Washington Divorce: Timing, Grounds, Etc. FAQ
By Erik Bjornson, Attorney at Law
  • How important is timing such as who files first for divorce?

The party who files first is listed as the "petitioner," the other party participates in the divorce as the "respondent." Under Washington law, the person to file first should receive no advantage. However, the person filing first certainly has options that the other party doesn't. For instance, the filing party can control when the first court hearing will occur and has a great influence on what issues will addressed. The filing party is the first to be able to request "ex-parte" relief from the court and often has the option of where the case where be litigated.

  • Is it necessary to claim my spouse is at fault or make an allegation of adultery or bad behavior against my spouse to get a divorce in Washington?

No. Washington is considered a "no-fault" state. This means the only general allegation that needs to be made is that there are "irreconcilable differences" between you and your spouse, Usually, no additional explanation is needed for the court.

  • Is the amount of time each parent each parent spends with their child effected by their conduct? Will the court just ignore the bad behavior of my spouse in regard to the parenting plan?

The court will certainly consider the behavior of a party if it effects the children. If the parenting plan is disputed, the court will likely appoint a guardian to make a report to the court to assist it in the court's decision. The court and the guardian will certainly consider any actions of a spouse that negatively affects the children.

  • Is the division of property affected by the fault of a party?

The fault of the divorce is not supposed to affect the division of property. However, if the party's behavior has negatively effected the assets of the community or the children the court may consider the information.


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