Washington Divorce

If you've considered separating or getting a divorce in Washington, this page provides resources and information to help you prepare. You can review experienced local divorce lawyers, download divorce forms or access divorce services for doing your own paperwork online, and use the support schedule worksheet and guidelines to estimate child support. You can also read through the online divorce code and laws, find support meetings, access domestic violence resources, and get information on parenting classes.


Online Divorce Codes - Washington State Revised Code - Title 26

Copyright notice regarding state divorce laws

Washington recognizes domestic partnerships, and the following information applies to both dissolution of marriage (divorce) and dissolution of domestic partnership situations.

Residency requirements & grounds for divorce - In Washington, a divorce is called "dissolution of marriage". You may file for dissolution of marriage if either you or your spouse is a resident of the state. If your spouse is a military member stationed in Washington, they must continue to reside in the state for 90 after the petition is filed and the summons is served for the state to have jurisdiction in the matter.

A decree of dissolution may be entered based on the grounds that the marriage is irretrievably broken. If a spouse alleges they were coerced into filing the petition, the court may dismiss the petition. If one party denies the marriage is irretrievably broken, the couple could be referred to counseling by the court. If the couple agrees to reconcile, the petition will be dismissed. If the couple hasn't reconciled and the court finds the marriage irretrievably broken, the court will grant a decree of dissolution of marriage.

Legal separation - Spouses may get a legal separation providing for the division of property, spousal maintenance, the parenting plan and support provisions for their children, and the release from the other spouse's future liabilities.

Conversion of legal separation to decree of dissolution - Either party can motion to convert a legal separation to a decree of dissolution if at least 6 months have passed since the legal separation was decreed.

Disposition of property and liabilities - Washington is a community property state. The court will divide the property and the liabilities of the parties, either community or separate, in a just and equitable manner without regard to misconduct, based on:

  • The duration of the marriage;
  • The nature and extent of the separate property;
  • The nature and extent of the community property; and
  • Each spouse's economic circumstances at the time the property division becomes effective, including the appropriateness of awarding the parent with residential custody the right to continue living in the family home, if financially possible.

Spousal maintenance orders - The court may grant an order for the maintenance of either spouse, without considering the misconduct of either party. When determining the amounts and duration of maintenance, some of the factors the court will consider are:

  • The duration and standard of living of the marriage;
  • The age and health of the party seeking maintenance;
  • The financial situation of each spouse taking into consideration the property distribution, debt liabilities, and the other spouse's ability to pay maintenance; and
  • The time it will take for the spouse requesting maintenance to get education or training in order to become self-supporting.

Maintenance may be modified upon a showing of a substantial change of circumstances. The obligation to pay maintenance ends if either party dies or upon the remarriage of the party receiving maintenance.

Name change - Either party may request a former name to be restored upon the dissolution of marriage.

Child support: Child support is established using the Washington State Support Schedule, considering both parent's incomes and the child's basic needs, with the obligation being equitably allocated between the parents. In split custody situations, such as those in which one of the children lives with one parent, and the other child lives with the other parent, the court can adjust the monthly support amount.

The court requires both parents to provide medical support for their children. Monthly health care costs are to be shared by the parents in the same proportion as the basic child support obligation, as well as day care, tuition, and long-distance transportation costs to and from the parents for visitation purposes.

Child support may be modified via a petition for Modification of Child Support or a motion for Adjustment of Child Support based upon a showing of substantially changed circumstances at any time. An order of child support may be modified one year or more after it has been entered without a showing of substantially changed circumstances.

Child support generally stops when a child is 18 or graduates from high school, but can be extended for postsecondary educational support. The court won't order postsecondary educational support beyond a child's twenty-third birthday, except for exceptional circumstances, such as mental, physical, or emotional disabilities. Unless there are provisions otherwise, child support will be terminated by the death of the parent obligated to support the child.

Child Custody: The state of Washington doesn't refer to the term "custody", but instead discusses the residential schedule and decision-making authority for the children.

If the parents can't agree, the court will make the residential and decision-making provisions based on the child's best interests. The most important factor that the court will consider regarding the residential schedule is the relative strength, nature, and stability of the child's relationship with each parent. The court will also take into consideration:

  • The wishes of the parents and the wishes of a child who is sufficiently mature to express his or her independent preferences regarding the residential schedule;
  • The emotional needs and developmental level of the child;
  • Each parent's past and future potential regarding the parenting of the child, including whether a parent has taken greater responsibility for performing parenting functions relating to the daily needs of the child;
  • The child's relationship with siblings and with other adults important to the child, as well as the child's involvement with community, school, or other significant activities;
  • Any agreements of the parents, provided they were entered into knowingly and voluntarily; and
  • Each parent's work schedule.

The parents also need to reach an agreement on the allocation of decision-making authority regarding the child's schooling, health care, and religious upbringing. The court will generally approve an agreement between the parents regarding decision-making-authority if it is fair and reached voluntarily. If parents can't reach an agreement, the court may order either sole decision-making authority if the parents can't cooperate, or mutual decision-making authority based on the parent's geographic proximity and their ability to cooperate with one another.

Everything regarding issues concerning the children will be incorporated into a parenting plan. A permanent parenting plan contains provisions for resolving future disputes between the parents, residential provisions for the child, allocation of decision-making authority, and relocation stipulations. The parenting plan shall include a residential schedule designating in which parent's home each minor child will reside on given days of the year, including provisions for holidays, birthdays of family members, vacations, and other special occasions.

General Information about Divorce from LawHelp


WA State Bar Association - You can search for qualified Family Law attorneys in your area by using the myWSBA lawyer directory which is accessible from the site. They also offer information on how to search for legal clinics and programs to help you with your situation. Even though the State Bar Association doesn't directly operate a lawyer referral service, you can get referrals from the various county bar associations, and the contact information for these is listed on the website as well. You can also access consumer information pamphlets on the site to get more information about your legal issues.

Need a Divorce Lawyer? Give the details of your case on LegalMatch and receive a response from attorneys who can take your case. The Legal Match directory allows consumers to find and thoroughly evaluate the lawyers who match their needs before they choose someone to represent them.


Washington Premium Divorce Service
Counties served: All counties
Phone: 1-800-680-9052

Get your divorce papers completed without having to hire a lawyer! This premium divorce service helps you prepare your paperwork online by answering guided questions about the specifics of your divorce and settlement issues. Customer support services are offered through email and by phone, plus you can also access a number of downloadable e-books which discuss many of the questions that you may have about various divorce issues.


QDRO Preparation - QdroDesk™ has become the ideal solution for QDRO preparation by offering individuals and lawyers the ability to prepare all the necessary documents for dividing qualified retirement accounts.


The Diamond Lining
1000 2nd Avenue, #4000
Seattle, WA 98104
Phone: 707-733-3285

The Diamond Lining is an online jewelry buyer that helps women (and men) sell their unneeded or unwanted diamond jewelry for as much money as possible in a safe and secure environment. They offer a simple and straightforward alternative to Pawn Shops, and a safer alternative to Craigslist or eBay. You will have an offer for your diamond in a day, and can have cash within a week. With access to global diamond markets, sell your diamonds with confidence knowing you will get the best price and the best service from The Diamond Lining.


Pierce County Parenting Seminars - In Pierce County, divorce parents are required to attend the "Impact on Children" workshop. Visit the link or call (253) 565-4484 for information.

APPLE parenting (a positive parenting learning experience), for parents with infants through age 8, is sponsored by South Seattle Community College. Our FREE 11 week classes meet court requirements and specialize in supporting parents during tough times.  Referrals can be made to 206-764-5801.

Deaconess Children's Services
4708 Dogwood Drive
Everett, WA 98203
Phone: 425-259-0146

Deaconess Children's Services Serving parents for the sake of children. Since 1898, Deaconess Children’s Services has been a respected friend and advocate for children and families throughout Snohomish County. Today, we help parents for the sake of children through comprehensive support programs that build upon individual and family strengths. We accomplish our goal with a range of prevention and early intervention services. Over 100 Years of Helping Children

Deaconess has long been respected for its skilled, committed staff and life changing programs that support vulnerable children and families. Our approach includes:

  • In-home, one-on-one Parent Education and home management support with trained, caring staff
  • Parenting classes that provide hands-on, interactive learning
  • On-going support groups that build confidence & self-esteem
  • Life-skills training & community linkages that foster self-sufficiency


Washington State Domestic Violence Hotline - 1-800-562-6025
Shelter Services, Hotlines, and Member Programs

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