Washington Divorce FAQ’s – Miscellaneous

This is about miscellaneous issues for divorce in Washington, including residence requirements, grounds for divorce, common law marriage, annulment, legal separation, and any requirement for parent training in Washington.

This information is from Jennifer C. Rydberg, the DivorceInfo Network Lawyer for Washington.

What are the requirements for residence?

A resident of the State of Washington, for purposes of divorce, is [1] someone who lives in Washington with the intent to keep living here, [2] someone who is in active duty in the armed services of the United States and stationed here, or [3] someone who is married to a person who qualifies under [1] or [2].There are no time requirements for residence, however, if you have a child, usually the child must have resided in Washington for at least 6 months before the Washington courts have jurisdiction to determine the child’s parenting and child support.

What are the grounds for divorce?

One spouse must allege that the marriage is “irretrievably broken”. The reasons for this are private, and are not aired in court.

Is there such a thing as common law marriage?

Washington does not have “common law marriages”, but does recognize “meretricious relationships. ”A meretricious relationship is a stable, marital-like relationship where both parties cohabit with knowledge that a lawful marriage between them does not exist. Washington courts have decided that meretricious relationships cannot exist between members of the same sex.

How does annulment work?

An annulment is a legal recognition that your marriage was never valid in the first place, so you do not have to allege that your marriage was irretrievably broken. Otherwise, it works just like a divorce. Annulments are very rare.

Is there such a thing as legal separation? If so, how does it work?

A legal separation is similar to a divorce. The exceptions are that you can obtain your final Decree immediately – there is no minimum 90 day waiting period – and you do not have to allege that your marriage is irretrievably broken. If you have a Decree of Legal Separation, then you must wait 6 months to convert it to a Decree of Dissolution.

Do parents of minor children have to go through parent training? If so, how much does it cost, and how long does it take?

Parents who agree on their Parenting Plan do not have to go through any training at all. In many Washington counties, parents who do not agree on their Parenting Plans are required to go through a seminar and mediation process. This process is usually successful in working out an agreed Parenting Plan; other procedures are available when agreements cannot be reached. This process is usually not used when there are allegations of sexual or domestic violence, or when a Domestic Violence Protection Order exists. Fees are usually assessed on a sliding scale, depending upon your income. Each county is different. This process is mandatory in King County, except when contraindicated by abuse or domestic violence.

Other issues in Washington:

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