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Divorce FAQ

Divorce FAQ

Divorce cases in Spokane can be complicated. They may include many complex family law issues, including domestic support, property division, and child custody. It is natural to have questions about divorces in Washington State.  An experienced Spokane divorce lawyer can answer questions regarding Washington divorces and help guide you through this challenging process. 

What Are the Grounds for Divorce in Washington State?

What Are the Grounds for Divorce in Washington State? Washington is a no-fault divorce state. You are not required to prove that your spouse caused the breakup of your marriage to obtain a divorce. Fault grounds that other states use include adultery, abuse, and abandonment.  In Washington, all you need to do is petition the court for a dissolution of marriage, claiming that you have irreconcilable differences. If a spouse alleges their marriage is irretrievably broken, the court may grant a divorce over the objection of the other spouse.

What Are the Requirements for a Divorce in Washington?

Unlike most states, Washington’s residency requirements for divorce cases do not have a minimum length of residency. You or your spouse must be a resident of Washington to obtain a divorce. Service members stationed in Washington can also file for divorce in the state. You must wait at least 90 days after filing a Petition for Divorce to request a hearing for a final divorce. The court will not issue a final divorce decree until at least 91 days after the case is filed. 

Is Washington a Community Property State for Property Division in a Divorce?

Washington is one of the few states that uses community property standards to assign ownership of marital property. With few exceptions, spouses have a 50% ownership of income and assets acquired during the marriage. During a divorce, the spouses can agree on how to divide marital property. If the court settles the matter, the judge decides what is fair and equitable.  Judges consider factors in property division cases such as:

  • The duration of the marriage
  • Each spouse’s economic circumstances
  • The extent and nature of a spouse’s separate property
  • The extent and nature of community property in the marital estate

  Generally, separate property is not subject to property division in a Washington divorce. Classifying property as separate or community and valuing property are common property division disputes. 

Can I Receive Alimony if I Divorce My Spouse in Washington?

Alimony is not guaranteed in a Washington divorce case. However, judges have the authority to grant spousal support.  When deciding whether to grant alimony, judges consider several factors, such as:

  • The length of the marriage
  • Property division between the spouses
  • Division of marital debt
  • Child custody and support

  Spousal support is maintenance or financial support paid by one spouse to another spouse. The judge determines alimony after divorce at the final divorce hearing. 

How Do Judges Decide Child Custody Cases in Spokane, WA?

Child custody in Washington includes legal and physical custody. Legal custody refers to the right of a parent to make decisions for their child. Decisions including medical, educational, extra-curricular, and religious. Physical custody refers to the day-to-day care of a child and where the child lives. Even when the court awards joint physical custody, the child often resides with one parent most of the time. That parent is referred to as the custodial parent.  Decisions related to child custody are based on the children’s best interests. Parents are encouraged to develop a parenting plan and visitation schedule that benefits the children and encourages maintaining a close relationship.  However, if the parents cannot agree on child custody, the court makes the decision.  Factors judges consider when deciding child custody include:

  • The wishes of the children and parents.
  • The employment schedule for each parent.
  • A child’s involvement in their school, physical surroundings, and other activities. 
  • A child’s needs and emotional development.
  • A parent’s past relationship with the child and their performance as parents.
  • The potential for a parent’s future performance.
  • A child’s relationship with siblings and other adults in their lives.

  A judge may consider other relevant factors that could impact the child’s best interest regarding custody. The overriding concern in child custody matters is to ensure the child’s well-being and safety, even over a parent’s wishes.  Parents are also required to provide for the financial needs of their children. Washington has standard child support guidelines to calculate the base child support obligations. Judges can deviate from the child support guidelines for specific reasons.

What Is an Informal Family Law Trial in Washington?

Washington has an alternative divorce process that can be less costly for couples. It can also be quicker for couples to obtain a divorce. An Informal Family Law Trial (IFLT) can resolve issues in a divorce case instead of going through formal litigation.  Each spouse submits evidence to the judge. The judge questions the spouses directly at a hearing instead of the attorneys examining witnesses.  The rules of evidence in an IFLT differ, so the judges may consider evidence that might not be admissible in court. This process can give judges a better idea of the issues and circumstances involved in the case. Before agreeing to an IFLT, discuss the pros and cons with an attorney. An IFLT can be beneficial in some cases but may not be in your best interest, given the facts of your case. 

Does Washington Have Common Law Marriage?

No, Washington does not recognize common-law marriage. However, partners can enter a committed intimate relationship (CIR). If the court finds a couple is in a CIR, the court could intervene in child custody, property division, and child support issues.  If you wish to remain unmarried, you may want to consider a cohabitation agreement. An agreement can be enforced in court and address the issues that would arise if you decide to end your relationship.

Contact Us for a Free Consultation With Our Spokane Divorce Attorneys

Do you have questions about divorces or dissolution of marriage in Washington State? If so, our Spokane divorce lawyers at Twyford Law Office are here to help. Call our office to schedule a free case evaluation with an attorney to discuss your situation and legal options for a divorce.


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