In Washington, DC, parties can apply for a no-fault divorce. In fact, the DC City Council has done away with a need to prove fault as is still the case in many other states. In Washington, DC, it is only necessary to show the parties have lived apart for at least a year, and the marriage has broken down to a point where reconciliation is no longer feasible.
For this reason, the actual divorce hearing may only take a short period of time. What often become a long drawn out process is the other matters, which typically accompany a DC divorce case. One of these issues is child support and/or child custody, and the other challenging part of a DC divorce proceeding is the distribution of marital property and marital debts.
How is marital property divided in Washington, DC?
As your Washington, DC divorce attorney can explain, marital property and debts are divided under a method known as equitable distribution. Equitable distribution in Washington, DC is governed by the DC Code. While the DC Family Court judge will consider 12 factors outlined in the divorce statute, the important thing to keep in mind is equitable means fair, but it does not necessary mean equal as in a 50/50 distribution of all property and debts.
Does it matter whose name the property is in?
No, pursuant to Washington, DC divorce law, it does not matter whose name the property is in during the marriage.
For example, if the couple owns a car and it tilted in the husband’s name, it does not mean the husband will automatically get the car. The same is true for a home.
Is there any property not considered joint marital property in a Washington, DC Divorce?
Yes, there are basically two categories of property, which will not generally be considered part of the marital estate. These two types of property are gifts to one spouse and inheritance given to only one spouse. For example, a parent may give a gift of money to one spouse only. However, it should be noted that these exceptions to marital property valuation have some exceptions of their own depending on how the property is held and used during the marriage.
Does a prenuptial agreement work in the District of Columbia?
Yes, a valid prenuptial agreement entered into before the marriage can be enforced in the DC Family Court during a divorce proceeding. However, there may be a great deal of litigation as to whether or not the prenuptial agreement is actually valid, and you should speak with your divorce attorney about the prenuptial agreement in your particular case.
Does the court have to follow the 12 property division factors listed in the DC Code?
While courts will generally adhere to one or more of these 12 factors during a contested property division hearing, if the parties are able to reach a private settlement agreement, the court will approve an alternative property distribution plan so long as the judge makes a determination that to do so is in the interest of justice.
If you are getting a divorce in the District of Columbia or Maryland and need assistance with marital property distribution, please call the Gross Law Firm, LLC for a complete and confidential consultation.