Where do I file for divorce?
You can file for divorce in the state where you live so long as either you or your spouse has been a resident of that state for at least six months before the date you file the divorce papers with the court and you or your spouse consider that place to be your permanent place of residence.
When Can I File?
In all three jurisdictions, the court cannot approve the divorce until a waiting period has expired. In D.C., the waiting period is six months if your separation is mutual and voluntary (that is, if you and your spouse agree to separate). If you and your spouse do not agree that the separation was mutual and voluntary, then the waiting period is one year. In Maryland, the waiting period is one year. And in Virginia, if there are no children from the marriage, the waiting period is six months and you must have a written property settlement agreement before you may file for divorce. If there are children from the marriage, you must be separated a minimum of one year before you may file for divorce. You do not file a separation agreement with the Court.
What Happens to Our Property?
As part of a divorce, the property acquired during the marriage must be divided. Proper division of property can be complex and fraught with emotion. It is usually best to have an attorney negotiate the property distribution.