In Washington State, divorce is also known as dissolution of marriage. Divorce is not only an emotional event, but also a complicated legal process. Consider hiring a divorce attorney to help guide you through the legal process of ending your marriage and ensure that you're treated fairly during the proceedings.
To begin a divorce proceeding in Washington, either you or your spouse must be a state resident or a member of the armed forces stationed in Washington.
The divorce process begins when you or your spouse files a Petition for Dissolution of Marriage. Your divorce will be granted if:
- You were legally married
- Either you or your spouse is a state resident
- Either you or your spouse believes your marriage is irretrievably broken (this is known as a no-fault divorce)
- The Petition for Dissolution of Marriage has been filed with the court and served on your spouse
Your divorce can be finalized 90 days after the petition and summons have been served on your spouse.
Property Division & Spousal Maintenance
Washington is a community property state, which means that all property not classified as "separate" is considered "marital property" and will be divided "equitably" (but not necessarily equally). Separate property includes property acquired before the marriage and property obtained during the marriage via gift or inheritance to strictly one spouse.
Under certain conditions, the court will order alimony (also known as spousal support) to be paid from one spouse to the other. The length and amount of support awarded depends on several factors, including the length of the marriage and each spouse's financial situation and earning capacity.
Your divorce lawyer can help negotiate a fair division of property and alimony agreement, if necessary.
Child Custody & Child Support
If you and your spouse have minor children, then you will have to create a parenting plan as part of your divorce proceedings. A parenting plan outlines issues related to legal custody (known as decision-making authority in Washington) and physical custody (known as a residential schedule in the state). If you and your spouse, with the help of your family law attorneys, cannot come to a mutually agreeable parenting plan, then the court will make decisions on your behalf.
Washington law requires that the court make custody decisions based on what is in the best interests of the child. Washington courts will consider joint custody if it is in the best interests of the child. Generally, a parent who is not awarded custody is granted visitation rights.
Child support is calculated based on the income and assets of each parent. After the court has ruled on child support, the paying parent can make online payments through Washington Child Support Internet Payments Service. The child support is then paid to the other parent.
Find & Hire Washington Divorce Lawyers
A divorce is life-changing event-and can have long ramifications for both spouses and children. For this reason, it's important to hire a divorce attorney to ensure that you receive a fair divorce settlement and that your rights are protected.
Need help finding a divorce lawyer in Tacoma, Seattle or elsewhere in Washington State? Attorneys.com can help you. Call 877-913-7222 or complete the form on this page to use our free lawyer referral service, which can quickly connect you with local lawyers.