• Washington, DC Divorce Attorney (202) 596-5716
    Washington, DC Divorce Attorney (202) 596-5716 Divorce, Collaborative Divorce, Child Custody, Family Law, Prenuptial Agreements

My Spouse Just Moved Out – Now What?

In the District of Columbia, all divorces are filed on what are known as non-fault grounds. At common law, and in many other states, fault grounds are required, or at the very least can be the basis for filing for divorce. Traditional fault grounds include adultery, desertion, physical abuse, mental abuse, and imprisonment for a substantial period of time.
If your spouse just moves out without your permission, that could be evidence of abandonment or desertion, but as discussed above, you cannot file a divorce based upon the fault of abandonment in Washington, DC family court.  At this point, it would be helpful to determine how you can actually file for divorce in the Washington, DC.

Under the no-fault system pursuant to Section 16-904 of the Code of the District of Columbia, you can file for divorce if the parties have been living separate and apart for a period of six months or one year depending on the situation.  If the parties have mutually and voluntarily agreed to separate, and have not cohabitated for a period of at least six moments, than they can file for a divorce at the six month mark.

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Divorce for Federal Employees in Washington, DC

Not surprisingly, the Washington, DC area is home to more federal government employees than any other region.  For this reason it makes sense that more federal employees file for divorce in Washington, DC and surrounding areas much more often than in other parts of the country.

 

When a person makes a decision to get divorced, they will often perform a great deal of online research to see if they need a lawyer, or if there is a way they can represent themselves in the Family Court Division of the Superior Court for the District of Columbia.  While you are allowed to represent yourself in most cases, or proceed pro se, as it known in court, there are variety of reasons why you should not do this.  Especially if you are a federal employee.

Federal employees have many benefits not available to most private sector employees.  One of the benefits is a federal pension or federal retirement plan.  What many federal employees may not know is their current spouse may have rights in the benefits of these retirement plans since money earned during the marriage was used to fund these plans, and in some cases, match government contributions. 

When a federal employee or federal retiree gets divorced, it may be necessary to split retirement benefits with employee’s soon to be ex-spouse.  Even though the company managing the retirement plan will provide forms to beneficiaries to use during a divorce, this may not satisfy the very stringent IRS tax requirements.  If this very technically demanding process is not completed properly, a situation may arise where one spouse gets the benefit of the retirement plan, and the other spouse gets stuck with the tax consequences, and there will little you can do to correct this problem once the divorce has been completed.

The proper course of action is to discuss your federal retirement plan with your Washington, DC divorce attorney so he can assist you with preparing a Qualified Domestic Relations Order (QDRO) during your divorce process.  A QDRO can be very difficult to understand, and it is not something any experienced divorce attorney would recommend a client try to do themselves.

According to the United States Department of Labor (DOL), a Qualified Domestic Relations Order is necessary when designating an alternate payee, and can be filed pursuant to a the issuance of a divorce decree.  While there are a variety of online QDRO assistance websites, neither DOL nor any of these services will give actual legal advice pertinent to the facts of your situation.  In other words, even if you try to prepare a QDRO on your own and file it with court, you may not know there are problems until it is too late to correct the damage that has been done. 

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  • Washington, DC Divorce +

    Getting a divorce can be one of the most difficult decisions of your life. Whether you were married recently or Read More
  • Washington, DC Child Custody and Visitation Law +

    Litigating child support issues can be one of the more complex and emotional issues in any divorce or family law Read More
  • Washington, DC Child Support +

    Child support is one of the most heavily litigated areas of Washington, DC divorce and family law cases. Sometimes, the Read More
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