Maryland, Virginia and Washington, D.C. Divorce Lawyers
At Gowen Silva & Winograd PLLC, we provide compassionate and qualified legal services to individuals and families going through a divorce in the Washington D.C. metropolitan area. Our family law attorneys understand that divorce can be a stressful process, and we work to take as much of the burden as possible off of your shoulders so that you can focus on your family and move on with your life.
We believe that it’s important to consult with an attorney early in the process to both emotionally and financially protect yourself and your family. Even if you are thinking of a divorce, a consultation can provide you with the knowledge and tools you need to make the most informed decisions about your future.
Whether your divorce is contested or uncontested, our skilled family law attorneys can help you get through it. Contact our office today so that we can help you understand your rights.
Washington D.C. Divorce
To be eligible for divorce in the District of Columbia, you much meet three requirements: residency, proof of marriage, and grounds. Either you or your spouse must have been a resident of D.C. for at least six months before filing for divorce. You’ll also need to show a valid proof of marriage, such as an original or certified copy of the marriage certificate.
To satisfy the grounds requirement, you only need to show that you and your spouse have been separated for a certain period. (D.C. is a no-fault jurisdiction, meaning the wrongdoing of one party won’t impact the court’s decision on your divorce.)
You will need to show that you and your spouse have been voluntarily separated for at least six months or that you have been living separate and apart for one year. You can still live under the same roof during this period as long as you sleep separately, avoid sexual relations, don’t share bills, and can show the court that you lead separate lives.
D.C. family law distinguishes between marital property and separate property. In short, if you accumulated an asset or debt during the marriage (even after separation), it’s considered marital property and is subject to distribution among both parties. Property that is “separate” is that which you owned prior to the marriage or anything inherited during the marriage.
Our family law attorneys will help devise a strategy that is designed to obtain the best outcome for you and your family.
If you live in Maryland, you file for divorce at any time as long as the “grounds” for divorce also happened in Maryland. If the circumstance took place in another state, you’d need to wait a year before filing.
Further, Maryland allows for two types of divorce: absolute and limited divorce. An absolute divorce is what most people pursue since it is a permanent end to the marriage. A limited divorce is a “legal separation” and doesn’t end the marriage.
The permissible grounds for an absolute divorce include:
- Mutual consent
- A one-year separation
- Cruel treatment
You can qualify for a no-fault divorce in Maryland if both parties mutually consent to the divorce or if you have lived apart (not under the same roof) for at least a year. If there is mutual consent, you must also both agree to such things as asset division, child custody/visitation, child support, and alimony.
The grounds for a limited divorce include:
- Cruel treatment
Marital property, which includes both assets and debts, will continue to accumulate until your divorce is final in Maryland. The parties can either reach a settlement agreement on the division of these assets, or the courts will step in and do this. We will work to protect your interests throughout every step in this process.
You need to be a resident of Virginia for at least six months before filing for divorce. The Commonwealth allows both no-fault and fault grounds for divorces, with various requirements for each.
If you are filing for a no-fault divorce, you and your spouse must have been separated for at least one year or six months if you have minor children and have a signed separation agreement. You can meet this requirement by living under the same roof as long as you can prove that you were living “separate and apart” during the waiting period.
You must also satisfy the one-year separation period for most at-fault divorces. Some permissible grounds include:
- Abandonment or desertion
- Reasonable expectation of bodily harm
Adultery is also a permissible ground for divorce in Virginia, and you do not need a period of separation before divorce if this is your reason.
In Virginia, marital property will stop accumulating at the time that the couple permanently separates. This can be a complex determination since some property – like retirement accounts – might be considered part separate and part marital. Our family law attorneys are here to help you through this stressful and difficult time with the care, knowledge, and skills you need.
A Hands-On Approach to Complex Divorce Issues
Knowing the laws in your jurisdiction is a vital part of serving our family law clients. But it doesn’t stop there. Living and working in the Washington D.C. area, we have the opportunity to handle a variety of unique issues. We can put our vast experience and resources to work on your behalf if you need help with:
- Same-sex divorce
- International divorce
- Military divorce
- Government employees divorce
Speak with an Experienced Washington D.C. Divorce Attorney
At Gowen Silva & Winograd PLLC, our highly qualified team of attorneys delivers positive results to clients throughout Washington D.C., Maryland, and Northern Virginia in a wide range of family law matters. Our lawyers are compassionate with clients yet aggressive in their pursuit of justice.
We recognize the emotional and intimate nature of many family law issues and are deeply committed to preserving the privacy and confidentiality of our clients. We also realize that every case comes with a unique set of goals, and will fight to secure the best possible outcome for you and your loved ones.
If you are thinking about divorcing your spouse or have been served with papers, you need a strong legal advocate in your corner. Contact our office today at 202-408-5400 or reach out to us online to schedule an initial consultation and learn more about how we can put our experience to work for you.