Before an action for divorce in the District can be filed, the residency requirements must be met.  Generally, the DC Court will have jurisdiction to hearing the matter if the following criteria are met:

  • Specifically, no action for divorce or legal separation shall be maintainable unless one of the parties to the marriage has been a bona fide resident of the District of Columbia for at least 6 months next preceding the commencement of the action.

However, an action for divorce or legal separation by persons of the same gender, even if neither party to the marriage is a bona fide resident of the District of Columbia at the time the action is commenced, shall be maintainable under the following circumstances

  • The marriage was performed in the District of Columbia; and
  • Neither party to the marriage resides in a jurisdiction that will maintain an action for divorce or legal separation: 1) It shall be a rebuttable presumption that a jurisdiction will not maintain an action for divorce or legal separation if the jurisdiction does not recognize the marriage; 2)  Any action for divorce or legal separation as provided by this subsection, including any accompanying petition for alimony, assignment and equitable distribution of property, pendente lite relief, or child custody determination shall be adjudicated in accordance with the laws of the District of Columbia.
  • No action for annulment of a marriage performed outside the District of Columbia or for affirmance of any marriage shall be maintainable unless one of the parties is a bona fide resident of the District of Columbia at the time of the commencement of the action.
  • The residence of the parties to an action for annulment of a marriage performed in the District of Columbia shall not be considered in determining whether the action shall be maintainable.
  • If a member of the armed forces of the United States resides in the District of Columbia for a continuous period of 6 months during his or her period of military service, he or she shall be deemed to reside in the District of Columbia for purposes of this section only.

Given the complications associated with COVID-19, and the social distancing rules in place, DC Divorce filing and hearings are being still handled remotely.  For those individuals who meet the residency and separation period requirements, it is advisable to have issues amicably resolved and via consent agreement to be able to file for final decree of divorce in consent format otherwise contested in person hearings unless on an emergency will be rescheduled for later time.

Refer to our Washington DC Divorce Lawyer page for more detailed information on this and other family related matters.

See below the current DC Superior Court hearings directive as of July 10, 2020:

The Superior Court is currently holding hearings in the following types of cases:

  • CIVIL – The Civil Division will conduct remote hearings, including evidentiary hearings and bench trials, in any civil case where it is appropriate, including in some limited landlord and tenant matters not involving non-payment of rent, some foreclosure not involving owner occupied residential homes, and small claims proceedings not subject to a statutory stay.
  • CRIMINAL– adult arraignment; bond reviews; mental health observations & competency hearings; mental health evidentiary hearings, detained preliminary hearings, detained status hearings (set out of C-10 after 3/17 at the request of counsel), and non-evidentiary hearings in other criminal cases;
  • DOMESTIC VIOLENCE – requests for temporary and civil protection orders, and extreme risk protection orders, as well as domestic violence misdemeanor cases and non-evidentiary matters in release cases. In early July, the Division will resume mediation by attorney negotiators in civil protection order cases and will begin hearing probation show cause matters. NOTE that the Court’s 6/18 order provides that existing CPOs expire either on the expiration date in the order or June 19, 2020, whichever is later, unless a Motion to Extend is filed.
  • FAMILY COURT – adoption, divorce, custody, Family Treatment Court, neglect, mental health, mental habilitation and juvenile. The Marriage Bureau is operating remotely as well.
  • PROBATE – The Probate Division will be hearing interventions (cases seeking appointment of a 21-day emergency healthcare guardian, 90-day healthcare guardian, and permanent guardian and/or conservator) and other probate matters, including estate cases which the assigned judge determines are appropriate to be heard remotely.
  • TAX DIVISION – show cause and initial scheduling hearings, as well as pre-trial conferences, will be held remotely.

If you do not see your case type listed above, understand that all non-emergency matters scheduled through August 14 will be rescheduled and new dates set; emergency matters will be heard as scheduled by the court, as outlined below.

All divisions will be open in a remote status for filing of pleadings, motions and new cases. Electronic filing will continue.

Categories: Family Law.