Divorce in Washington
The decision to divorce is something that most couples do not enter into lightly. It can be very upsetting to everyone involved, but if children resulted from the marriage or there was debt, wealth, or the acquisition of property it can complicate matters even further. The more you know about the divorce process the better you will be able to manage it and the less stress you will experience.
In order to obtain a divorce in Washington, these requirements must be met:
- One spouse is a legal resident of the state of Washington or is a member of the armed forces and is stationed in Washington (as long as one spouse is a legal resident of the state, either spouse can file for divorce)
- The spouse who is filing deems the marriage to be irretrievably broken
- The 90-day waiting period has passed
- The other spouse has been served the summons
Grounds for Divorce in Washington
Washington is a no fault divorce state meaning that the only grounds for divorce is “irretrievable breakdown of the marriage.” In some states this is called “irreconcilable differences” and simply means that the marriage is broken and there is no hope of repairing it.
There are no other grounds for divorce in Washington, but it is a broad enough term that it can be applied to just about every situation.
Distinctions of the Court Case for Divorce
There are certain terms and particulars that are important to know when filing for divorce. Terms you may hear include:
Petitioner – The spouse who initiates the divorce by filing the appropriate documents with the court.
Respondent – The spouse who did not initiate the divorce and did not file, but received them through service.
Petition for Dissolution of Marriage – This is the document that is initially filed where the petitioner asks the respondent for divorce and requests that the court grant it.
Decree of Dissolution of Marriage – This is the final document that a judge signs deeming the marriage to be dissolved.
Contested Divorce in Washington
Under Washington law it is not necessary for both parties to the marriage to agree to a divorce. Even if one spouse does not want the divorce or protests it the courts will still grant it. While some states have special provisions or procedures for a contested divorce, Washington does not.
At some point between the initial filing of the petition for dissolution of marriage and the final decree of dissolution of marriage, both parties to the divorce must file a complete disclosure of all assets, income, and debts known as a Financial Declaration. Washington law requires this to be complete before the court grants a final decree of divorce. Divorcing spouses are encouraged to complete and exchange this information as early in the proceedings as possible in order to facilitate a more efficient and amicable settlement process.
Distribution of Property
Washington is a community property state which means that any property, debt, and financial gain that was acquired during the marriage is to be equitably split among the parties to the divorce. The parties may agree on their own distribution of assets if they wish.
When deciding how the property will be divided, the judge will take into consideration:
- The extent and nature of the community property
- The extent and nature of the separate property
- How long the couple was married
- Each spouse’s economic circumstances at the time when the property division goes into effect
The end of a marriage is usually accompanied by strong emotions such as sadness, fear, and anger. Often, the parties are experiencing these emotions while they are trying to navigate the court system to obtain a divorce. In most cases, experts strongly recommend hiring a lawyer to help you work your way through the process to ensure that your interests are protected and your property division is handled correctly.
Contact Twyford Law Office
At Twyford Law Office, our team of qualified, knowledgeable, and caring attorneys and staff will help you every step of the way as you go through your divorce. Contact us today and find out how we can help you get through your divorce and make the process a little less stressful. We care and we are here to help.