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Washington Dissolution of Marriage Definitions

This collection of definitions will help clarify some unique characteristics to the Washington Dissolution of Marriage laws, process and paperwork which is filed with the court.

Filing Party Title:
Petitioner

The spouse who will initiate the Dissolution of Marriage by filing the required paperwork with the court.

Non-Filing Party Title:
Respondent

The spouse who does not initiate the Dissolution of Marriage with the court.

Court Name:
In the __________ Court of the State of Washington, in and for the County of _____________

The proper name of the court in which a Dissolution of Marriage is filed in the state of Washington. Each jurisdictional court typically has a domestic relations or a family law department or division.

Child Support Enforcement Website:
http://www.dshs.wa.gov/dcs/index.shtml

The state run office devoted to enforcing existing child support orders and collecting any past due child support.

Document Introduction:
In Re the Marriage of:

The lead-in verbiage used in the legal caption or header of the documents filed with the court. The introduction typically prefaces both spouse’s names.

Initial Dissolution of Marriage Document:
Petition for the Dissolution of Marriage

The title and name of the legal document that will initiate the Washington Dissolution of Marriage process. The filing spouse is also required to provide the non-filing spouse a copy of this document.

Final Dissolution of Marriage Document:
Decree of Dissolution of Marriage

The title and name of the legal document that will finalize the Washington Dissolution of Marriage process. This document will be signed by the judge, master, or referee of the court to declare your marriage officially terminated.

Clerk’s Office Name:
County Clerk’s Office of the Family Court

The office of the clerk that will facilitate the Dissolution of Marriage process. This is the title you would address letters to or ask for when contacting the courthouse.

Legal Separation:

The only grounds for legal separation in Washington is the irretrievable breakdown of the marriage. The spouse filing for legal separation must be a resident of Washington or a member of the Armed Forces stationed in Washington. The court will not act on the petition until 90 days has elapsed from the filing and the service of summons on the respondent. [Revised Code of Washington Annotated; Title 26, Chapter 26.09.030].

Property Distribution:
Community Property

The applicable Washington law that will dictate how property and debt is to be divided upon Dissolution of Marriage.