them from working. Remember that in most cases, post-divorce spousal support is usually granted for as long as it takes for the recipient to gain the skills and experience required to meet their own financial needs.