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DIY Divorce Guide

How to File for Divorce in Washington State

Complete divorce guide with state requirements and laws.
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Washington Online Divorce Basics

This is a reference guide about filing about divorce in Washington State. Each state has its own requirements, laws, and documentation, so we decided to gather it all in one location to make it easy and quick for you to find the information you need before, during and after your divorce.

Divorce in Washington Made Easy

    • Time Frame: Washington requires a 90-day wait from the date the Petition for Dissolution of Marriage is filed until a judge can finalize the divorce.
    • Where to File: Superior Court, or Family Court. "In the ___________Court of the State of Washington, in and for the County of _____________."
    • State Statutes: Revised Code of Washington Annotated; Chapter 26.
    • Name of Action: Petition for Dissolution of Marriage.
    • Name of Parties: Petitioner, the spouse who files, and respondent, the other spouse.
    • No-Fault or Fault and No-Fault Only: Washington is a no-fault only state.
    • Primary Documents Filed: Petition for Dissolution of Marriage and Decree of Dissolution.
    • Physical Separation Required: No.
    • Separation Time to File: None.
    • Legal Separation Permitted: The only grounds for a legal separation are the irretrievable breakdown of the marriage.
    • No-Fault Grounds: Irretrievable breakdown of the Marriage is the only ground for dissolution of marriage in the state of Washington.
    • Residency Requirement: Residency is considered established by the court when a party is an actual resident of the state, or a member of the armed forces and is stationed in the state, or married to a party who is a resident of the state or who is a member of the armed forces and is stationed in the state. There is no set time period that must be met before filing. All you must do is prove to the court you are a resident.
    • Mediation Required: There is no mandatory mediation in Washington, but the state encourages spouses to attend mediation when there are disputed issues. Mediation involves a neutral third party who helps the spouses resolve their differences regarding child custody, spousal support or other issues so that they can reach agreement and the divorce case can proceed through the courts uncontested.
    • Counseling Required: In Washington, divorcing spouses, at the request of either one spouse or at the court's initiative, may be referred to a counseling service chosen by the parties. The counseling service makes a report within 60 days. Contested issues related to custody and visitation are referred to mediation.
    • Parenting Classes Required: Mandatory. Both parties must attend a parenting seminar. The court may waive the seminar requirement for one or both parents if good cause is shown.
    • Filing Fee: $314. (See WA Filing Fee Waiver Form)
    • Where to File for Child Support: Child support enforcement is under The Division of Child Support of the Department of Health and Social Services.
    • Child Support Guidelines Model: Washington uses the Income Shares Model, which estimates the amount of financial support that would have been available for the child(ren) if the marriage had not been dissolved. The amount is then divided proportionally to the parents according to each parent's income.

The Income Shares Model is a routine that determines how much support the noncustodial parent pays based on income and the number of children in the home. In calculating the income of the noncustodial parent, the court considers all income sources -- wages, salary, bonuses, tips, retirement, unemployment, workers compensation and disability benefits. Child support ends at 18 years or graduation from high school, whichever occurs last, unless parents agree otherwise. A child becomes automatically ineligible for child support if he or she marries.

    • Property Division: A community property state, Washington divides all property and debt acquired from the date of marriage until the marital cut-off date.
    • Appreciation of Separate Property: The appreciation of separate property is separate.
    • Attendance at Hearing: No.
    • Fault Considered in Property Division: No. The court does not consider marital misconduct.
    • Waiting period after Divorce for Remarriage: None.
    • Ways to Serve Spouse: Service of process is not required for uncontested divorces where both partners sign the Petition for Dissolution of Marriage.
    • Divorce Records: The Washington Department of Health

In Washington, you can receive copies of your vital records (divorce certificate) from the Department of Health. There are no restrictions on who can request this information, Washington State is an open record state, all you must do is provide the required information and pay the fee for the department to locate the requested record. Divorce certificates are not the same as the Decree of Dissolution of Marriage. Certificates are simply a one-page document with information about the couple, that they were divorced, and the date. If you need copies of your Decree of Dissolution of Marriage, you should contact the county clerk where the divorce was filed and finalized. The Department of Health does not have copies of any Decrees of Dissolution of Marriage.


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