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What Grounds Do I Need for a Divorce?

October 27, 2023

The Difference Between Fault and No-Fault Jurisdictions

You may hear people refer to different states as “fault” or “no-fault” divorce jurisdictions. In fault divorce jurisdictions, you can seek a divorce based on your spouse’s “bad acts” or bad behavior (for example, adultery, abandonment, or cruelty). Virginia is “fault” state. Washington, D.C., on the other hand, is a “no-fault” jurisdiction.

This means you must be separated for the statutory period for a divorce in Washington, D.C. Recently, Maryland Divorce Law changed. Maryland now has three no-fault grounds for divorce: 6-month separation, irreconcilable differences, and mutual consent. As of October 1, 2023, Maryland repealed its fault grounds for divorce (e.g., adultery, cruelty, desertion).

Filing for No-Fault Divorce in Virginia

Even though Virginia is a “fault” divorce jurisdiction, you may still seek a no-fault divorce based upon separation. There are different requirements depending on whether or not you have children. You should speak with an attorney about the requirements for a no-fault divorce in Virginia.

Where should I file for Divorce in the DC area?

Because people often move between Virginia, Maryland, and Washington, DC, especially when they separate for a spouse, it is quite common to have a choice whether to file in one or more jurisdictions. If you have one or more fault grounds for divorce, it may be advantageous to file in Virginia if you are eligible. You should speak to an attorney about which jurisdictions where you are eligible to seek divorce.

There are many nuances and considerations to explore prior to filing for divorce in Maryland, Virginia,or Washington, D.C., but our experienced team can walk you through the process and identify your issues in any of those three locations. Call us at 703.420.5514 or submit a contact form here to schedule a time with an attorney on our team.

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