Handling matters related to divorce or arranging child custody and visitation can often be problematic for parents who live in separate states. Disputes often arise about where child custody or divorce cases should be heard. The lawyers at Twyford Law Office have a deep understanding of interstate jurisdiction laws, issues, and procedures necessary to assist your family with managing interstate family law matters of all types. Call (509) 327-0777 and schedule a free consultation today.
Due to our tremendous amount of experience, we know what it takes to develop and present a strong case, whether it’s in mediation or for trial.
We are service-oriented and focus on providing each client with personalized attention and a legal strategy tailored to meet their needs.
Residency Requirements for a Washington Divorce
Unlike most other states, Washington does not require a person to have lived there for a certain period of time before filing for divorce. The requirements that are in place, are mostly only a concern for spouses who have recently relocated or intend to soon. Before filing for a Dissolution of Marriage, you or your spouse must:
Be a resident of the state, or
A member of the armed forces and stationed in Washington, or
Be married to a state resident or a member of the armed forces who is stationed in Washington.
If these requirements are met, the court is permitted to have jurisdiction over a divorce case. Both spouses can file for divorce at the same time, referred to as concurrent filing, if they each meet their respective state’s residency requirements. Whichever petition is filed and served to the other party first will then proceed to court.
Property Concerns in an Interstate Divorce
Interstate divorce can present various challenges in regards to the distribution of marital property. For example, Washington courts operate under community property laws when it comes to the division of property during a divorce and only will only have jurisdiction over property held within the state. As a result, enforcement of property division orders between states can be difficult. When a spouse is not under the personal jurisdiction of the state where you reside, you may have to consider a separate legal filing in the state where the assets are located in order to settle property division and other issues. Although, you will be subject to the property laws of that state, which may differ from Washington.
Interstate Child Custody Laws
Determining an interstate custody arrangement can seem overwhelming, but fortunately statutes have been established to assist in the process.
Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act (UCCJEA)
The UCCJEA has been adopted by all 50 states and is designed to improve fairness in interstate child custody disputes. This law defines which state court can generally make a decision in regards to child custody arrangements and often mandates that other states recognize decisions handed down by the state determined to have jurisdiction, or the “home state.”
In addition to UCCJEA, there are other laws applicable to interstate child custody cases, such as the Uniform Interstate Family Support Act (UIFSA). Every state in the US has a version of UIFSA that provides guidance similar to the UCCJEA, but with regard to child support instead of child custody.
While in general, it is preferred to have all custody disputes resolved in one court, it is possible for two different jurisdictions to address the issues depending on the circumstances.
Contact a Trusted Interstate Jurisdiction Lawyer in Spokane
Due to the complexity of jurisdictional disputes, we recommend having your case evaluated by our team at Twyford Law Office. Our extensive experience includes cases involving interstate divorce, child custody and all issues related to family law. Call (509) 327-0777 today or contact us online.