Divorce (dissolution)

General information

According to the Washington State Bar Association's brochure Dissolution: What you should know..., various procedures may be used to end a marriage, including separation, annulment, and dissolution.

A legal separation follows the same process as a divorce case but ends with a Final Legal Separation Order rather than a Final Divorce Order. A legal separation may be preferred to a dissolution for religious, economic, or other reasons

Annulment is a court-ordered dissolution of an invalid marriage. Technically called a “Decree of Invalidity,” it nullifies a marriage from its inception and is granted in situations where no valid marriage exists because of some legal defect.

If a marriage is considered “irretrievably broken,” one or both partners may seek a dissolution of the relationship. This court proceeding legally terminates a marriage, and makes provisions for the parenting of minor children, family support, and division of property and liabilities. In Washington, a spouse does not have to prove wrongdoing to obtain a divorce (now legally called a “dissolution of marriage”).

The laws about these proceedings are in RCW Chapter 26.09.

Washington LawHelp has information about separation, invalidity, and typical divorce proceedings including:

An outline of the general steps in a typical divorce (dissolution) case can be found on the steps in a family law case page. An Overview & How-To Guide to divorce in Washington state is available from Genesis Law Firm.

Clark County's Family Court Facilitator program provides assistance to individuals who choose to represent themselves in matters dealing with many family law issues. The facilitator is available for in-person assistance by appointment for a fee.

Forms and instructions

Washington State's official mandatory pattern forms for divorce (dissolution) cases are on the State Court website. The forms are listed in the order they are filed in a typical divorce.

Clark County's Family Court Facilitator has instructions and checklists of forms for many family law cases including divorce (dissolution) and separation:

Washington LawHelp has forms and instructions for typical divorce proceedings:

Depending on your income, you can ask the court to order your spouse to pay money for you to hire a lawyer.

If there is a dependent child from the marriage, Washington LawHelp also has forms and instructions to help with the parenting plan form:

Clark County Superior Court Local Court Rule LCR 0.6 includes a suggested parenting time schedule for school-age children whose parents live in the same geographic location.

If you are asking for child support as part of your dissolution case, see the child support page.

If you want to add immediate and/or temporary orders to your case, Washington LawHelp has forms and instructions:

For additional information about immediate and temporary orders, see the steps in a family law case page and the Clark County Family Law Facilitator's Family Law Instructions.

If you already have a legal separation and want to convert it to a divorce, Washington LawHelp has forms and instructions:

Additional resources

Resources that are available from the State Court include:

Navigate Law Group has a blog post about how to file and prepare for your contested child custody/parenting plan hearing

Washington LawHelp has information relating to financial issues:

Additional print resources about divorce and dissolution as well as other family law topics are available at the law library.

Free eBooks about divorce and other family law topics

Divorce Without Court book cover

How to find family law eBooks

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