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Family Law

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Divorce in Washington State

Divorce is the legal process by which a marriage is terminated, and it is a complex and emotional process that requires the guidance and support of experienced legal professionals. If you are facing a divorce in Washington State, it is essential to have a knowledgeable and skilled attorney on your side to protect your interests and help you achieve the best possible outcome. Here is an overview of divorce in Washington State and some case law to support our firm’s expertise.

Grounds for Divorce in Washington State

Washington is a “no-fault” divorce state, which means that neither spouse needs to prove fault or wrongdoing to obtain a divorce. Instead, a spouse must simply state that the marriage is “irretrievably broken” and that there is no chance of reconciliation. Additionally, Washington also recognizes “legal separation” as an option for couples who wish to live separately without getting divorced.

Division of Property

Washington State is a community property state, which means that property acquired during the marriage is generally considered to be jointly owned by both spouses, regardless of whose name is on the title or deed. In the event of a divorce, the court will divide the community property equally between the parties, unless there is a compelling reason to do otherwise.

Child Custody and Support

When children are involved in a divorce, the court will consider what is in the best interests of the child when determining custody and visitation. Both parents are generally presumed to have equal rights to custody, but the court may award primary custody to one parent if it determines that it is in the child’s best interests. The court will also determine child support based on a number of factors, including the income of both parents, the number of children, and the time each parent spends with the children.

Spousal Maintenance

Spousal maintenance, also known as alimony, may be awarded to one spouse in a divorce if the court determines that it is necessary to support the recipient spouse’s reasonable needs. The court will consider factors such as the length of the marriage, the income of each spouse, and the recipient spouse’s ability to support themselves.

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Divorce in Washington State

In Washington State, the divorce process typically involves the following steps:

  • Filing a petition for divorce: One spouse files a petition for divorce with the court, which outlines the grounds for divorce (Washington is a “no-fault” state, so neither spouse has to prove fault for the divorce to be granted). The filing fee is around $300.
  • Serving the petition: The other spouse is served with the petition, along with a summons to appear in court. This can be done by a professional process server or by mail.
  • Response: The other spouse has 20 days to respond to the petition. If they do not respond, the court may grant the divorce by default.
  • Temporary orders: Either spouse can request temporary orders for child custody, child support, spousal support, and other issues while the divorce is pending.
  • Discovery: Both spouses exchange information about their finances and assets through a process called discovery.
  • Settlement negotiations: The spouses and their attorneys negotiate a settlement agreement that addresses all issues related to the divorce, including property division, child custody, child support, and spousal support.
  • Final orders: If the spouses agree on all issues, they submit their settlement agreement to the court for approval. If the court approves, final orders are issued and the divorce is finalized. If the spouses cannot agree on all issues, the case may go to trial.
  • Overall, the divorce process in Washington State can take several months to a year or more, depending on the complexity of the issues involved and whether the spouses are able to reach a settlement agreement. It is recommended that spouses seek the advice of an experienced family law attorney to guide them through the process.
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How Our Firm Can Help?

At The Cowlitz Law Group, if you are facing a divorce in Washington State, our experienced and knowledgeable attorneys are here to help. Contact us today to schedule a consultation and learn more about how we can assist you through this challenging time.


It’s crucial to recognize that contested and uncontested divorces in Washington State have their own unique legal requisites and protocols. A contested divorce, where spouses cannot agree on one or more key issues, tends to be more complex and requires skilled legal navigation. In contrast, an uncontested divorce, where both parties agree on all terms, usually involves a more straightforward process.
Regardless of the type of divorce you’re navigating, the guidance of an accomplished attorney, familiar with the nuances of Washington State divorce laws, can be invaluable. They’ll help you understand your rights, outline possible courses of action, and steer you towards an outcome that suits your interests best.
If you’re finding yourself in need of legal support in a divorce case, we warmly invite you to reach out to The Cowlitz Law Group PLLC, for a consultation. We’re here to provide you with the knowledge, experience, and compassion you need during this challenging time.

Your Case Will Be Well Represented

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