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Chicago Divorce Lawyer > Blog > Divorce > Washington D.C. Updates Divorce Laws, Does Away with Waiting Period for D.C. Divorces

Washington D.C. Updates Divorce Laws, Does Away with Waiting Period for D.C. Divorces


Washington D.C. has just made major changes to its marriage and divorces, and is making headlines for eliminating its previous waiting time requirement. According to national news reports, before the recent change in the law, Washington D.C. required that divorcing spouses live separately and apart for at least six months before they could be granted a divorce from the court. The only exception to the old “waiting time rule” in Washington D.C. was if both soon-to-be ex-spouses agreed to waive the waiting time requirement both “mutually and voluntarily.” In addition, prior to the recent change in the D.C. law, in the case that one spouse contested the divorce, the couple would be required to remain legally married for a one-year period.

The updated D.C. divorce law now allows for one spouse to file for a divorce at any time, without any waiting period at all. A welcomed change, especially by victims of domestic violence, who were the impetus for the update in the law. As D.C. Council member Brianne K. Nadeau, a democrat from D.C.’s ward 1 explains, “It made no sense at all that someone might be chained to their abuser or their partner when they didn’t want to be…This was a common sense reform that allows people to move on with their lives and also provide some extra supports for survivors of domestic violence. Nadeau was the lawmaker that originally introduced the bill, which was unanimously approved in November of last year, and took effect this year on January 26, 2024.

In addition to eliminating the waiting time requirements to get a divorce, the bill also requires D.C. judges to consider domestic violence history when reviewing issues regarding spousal maintenance (alimony) and property distribution in a divorce case. Overall, the overhaul of the law is being hailed as a win for domestic violence victims. Whether other states will follow D.C.’s lead and eliminate state wait time requirements in divorce cases is yet to be seen.

Waiting Times Under Illinois Laws in Chicago Divorces

Like the old law in Washington D.C., in Chicago, Illinois marriage and divorce laws currently require a waiting period of living separately and apart before a divorce can be granted, with some exceptions. Therefore, if you are in the Chicago area and you are seeking a Chicago divorce, it is best to speak with an experienced Chicago divorce lawyer about your rights and options, as well as any required waiting times, in your specific case.

The experienced Chicago divorce lawyers at the law firm Birnbaum Gelfman Sharma & Arnoux, LLC offer a confidential consultation to learn about your Chicago divorce case and to see if they can help represent and fight for you in your Chicago divorce. Due to the complexities of the Chicago divorce system, it is best to speak with a lawyer as soon as possible about your Chicago divorce case, so do not hesitate to call today. Contact Birnbaum Gelfman Sharma & Arnoux, LLC and speak to an experienced Chicago divorce lawyer about your rights and options.



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