A Summary of Washington Divorce Laws

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Grounds for Divorce Under Washington Divorce Laws

The state of Washington divorce laws make The Evergreen State only one of several true “no-fault” states. This means the reason for the dissolution of marriage doesn’t matter, and the divorce will be granted if the marriage is irretrievably broken. If one or both partners refuse to work to fix the marriage, it is irretrievably broken.

Residency Requirements

Only one party must reside in the state of Washington for either party to file for divorce in the state.

A member of the armed forces stationed in Washington, may file for a divorce there, upon a showing that either party is a resident in Washington or is stationed in Washington as part of the military.

Name of Court and Title of Action/Parties

A divorce action may be filed with a  “Petition for Dissolution of Marriage” form in either Superior Court or Family Court in the county where one of the parties resides or is stationed.

Distribution of Property

If the parties are unable to agree on property division, the court will decide. The court will consider many factors, including  the intended use of all property, whether it’s individually owned or shared, length of the marriage, who the primary breadwinner was, and the economic situation of the parties.


The courts will decide on a monthly amount due and on a term. They will consider many things including both partners’ current financial situations, the time needed for training or higher education, the standard of living throughout the marriage, and the length of the marriage.

Additionally, the receiving spouse’s age, physical and mental condition, and debts will be considered, as will the other spouse’s  ability to pay.

Child Custody

As far as child custody is concerned, Washington state will choose joint or sole custody of minor children based on the best interests of the children. Once either parent files a proposed parenting plan, the other parent can file their own proposed parenting plan within thirty days of being served.

If they do not file their own proposed parenting plan, the first one will become a temporary parenting plan and the other parent will have 180 days to file their proposal to challenge the temporary plan. Otherwise, it will become the permanent plan everyone follows.

The proposed parenting plan will need to be accompanied by a verified statement that the plan is proposed in good faith. This is another situation where the parents can come to a mutual agreement and avoid leaving the decisions to the court.

Child Support

Child support will be set according to a formula that considers each parent’s financial situation.


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