Washington Divorce Frequently Asked Questions

Divorce in Washington, whether you’re in the Puget Sound area or east of the Cascades, comes with a lot of questions and a lot of uncertainty. That’s natural. The attorneys at Envision Family Law want to give you the answers you need as quickly as possible.

It doesn’t necessarily have to be about the house. Any property that both parties in the divorce have invested time and money could stand-in for “house” here. “Who gets it,” however, is a question of Washington’s marital property law.

As Washington is a community property state, the law divides all assets and debts in the marital estate equally between the divorcing parties, including:

  • Earnings
  • Property
  • Investments
  • Loans
  • Taxes

Washington law does allow for separate property, which includes assets you possessed before getting married, as well as anything you may have inherited during the marriage or a gift given only to you.

It is long past when the mother is automatically considered the proper custodial parent in all cases. Washington doesn’t even officially use the word “custody” in its law, using the term “parenting plan” instead to describe a child’s living and support arrangement. When judges decide on the parenting plan, they prioritize the child’s best interests over any other consideration.

When you decide it’s time to divorce, the first, best thing you can do is speak with an attorney. Speaking to an attorney even before you talk to your spouse can make a difference in many cases.

Most people perceive divorce as simply being one way, in a courtroom, with attorneys and a lot of struggle. However, there are other options, such as mediation, wherein you and your spouse sit down with a mediator and work together to form a divorce agreement that you both support. Mediation is often considered faster and cheaper than a traditional divorce.

Get your questions answered

No matter what your question, Envision Family Law is here for you. We have decades of experience in getting our clients through the divorce process with efficiency and confidentiality.

FAQs on Child Custody

Every parent facing a divorce worries about what will happen next. Envision Family Law has come together to answer a few of the most pressing, frequent questions facing our clients.

Washington courts prefer that parents adhere to a parenting plan negotiated independently of the court system. When parents fall into a dispute over their child’s living situation and cannot resolve it themselves, the court looks at various factors in search of what is in the child’s best interests.
Washington law considers what “best maintains a child’s emotional growth, health and stability, and physical care.” This is general guidance, however, and a court will investigate:

  • Living conditions
  • Educational availability
  • Emotional support
  • Financial resources
  • Consistency of lifestyle

Whatever allows the child’s life to continue as normally as possible is what the court will view as best.

Once, courts assumed that the mother was the better parent and almost always awarded her full custody. Now courts tend to view a harmonious, reasonable joint custody as the optimal condition for children of divorcing parents. It is possible to get full, sole custody of your children. However, you would have to prove that the other parent poses a significant risk of danger or neglect.

Parenting plans, as Washington calls them, are not set in stone. When a person’s circumstances change, they absolutely can seek a change in the parenting plan. Events most likely to require custody agreement changes are:

  • Changes in employment
  • Changes in living situation
  • Changes in marital status
  • New children

However, there are many other realities.

We wrote recently on grandparent custody issues. This process is called 3rd party guardianship, and it is possible; however, it is not simple or assured.

Everyone’s situation is different

Your unique set of circumstances will set you apart from everyone else. You may fall into one of the many situations that make for different approaches. The only way to know is to reach out to an attorney you trust.