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Washington Divorce Law

Thanks to its no-fault divorce and community property policies, getting a divorce in Washington is relatively quicker than in many other states like California or New York. However, a divorce is not something to be rushed through. If you’re not wary of local and state divorce, property and family laws, you could end up regretting the fast-and-easy approach.

LawInfo’s Washington Divorce Law articles can help relieve some of the stress of the process. You’ll learn about the state’s divorce prerequisites, how property is divided and many other divorce topics. Whether you need assistance in Tacoma, Spokane or Seattle, LawInfo can help connect you with a Washington divorce attorney.

Washington Community Property Laws

When determining who gets what in a divorce, Washington courts consider almost all assets and debts acquired during the marriage as community property. This means that both spouses have an equal share of ownership and the community property may be divided equally between the partners.

Washington’s community property laws not only determine how it is distributed in a divorce—they also define a spouse’s rights to the acquisition, management and disposal of community property during the marriage. While marital misconduct isn’t considered for a distribution judgment in a divorce case, any abuse or breach of a spouse’s community property rights could influence whether one spouse gets more property out of a divorce.

No-Fault Divorces in Washington

Many states offer spouses seeking a divorce the options of claiming divorce fault based on marital misconduct or no fault based on a simple breakdown of the marriage. Marital fault is often used to influence court decisions on alimony, child support, visitation, custody or property rights. In Washington, however, you can only seek a no-fault divorce.

Neither spouse must be blamed for the “irretrievable breakdown” of their marriage to attain a dissolution judgment. If the other partner contests the petitioning partner’s claim of an irretrievable breakdown, the court will hear a trial to determine whether there was a simple, irretrievable breakdown.

Divorce fault isn’t considered by Washington courts in financial, property or familial decisions for divorce cases. This helps to speed up the divorce process.

Spousal Maintenance in Washington

A Washington court may order one spouse to pay maintenance (alimony) to the other if a divorce puts a spouse at a significant financial disadvantage. Spousal maintenance is often awarded to a spouse who relied on their partner for support due to medical, employment, educational or familial constraints.

Since there’s no formula that calculates how much maintenance must be paid, the court determines this by considering six factors, excluding marital misconduct:

  • The standard of living each partner experienced during the marriage.
  • The age, health and financial obligations of the spouse requesting maintenance (the beneficiary).
  • How long the marriage lasted.
  • How long the beneficiary needs to be educated or trained to acquire employment.
  • The ability of the other spouse to pay maintenance to the beneficiary while attending to their own needs or obligations.
  • The assets (including community property and child support) available to the beneficiary.
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