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Divorce in Washington, D.C.

Skilled attorney in the District of Columbia

I have practiced family law in Washington, D.C. for more than 20 years. At The Law Offices of Robert C. Eustice, you can expect to receive skilled guidance in your divorce proceeding. I help you understand family law in the District of Columbia, including the establishment of separation, the presumption of joint child custody, and the complexity of child support.

Grounds for divorce

All grounds for a final divorce in Washington, D.C. are considered no-fault. You do not have to cite any grounds other than a separation, which can be either:

  • A mutual and voluntary separation without cohabitation for six months; or
  • Living separate and apart without cohabitation for one year.

Under D.C. law, you may live under the same roof and still achieve the six-month or the one-year separation. You must maintain completely separate lives — such as sleeping in your own areas of the residence, preparing your own food, and doing your own laundry. I will help ensure that your separation meets the legal definition.


In the District of Columbia, a court can award alimony while a divorce case is pending (which is called pendente lite alimony).  At the divorce trial, a court can award alimony to a spouse for a specified period of time, or “indefinitely.”  Generally, alimony (whether for a defined duration or indefinite) terminates at the death of either party, or the remarriage of the recipient spouse.  As of 2019, alimony is no longer taxable to the recipient and tax-deductible by the payor.

Marital property distribution

In the District of Columbia, marital property continues to accumulate until a divorce is final. You may feel that you are entitled to keep the full value of any property you acquire after separating, but such property is subject to equitable distribution. Likewise, any property that your spouse acquires during your separation period is considered during the equitable distribution of the marital property.

Child custody

D.C. law makes the presumption that joint legal and physical custody is in the best interests of the child, unless one spouse can prove it would be detrimental to the minor children.  Legal custody deals with the issue of who gets to make the major decisions concerning your children’s welfare, such as health-care and educational issues.  Physical custody and visitation deal with where your children reside.  Although joint physical custody does not necessarily mean equal time with your children, it does mean that both parents will be actively involved in the children’s lives.

Child support

In nearly all U.S states, child support obligations end at age 18 or graduation from high school. However, Washington D.C. requires the payment of child support to age 21.  Child support amounts are determined by the D.C. child support guidelines, which presumptively apply to parties with combined incomes of $240,000 per year or less.  The amount of child support to be paid is determined after consideration of each party’s gross income, along with consideration of any work-related childcare expenses, and the costs of providing health insurance for your child(ren). Additionally, the amount of time that each party has with the child(ren) can also effect the amount of child support to be paid.  For parents with combined incomes greater than $240,000 per year, the court has significant discretion in setting the amount of child support to be paid.

Hire a lawyer who knows the specifics of Washington, D.C. divorce law

When you need to get a divorce, work with a lawyer who understands the unique legal challenges in the District of Columbia. Contact me, Washington, D.C. divorce attorney Robert C. Eustice. I am here to see you through this crisis.

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Attorney Robert C. Eustice
  • View the profile of Maryland Family Law Attorney Robert C. Eustice
Office Locations
  • Bethesda MD Office
    7910 Woodmont Avenue
    Suite 1160
    Bethesda MD, Maryland 20814
    Phone: 301-755-3940
    Fax: 301-215-7878
  • Fairfax VA Office
    3863 Plaza Drive
    Fairfax, Virginia 22030
    Phone: 301-755-3940
    Fax: 301-215-7878