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Washington State Divorce Forms

Y ou may do your own search for divorce forms LawGuru Answers(just below), or you can select one of the featured forms. When you click on a form link, you will see:
  • A description of the package or form
  • Notes related to the selection
  • Washington laws that are related to that form

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Annulment

W ashington calls a marriage annulment Annulmenta Declaration Concerning Validity. If the court finds good cause, it can declare a nullity, which is a legal declaration that no marriage had ever come into being. To quote directly from Washington divorce laws, one can petition for an annulment if:

  • The marriage or domestic partnership should not have been contracted because of age of one or both of the parties
  • A lack of required parental or court approval
  • A prior undissolved marriage of one or both of the parties
  • A prior domestic partnership of one or both parties that has not been terminated or dissolved
  • Reasons of consanguinity
  • Because a party lacked capacity to consent to the marriage or domestic partnership, either because of mental incapacity or because of the influence of alcohol or other incapacitating substances, because a party was induced to enter into the marriage or domestic partnership by force or duress
  • By fraud involving the essentials of marriage or domestic partnership
  • The parties have not ratified their marriage or domestic partnership by voluntarily cohabiting after attaining the age of consent

Save yourself the hassle by downloading divorce forms here

[Revised Code of Washington - Title 26 - Chapters: 26.04.010, 26.04.020, 130; 26.09.040

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Child Custody

T he traditional terms custody and visitation Child custodyhave been replaced with the term Parenting Plan, which sets out designated times the child will spend with each parent. Parenting Plans in Washington can be folded into the following actions:

  • Petition for Divorce (Dissolution)
  • Petition for Legal Separation
  • Petition to Modify Custody
  • Petition for a Parenting Plan with paternity established
  • Petition for Custody as a non-parent
  • Petition to Establish Parentage

Courts begin with the presumption that having both parents in a child’s life is in the best interest of the child, so drawing up a Parenting Plan will include both parents. In situations where one parent is unfit, the court may award all of the parenting time and decision-making authority to the other parent.

You will get ONE shot at winning custody – Learn How Here

Where domestic violence has become part of the equation, courts must take those acts into consideration when granting parenting time. Whether a victimized parent has pressed charges against the violating parent also gets consideration by the court.

See our discussion on Parenting Plans in the tab above

If the non-custodial parent fails to exercise residential time for an extended period of time (a year or more), the court, if petitioned, can make adjustments to the parenting plan in keeping with the best interests of the minor child. Simply put, if one parent routinely blows off his or her parenting time with a child, the custodial parent can request and receive a less generous visitation schedule for the non-custodial parent.

[Revised Code of Washington - Title 26 - Chapters: 26.09.181, 26.09.220]

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Do It Yourself Divorce

S ome observers would consider this Divorce toolsstate a pure no-fault divorce state. Forward thinkers have structured the laws in such a way that acrimony is reduced due to a no-fault system based on the dissolution of marriages. Either party to a marriage may claim the union irretrievably broken. The process of dissolution ends the marriage and provides a framework in resolving differences around the division of assets and debt, parenting time, and the financial support for children and spouses.

Residency

To be eligible to file for divorce in this state, you must be a resident on the day you file the paperwork.

File the proper forms

The person filing the divorce papers (the Petitioner) files completed forms to the Superior Court that handles the county you are in. Fees for filing range from $200.00 to $250.00 depending on what county you live in. There may be photocopying fees in addition to the filing fee, and if you use a process server to notify your spouse of the petition to divorce, that will range from $40.00 to $80.00. Presuming you are filing for an uncontested divorce (you both agree on how to settle all issues) you will agree on how to divide assets and debt, property, and make available any support [child and spousal]). You will file for divorce as with children or without children from the marriage. See the divorce forms in the tab above.

Save yourself the hassle by downloading divorce
forms here

Once you have completed the forms (the Summons and Petition for Dissolution), file them with the Clerk of the Court in your county court house. Your Petition will detail the essential facts about your marriage, the reason for the marriage ending (the grounds), and how you propose to settle all issues (property division, support, and if there are children, how you suggest caring for them) concerning the end of the marriage. A minimum of 90 days must pass from the filing before the court will finalize your divorce.

Your spouse must be served

Your spouse (the Respondent) must be served (notified) with a copy of your petition. You will need to hire a process server to legally get the paperwork to your spouse. The clerk will advise you on your options.

Once served, your spouse (Respondent) has a specific time frame in which to respond. The Respondent can dispute some or all of your claims (which would make it a contested divorce), or can indicate in the response that there are no disputes. If there are kids involved, there will be a proposed parenting plan in the Petition the Respondent receives. Things often break down here, because the Respondent will likely have another plan for caring for the kids. The 90 day waiting period provides time for the parties to agree on a new parenting plan.

Will the Ex manipulate you with the kids’ schedule?

Temporary Restraining Orders

Following service, either spouse may request temporary restraining orders (TROs) to govern the behavior of both parties.  TROs are very common, and cover the following issues:

  • Who lives in the home
  • Where the children will live and any visitation schedule
  • Child support
  • Spousal maintenance
  • Prohibition from unnecessarily disposing of, spending down or selling assets
  • How the bills will get paid

In situations where there has been violence, or violence is feared, a party can request restraining orders for protection.

Create a Separation Agreement and be divorced

If you and your spouse have few or no disagreements on how the marriage should end, the Settlement Agreement is completed and submitted to the court. Most cases get settled, avoiding a trial. If you two want to avoid a trial, you will together draft a Settlement Agreement that will detail how all marital issues will be settled. If the court finds your agreement in order, he or she may sign the Decree of Dissolution of Marriage form, which will end the marriage.

If there remain significant disagreements, you will go to trial and the judge will settle the disputes keeping you from completing a Settlement Agreement. In this case the court will provide the agreement after resolution of the issues, and following the trial, you will be divorced.

Want to read what we consider to be the Best Guide On Custody Matters?
The guide is FREE, written for Dads, but Moms should read this too. Before you go into battle, be sure you have the right defensive and offensive tools. Do not get surprised or blindsided. Study the Guide, own an online Parenting Plan and you should be covered for anything they throw at you

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Enforcement

W hen a parent is not following the Enforcement no brainerguidelines of a Parenting Plan approved by the court, the other parent should first ask for cooperation one last time, and if there is no positive response, file a contempt of court petition to the court that issued the original order.

Removing your child from this state is restricted

In certain circumstances, taking a child out of state can cause problems if a parent violates a court order. If you are in the process of divorcing, custody will get settled before the final decree is issued. If you are divorced, your divorce decree should contain the terms of custody.

If you never married, each parent has the right to custody providing paternity has been established. In this instance, there can occur a tug-of-war where each parent can take custody and make decisions that can be reversed by the other parent. Unmarried parents are urged to get a custody order in place ASAP.

Will the Ex manipulate you with the kids’ schedule?

In general terms, parents are permitted to travel (within or out of state) but are restricted from relocation unless they notify the other parent and the court that issued the ruling.

If the other parent takes your child out of state without your permission and violates a standing court order, you may be able to charge him/her with kidnapping, although this type of prosecution is rare. You can file a Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus, which asks the court to order law enforcement to return your child to you. These cases can get tricky, so you should seek legal advice.

Want to read what we consider to be the Best Guide On Custody Matters?
The guide is FREE, written for Dads, but Moms should read this too. Before you go into battle, be sure you have the right defensive and offensive tools. Do not get surprised or blindsided. Study the Guide, own an online Parenting Plan and you should be covered for anything they throw at you

Intention to relocate with a child

The notice of an intended relocation of the child must be given to the other parent or any party entitled to custody or visitation by:

  • Personal service or any form of mail requiring a return Caring for childrenreceipt, and no less than 60 days before the date of the intended relocation of the child, or
  • No more than five days after the date that the person knows the information required to be furnished, if the person did not know and could not reasonably have known the information in sufficient time to provide the 60 days notice, and it is not reasonable to delay the relocation

The notice of intended relocation of the child must include:

  • an address at which service of process may be accomplished during the period for objection
  • a brief statement of the specific reasons for the intended relocation of the child, and
  • a notice to the non-relocating person that an objection to the intended relocation of the child or to the relocating person’s proposed revised residential schedule must be filed with the court and served on the opposing person within thirty days or the relocation of the child will be permitted and the residential schedule may be modified

The following information must also be included in every notice of intended relocation of the child, if available:

  • The specific street address of the intended new residence, if known, or as much of the intended address as is known, such as city and state
  • The new mailing address, if different from the intended new residence address
  • The new home telephone number
  • The name and address of the child’s new school and day care facility, if applicable
  • The date of the intended relocation of the child; and
  • A proposal in the form of a proposed parenting plan for a revised schedule of residential time or visitation with the child, if any

Will the Ex manipulate you with the kids’ schedule?

A person required to give notice of an intended relocation of the child has a continuing duty to promptly update the information required with the notice as that new information becomes known. [WA Rev Code § 26.09.440]

Temporary orders for relocation – The court may grant a temporary order restraining relocation of the child, or ordering return of the child if the child’s relocation has occurred, if the court finds:

  • The required notice of an intended relocation of the Caring for kidschild was not provided in a timely manner and the non-relocating party was substantially prejudiced
  • The relocation of the child has occurred without agreement of the parties, court order, or the notice required
  • After examining evidence presented at a hearing for temporary orders in which the parties had adequate opportunity to prepare and be heard, there is a likelihood that on final hearing the court will not approve the intended relocation of the child or no circumstances exist sufficient to warrant a relocation of the child prior to a final determination at trial

The court may grant a temporary order authorizing the intended relocation of the child pending final hearing if the court finds:

  • The required notice of an intended relocation of the child was provided in a timely manner or that the circumstances otherwise warrant issuance of a temporary order in the absence of compliance with the notice requirements and issues an order for a revised schedule for residential time with the child; and
  • After examining the evidence presented at a hearing for temporary orders in which the parties had adequate opportunity to prepare and be heard, there is a likelihood that on final hearing the court will approve the intended relocation of the child. [WA Rev Code § 26.09.510]

Save yourself the hassle by downloading divorce forms here

Failure to comply with a decree or temporary injunction – The following actions can result in the court finding a party in contempt of court with appropriate punishment, for failure to comply:

  • An attempt by a parent, in either the negotiation or the performance of a parenting plan, to condition one aspect of the parenting plan upon another
  • to condition payment of child support upon an aspect of the parenting plan
  • to refuse to pay ordered child support
  • to refuse to perform the duties provided in the parenting plan, or
  • to hinder the performance by the other parent of duties provided in the parenting plan

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Grounds For Divorce

W ashington State is a ‘no-fault divorce’ state, Grounds for divorcemeaning that the only grounds for a dissolution is that the marriage is irretrievably broken. Following the ninety-day requirement to proceed (since the date the petition was filed), the court will continue the action, dismiss it or grant a dissolution of marriage. No fault means that there is no burden on either part to prove marital misconduct (fault) has taken place. The court makes the assumption that the differences between the parties are irreconcilable and will proceed. Therefore grounds for divorce in Washington are simply irreconcilable differences.

[Revised Code of Washington - Title 26 - Chapters: 26.09.030]

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Legal Separation

L egal separation is usually pursued Separationwhen the parties want to stay married for religious reasons, want the advantage of deductibility of spousal support payments for income tax reasons, want to maintain various insurance coverage’s, wish to create a period of time to allow clearer thought, or do not want to wait the state statutory waiting period for termination of marital status. It is not a prerequisite to divorce, although it does happen that way for many.

A couple separating or filing for divorce may enter into a written Separation Contract which will provide for the maintenance of either party, the division and settlement of their property owned by both or either of them, a parenting plan which details the conditions of custody and support of their children, and the release of all marital obligations except those retained in the contract.

You will get ONE shot at winning custody – Learn How Here

The couple can choose to live apart and separately and not choose to obtain a decree of legal separation, and instead have the Separation Contract recorded by the court and post notice in a legal newspaper in the county where the parties lived before their separation.

If a decree of legal separation has been issued, either party may petition the court to convert the decree of legal separation to a decree of dissolution (divorce) of marriage, providing at least 6 months has passed since the separation decree was issued.

The separation contract can include provisions that preclude or limit modification of any provision for maintenance detailed in the decree. The parties may terminate the separation contract by mutual agreement without formality, by submission of a statement to that court, that they wish to terminate the contract.

Save yourself the hassle by downloading divorce forms here

[Revised Code of Washington - Title 26 - Chapters: 26.09.020]

Residency Requirements

In order for a petition of divorce to proceed, at least one of the parents must have been a resident of this state for at least ninety days prior to the commencement of the action. A member of the armed forces who is stationed elsewhere but was residing in Washington for at least ninety days prior to relocation is considered to have established residency. Courts can proceed once residency has been established, and can enter a decree of divorce, dismiss the petition or continue it.

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Mediation

D uring the process the court may Divorce mediationrecognize that mediation may be required to resolve differences between the parties. The stated objective is to reduce acrimony which may exist between the parties and to develop an agreement assuring the child’s close and continuing contact with both parents after the marriage is dissolved. Any agreement reached by the parties as a result of mediation gets reported to the court and to counsel for the parties by the mediator on the day set for mediation or any time thereafter designated by the court.

finger pointing rightLooking for divorce forms? All divorce or separation processes require that you gather all relevant forms, fill them out correctly and file the forms as directed by the court. The most efficient way to get them in front of you is to download the divorce forms, complete with instructions that hand-hold you through the process.

[Revised Code of Washington - Title 26 - Chapters: 26.09.015]

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Modification Of Court Orders

I n the normal process of divorce (or separation), Modify court ordersthe court will issue orders that must be followed. At the conclusion of the divorce, the court will make permanent those orders that require continuity. Typically the orders involve:

  • Child Support
  • Child Custody
  • Parenting Time (visitation)
  • Alimony (spousal support)

It is important to note that the court order(s) reflect a permanent condition until or unless there is a dispute, a request by one of the parties to adjust an order, or the natural expiration of the order. Requests to modify require the appropriate form to be filed with the court.

finger pointing rightLooking for divorce forms? All divorce or separation processes require that you gather all relevant forms, fill them out correctly and file the forms as directed by the court. The most efficient way to get them in front of you is to download the divorce forms, complete with instructions that hand-hold you through the process.

Modification of judgment or order – the court has continuing jurisdiction to prospectively modify a judgment and order for future education and future support upon showing a substantial change of circumstances.

A judgment or order may be modified without a showing of substantial change of circumstances upon the same grounds as RCW 26.09.170 (Modification of order of child support) permits support orders to be modified without a showing of a substantial change of circumstance.

The court will hear and review petitions for modifications of a parenting plan, custody order, visitation order, or other order governing the residence of a child, and conduct any proceedings concerning a relocation of the residence where the child resides a majority of the time. [WA Rev Code § 26.26.160]

Child Support – set by a mathematical formula used throughout the State by its courts and judges. The amount of support can be adjusted higher (or lower) depending upon the changing circumstances of the child or either parent. Requests to adjust the amount of support generally go back to the court that issued the original order, and require a substantial change in circumstances to be accepted.

Child Custody – As you might imagine, this is not the court’s first rodeo, so they see most everything coming from far away. Should a parent wish to modify the court order, that parent would need to file the petition with the court that issued the order. This court has jurisdiction. Requests to change the original custody order must be made to the court that has jurisdiction, and must cite new facts that were unavailable to that parent in the original action, or that there has been substantial changes in circumstance. In extreme circumstances, where you look to change custody because the other parent has become unfit, you would use the form: Motion for Modification or Amendment of Prior Custody Order in Divorce Decree to Obtain Sole Custody of Minor Child Due to Unfitness of Custodial Parent

Alimony – this too requires a court order to change the terms. Adjusting the amount and frequency requires a material change in circumstances. Most modifications for alimony come from the payor of spousal support, and generally cite a drop of income or increased costs as a result of a life-altering event (decrease in pay, loss of job, medical expenses, etc.). Less frequently, a petition to increase alimony is requested when the receiving party learns of an increase in income of the paying party. These requests usually are based on the dependent ex-spouse being entitled to a portion of the increase due to his or her efforts during the marriage.

Parenting Time (Visitation) – A change in your child’s schedule can be agreed to by the parents without the approval of the court. You should consider having the court approve any changes, so that they become an official part of the custody order, because things change, and verbal agreements are just that – verbal, and difficult to enforce once the winds shift again (and they will). In cases where there is no agreement to alter visitation, the noncustodial parent must convince the court that an increase in visitation is in the best interests of the child(ren).

For change of custody and relocation, see our section on Relocation in the tab above

You will get ONE shot at winning custody – Learn How Here

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Parenting Plans

The court decides on the Parenting Plan Parenting plansafter reviewing the behavior of the parents in the context of the best interest of the child. Each parent must complete a Declaration in Support of Parenting Plan, a form that details the parent’s roles and duties as care givers in the past 12 months. Included in the declaration is any basis for restricting the other parent’s contact with their child. Courts make an effort to maintain continuity in a child’s life whenever possible.

  • Each parent’s abilities to perform as parents
  • Any agreements the parents may have made
  • The emotional needs of the child
  • To what degree the parents have taken greater responsibility for parenting
  • The relative strength, nature and stability of the child/parent relationship
  • The child’s relationship with siblings, other significant adults and school interaction
  • The desires of the parents
  • The desires of the child if the child is mature enough to formulate a reasonable opinion

Will the Ex manipulate you with the kids’ schedule?

Courts may exercise their discretion by talking directly with children where appropriate.

A parent that has committed domestic violence can be granted parenting time if the judge ruling on custody reviews the violence in light of all factors and decides custody is in the best interest of the child. In the end, granting parenting time will depend on the judge in your case.

If you want to get the details of an existing Parenting Plan changed, you must ask the judge who originated the order (even if you have moved) to modify or make changes to it. For your request to be considered, there must have been a substantial change in circumstances since your last hearing. Generally these changes revolve around finances, but domestic violence qualifies for a substantial change.

Non-parents can file for parenting time only if the child is not living with one of their parents or if the non-parent alleges that neither parent is fit to act as a custodian. As with any other action, a hearing is schedule where the court will accept evidence from all parties.

To file for parenting time, one has to file the complaint for custody in the child’s home state. The home state is where the child has lived with a parent or guardian for at least 6 months. If a child is less than 6 months old, the home state is where the child has lived since birth. Any temporary excursions out of state do not reset the 6 month clock. When a child has been relocated to another state, the parent cannot file for custody in that state until 6 months have elapsed. The other parent can file for custody in the previous state up until the time the child reaches 6 months of residence in the new state. Exceptions exist and are complicated, requiring legal assistance.

Save yourself the hassle by downloading divorce forms here

Parenting plan – The court will make residential provisions with regard to minor children of the parties, except that a parenting plan will not be required unless requested by a party. If a parenting plan or residential schedule was not entered at the time the order establishing parentage was entered, a parent may move the court for entry of a parenting plan or residential schedule:

By filing a motion and proposed parenting plan or residential schedule and providing notice to the other parent and other persons who have residential time with the child pursuant to a court order: PROVIDED, That at the time of filing the motion less than twenty-four months have passed since entry of the order establishing parentage and that the proposed parenting plan or residential schedule does not change the designation of the parent with whom the child spends the majority of time. [WA Rev Code § 26.26.130]

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Dividing Marital Property

Y ou and your spouse will arrive at a Dividing marital propertydivorce settlement of your marital assets, or the court will determine a settlement for you. WA is one of nine states known as Community Property states. Washington courts define community property as the totality of property acquired during the marriage. Community property gets divided between the parties 50/50. Perhaps surprisingly, WA state courts do not take into account such issues as fault (marital misconduct such as adultery), financial need or ability to earn income when dividing community property.

You will get ONE shot at winning custody – Learn How Here

Property that was brought into the marriage, in most cases, is returned to that party and not made a part of the pool of divisible assets. Other non-marital property can be gifts or inheritances made to one spouse during the marriage, an asset purchased with separate funds acquired by the spouse before the marriage, any assets excluded by a pre-nuptial agreement or an asset that is the result of increased value and acquired before the marriage. As a general rule, commingled funds or assets become a part of the divisible pool of assets.

Want to read what we consider to be the Best Guide On Custody Matters?
The guide is FREE, written for Dads, but Moms should read this too. Before you go into battle, be sure you have the right defensive and offensive tools. Do not get surprised or blindsided. Study the Guide, own an online Parenting Plan and you should be covered for anything they throw at you

[Revised Code of Washington - Title 26 - Chapters: 26.09.080, 26.16.010, 26.16.020, 26.16.030, 26.16.220]

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Relocation Of A Child’s Home

I f the other parent takes your child Relocating your childout of state without your permission and violates a standing court order, you may be able to charge him/her with kidnapping, although this type of prosecution is rare. You can file a Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus, which asks the court to order law enforcement to return your child to you. These cases can get tricky, so you should seek legal advice.

Intention to relocate with a child

The notice of an intended relocation of the child must be given to the other parent or any party entitled to custody or visitation by:

  • Personal service or any form of mail requiring a return receipt, and no less than 60 days before the date of the intended relocation of the child, or
  • No more than five days after the date that the person knows the information required to be furnished, if the person did not know and could not reasonably have known the information in sufficient time to provide the 60 days notice, and it is not reasonable to delay the relocation
Want to read what we consider to be the Best Guide On Custody Matters?
The guide is FREE, written for Dads, but Moms should read this too. Before you go into battle, be sure you have the right defensive and offensive tools. Do not get surprised or blindsided. Study the Guide, own an online Parenting Plan and you should be covered for anything they throw at you
The notice of intended relocation of the child must include:
  • An address at which service of process may be accomplished during the period for objection
  • a brief statement of the specific reasons for the intended relocation of the child, and
  • a notice to the non-relocating person that an objection to the intended relocation of the child or to the relocating person’s proposed revised residential schedule must be filed with the court and served on the opposing person within thirty days or the relocation of the child will be permitted and the residential schedule may be modified.

The following information must also be included in every notice of intended relocation of the child, if available:

  • The specific street address of the intended new residence, if known, or as much of the intended address as is known, such as city and state;
  • The new mailing address, if different from the intended new residence address;
  • The new home telephone number;
  • The name and address of the child’s new school and day care facility, if applicable;
  • The date of the intended relocation of the child; and
  • A proposal in the form of a proposed parenting plan for a revised schedule of residential time or visitation with the child, if any.

Save yourself the hassle by downloading divorce forms here

A person required to give notice of an intended relocation of the child has a continuing duty to promptly update the information required with the notice as that new information becomes known. [WA Rev Code § 26.09.440]

Temporary orders for relocation

The court may grant a temporary order restraining relocation of the child, or ordering return of the child if the child’s relocation has occurred, if the court finds:

  • The required notice of an intended relocation of the child Relocate your child's homewas not provided in a timely manner and the non-relocating party was substantially prejudiced
  • The relocation of the child has occurred without agreement of the parties, court order, or the notice required
  • After examining evidence presented at a hearing for temporary orders in which the parties had adequate opportunity to prepare and be heard, there is a likelihood that on final hearing the court will not approve the intended relocation of the child or no circumstances exist sufficient to warrant a relocation of the child prior to a final determination at trial
There is a presumption in favor of relocation. The non-relocating parent bears the burden to prove that a detrimental effect of proposed relocation outweighs the benefits. 60 day notice prior to relocation is required. Non-relocating parent has 30 days to object from the date of the notice.In re Marriage of Horner, 151 Wash. 2d 884, 93 P.3d 124 (2004)
The court may grant a temporary order authorizing the intended relocation of the child pending final hearing if the court finds:

  • The required notice of an intended relocation of the child was provided in a timely manner or that the circumstances otherwise warrant issuance of a temporary order in the absence of compliance with the notice requirements and issues an order for a revised schedule for residential time with the child; and
  • After examining the evidence presented at a hearing for temporary orders in which the parties had adequate opportunity to prepare and be heard, there is a likelihood that on final hearing the court will approve the intended relocation of the child. [WA Rev Code § 26.09.510]

If you have an Order for Protection from the court, you might be granted temporary parenting rights. Depending on the court and evidence you provide, the court may include temporary parenting rights with the Order of Protection. It is your (or your attorney’s) responsibility to request temporary custody in any case.

Will the Ex manipulate you with the kids’ schedule?

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Alimony

A hot topic: Washington divorce Alimonystatutes and the much contested issue of alimony (or maintenance). Courts will examine the circumstances around the marriage in order to accurately and fairly assess the needs of each party. Judges have latitude in the amount of alimony as well as the duration. Sometimes called spousal support, alimony can be granted to either spouse. Factors that can influence the courts decision can include:

  • The financial resources of the party seeking maintenance
  • The time needed to acquire education or training so that a party can become self-sufficient
  • How long the marriage lasted
  • How well the spouse being asked to pay the maintenance will be able to manage maintenance payments and their personal expenses
  • The age and condition of the spouse seeking maintenance and
  • The standard of living while the marriage was intact
finger pointing rightWant to read what we consider to be the Best Guide To Custody Matters? It is FREE, written for Dads, but Moms should read this too. Before you go into battle, be sure you have the right defensive and offensive tools. Do not get surprised or blindsided. Study the Guide, own an online Parenting Plan and you should be covered for anything they throw at you.

[Revised Code of Washington - Title 26 - Chapters: 26.09.050, 26.09.090, 26.09.120]

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Visitation (Parenting Time)

W ashington has discarded the terms visitation Visitationand custody, and replaced them with a Parenting Plan. The court will give the parents an opportunity to submit a parenting plan, or a child custody schedule, and if they are unable to agree, the court will fashion one using the principle of “best interests of the child”. In that Plan the court will set out when the child will be with each parent, which parent will make what decisions regarding the child, how disputes between the parents will be resolved and any limits on parenting functions. The court can look at any or all of the following:

  • Any agreements the parents have made
  • Each parent’s ability to perform parenting functions
  • The relative strength, nature and stability of the child’s relationship with each parent, including whether a parent has taken greater responsibility for performing parenting functions relating to the daily needs of the child
  • The emotional needs and developmental level of the child
  • The child’s relationship with siblings and other significant adults
  • The child’s involvement with his or her school or other activities
  • The wishes of the parents
  • The wishes of a child who is sufficiently mature to express reasoned and independent preferences

To file for parenting time, one has to file the complaint for custody in the child’s home state. The home state is where the child has lived with a parent or guardian for at least 6 months. If a child is less than 6 months old, the home state is where the child has lived since birth. Any temporary excursions out of state do not reset the 6 month clock. When a child has been relocated to another state, the parent cannot file for custody in that state until 6 months have elapsed. The other parent can file for custody in the previous state up until the time the child reaches 6 months of residence in the new state. Exceptions exist and are complicated, requiring legal assistance.

[Revised Code of Washington - Title 26 - Chapters: 26.09.181, 26.09.184]

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Child Support

S tate statutes allow the court to order Child supportone or both parents to pay child support in accordance with state guidelines. Some observers point out that Washington State, like many states, only takes into account basic information and doesn’t consider what actual child-related expenses truly are. Washington State reviews how much you earn, how much your soon-to-be-ex earns, how many children from the marriage, and what percentage of time the children are under the care of each parent. That’s it. The good news for the non-custodial parent? Washington State child support and family laws compute child support based on NET income rather than gross income.

Washington laws allow the court to order one or both parents to make child support payments in accordance with state guidelines. Some observers point out that Washington State, like many states, only takes into account basic information and doesn’t consider what are actual child-related expenses truly are. Washington reviews how much you earn, how much your soon-to-be-ex earns, how many children from the marriage, and what percentage of time the children are under the care of each parent. That’s it.

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State law requires that all income and resources be disclosed in the determination of the child support payment. Virtually every type of income and resource makes its way into the calculation. From this gross income, certain sources of income get excluded from monthly gross income to form a gross net income, from which the child support payment is derived. Most notably, Federal and State income taxes get deducted from gross income to arrive at the net amount.

For parents that are intentionally unemployed or underemployed, the family court will impute, or assign, the amount of income a parent should be earning, and compute child support payments with that estimate. Should one parent request a modification of child support payments at any time after the final decree, they must show cause why the modification is warranted, and can include the income of a new partner only if the request includes another significant change in that parents circumstances.

If you are looking for a child support calculator, you can get an approximate amount of child support payment due accessing the tables the state makes available, or you can visit AllLaw.com. Support will be paid in a manner specified by the court, which can include mailing payments, paying electronically on-line or through income withholding. The parent receiving the support can elect to receive it by check, or electronically via a direct deposit to a bank account, or to a debit card.

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Washington State child support ends at age 18 or at graduation from high school if before 19.

[Revised Code of Washington - Title 26 - Chapters: 26.09.040, 26.09.050, 26.09.100, 26.09.120]

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