WASHINGTON DIVORCE LAW
Washington, like every state, has unique laws and procedures governing legal separation and divorce (“dissolution of marriage”) in the state. A divorce in Washington will legally end your marriage. The divorced parties will then be considered legally single and able to re-marry. It is important to contact a Washington divorce attorney when contemplating a legal separation, divorce, or annulment.
Washington Legal Separation / Separation Contracts
To obtain a legal separation in the state of Washington, you must file a petition for legal separation identical to that for a divorce. A legal separation does not legally end your marriage; you will not be divorced and are not free to re-marry. Although not divorced, the parties in a legal separation will still need to work out issues similar to those in a divorce, such as property division and child custody. They may choose to do this by entering into a written “separation contract.” The separation contract will provide for the maintenance of either spouse, the disposition of any property owned by one or both of the spouses, the parenting plan and support for their children and for the release of each other from all obligations except those expressed in the contract. Unless stated otherwise in the contract, the separation contract may be set aside by the court if the spouses later file for divorce. Those with religious backgrounds are more likely to seek this option.
Washington Grounds For Divorce
When filing for a divorce you must state your “grounds for divorce,” or the reasons why you are seeking a divorce. In Washington, you may only file for a no-fault divorce. This means that the only required ground or reason for dissolution of marriage / divorce in the state of Washington is the “irretrievable breakdown of the marriage.” After 90 days have passed since filing the petition for divorce and service of the summons, the court will grant the dissolution of marriage, unless the other party denies that the marriage is irretrievably broken, or there is evidence of coercion / fraud. It is important to discuss these matters with a Washington divorce attorney.
Washington Divorce Residency Requirements
To file for divorce in Washington, the filing party must meet the residency requirements by being:
Washington Availability of Simplified or Special Divorce Procedures::
The filing party must file a petition for dissolution of marriage specifying the parties’ agreement to divorce. If the divorce terms are uncontested, the non-filing party may fill out a separate portion of the petition. After the non-filing party has filled out his or her portion of the petition, the court may issue an expedited divorce decree.
An annulment in Washington differs from a divorce or a legal separation in that the annulment declares the marriage to have been invalid, such that it never properly existed in the first place. Thus, getting divorced or legally separated is unnecessary. Annulments are granted under a very limited set of circumstances:
Washington Property Division / Community Property
Washington is a “community property” state, meaning that all property acquired during the marriage is considered community property and is divided equally (50/50), unless the court determines otherwise or the parties are able to come to their own agreement separately. When the court divides the community property, it will consider, among other factors:
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