In 1992, the District of Columbia began allowing same-sex couples to register domestic partnerships. In December of 2009, same-sex marriage became legal in Washington, D.C. The District of Columbia also recognizes same-sex marriages from other states.

How Do I Get a Washington, D.C. Marriage License?

Before you apply for your marriage license, hire an officiant who is authorized by the D.C. Marriage Bureau. Washington, D.C. requires that the ceremony be performed only by an authorized officiant in order to be validated.

To obtain a marriage license, you need to go with your spouse to the Moultrie Courthouse in Washington. The D.C. Marriage Bureau is on the 4th floor of the courthouse. Fill out the application for a marriage license. If your spouse is unable to attend, photocopy his or her ID card.

Individuals who are not D.C. residents are permitted to apply for marriage licenses in Washington, D.C.

Pay the fee for the license with credit card, money order or cash.

When you obtain your license, you then may have your wedding ceremony. The authorized officiant must sign the license to make it official. Then you need to submit the signed license to the D.C. Marriage Bureau.

How Do I Get a Same-Sex Divorce in Washington, D.C.?

Washington, D.C. allows same-sex couples with District of Columbia marriage licenses to divorce in the District. Washington, D.C. also allows same-sex couples who are not District of Columbia residents to get divorced in D.C. if their home state does not recognize same-sex marriages. For instance, a same-sex couple that legally married in Vermont, then moved to South Carolina, is permitted to get a same-sex divorce in Washington, D.C.

If the same-sex divorce is consensual, only one individual needs to file a petition for uncontested divorce in Washington, D.C. A same-sex divorce is consensual when the parties have no marital debt or property that needs to be divided by the court and no issues of child custody or support that need to be decided by the court. The same-sex couple may negotiate these items in advance using a marital property agreement or child custody and support agreement.

At the brief divorce hearing, the plaintiff is asked a series of form questions to verify the divorce is being sought for legal reasons and is for irreconcilable differences. The couple can then get their divorce decree that same day.

A contested same-sex divorce operates identically to any other contested divorce in Washington, D.C. The parties file financial affidavits, inventory their debts and assets, attempt mediation, and litigate any contested issues in court.

Do I Need an Attorney for a Same-Sex Divorce?

A Washington family lawyer can help you navigate the same-sex divorce process. Divorce law is extremely complex and confusing and can be very emotionally draining. An attorney can counsel you on how to best approach the divorce, equitable distribution of assets, and negotiating child custody and visitation.