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Filing for Divorce

Read this in: Spanish / Español
Authored By: Children's Law Center and revised by DC Bar Pro Bono Center


I want to file for divorce. How do I do that?

File these papers at the D.C. Family Court Central Intake Center:

  1. COMPLAINT FOR DIVORCE. Click here for a Complaint for Divorce form that you can fill out on your computer. You will need print it out and file it at court. You can also fill it out by hand.

    • You must sign the complaint. Notarization is not required.
    • You must also fill out a SUMMONS, which is included with the on-line Complaint form.
  2. FAMILY COURT CROSS-REFERENCE FORM. Click here for a cross-reference form that you can fill out on your computer. You will need to print it out and file it at court. You can also fill it out by hand.

    • This is a general information sheet.
    • If you don’t know the information, you can leave the space blank.
  3. $80 FILING FEE.

    • Cash, money order or credit card
    • If you cannot afford the filing fee, you can file a request for a fee waiver. Read Filing for a Fee Waiver to find out how to request a fee waiver.

Court forms are also available at the Family Court Central Intake Center or the Family Court Self-Help Center. See General Information about Family Court.

What happens next?

Take your forms to the Family Court Central Intake Center. The clerk will process the paperwork. Your case will be assigned a case number (for example, 2016 DRB 1492).

The clerk will give you a date-stamped copy of the Complaint and the Summons.

The clerk will also give you a Notice of Initial Hearing. This notice tells you the date, time, courtroom and judge for the first hearing in your case. You will be given two copies: one for you and one for the other party.

Then what do I need to do?

You must have a copy of the Summons, Complaint, and Notice of Initial Hearing properly served on your spouse. You are responsible for doing this, not the court.

Read Serving the Divorce Papers on Your Spouse to find out how to serve your spouse with the divorce papers. If it applies to you, read Serving Divorce Papers If You Can’t Locate Your Spouse.

What if my spouse and I agree to the divorce? Do I follow the same procedure?

If you and your spouse agree to the divorce and you both sign the necessary court papers, you do not have to get your spouse served with the divorce papers, and the case will usually move more quickly. Read Getting an Uncontested Divorce to see whether you can use the uncontested divorce procedure.

Last Review and Update: Feb 08, 2024
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