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Filing for Divorce in Washington State

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How Does the Divorce Process Start in Washington?

In Washington State, filing for divorce starts with completing and filing a divorce petition. The spouse filing the petition is called the petitioner. The spouse served with the petition is called a respondent.

What Happens After I File the Petition?

After the petition is filed in the county where the petitioner lives, the petitioner is required to serve the respondent with the divorce papers. It is a state requirement at least one spouse live in Washington State prior to starting the divorce process.

How Quickly Can I Obtain a Divorce?

The court can grant a divorce after 90 days if the respondent signs a joinder attached to the petition. If the respondent does no agree, they have 30 days to file a response to the petition.

What Should I Expect If My Spouse Files a Response?

You should expect a request for any changes to the terms of the divorce. The terms include child support, child custody, division of property, and spousal support.

What Happens After the Response Is Filed?

You and your spouse will be expected to work on resolving the terms of the divorce. This can be done outside of court between the two of you or with the assistance of a divorce mediator.

What Will Happen at the Final Hearing?

After spouses agree to the terms of the divorce, a final hearing is held. Both spouses must appear in front of a judge together over their divorce in order to finalize it. The court will request several documents, including:

  • Findings of Fact
  • Conclusions of Law
  • Decree of Dissolution
  • Order of Child Support
  • Parenting Plan Final Order
  • Child Support Work Sheet

The divorce decree is filed after a 90-waiting period.

What If We Cannot Agree on the Terms?

If both spouses cannot reach an agreement after discussing the terms, a hearing is scheduled with the court. A judge will then decide the terms after listening to both sides. Once the judge has decided on the terms of the divorce, they will issue the final divorce decree.

Should I Contact an Attorney about Filing for Divorce?

Whether spouses agree to all of the terms of a divorce or not, it is recommended that anyone thinking about filing for divorce in Washington talk with a Washington lawyer first. An attorney will help protect your legal rights and advise of how to proceed.

Photo of page author Taelonnda Sewell

, LegalMatch Legal Writer

Last Modified: 04-29-2015 11:35 AM PDT

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