Legal Information: District of Columbia


April 1, 2022

What are the grounds for divorce in D.C.?

Grounds are legally acceptable reasons for a divorce.  The judge can grant you a divorce or legal separation in D.C. if:

  1. You and your spouse have  lived separate and apart for 6 months and this was based on a mutual agreement between the two of you; or
  2. You and your spouse have lived separate and apart for 1 year but there wasn’t a mutual agreement to live separately (for example, you left your spouse against his/her wishes or despite the fact that s/he wanted to reconcile during this period).1

The judge can find that you and your spouse have lived “separate and apart” even if you live in the same home so long as you and your spouse are pursuing separate lives and have not shared “bed nor board.”2  In other words, the court will look to see that you have separate bedrooms, do not go out together as a couple, share meals, pay bills jointly, or do other things that a married couple would do.3

1 See D.C. Code § 16-904(a),(b)
2 D.C. Code § 16-904(c)(1)
3 See the DC Bar Pro Bono Program information sheet

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