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Legal Statutes: District of Columbia

UPDATED April 11, 2017

District of Columbia Statutes

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Chapter 9. Divorce, Annulment, Separation, Support, Etc.

back to top§ 16-904. Grounds for divorce, legal separation, and annulment.

(a) A divorce from the bonds of marriage may be granted if:

(1) both parties to the marriage have mutually and voluntarily lived separate and apart without cohabitation for a period of six months next preceding the commencement of the action;

(2) both parties to the marriage have lived separate and apart without cohabitation for a period of one year next preceding the commencement of the action.

(b) A legal separation from bed and board may be granted if:

(1) both parties to the marriage have mutually and voluntarily lived separate and apart without cohabitation; or

(2) both parties to the marriage have lived separate and apart without cohabitation for a period of one year next preceding the commencement of the action.

(3) Repealed.

(4) Repealed.

(c) For purposes of subsections (1) and (2) of paragraphs (a) and (b) of this section, parties who have pursued separate lives, sharing neither bed nor board, shall be deemed to have lived separate and apart from one another even though:

(1) they reside under the same roof; or

(2) the separation is pursuant to an order of a court.

(d) Marriage contracts may be annulled in the following cases:

(1) where such marriage was contracted while either of the parties thereto had a former spouse living, unless the former marriage had been lawfully dissolved;

(2) where such marriage was contracted during the insanity of either party (unless there has been voluntary cohabitation after the discovery of the insanity);

(3) where such marriage was procured by fraud or coercion;

(4) where either party was matrimonially incapacitated at the time of marriage without the knowledge of the other and has continued to be so incapacitated; or

(5) where either of the parties had not attained the age of legal consent to the contract of marriage (unless there has been voluntary cohabitation after attaining the age of legal consent), but in such cases only at the suit of the party who had not attained such age.

(e) Domestic partnerships registered under § 32-702(a) or relationships recognized under § 32-702(i) may be terminated by judicial decree or judgment.

(Dec. 23, 1963, 77 Stat. 560, Pub. L. 88-241, § 1; Sept. 29, 1965, 79 Stat. 889, Pub. L. 89-217, § 2; Apr. 7, 1977, D.C. Law 1-107, title I, § 102, 23 DCR 8737; Mar. 24, 1998, D.C. Law 12-81, § 10(f), 45 DCR 745; Oct. 19, 2002, D.C. Law 14-207, § 2(b), 49 DCR 7827; Sept. 12, 2008, D.C. Law 17-231, § 20(a), 55 DCR 6758; Apr. 9, 2016, D.C. Law 21-105, § 2(a), 63 DCR 217.)