Either you or your spouse must be a resident of Washington or a member of any armed force stationed in Washington to file for a divorce, called a “dissolution.”
Grounds for Divorce
Washington is a “no fault” state, which means that either spouse can get a divorce simply by stating in divorce papers that the marriage is “irretrievably broken.” Factors such as adultery do not matter in determining property or custody issues.
Property Distribution on Washington:
Washington is a “community property” state, which means that assets and debts acquired during your marriage will be divided “equitably” when you divorce.
But not all property is considered “community property”:
- For example, any assets you had before you married will be considered “separate property” if you kept that property separated from property acquired during the marriage
- The income produced by a separate property investment is also separate property, as long as it hasn’t been “commingled” – mixed together with community money
- Property you inherit from your family during your marriage will generally be considered your own separate property if it was willed exclusively to you and you did not commingle it with community assets during the marriage
In deciding how to divide the property owned by a divorcing couples, judges will consider:
- The length of the marriage
- How much and what kind of community and separate property there is
- The financial circumstances and earning potential of each of the spouses
- The health of each spouse
- With whom the children will reside the majority of the time
Alimony/Spousal Support in Washington:
A court can order alimony, called “maintenance” or “spousal support” in Washington, at its discretion. A court will generally consider such factors as the following:
- Financial resources of both parties and the abilities of each to meet their needs
- Length of the marriage
- Standard of living established during the marriage
- Time a spouse may need to retrain or otherwise find employment
- Age and physical and emotional condition of the spouse seeking support
A court can order temporary maintenance while the divorce is pending. Most maintenance is ordered for a specific length of time. Once ordered, maintenance can be modified only upon a showing of a “substantial change in circumstances.”
Child Custody in Washington:
In Washington State, the concepts of “custody” and “visitation” have been replaced with a residential schedule known as a “Parenting Plan,” which sets out specific times the child will spend with each parent. If the parents can’t agree on a parenting plan, the court makes those decisions based on what is in the “best interest” of the child. A parenting plan sets out details such as when the child will be with each parent, which parent will make what decisions regarding the child, how disputes between the parents will be resolved and any limits on parenting functions.
In deciding how much time each parent should spend with the child, the court considers many factors, including:
- The relative strength, nature and stability of the child’s relationship with each parent, including whether a parent has taken greater responsibility for performing parenting functions relating to the daily needs of the child.
- Any agreements the parents have made.
- Each parent’s ability to perform parenting functions.
- The emotional needs and developmental level of the child.
- The child’s relationship with siblings and other significant adults.
- The child’s involvement with his or her school or other activities.
- The wishes of the parents.
- The wishes of a child who is sufficiently mature to express reasoned and independent preferences.
Child Support in Vermont:
In Washington State, child support is based on the income and assets of both parents. If a parent is not currently employed, the court will look at the parent’s past employment record or base their “imputed” income on what a person of their age and gender would typically make. Child support is based on standard guidelines, and there is a statutory formula used uniformly by every court.
Under Washington State law, a nonresidential parent’s child support cannot be more than 45 percent of his or her net income. The nonresidential parent’s net income (after paying child support) cannot be reduced below what is called a “need standard” (currently $800 per month). Childcare expenses are normally calculated separately and are based on proportionate income.
In the state of Washington, child support is calculated based on a formula. However, a court in Washington will consider the following factors prior to deviating from the normal child support formula:
- Extraordinary income of a child.
- Income of a new spouse or domestic partner (although this factor is not considered on its own as a reason for deviation).
- Extraordinary income of a parent.
- Special needs of a disabled child.
- Custodial arrangement.
- Children from other relationships.
Alimony/Spousal Support in Washington:
The duration and amount of support awarded will depend upon the specific facts and circumstances of each case. RCW 26.09.090 is Washington State’s spousal maintenance statute, and gives us the factors to consider in determining the need for as well as the amount and duration of spousal maintenance. These factors are:
· The financial resources of each party;
· The work experience and earning prospects of each spouse, including consideration for the time required for one spouse to obtain training for becoming employed or self-supporting in an occupation appropriate to his/her skills, interests, style of life, and other attendant circumstances;
· The age and physical and emotional conditions of each party;
· The duration of the marriage;
· The standard of living established during the marriage; and
· The ability of the spouse from whom maintenance is sought to meet his/her needs and financial obligations while also meeting those of the spouse seeking maintenance.
Legal Separation in Washington:
One of the most common reasons couples choose to pursue a legal separation with the court is that it allows them to make financial arrangements, such as deciding who will pay the bills and who will retain certain property and possessions. When the court is involved in the separation, temporary arrangements are made for the following:
- Child custody
- Child support
- Child visitation schedule
- Division of assets and debts
Disclaimer: The divorce law information provided is for informational purposes only not for legal advice purposes. This information is general in nature. Each jurisdiction has specific code and court procedures. A local divorce attorney is your best source for how divorce is treated in your jurisdiction. Before making any legal decisions we encourage you to consult with a local attorney…do not make decisions based on general state divorce law.