Washington is a no fault divorce state; the only legal ground for getting divorced in the state of Washington is a claim by either spouse that there has been an “Irretrievable breakdown of the marriage.” This simply means that one or both spouses believe that the marriage doesn’t work anymore and will not work out in the future. Neither spouse has to give any other reason for getting divorced. Therefore, anyone who otherwise qualifies to get divorced in Washington can do so, whether the other spouse is in agreement or not. Neither spouse is required to prove that the other spouse did something wrong in order to get divorced. While fault can play a part in some issues related to your divorce, bad acts or other wrongdoings do not matter when it comes to eligibility to get divorced.
In order to be eligible to file for divorce, you must be legally married, meet all state residency requirements, and follow the procedural rules for getting divorced. You can get divorced in Washington so long as you or your spouse are a resident of the state, or one of you is a member of the military and stationed in the state for at least 90 days. As a general rule, you will file your divorce in the county in which either you or your spouse live.
A divorce, or dissolution, as it is called under Washington law, starts with one spouse filing a petition for dissolution of marriage with the court. The spouse also must file other required forms, including a summons, which is designed to give the other spouse notice of the divorce. Either a county sheriff or a private process server will deliver the summons and petition to your spouse and provide proof of that service to the court. The next steps in your divorce depend on whether you and your spouse can agree on issues related to your divorce, such as residential placement and parenting plans for your children, division of property, child support, and spousal maintenance, which is typically know as alimony. If you and your spouse can agree on these issues, then you may be able to enter into an agreement that the judge will approve and incorporate into your dissolution decree. If you and your spouse cannot agree, however, your case will be much more complicated, and you may have to attend one or more court hearings in order to get divorced. When you receive a dissolution decree signed by the judge, your divorce is officially final.
We know how difficult and complicated divorce cases can be, especially when they involve complex issues like child custody, child support, and property division. Contact Pacific Northwest Family Law today and we will show you how we can help with your Washington divorce case. Our attorneys focus their practice primarily on family law, so we are sure to have the skills that you need for proper representation in your divorce case. We are here to answer all of your questions, calm your concerns, and help you through the often difficult process of contested divorce and family law cases.