District of Columbia Separation Agreements Law

Divorce – Separation Agreements – District of Columbia

Note:  This summary is not intended to be an all inclusive discussion of the law of separation agreements in the District of Columbia, but does include basic and other provisions.

General Summary: Separation and Property Agreements may be entered into before a divorce is filed to be effective when signed, or may be entered into after the divorce is filed to settle the case.

When presented to the Court and approved as being executed knowingly, intelligently and without coercion, a valid post-nuptial agreement will govern the distribution of the parties personal property and the Court would lack jurisdiction to divide it.

Statutes:

District of Columbia Code
TITLE 16. PARTICULAR ACTIONS, PROCEEDINGS AND MATTERS.
CHAPTER 9. DIVORCE, ANNULMENT, SEPARATION, SUPPORT, ETC.

Dissolution of property rights; jurisdiction of court:

Upon the entry of a final decree of annulment or divorce in the absence of a valid ante-nuptial or post-nuptial agreement or a decree of legal separation disposing the property of the spouses, the court shall:

(a) assign to each party his or her sole and separate property acquired prior to the marriage, and his or her sole and separate property acquired during the marriage by gift, bequest, devise, or descent, and any increase thereof, or property acquired in exchange therefor; and
(b) distribute all other property accumulated during the marriage, regardless of whether title is held individually or by the parties in a form of joint tenancy or tenancy by the entireties, in a manner that is equitable, just and reasonable, after considering all relevant factors including, but not limited to: the duration of the marriage, any prior marriage of either party, the age, health, occupation, amount and sources of income, vocational skills, employability, assets, debts, and needs of each of the parties, provisions for the custody of minor children, whether the  distribution is in lieu of or in addition to maintenance, and the opportunity of each for future acquisition of assets and income. The court shall also consider each party’s contribution to the acquisition, preservation, appreciation, dissipation or depreciation in value of the assets subject to distribution under this subsection, and each party’s contribution as a homemaker or to the family unit.  § 16-910.

Case Law:

A post-nuptial agreement that is executed knowingly, intelligently and without coercion can be used to dispose of the property of the spouses. Williams v. Williams, 472 A.2d 896 (D.C.App. 1984).

D.C.Code 1981, § 16-910 provides in pertinent part, “. . . in the absence of a valid . . . post-nuptial agreement . . . the court shall: * * * (b) distribute all other property accumulated during the marriage. . . .” Thus, if a valid post-nuptial agreement existed, it would govern the distribution of the parties’ personal property and the trial court would not have jurisdiction to divide it.  Hackes v. Hackes, 446 A.2d 396 (D.C.App. 1982) and Williams v. Williams, 472 A.2d 896 (D.C.App. 1984).


Inside District of Columbia Separation Agreements Law