1. What are the grounds for divorce in Washington State?

Anyone seeking a divorce in the state will be granted one as long as they were legally married, meet the state residency requirements, and correctly follow the dissolution procedure. To get a divorce in Washington State, you or your spouse must be either a resident of the state or a member of the military stationed in the state. You may file in any Washington State county where you or your spouse resides, with the exception of Lincoln County, which does not require either spouse to be a resident. After filing, the next step is to serve the Petition for Dissolution of Marriage along with the Summons on your spouse, the Respondent.

A process server or county sheriff will deliver the petition in person and verify with the court that your spouse has been served. If you and your spouse agree on all issues, the divorce is uncontested.

Your final documents will match your petition for dissolution. If there is disagreement, the divorce is contested. These orders are in effect only while your divorce is pending and should be entered in any contested case to ensure proper management of your case while awaiting final court orders. In Washington State, when children are involved in a divorce, the parties are required to attend a mandatory seminar that addresses the impact of divorce on children. The seminar provides parents with information on ways to help reduce stress on the children during and after the divorce.

Parents must attend the parenting seminar and provide proof of their attendance and completion to the court before their case will be finalized by the court. Discovery is a process during which you can acquire information that relates to your divorce from your spouse or others. Discovery may include sending specific questions Interrogatories and requests for specific documents Requests for Production to your spouse.

Requests for documents can also be sent to third parties, like banks, to get information that may assist you in preparing your case. Discovery also includes Depositions, which allows your lawyer, with the opposing lawyer also present, to ask a witness questions in front of a court reporter or other official reporter. Your divorce lawyer will help you to develop a discovery plan to get the information you will need to complete your case.

Some couples choose to use Mediation to work out the details of their divorce outside of court with a third party acting as mediator. You cannot force your spouse to participate in mediation. Your income during the marriage is community property. Anything you buy with your income belongs to you both.

The judge will divide the car and other property according to what they decide is just. They bought it before your marriage. This could happen if, for example, you refinance it in both names. It could rule you have no community interest in the house because of the value you got from living there. Example : can just one of you pay the mortgage? If not, awarding one of you the property may lead to foreclosure and damage your credit. It might be safer to sell it. Do not create a post-divorce situation where title is in one name, the debt in another. Example : The divorce court awards you title to the home.

No one takes action to make this official. Your spouse falls behind on payments. Yes, even if one spouse objects. The court will most likely do this if one of these is true:. Retirement and pension benefits, including k plans, earned during the marriage are community property.

Both spouses have a legal interest in them. Pensions earned both before and during the marriage: the portion earned during the marriage and the increase in value of that portion is community property. Disability benefits substituting for pension benefits might be community property.

If you believe your spouse has a pension including a military pension , k , IRA, or other retirement or disability plan, talk with a lawyer about what your rights. Read it or call them at The court may consider if your spouse wasted marital assets without your consent OR tried to hide assets from the court.

Divorce in Washington State

Maintenance alimony is a payment one spouse makes to the other for financial support. The court does not always award maintenance. It must look at things such as:. On the other hand, you can get maintenance even if you are working, if the court decides you should enjoy the same standard of living you had during the marriage. You are more likely to get maintenance if both of these are true:.

You are less likely to get a good job now. Maintenance payments generally end when you remarry or die. The Final Divorce Order may say otherwise. You must pay the debt and sue your spouse to pay you back. Even if the court orders your spouse to pay a debt, the creditor person owed may still come after you to collect.

2. When can I get a divorce in Washington State?

It is the second box in section If your spouse files for bankruptcy, you should get notice of it. Talk immediately with a lawyer who knows bankruptcy law. You may need to take part in the bankruptcy case to protect yourself. Washington courts generally do not say custody and visitation anymore. They talk about the parenting plan , residential schedule and decision-making authority for the children. Talk with a lawyer about your case if possible. Yes, if you have any children together under age eighteen.

If your spouse served you with a parenting plan, and you disagree with what it proposes, you must file your own proposed parenting plan. The court may enter a temporary parenting plan to cover the period while the divorce is pending.

No-Fault Divorce in the State of Washington | Law Offices of Molly B. Kenny

It enters a permanent parenting plan at the end of your divorce. A parenting plan signed by a judge or court commissioner is a court order. You both must follow it. If you do not, the court could hold you in contempt. You might face criminal charges.


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You must have a good excuse not to follow a parenting plan. Example : following it would cause serious harm to you or the child. Even then, you cannot just stop following it. You must go back to court to ask to change it. Do this as soon as you can. Then the court can approve a new, more appropriate schedule. The court must first decide if there is any reason under RCW A history of domestic violence or an assault or sexual assault that causes serious bodily harm or the fear it. Has a conviction as an adult of certain sex crimes with a child victim, or has been found to be a sexual predator.

The parent has a long-term drug, alcohol, or other substance abuse problem interfering with their ability to take care of the children. In most cases, the court will not let this parent have custody. Courts rarely allow that parent unsupervised contact with their child. If you or your spouse has a conviction for such a crime, talk to a lawyer. Restrictions can include requiring a parent to:. The court must consider:. How close the ex-spouses live to each other may matter. The court may let or both parents make non-emergency decisions, such as where the child will go to school, what health care providers the child will see, when the child gets medical care, and what religious institution the child attends.

The court must give only one parent the authority to make these decisions if there is a limiting factor under RCW If one parent disagrees with joint decision-making, the court may order one parent sole decision-making if any of these is true:.

No Fault Divorce Vs. Fault Divorce FAQ

RCW The parenting plan has a section saying how you will solve future disagreements about it. You can choose counseling, mediation, or arbitration. The court should not order ADR if any of these is true:. In any of those cases, the parenting plan should just require you to go back to court over any disagreements about the parenting plan. If you choose counseling , you typically meet with a mental health professional who uses counseling techniques to help you solve your disagreement.

If you choose mediation , you meet with a neutral third party who may be a lawyer, retired judge, or mental health professional. That mediator tries to encourage you to come to agreement. If you choose an arbitrator , you meet with a neutral third party often a lawyer or retired judge who tries to help you reach agreement, but who makes a decision you both must follow if you cannot agree. In most cases, you must pay for ADR. It can cost a lot. Some people find ADR helpful. Your parenting plan says what happens if you want to move.


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