Each state has its own individual laws and court rules that govern a spouse’s ability to bring a divorce lawsuit. These court procedures and statutes often mean that certain issues may have completely different results in Washington compared to in – for example – Louisiana. Here are six divorce laws and facts that are specific to Washington:
1. Washington is a “No-Fault” State
Many states will allow or even require a strong reason behind the divorce. Typically, this fault is some sort of marital misconduct, such as adultery, drug abuse, domestic violence, etc. Washington does not require and will usually not admit any evidence of such misconduct as courts have held these are not meant to be issues for deciding cases. Rather, as long as the marriage is irretrievably broken, a divorce may proceed.
2. You Must Wait 90-Days to get Divorced
RCW 26.09.030 does not allow for immediate divorces or often even quick divorces. Unlike Nevada, where divorce can be performed in a minimum of one week, Washington requires that parties wait at least 90-days after filing the divorce lawsuit before finalizing the dissolution. It’s common that divorces will last much longer depending on the issues in dispute.
3. Unemployed Parents can still Receive Child Support
If a parent is voluntarily unemployed or underemployed, the court may “impute” income to that parent for purposes of deciding issues of child support. This law won’t apply if the parent is legitimately unemployed or underemployed. This imputation may reduce – but not eliminate – a higher earning spouse’s child support obligation.
4. Washington is a Community Property State
Depending on your position, community property might be a boon or a bane. Generally, any asset or debt acquired during the marriage (or sufficiently comingled during the marriage) is considered a community asset. Unless there is evidence that the item was a separate asset (gift, bequest, owned prior to marriage, etc.) it is very likely that property will be labeled and distributed as a marital asset.
5. There is No Such Thing as Common Law Marriage
Common law marriage is the act of two individuals living together for a long period and holding themselves out to be married. Washington does not recognize common law marriage, but it does recognize committed intimate relationships. Under similar stringent scenarios, partners might be required to distribute relationship assets in a divorce-like procedure.
6. Spousal Maintenance (Alimony) is Not Always Included
Alimony is awarded based on need and ability to pay. If the lower earning spouse could use additional assistance, but the higher earning spouse can’t afford to pay additional maintenance, no alimony will be granted. Similarly, spousal maintenance is not granted in short term marriages.
There are many factors that contribute to a successful divorce in Washington state. Divorces can be simple if the proper conditions apply, but many (or most) times, these lawsuits are complex and fraught with traps. The qualified and experienced litigators at the law offices of Magnuson Lowell, PS are available to help guide you through the divorce process. Please contact our attorneys today for a free case evaluation.