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The Residency Requirement

Written by Wolfgang R. Anderson

Attorney at Law

Anderson, Fields, Dermody & McIlwain

A party has to be a resident of the State of Washington before being able to file for a divorce. No time frame need be met for residency if a person wishes to file for dissolution so long as they are a resident of the State of Washington. If challenged, a person has to show that he/she has been a resident (voting in state, owning a home or renting one). This means an out of state person cannot initiate a dissolution as a petition in Washington unless agreed to.

Time lines are irrelevant, but intent to be a resident is material. As stated, intent can be shown through the renting of an apartment, buying property, registering one's car, registering to vote, and statements to third parties that they intend to be a resident of the State of Washington. A court will scrutinize one's acts to determine if one party in fact is a resident or is commencing a bogus proceeding.

A party who comes to Washington and leaves will, more likely than not, not be a permanent resident. Having said that, Washington's Dissolution Act has opened avenues to file for a dissolution even if a person has been here for only one or two days.

Case by case, the court will have to interpret the intent of the petitioning spouse and the seriousness of a person's proclamation that they are a resident. There is no waiting period like in so many states.

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