A Washington divorce, or dissolution of marriage, can be filed by either spouse to end the marital relationship. Upon completion of a Washington divorce, the parties are restored back to single status. The court will also issue any necessary orders for child support and custody, alimony (spousal support) and the division of community and separate property assets and debts. LegalZoom can assist you in the document preparation and filing for your Washington divorce without the expense of an attorney.
Types of Divorce in Washington
Dissolution of marriage is a form of divorce in Washington and legally ends the marriage. In Washington, one or both spouses can file for dissolution if a marriage falls apart. The law uses the term ?irretrievably broken? to describe a failed marriage. A marriage is ?irretrievably broken? if one of the spouses says it is. The other spouse does not have to agree that the marriage is irretrievably broken in order for one spouse to file for a divorce. The court will enter orders for parenting arrangements, how children will be supported, dividing the couple?s property and debts, and possibly award spousal support (alimony). In Washington, a spouse does not have to prove wrongdoing (such as cruelty or adultery) to get a divorce. This no-fault system is intended to help spouses settle matters without unnecessary bitterness or resentment.
Alternatives to Divorce in Washington
A legal separation means that the spouses are separating but not ending their marriage. Spouses may file a legal action, known as a Petition for Legal Separation. They also can make a formal legal contract without going to court. Spouses may choose to separate rather than divorce for religious, economic, or other reasons. There is no requirement that a couple be separated before getting a divorce. A legal separation can be converted into a divorce once six months have passed since the Decree of Legal Separation was entered.
An annulment is a court order that says a marriage is invalid. In Washington, an annulment is called a Decree of Invalidity. Annulments are rare and are only granted in situations where there was some legal defect at the time of marriage that makes it invalid. Even if the marriage was not valid from the beginning, the court still has the power to divide the property, enter a parenting plan for children, and make financial orders.