Same-sex marriage was legalized in Washington in December 2012. Shortly thereafter, most state-registered domestic partnerships were automatically converted to marriages. Any marriage that is legal in the state where it was performed is legal in every other U.S. state. If you are a legally married resident of Washington, you can get divorced in Washington.
A Washington divorce for a same-sex couple may involve certain special considerations, but the process is the same as any other marriage.
Division of Marital Property and Spousal Support
The length of a couple’s marriage is important in determining community property, which should be divided between them. Property that a spouse obtained before marriage may be considered separate property, which they keep in full. The length of a couple’s marriage is also an important metric for determining whether spousal support should be awarded and, if so, how much.
Many same-sex couples were together for many years before they could legally marry. Washington’s committed intimate relationship law allows a court to consider this time in determining a fair division of property and whether to award support.
Non-Biological Child Custody Issues
Same-sex parents may fear losing their parental rights or having their parental role minimized by the courts. It’s true that determining child custody and parenting issues can be more challenging if one spouse is not a child’s biological parent and has not legally adopted the child. Washington law allows the court to establish “De Facto Parentage” if it finds a non-biological parent:
- Resided with the child in the same household for a significant period.
- Engaged in consistent caretaking of the child.
- Undertook full, permanent parental responsibilities without compensation.
- Held out the child as their own.
- Developed a parental bonded relationship and dependence that the child’s biological parent supported.
Like other custody and visitation cases, determining a parenting plan that works for everyone involved can be difficult and emotional. The court considers the best interests of the child above any other factors.
Compassionate, Understanding Representation
Harbor Family Law knows the divorce process is emotionally difficult for every family. We will help guide you through the divorce process as efficiently and compassionately as possible. Our experienced team has decades of experience helping spouses and families in the Greater Puget Sound area find ways to move forward with their new lives.
We provide representation to clients in many family courts, including Pierce County, Kitsap County, and South King County.