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Behaviors Linked to Divorce in Washington, DC

Many people find themselves questioning the strength of their marriage from time to time.  Sometimes it is more than merely questioning.  While it’s hard for outsiders to know the state of your marriage, according to a recent news article from Business Insider, researchers have identified four behaviors that may reliably predict when a divorce is in the future.

One of these behaviors involves texting during an argument with one’s spouse.  Researchers from the Gottman Institute conducted a study involving 79 married couples over the course of a 14 year period.  This was followed by another study involving nearly 400 married couples.  When a couple is fighting and one spouse takes out his or her smartphone and starts texting, this is known as stonewalling. Stonewalling involves refusing to engage the partner in a heated argument.  This can include texting, walking way, or otherwise ignoring the other spouse.  While nobody likes to fight with his or her spouse, even this form of communication can help work out issues affecting a marriage.

Another behavior, which may signal a divorce is coming is known as contempt.  This is likely the most serious of the four behaviors indicated in these studies.  Scientists say contempt occurs when one spouse sees another spouse as being beneath them. An example of this can involve a couple arguing over normal everyday things.  When one spouse does something, or fails to do something, in a manner the other spouse thinks was a mistake, the healthy thing would be to listen to why this purported mistake was made and try to see the other person’s position.  If you would rather just label the other spouse an idiot rather than listening to his or her side, this is showing contempt for that person, and is a major indicator a marriage may be in trouble.

The next behavior identified in these studies is criticism.  While some criticism is going to be present in any marriage, when one spouse turns a behavior into a blanket statement of their spouse’s incompetence, and otherwise personally attacks his or her spouse, criticism can grow to a point where a person examines whether he or she should have ever married the spouse in the first place. 

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Patrick Dempsey’s Wife Files for Divorce

The wife of Patrick Dempsey, the actor best known for his starring role on Grey’s Anatomy, has recently filed for divorce according to a report from HNGN.  It is also reported the couple did not enter into a prenuptial agreement prior to getting married. 

The couple recently released a joint statement saying the decision to get divorced was one out of mutual respect, and the couple’s primary concern is the wellbeing of their children. 

According to court papers, irreconcilable differences was cited as the ground for getting a divorce.  Dempsey’s wife also requested spousal support (alimony) and child support in her divorce petition filed with the family court. The couple has three minor children together, and she is seeking joint custody of all children. 

As your Washington, DC divorce attorney can explain, irreconcilable differences is essentially the same as filing for a no-fault divorce in the District of Columbia.  In the past, and still in some states, it was necessary to prove fault on behalf of the other spouse in order to obtain a divorce.  Fault grounds in divorce involved adultery (cheating), abandonment, desertion, physical or mental abuse, and fraud.  The court would not grant a divorce if proof of one of these fault grounds could not be established during a trial for divorce.  

The District of Columbia Family Court now has the power to allow no-fault divorce, and this is only type of divorce petition generally filed in DC.  A no-fault divorce essentially means the parties’ marriage is no longer working, and it is fair and just for the court to order the marriage be dissolved.  

While there is no longer any need to prove fault, there are some requirements which must be met.  The main requirement is time of separation.  The parties must be living apart for at least six months (in most cases), prior to filing a divorce petition.  However, the DC city council understands it is not always feasible or practical for the parties to physically live apart given their financial situation.  Many couples in the process of divorce, or who are already divorced, still reside in the same home as they cannot currently afford two separate residences.  

With this in mind, living apart does not mean the parties have to be physically living separately.  The test is whether the parties are living together as husband and wife.  If both spouses are residing in the same household, but not engaging in sexual activity with each other, or living as a married couple in any other way, this can still satisfy the time requirement.  However, if the parties do resume a marital relationship during the period of separation, the clock will have to be restarted.  

In addition to time, there is also a residency requirement.  At least one spouse must have lived in Washington, DC for at least six months prior to filing for a divorce.  This is to prevent a person from moving to the District simply for the purpose of obtaining a divorce.  While this is true in most jurisdictions, the DC city council has created one rather unique exception.  

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