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The Divorce Process in Washington State

By February 20, 2020March 20th, 20204 Comments

In Washington State, divorce is formally referred to as the “dissolution of marriage.” Common law marriage isn’t recognized in Washington, but same-sex marriage and domestic partnerships are. If your marriage is ending or you are contemplating divorce, you probably have some questions about the process.

Washington State Divorce Basics

No matter where you live, getting a divorce is never simple. Here are a few things you need to know about divorcing your spouse in Washington State.

Do I need a reason to file for divorce?

Washington is considered a “no fault” divorce state, meaning you don’t have to find fault in the marriage to end it. The only valid reason for ending a marriage in Washington is that the union is “irretrievably broken.”

What are the residency requirements in Washington State?

To file for divorce in this state, either you or your spouse must be Washington residents. You don’t have to live in the state for any specific period, but you must be able to establish proof of residency.

How do I file for divorce?

You file for divorce in either your home county or your spouse’s home county. When you file, you will submit a series of required forms to the court, including a Petition for Dissolution of Marriage.

Divorce Process in Washington State

Once you’ve filed for divorce, you will need to resolve some key issues with your spouse before the court will finalize your Petition. Among them are:

Asset Distribution

When filing for divorce, you will need to disclose all of your assets. Washington is a community property state. In general, all property acquired during the marriage belongs to both spouses, even if it is titled in one name. Property that you owned before marriage is considered separate. There are exceptions to these rules that you’ll want to discuss with your divorce attorney.

Debt Allocation

Similar to your assets, the court will examine all of your marital debts to create an equitable and just division. You shouldn’t assume that debts will be split 50/50, since the courts will take other factors into consideration, such as each spouse’s economic circumstances.

Child Custody

The Washington State family law courts refer to your Parenting Plan when it comes to how child custody and visitation are handled after a divorce. Your Parenting Plan will outline who has custody, your residential schedule, and who has decision-making authority for the children. If you can’t come to an agreement with your child’s other parent on these issues, the court will dictate your terms.

Child Support

Child support refers to how much one parent pays the other for the care and support of children. Both parents have a legal obligation to financially support their children. Again, if you are unable to agree to these terms with your ex, the court will use the Washington State Support Schedule as its guide to create an order.

Spousal Support

Maintenance, or alimony, is a possibility in some Washington divorce cases. The court will consider such factors as the length of your marriage, your age and health, your financial situation, and your standard of living during the marriage when making these determinations.

How Long is the Divorce Process?

Washington has a 90-day minimum waiting period for divorce. As soon as the Petition for Dissolution of Marriage is filed and then served on the other spouse, this clock starts running. If both spouses sign the Petition, the clock starts on the filing date.

If you have any disputed issues, your divorce may take longer than 90 days. Otherwise, you won’t see your divorce finalized any sooner than 90 days after it begins.

Speak With an Experienced Washington Divorce Attorney

AB Law has extensive experience advocating for the rights and financial security of clients throughout Washington State. If you are facing divorce, you won’t get a second chance to negotiate these agreements. Contact our office today for a free consultation to learn more about how we can help.

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