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Divorce Law in the District of Columbia

How to Find a Washington DC Divorce Attorney

If you are thinking divorce might be the right path for you or you are researching Washington DC divorce law and looking for a Washington DC divorce attorney, this article was written for you.

It’s written with an acknowledgment of the pain associated with a major life change such as divorce.

History, despite its wrenching pain, cannot be unlived, but if faced with courage, need not be lived again.

-Maya Angelou

In this article, we’ll discuss:

  • Washington DC specific divorce law requirements;
  • What you need to know about divorce; and
  • Whether it’s in your best interest to hire a Washington DC divorce lawyer and, if so, how to find one and how to prepare to work with him or her.

Washington DC Divorce Law Specifics

  • Washington DC courts have residency requirements.
  • Washington DC has both “no-fault” and “fault” divorce.
  • DC uses the terms, “plaintiff” and “defendant” to describe, first, the spouse who initially filed the divorce papers, and, second, the other spouse.
  • In DC, divorce papers are filed in Superior Court of the District of Columbia-Family Division.
  • In some cases, alimony is available.
  • In Washington DC property distribution will be based upon what’s “equitable” (i.e. fair) and child support will be based upon the Percentage of Income Formula.

What You Need to Know About Divorce

If you follow these steps, you’ll get through your divorce with the least amount of pain possible.

  • First, do not cause pain in others, especially your spouse. If you antagonize your spouse, he or she will lash out and become less cooperative. This will cause you more pain.
  • Instead, focus on compromise, collaboration, communication, and cooperation.
  • Second, you can control your legal fees and keep them to a minimum.
    • Follow your attorney’s advice to avoid pain in your pocketbook.
    • Cooperate with your spouse and you’ll get more of what you want financially and keep your fees down.
  • Third, work with a therapist to deal with your pain and the myriad of feelings of divorce. Do not use your children or your divorce lawyer as a sounding board.
  • Fourth, hire a Washington DC divorce lawyer who will work collaboratively with your spouse’s attorney. Causing your spouse’s attorney pain will likely lead to retaliation and more pain for everyone.

Is it in Your Best Interests to Work with a Washington DC Divorce Lawyer?

Yes. Having qualified legal counsel will reduce your pain and allow you to focus on what’s most important, healing and starting over.

How to Find and Select a Washington DC Divorce Attorney

The very easiest way to find divorce attorneys is to type “How to Find a Washington DC Divorce Attorney” into Google or your favorite search engine.

Once you have your initial list of attorneys, make the best selection by looking for attorneys who:

  • Focus their practice on divorce law.
  • Offer to work collaboratively with your spouse’s attorney to reach a mutually beneficial agreement.
  • Acknowledge your pain and suggest that you work with a therapist.
  • Answers your questions.
  • Explains what to expect.
  • Lets you know the best way to communicate with him or her as well as your spouse.
  • Tells you how to keep your legal fees to a minimum.
  • Makes you feel comfortable.

How to Prepare to Work with Your Divorce Attorney

  • Consider reconciliation. Have all efforts been exhausted. It’s okay to wait until the sharp pain subsides before making a decision about divorce.
  • Consult with a therapist, who specializes in helping people going through divorce.
  • Make a “wish list” of everything you would like in the divorce, knowing compromise is required.
  • Research divorce related matters and make a list of questions.
  • Gather financial documentation for assets, income, expenses, and liabilities.
  • Focus on being polite to your spouse, especially in front of your children.

As Charlie Chaplin said, “laughter is the cure for pain”. So we encourage you, in spite of your divorce, to engage in activities that will make you laugh. Watch funny movies, have a few friends over, go people watching in the park, or watch your children play.

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