Legal Separation in Washington District of Columbia

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Legal separation in Washington DC does not end the marriage. The parties remain technically married but are legally separated. They cannot remarry unless and until they decide to get divorced.

Grounds for Legal Separation in Washington DC:

Unlike other states, Washington DC requires grounds for legal separation. These grounds for legal separation in Washington DC are as follows:

  • Mutual and Voluntary Separation for six months - If a couple has been living separate and apart without cohabitation for at least six months, they are eligible to file for legal separation according to the statute of Washington DC. This separation should be voluntary and mutual and not imposed upon by one partner on another. The separation period required for filing a legal separation is six months, when the couple does not engage in sexual relationship even if they are staying under the same roof.
  • Involuntary Separation for one year - If a couple has been separated for a period of one year due to involuntary reasons such as desertion, abandonment, imprisonment or incarceration and they are living apart without indulging in sexual relationship for this entire period, they are eligible to get a legal separation in Washington DC. The separation should be imposed by the circumstances or by one partner on the other.
The court grants legal separation to the couples who cite these grounds and issues a court order declaring that the couple is not together anymore and they are legally separated.

The legal separation order or declaration given by the court regulates the marital issues such as division of assets and liabilities, spousal and child support, custody and visitation rights and all the other issues related to the marital responsibilities.

These issues and the directions regarding them are decided by the Domestic Relations Branch and the court order or decree is issued accordingly. This decree is legally binding for both the parties and thus has to be followed strictly.

Marital Separation and Property Settlement Agreement:

Marital Separation and Property Settlement Agreement (MSPSA) covers every major issue and the circumstances encountered in the emergency situations. It enables you to deal with all the issues mentioned above. This agreement has to be signed by both the parties in order to make it official and legally binding. The marital separation and property settlement agreement deals with the following issues:

  • Parental Rights - Also known as child custody and visitation, both parents are entitled to these rights. The non-custodial parent is entitled to have the visitation rights of their children every week at weekends or for all the vacations. These rights are directed by the court so as to avoid all the conflicts and disputes arising in the future. The custody of the children is decided according to the earning capacity of the parents and their capacity to provide the children the standard of life they enjoyed when the parents lived together. On no account shall the welfare of the children be compromised.
  • Support Payments - The child support and the spousal support or alimony also form the major chunk of a separation agreement and the settlement that the couples reach mutually. The dependent partner's basic needs have to be fulfilled and the supporting partner is responsible to provide both to the partner as well as the children. While deciding the support amount, the court uses some types of formulae as given by the statute of Washington DC. The salary and overall income of both the parties are considered as well as the inheritance and other factors that contribute to the property are also taken into consideration.
  • Division of Assets and Liabilities - Division of property is the section where conflicts are bound to happen. The family home, car, mortgage, installments, and other financial obligations that are acquired by the parties as a couple need to be sorted out. The joint bank accounts, club memberships as a couple including sports clubs and gyms need to be refreshed as individuals, and other financial matters such as insurance coverages, pension plans, retirement schemes also need to be reviewed. The will has to be changed, and the nominees on the insurance policies and bank accounts also need to be changed. These sudden changes are the causes of conflict between the parties and thus a professional attorney has to be hired in order to sort them out.
  • Emergency Expenses - Other emergency expense such as health care for the partner, insurance coverage on the partner's policy, tax exemptions for being married, social security and military benefits also need to be considered. The main advantage of getting a legal separation instead of divorce is that the couple can benefit financially for being married to each other. Extra health care for life-threatening disease or emergency services in case of an accident can be availed on a partner's insurance or medical plans.
Thus, separation agreement and property settlement are important issues when it comes to legal separation in Washington DC.

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