Can I File For Divorce in DC Based on Adultery?

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No. In the District of Columbia, there are no for-fault grounds for seeking a divorce. Thus, you cannot file for divorce based on adultery or has been cruel and abusive. However, facts related to adultery, abuse or other matters can still be presented to DC divorce court for purposes related to property settlement, alimony, child custody and other issues in dispute. If you are thinking about obtaining a divorce in DC, call the DC divorce attorneys at The Law Offices of Thomas Stahl at (202) 964-7280. Here is some additional information on divorce in the District of Columbia.

The District of Columbia has followed a recent legal trend — over the last 10-15 years — of completely abolishing any type of for-fault divorce. In the District of Columbia, to file for divorce, the couple must be separated for a period of time. That is really the only requirement. In DC, a no-fault divorce requires that both spouses have “mutually and voluntarily lived separate and apart without cohabitation” for at least six months before filing for divorce or for at least a year if one spouse is objecting to the divorce. See D.C. Code, § 16-904 (a).

Many other States and jurisdictions have amended their divorce laws to eliminate for-fault divorces. This legal trend reflects several ideas. First, there is simply no need for for-fault divorces since no-fault divorces are allowed in nearly every State. Second, it is recognized that for-fault grounds for divorce are, in reality, remnants of old divorce laws that do not reflect modern sensibilities. Further, eliminating for-fault grounds for divorce achieves significant economies for divorce courts. For-fault divorces are always contested, time-consuming and costly which are unnecessary since no-fault divorces are commonplace. Significant administrative time and judicial resources can be saved by eliminating for-fault divorces. Finally, no fault divorces are also less stressful for the divorcing spouses and for any children that might be involved.

Do we actually have to live separately?

As noted, to file for divorce in the District of Columbia, the spouses must live separately for at least six months (or 12 if the parties are not in agreement to obtain a divorce). This does not require that the spouses live in separate places. By statute, spouses are deemed to be “separated” if they “… have pursued separate lives, sharing neither bed nor board, shall be deemed to have lived separate and apart from one another even though they reside under the same roof …” The term “board” is about the idea of not sharing and eating meals together. See D.C. Code § 16-904 (b). This statutory provision reflects the fact that many spouses do not have sufficient financial resources to have separate households. The concept of “not sharing a bed” generally means that the couple has not had sexual relations during the separation.

DC Divorce and Family Law Attorneys

For more information, contact the seasoned and experienced DC divorce, family law and estate planning attorneys at The Law Offices of Thomas Stahl. We have the experience and expertise you need. We also have proven experience with divorce and family law for Maryland and the District of Columbia. Schedule a consultation today or call us at (202) 964-7280.

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