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Washington Divorce Facts

When going through a divorce in in Washington, it's helpful to have some key information. Below you will find some of the most important facts everyone getting a divorce in the state of Washington should know. The facts listed here are only a selected few of the more comprehensive set of Washington Divorce Laws available for your reference. Remember, every state's law is different, and if you're not sure about a law in your state, you should ask a qualified Washington Divorce Professional.

  • The filing spouse must live in the state on the date that the petition for divorce is filed in the Washington divorce court.
  • The responding spouse has 20 days to reply if he or she lives in Washington or 60 days to respond if he or she lives outside the state. The divorce paperwork must be filed and served upon the other spouse for more than 90 days before the judge signs the Decree of Dissolution of Marriage. This 90-day waiting period is a cooling off time.
  • All marital property and debts are distributed justly and equitably, but this does not always mean that there is an equal, 50/50 division of property and debts. The court examines the nature and extent of both marital and separate property, the duration of the marriage, the party paying expenses and debts, and any special circumstances.
  • Property and debts are divided regardless of misconduct or fault.
  • Washington law requires that the court consider the desirability of one parent retaining the marital home, so that the children will not have to move and have their lives further disrupted by their parents' divorce. Alimony is called maintenance. A spouse seeking to obtain maintenance must specifically request it in his or her divorce papers. In determining the need, duration, and amount of maintenance, the court considers the finances of each spouse, including income, debts, tax liability, investments, and property, the work experience and earning capacity of each spouse, including education and training, the age and physical abilities of each spouse, the duration of the marriage, and the standard of living attained during the marriage.
  • Washington divorce law requires a parenting plan in any divorce case involving children. The court considers the best interests of the children in deciding on a parenting plan. Any parenting plan must include a schedule of where the children will live and when, the division of responsibility for decision making regarding medical and educational needs, and a statement of how the parents plan on handling future disputes.
  • Both parents are required to support their children financially and emotionally. Child support is based on the Washington Child Support Schedule. Child support can always be modified by the court upon the request of the parent, and may be granted in order to meet changes in the needs of the children, or to reflect changes in a parent's ability to pay the original support order. Child support orders are enforced by a payroll deduction, and the money deducted from a parent's payroll check is paid to the Washington State Child Support Registry from the day the judge signs the order.

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