- Forms to get started
- Forms to respond
- Forms for couples with kids
- Spousal maintenance
- Property and debt
Navigating the divorce process can be a complex and emotionally draining task, especially when it comes to understanding the legal paperwork involved. But knowing exactly what needs to be done can help you feel less stressed and vulnerable, whether you are the petitioner or the respondent. Let’s explore the various forms required for filing a divorce in Washington state.
What forms do I need to get started?
The following list of forms will get you started with your divorce or legal separation. All forms can be found on Washington Courts website. Keep in mind that you'll need more court forms throughout the divorce process. These are simply the most common to start the process.
- Petition for Divorce
- Petition for Legal Separation
- Petition to Invalidate
- Motion for Immediate Restraining Order
- Motion for Temporary Family Law Order
Like all states, Washington state charges a filing fee when you submit your papers to the court clerk. You may qualify for a fee waiver, which you can read about here.
What forms do I need to respond to a divorce petition?
If your spouse has filed for divorce, you have the option of responding to them. You could indicate your complete agreement with what they have proposed (including how your property and assets will be divided), or you can respond with your own suggestions about how the divorce process should go.
Besides the forms listed above, you'll also need to file the Response form, which can be found on the Washington Court system website.
Forms for couples with children
Couples with minor children may need additional forms. The following forms can be found on Washington Courts website.
- Parenting Plan
- Child Support Order
- Child Support Worksheet
- Financial Source Documents
- Confidential Information Form
Note that any form filed with your child's personal information on it, including their name, should be sealed. This means your child's name or identifying information will be kept secret by the court.
Forms for spousal maintenance
There are several forms you may need if one spouse is requesting spousal support, or alimony. All of the forms can be found on Washington Courts website.
- Financial Declaration
- Findings about a Marriage
The latter of these two forms provides the court with information about your marriage, such as who was the breadwinner, who cared for the children, who took care of the home, and other items. This information will help them understand how to apportion alimony.
Dividing property and debt
In Washington, the division of property in divorce can be a complex process due to its status as a community property state. The assets and debts accrued during the marriage are typically considered to be equally owned by both people.
Legal aid is available in all states to help those who are struggling financially. Read our article, How to Get Free Legal Help in Your State.
Marital property in Washington
Marital property encompasses all assets acquired or income earned by either spouse during the marriage. This includes, but is not limited to, wages earned by either spouse, real estate purchased during the marriage, vehicles bought during the marriage, and personal property acquired during the marriage such as furniture, jewelry, and electronics. Even retirement accounts, pensions, and investment portfolios can be considered marital property if contributions were made during the marriage.
It's important to note that marital property does not only refer to assets. Debts incurred during the marriage, such as mortgages, credit card debts, and loans, are also considered marital property and must be divided equitably.
Separate property in Washington
Separate property refers to any property a spouse owned before getting married or acquired afterward as a gift or inheritance. This could include a house one spouse owned prior to the marriage, an inheritance received by one spouse, or a personal gift given specifically to one spouse.
It's crucial to note that separate property could become marital property if it's commingled with marital assets. For instance, if an inheritance (separate property) is deposited into a joint bank account (marital property), it may be considered part of the marital estate.
An uncontested divorce takes less time and money. You may be able to file uncontested, even if you and your spouse need some outside help. Read our article, What Does a Mediator Do in Divorce?
What the court considers
If you and your spouse cannot decide between yourselves how your property should be divided equitably, the court may step in and assist you with your judgment of divorce This often happens when spouses are unable to collaborate on a settlement agreement through a mediator, arbitrator, or on their own.
Washington courts aim to achieve a fair and equitable division of assets and debts in every divorce case. When making these decisions, they look at how long you were married, each person’s financial situation, the extent of your community property, and the extent of your separate property.
Each party is typically awarded his or her own separate property. The net value of the parties' community property is then divided in a 50/50 manner unless there is a reason to split differently.
Finalizing your divorce
To get your divorce papers finalized in Washington, the judge will need to sign off on any marital settlement agreements and parenting plans you've submitted. Once they find everything in order, they'll sign a Final Divorce Order. This form officially ends your marriage.
Additional forms you may need
Depending on your situation, there are many Washington divorce forms you may need. One of the most common forms is Notice re Military Dependent. This form is required when one spouse is in the military. If one or both spouses are active military servicemembers, extra steps and requirements must be met during the divorce process.