1. People & Relationships
You can opt-out at any time. Please refer to our privacy policy for contact information.

Washington Divorce Laws


Lawyer meeting with couple
Comstock/Stockbyte/Getty Images

Washington State Divorce Law


To file for a dissolution of marriage or a legal separation, the following residency requirements apply:

  • A resident of this state.
  • A member of the armed forces and is stationed in this state.
  • Married to a party who is a resident of this state or who is a member of the armed forces and is stationed in this state. Such proceeding may be filed in the superior court of the county where the petitioner resides.


[Based on Washington State Revised Code - Title 26 - Chapter 26.09.010 and 26.09.030]


The only legal grounds for a divorce in the state of Washington is that the marriage is irretrievably broken. If one party denies that the marriage is irretrievably broken, the court shall consider all relevant factors, including the circumstances that gave rise to the filing of the petition and the prospects for reconciliation and shall:

  • Make a finding that the marriage is irretrievably broken and enter a decree of dissolution of the marriage.
  • At the request of either party or on its own motion, transfer the cause to the family court, refer them to another counseling service of their choice, and request a report back from the counseling service within sixty days, or continue the matter for not more than sixty days for hearing.

[Based on Washington State Revised Code - Title 26 - Chapter 26.09.030]


The parties to a marriage, in order to promote the amicable settlement of disputes attendant upon their legal separation or upon the filing of a petition for dissolution of their marriage, a decree of legal separation, or declaration of invalidity of their marriage, may enter into a written separation contract providing for the maintenance of either of them, the disposition of any property owned by both or either of them, the parenting plan and support for their children and for the release of each other from all obligation except that expressed in the contract. [Based on Washington State Revised Code - Title 26 - Chapter 26.09.070]


In any proceeding under this chapter, the matter may be set for mediation of the contested issues before or concurrent with the setting of the matter for hearing. The purpose of the mediation proceeding shall be to reduce acrimony which may exist between the parties and to develop an agreement assuring the child's close and continuing contact with both parents after the marriage is dissolved. The mediator shall use his or her best efforts to effect a settlement of the dispute. [Based on Washington State Revised Code - Title 26 - Chapter 26.09.015]


Washington state is a community property state, meaning that property and debts acquired during the marriage shall be split equally, unless the parties reach an agreement independent of a court ruling. Should the matter be decided by the court, the following factors will be taken into consideration:

  • The nature and extent of the community property.
  • The nature and extent of the separate property.
  • The duration of the marriage.
  • The economic circumstances of each spouse at the time the division of property is to become effective, including the desirability of awarding the family home or the right to live therein for reasonable periods to a spouse with whom the children reside the majority of the time.

Alimony may be ordered for either spouse in such amounts and for such periods of time as the court deems just, without regard to marital misconduct, after considering all relevant factors including but not limited to:

  • The financial resources of the party seeking maintenance, including separate or community property apportioned in the settlement agreement, and the ability to meet his or her needs independently, including the extent to which a provision for support of a child living with the party includes a sum for that party;
  • The time necessary to acquire sufficient education or training to enable the party seeking maintenance to find employment appropriate to his skill, interests, style of life, and other attendant circumstances;
  • The standard of living established during the marriage;
  • The duration of the marriage;
  • The age, physical and emotional condition, and financial obligations of the spouse seeking maintenance; and
  • The ability of the spouse from whom maintenance is sought to meet his needs and financial obligations while meeting those of the spouse seeking maintenance.

[Based on Washington State Revised Code - Title 26 - Chapter 26.09.090]

SPOUSE'S NAME: Upon request of a party whose marriage is dissolved or declared invalid, the court shall order a former name restored or the court may, in its discretion, order a change to another name. [Based on Washington State Revised Code - Title 26 - Chapter 26.09.150]

©2014 About.com. All rights reserved.