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Washington Divorce Process

Created by FindLaw's team of legal writers and editors.

The requirements and procedures for getting a divorce are governed by state laws. Likewise, the amount of time it takes to finalize a divorce depends on state-mandated waiting periods. Additionally, the divorce timeline and process are affected by the specific circumstances of a particular couple. For example, the more property that must be divided, the more steps (and time) it will take to finalize a divorce.

In Washington, the only ground for divorce is "irretrievable breakdown," which in essence is a no-fault divorce. As previously discussed, a couple's particular situation will affect how long it takes for a divorce to be complete, but all divorces take at least three months as there's a mandatory waiting period before it's finalized. Divorces that are "contested" - meaning the parties are not in agreement about the divorce terms - involve more steps and take longer to finalize than an "uncontested divorce."

Summary of the Washington Divorce Process

Statutory language is usually written in legal jargon, making it confusing and time-consuming to read and understand. That's why reading an overview of the statute can help a person better understand what they're reading. In the table below, you'll find a general overview of the divorce process in Washington as well as links to applicable statutes.

Statute(s)

Washington Revised Code Section 26.09.002, et seq. (Dissolution Proceedings - Legal Separation)

Residency Requirements to File for Divorce

At least one spouse must be a resident of Washington.

Waiting Period Before Divorce is Finalized

The minimum period before the court will finalize a divorce is 90 days from the time that the petition was filed with the court and served on the spouse.

General Steps for an Uncontested Divorce in Washington
  1. Complete the divorce forms, including the "Petition for Divorce."
  2. File the Petition for Divorce in county where the petitioner lives.
  3. Serve the spouse (the respondent) with the divorce papers.
  4. In an uncontested divorce, the respondent only needs to sign the "Acceptance of Service" to acknowledge receipt.
  5. Sign and file the final divorce documents.
Related Statute(s)

Washington Revised Code Section 26.16.010, et seq. (Rights and Liabilities - Community Property)

Note: State laws are always subject to change through the passage of new legislation, rulings in the higher courts (including federal decisions), ballot initiatives, and other means. While we strive to provide the most current information available, please consult an attorney or conduct your own legal research to verify the state law(s) you are researching.

Washington Divorce Process: Related Resources

For additional information and resources related to this topic, please visit the links listed below.

Better Understand the Divorce Process in Washington by Speaking to an Attorney

Getting a divorce is stressful, particularly if it's a contentious divorce. A good way to ease at least some of the stress is to seek out professional legal help. If you're considering getting a divorce, it's a good idea to get in touch with an experienced divorce attorney who can not only explain the Washington divorce process but also guide you through it.

Next Steps: Search for a Local Attorney

Contact a qualified attorney.