7 Washington Divorce Laws You May Not Know

Posted on January 5, 2022.

The state you live in can play a large part in your divorce. Each state has individual laws, and when you live near a border, yours could differ greatly to that of your neighbor. If you’re going through a divorce that is enough of a stressful situation in itself— you don’t want any additional surprises popping up throughout the process.  

This blog discusses 7 of the divorce laws in Washington State that you may not have known. For legal advice or to make an appointment, contact our experienced team at Truce Law today. 

7 Washington Divorce Laws You May Not Know 

When filing for divorce, you’re likely unfamiliar with both the process itself and all of its intricacies. Here are 7 Washington State divorce laws that may surprise you: 

  1. Infidelity Isn’t a Factor 

You may believe the spouse who cheated on the other party is entitled to a larger share of the martial assets, or custody of any children. This isn’t the case in Washington State. Washington is a no-fault state, so you don’t need to provide a reason for divorcing. In addition, marital misconduct is generally not considered by the courts as a factor when it comes to dividing property, assets, and custody arrangements. 

  1. Washington is a Community Property State 

In a community property state all property, with a few exceptions, acquired during the marriage is before the court. That means that when spouses cannot come to an agreement regarding property and debts on their own, the court will divide the property and debt acquired during the marriage “fairly and equitably.” Generally, fairly and equitably turns out to be 50/50. Property refers to more than just real estate—as well as the marital home, it also includes retirement funds, insurance policies, credit cards, and household furnishings and valuables.  

  1. The Family Pet is Also Seen as Property 

Though we see them as the living, breathing members of the family that they are, most courts in Washington State, would characterize pets are property. This means that you shouldn’t count on getting a “Pet Parenting Plan” and there is no certainly no required financial support for pets like you would see with child support.  

  1. Not Every Divorce Includes Alimony 

Alimony is not required and is awarded on a case by case basis. The courts take many factors into account when determining if alimony is suitable in a divorce case. These factors include the length of the marriage, the age and health of each spouse, their separate incomes and earning capacities, and more. 

  1. The Minimum Waiting Period is 90 Days 

In Washington, even in cases where both spouses agree to all aspects of the divorce, the minimum length of time a divorce case takes is ninety days, or three months. This is due to the ninety day cooling off period, to ensure both parties still want to go ahead with the divorce after this time period. However, in cases where spouses are not in agreement the length of the process often extends to six months or a year. 

  1. Legal Separation is Almost the Same as Divorce 

In Washington, a legal separation is very similar to a divorce. That means the paperwork is almost identical and many of the decisions made are the same. In the aspects where they differ, however, they are notable differences. If two partners are legally separated, they cannot go on to marry somebody else until they are officially divorced. For the majority of cases, though, legal separation comes with many of the same laws, procedures, and documents. 

  1. Washington State Does Not Recognize Common Law Marriages 

In some states, two people living together as a couple for a certain period of time will be recognized as married according to common law. While Washington recognizes committed intimate relationships (a similar designation), it does not recognize an unmarried couple living together as a common law marriage. However, there are exceptions where Washington will recognize common law marriages. For example, if a couple moves from a common law state to Washington and then decide to end the relationship the common law marriage designation may be applied.  

Looking for a Divorce Lawyer in Washington State? 

Washington State divorce laws can certainly be complex and confusing. If you’re currently going through a divorce, we understand the questions you may have and endeavor to answer them in a professional yet compassionate way. At Truce Law we have experienced divorce attorneys in Seattle, Tacoma, and Olympia who can help you to move forward as quickly as possible so you can get through this difficult time.

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