The Council of the District of Columbia has passed a law that will eliminate the requirement that spouses live separate and apart without cohabitation before filing for divorce. On December 3, 2023, the Council passed D.C. Act 25-322, which deletes from the D.C. Code the requirement that spouses either be separated for six months if the separation is mutual and voluntary or for one year if the separation is not mutual and voluntary. The bill is awaiting congressional review and should be approved in early 2024. After the bill is approved by Congress, parties seeking divorce need only establish that they no longer wish to remain married. The new legislation is significant because it will allow parties to seek court intervention immediately rather than having to wait six months or a year before filing for divorce.
D.C. Act 25-322 is also significant because it adds a new requirement that the Court take into consideration the history of physical, emotional, and financial abuse by one party against the other in awarding alimony and distributing marital property and debt.
Finally, the legislation adds a provision to the D.C. Code that gives the court discretion to award exclusive use of the family home or any other dwelling unit available for use as a residence while the divorce case is pending.
A copy of D.C. Act 25-322 is available online at B25-0042 – Grounds for Divorce, Legal Separation, and Annulment Amendment Act of 2023 (dccouncil.gov).
ABOUT MARSHALL YAAP
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Marshall Yaap represents clients in domestic and international family law matters. His practice focuses on child custody, child support, divorce, property division, alimony, domestic violence cases, and marital and premarital contracts. Before entering private practice, Marshall served as a judicial law clerk at the Superior Court of the District of Columbia for retired Judge Odessa F. Vincent, Magistrate Judge Errol R. Arthur, and retired Magistrate Judge S. Pamela Gray. Prior to law school, Marshall worked for daily newspapers as a reporter and editor.