Divorce proceedings don't have to be long and contentious. Often, divorcing couples without children or with short marriages don't have any major disagreements about custody, visitation, property division or child or spousal support - these couples may be able to choose a faster, cheaper method of divorce.
If you are looking to get divorced and believe you and your spouse can come to an agreement on all divorce-related issues, you should consider getting an uncontested divorce, which can save lots of time and money.
This article explains how to get an uncontested divorce in Washington, D.C.. If you still have questions after reading this article, you should consult an experienced family law attorney in your area for advice.
D.C. allows for uncontested divorces when married couples want to get divorced and agree how the court should decide each of the following issues:
Although it is possible to do an uncontested divorce if you and your spouse have a verbal agreement how to resolve the above issues, it’s always better to enter into a written settlement agreement. Also, even though you can file for an uncontested divorce without an attorney, it’s a good idea to have an attorney review your settlement agreement to make sure it meets the court’s requirements.
To get a divorce in D.C., including an uncontested divorce, either you or your spouse will need to have been a residence of D.C. for at least six months.
The first step to getting an uncontested divorce in D.C. is filing a “Complaint for Divorce” at the D.C. Superior Court Family Court Central Intake Center. The spouse filing for divorce is the plaintiff, and the other spouse is the defendant. Your complaint will need to list your date of marriage, and the date you and your spouse separated. If you have a settlement agreement, state that as well.
Next, you’ll need to have your spouse file a “Consent Answer,” which essentially says that they agree with everything you stated in your complaint. If a spouse wants to return to a previous name after the divorce, he or she should list that in the complaint or answer.
In addition to the complaint and answer, you and your spouse will both need to sign a document called an “Uncontested Praecipe,” which tells the court you want an uncontested divorce and need a hearing date. You’ll also fill out a Vital Statistics form and a Family Court Cross-Reference form, which you can get at the Central Intake Center. The court will mail you a notice of your hearing date.
You can find forms for a Complaint for Divorce, Consent Answer, and Uncontested Praecipe here.
Usually, only the plaintiff spouse needs to attend the divorce hearing, although if the defendant spouse is the only one who has been a resident of D.C. for six months, the defendant spouse may need to attend the hearing.
The hearing will be short, with the judge simply asking you a few questions to confirm your identities and that you are eligible for an uncontested divorce. If you have children, the judge will make sure that you have agreed on child support and custody.
If you have a settlement agreement, give it to the judge at the hearing. If the judge is satisfied that you have met the requirements for an uncontested divorce, he or she will sign an order finalizing your divorce. The judge will also make your settlement agreement part of the court’s order, which means that the court can step in and enforce the order if either spouse aren't living up to their end of the agreement.
If you have additional questions about uncontested divorce in District of Columbia, contact a local family law attorney.
To read the full text of the law on divorce in District of Columbia, read the District of Columbia Code Annotated, Title 16, Chapter 9.