everything you need to know before getting divorced in washington

Everything You Need to Know before Getting Divorced in Washington


Divorce can be a challenging and emotional process, but understanding the prerequisites and requirements can make the journey smoother. In this article, we will explore the essential factors you need to consider before proceeding with a divorce in Washington state.

Residency Requirement

Before filing for divorce, most states require either you or your spouse to be a resident for a certain period. However, Washington has a more lenient approach. The only requirement is that you must be a resident on the day you file the divorce petition.

Reason for Divorce

Washington allows both fault-based and no-fault divorces.

  • Fault-Based Divorce: One spouse must prove the other’s misconduct led to the marriage’s failure. Grounds for fault-based divorce include abandonment, cruelty, adultery, and incarceration.
  • No-Fault Divorce: In a no-fault divorce, the premise is that the marriage is irretrievably broken and cannot be saved. Neither spouse needs to prove fault. However, other legal issues like property division, child custody, and spousal support must be addressed.

Financial Disclosures

Washington requires financial disclosures during the divorce process to ensure transparency. Both parties must provide details of all income, assets, debts, and expenses. This information helps the court make informed decisions regarding property division, spousal support, and child support.

Although couples can waive financial disclosures, it is not recommended, as it may lead to complications and unfair outcomes.

Parenting Class

All parents involved in a divorce in Washington are required to attend a parenting class. The course helps parents understand the impact of divorce on their children, learn co-parenting techniques, and reduce negative effects.

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The class covers maintaining open communication with children, age-appropriate responses to divorce, conflict resolution, and establishing a healthy co-parenting plan.

Community Property State

Washington follows community property rules, meaning assets acquired during the marriage are joint property, with a few exceptions. This includes income earned by either spouse and property purchased with that income, as well as debts incurred during the marriage.

Washington Divorce Forms and Fees

Various divorce forms are required in Washington, with the Petition for Divorce and Summons being the most crucial ones. These forms initiate the divorce process.

Filing fees for a Washington divorce can range from $300 to $500, but fee waivers may be available for individuals who cannot afford the costs.

Contested vs. Uncontested Divorce

Divorces in Washington can be either contested or uncontested.

  • Contested Divorce: The parties cannot agree on divorce terms, requiring court intervention and legal representation.
  • Uncontested Divorce: Both parties agree on all issues, making the process quicker and less expensive.

Spousal Maintenance (Alimony)

Spousal maintenance, or alimony, may be awarded to provide financial support to a spouse who is financially dependent. It can be temporary or permanent, depending on various factors such as income, length of the marriage, and earning capacity.

Child Custody and Support

Child support is a court-ordered payment from one parent to the other to cover the costs associated with raising the child. Custody decisions are made based on the child’s best interests and various other factors.


Navigating the prerequisites of a divorce in Washington is essential to ensure a smoother process. Understanding residency requirements, reasons for divorce, financial disclosures, parenting classes, and other crucial aspects will help you make informed decisions during this challenging time.

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FAQs about Washington Divorce

  1. How long does the divorce process take in Washington? The length of the divorce process in Washington varies based on complexity and whether it’s contested or uncontested. Legally, the process cannot be finalized before 90 days from filing.
  2. Can I e-file my divorce papers in Washington? Yes, e-filing is encouraged, and it allows for faster processing and easier tracking of documents.
  3. What are the grounds for a fault-based divorce in Washington? Grounds for fault-based divorce include abandonment, cruelty, adultery, and incarceration.
  4. Can I waive financial disclosures in Washington? You can waive financial disclosures, but it’s generally not recommended as it may lead to complications and unfair outcomes.
  5. What factors does the court consider when determining child custody in Washington? The court considers various factors, including the child’s relationship with each parent, each parent’s ability to meet the child’s needs, and the child’s overall welfare.

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