• 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.


However, on the other hand, if one spouse has moved out without the consent of the other spouse, this may not be considered a voluntary separation in many cases and it would require a year of living of separate and apart instead of six months.  It should be noted that there are some complexities as to how this guideline is calculated and you should speak with an experienced Washington, DC divorce attorney about the facts of your particular case.

Once the statutory period for waiting to file a divorce has elapsed, you can either file a contested or uncontested divorce depending on whether you and your current spouse can reach an agreement. One thing that is important to keep in mind is that you do not have to sit around and do nothing during the six month waiting period.  The best thing you can do is to speak with an experienced domestic relations lawyer about reaching out to your spouse or his or her attorney and trying to reach an agreement during the waiting period.  If you do this, you should be able to file for a divorce as soon as the time elapses, and have a much better chance of completing the entire process in a relatively short period of time.  If you wait until you file to reach an agreement, you will be up against the clock and could run the risk of additional litigation, and that would not be the most cost effective way to handle the process.

As I often say to my clients, there is no telling how long the emotional scars from this difficult process will take to heal, but one of the best things you can do is to get through the legal process of getting a divorce so you can work on getting on with your life instead of having to deal with the divorce itself.

If you are considering a divorce in the District of Columbia, please contact the Law Offices of Daniel A. Gross, PLLC for a complete and confidential consultation.


Practice Areas

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