How Long Do I Have to Be a Resident Before Filing for Divorce in Washington?

In order to file for divorce in Washington State, one of the following must be true:

  • The party filing for divorce is a resident of Washington,
  • The party filing for divorce is a member of the armed forces currently serving in Washington, or
  • The party filing for divorce is married to a resident of Washington or an armed forces member serving in Washington.

These are required in order to make sure that the court granting a divorce has jurisdiction over the parties to the divorce. If a court doesn’t have jurisdiction, then it lacks the authority to create a binding order that governs the former spouses’ conduct in the future. If either spouse violated the terms of the divorce later on by refusing to pay child support or give up control of marital assets, a court lacking jurisdiction would be powerless to compel that party to uphold the agreement.

Washington law does not require someone seeking a divorce to be a resident for any specific length of time, however. For example, someone who has separated from their husband or wife and moved to Spokane could rent an apartment with the intent to live there, and then file for divorce the same day.

This does not mean that divorces happen immediately, though. Washington law mandates a ninety-day long waiting period from the time the divorce is filed until the time it can be finalized. This incentivizes couples to use that time to negotiate terms related to property division and child custody rather than taking their divorce to trial.

Don’t deal with your divorce alone. Call the experienced divorce attorneys at Crouse Erickson today.

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