Family Law FAQ

Does it matter if my spouse cheated on me?

It is always difficult when a spouse cheats on you, but unfortunately Washington is a no-fault state. This means that it legally does not matter if your partner cheats on you. However, if your partner is using marital funds to perpetuate another relationship, that would be something to discuss with an attorney.

If I'm not married do I have any rights to our stuff?

Yes, so long as your relationship qualifies as a committed intimate relationship - in a nutshell, if it looks and acts like a marriage, it may be treated very similar to a marriage. This means if you are in a committed romantic relationship and you are living together, potentially you will have joint interest in all property and debt acquired during your relationship regardless of whose name it is in.

Can I get sole custody of my child?

Probably not in the way you are thinking, but it completely depends on your facts. The typical terms for a custody matter are primary parent and non-primary parent. In most parenting situations, one parent is named the primary parent, and the other parent is the non-primary parent, but given visitation. In extreme circumstances a parent might not be given any visitation at all. If a parent’s rights are terminated, then it would be possible for the other parent to have sole custody.

If I am not the primary parent, do I still have rights to my child's health and school information?

Generally yes, but it completely depends on your facts and circumstances. In most cases, so long as a parent is not abusing the information or using the information as a form of control over the other parent, both parents will be granted access to the information. However, access to the information does not necessarily include involvement with the setting or attending of appointments.

How long does divorce take in Washington state?

The length of time it takes to complete a divorce depends on many factors. If the parties are in agreement on all the issues like separation of assets and debts, spousal and child support, and the parenting plan, then the parties can enter agreed orders. There is a mandatory waiting period of 90 days between the date the Petition for Dissolution (Divorce) is filed and served on the other party or date it is filed if the other party has agreed and signed the Petition and the entry of final orders for the divorce. If the parties don’t agree on all issues, the matter must go to mediation or a settlement conference and / or trial, which takes time and is dependent on the trial judge’s schedule and when the parties set the notice for trial. In most cases, the divorce should be resolved within 1-2 years if it goes to trial, based on the cooperation of both parties, but if heavily litigated can take longer.

How much does it cost to file for divorce in WA?

Currently it is $314 to file a Petition for Dissolution (Divorce) in Clark County. Other counties may have different fees or may charge a fee to file a Response to the Petition for Dissolution. If the filing fee is a hardship, you can apply for a waiver of the fees when you file your case by completing additional forms which require review and approval by a Judge.

Does it matter who files the divorce first in WA?

Generally no, unless there is a request for a restraining order due to safety issues. In Clark County, when a case is filed, the courts issue an automatic temporary order that is served with the rest of the divorce documents on the other party which orders parties not to sell, hide, or transfer accounts and funds, or remove the children from their natural home.

Is Washington state a 50/50 divorce state?

Washington state is a community property state, which means all property and debts incurred during the marriage are jointly owned or owed. When the court divides up the assets they will consider all property and debts of the parties and determine if they are community (jointly owned) or separate (solely belonging to one party only). Separate property usually consists of things owned or owed before the marriage or acquired separately such as an inheritance, even if during the marriage. There are specific rules on how the courts divide up these assets and debts based on how they are categorized, so it is important to consult with an attorney if you have specific questions about your assets or debts.

What is the fastest way to get a divorce in Washington State?

The fastest way to complete a divorce is to do so by agreement. Both parties can sign the initial Petition for Divorce and agree on the final orders to be entered after the 90 day waiting period expires. Most counties require a hearing to finalize your divorce, but some counties like LIncoln and Wahkiahkum do not, so many people file their agreed divorces outside of their county of residence for that reason.

Is it illegal to cheat on your spouse in Washington state?

Nope. Washington, as well as all other states in the U.S. have no fault divorces, which means that the reason for divorce is basically legally irrelevant and either party can pursue a divorce if they want, citing “irreconcilable differences”. No spouse will be punished for cheating on the other by the courts. 

How long after divorce can you remarry in Washington state?

You can remarry in Washington at any time after you are divorced. There is no minimum waiting period.

How many years do you have to be married to get alimony in Washington?

There is not a set number of years or months that you have to be married in order to get alimony. Alimony is determined by a variety of factors in Washington state, such as financial resources of both parties, job history, age, health, standard of living during marriage, length of marriage, need and ability to pay. If the court determines that someone in a divorce proceeding is in need of maintenance, then the longer you were married usually means a longer period of alimony. 

Can you date while legally separated in Washington state?

Yes. The only thing you can’t do is get married to another individual when you are still married to someone else. You can date at any time.

How long do you have to be separated before divorce in Washington State?

There is no specific period of time that you have to be separated before pursuing a divorce. You can pursue a divorce at any time. However, once you file for divorce you won’t be able to finalize the divorce for a minimum of 90 days after the date of filing and service on the other party. 

How do I start a divorce in Washington State?

There are four main pleadings you need when you file for a divorce: 1) Summons, 2) Confidential Information Form, 3) Certificate of Dissolution, Declaration of Invalidity of Marriage, and 4) Petition for Divorce. Once you are ready to file, you take an original set of these pleadings, plus two sets of copies to the Clerk’s Office to file. You pay the filing fee, give the original set of pleadings to the Clerk, and stamp your two sets of copies with the case number and copy stamps. You have officially started your divorce at this point, but there are other steps you need to take to make sure your divorce moves forward.

How does adultery affect divorce in Washington State?

Washington is a no-fault state, which means you can get divorced for any reason, or no reason, at all. The only time adultery comes into play in a divorce is when it affects the children in some way, or marital assets are used in the affair.

How is child support calculated in WA state?

Child support is calculated according to a state mandated schedule. The state has calculated how much it takes to raise a child each month based on the parents’ combined incomes, so the standard child support calculation is based on those amounts. The court may consider a deviation in child support if the non-custodial parent has the child a substantial amount of time, the child has extraordinary expenses, or a parent has extraordinary income.

Should I file for divorce or let him?

Whether or not you should file first depends on the specific circumstances in your case. The attorneys at Navigate tend to like filing first so the holistic proposal is included in the initial pleadings. It also becomes more imperative to file first if temporary orders or a Restraining Order are needed.

What forms are needed to file for divorce in Washington State?

There are four main pleadings you need when you file for a divorce: 1) Summons, 2) Confidential Information Form, 3) Certificate of Dissolution, Declaration of Invalidity of Marriage, and 4) Petition for Divorce. If children are involved, then additional pleadings will be necessary. These pleadings are necessary to start a divorce, but there are a number of other pleadings that may be needed throughout the course of the divorce. 

Who can serve divorce papers in Washington state?

Any person aged 18 or over who is not a party to the case. You can hire a professional, in some cases you may have a sheriff deputy serve the papers. You just can’t serve the papers yourself. 

Is there a cap on child support in Washington state?

That depends on the facts of each situation. The varying factors include, the parent’s combined income, the number of children between the parents, any other dependent children of either parent may have from prior relationships, and how much residential time a child spends with each parent.

Can you waive child support in Washington?

This depends on if the child is enrolled for state benefits or if a parent is enrolled on temporary assistance for needy families (TANF). Even if the child or family doesn’t receive state benefits, if parents have costs associated with health insurance, uninsured medical expenses, and certain other child related expenses these cannot be waived. 

How do I file for child support in Washington state?

You may request child support in a marital dissolution petition, a parenting plan petition, and a paternity petition. You will need to provide your income information for the last couple of years as well as proof of current income.

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