As a marriage ends, it is not uncommon for a couple to decide to separate before getting divorced. This can result in one spouse moving away, even out of the State of Washington. A spouse may decide to return to where his/her parents or other close relatives live in Idaho or Montana. A new job or promotion may also lead a spouse to move to Portland or San Francisco.

Under such circumstances, one spouse may be living out of state or even across the country at the start of the divorce process. If your spouse and your children now live in a different state, can you still get divorced in Washington?


1. What if my wife now lives in another state?

Washington divorce law only requires that one party to a divorce be a resident of the state. That means that as long as either you or your wife lives in Washington, the divorce can be filed in family court here.

If you and your wife currently live in different states, it is important for you to decide which state you want to get divorced in. If you are living in Washington, you can file for divorce here. However, your wife likely also has the ability to file for divorce in the state where she is living. If you want to make sure your divorce is handled in Washington family court, you want to start the divorce here before your wife files in her state.

2. What if I didn’t get married in Washington?

You are not required to get divorced in the same state where you got married. The Washington family court system is able to handle your divorce case as long as either you or your spouse currently lives in Washington.

If your spouse never lived in Washington, the court may lack personal jurisdiction. This could affect alimony, child support, and property division. You will want to consult a divorce lawyer for a full explanation of this issue.

3. What if my children weren’t born in Washington?

In most cases, where your children were born will not be an issue in a divorce case. Especially if your children currently reside in the state of Washington, custody, visitation and support matters will be handled in the Washington courts.

However, if your children are currently living in another state, it may be necessary for the court to establish jurisdiction over them. If a court in another state has already issued a child custody and/or support order, that court may continue to have jurisdiction over the children even as the divorce proceeds in Washington. You will want to speak with a divorce attorney for a full explanation of the complex issues of jurisdiction. Generally, parenting issues will be handled in the state where the children are located.

4. What If I am in the Military?

If you are a member of the armed forces stationed in Washington, you can file for divorce here. It is not required that your military Legal Residence be the state of Washington. As long as you are currently stationed here, your divorce can be heard by Washington family court.

The same situation applies if your spouse is a service member stationed in Washington. Even if you live in another state, you can file the divorce here in Washington.

5. Why Choose Washington?

If you and your spouse currently live in different states, you may be in the unique position of choosing which state you would like to file your divorce in.

Washington divorce law offers many advantages you will want to consider. Unlike some other states, child support is calculated based on a set formula using both parent’s income. Washington law does not default child custody to one parent. There is also a unique state law in Washington that allows members of the military to assign their visitation time to another person while deployed.

Want to talk to a divorce lawyer today?

Divorce Lawyers For Men™ attorneys help husbands and fathers going through divorce. Meet in person with a Washington divorce lawyer who will be happy to explain the divorce process to you. Call us today at (877) 866-7393 to speak with an attorney who understands your situation and can offer real help.

If you would like more information on the divorce process, or to take the best divorce resources with you in print, please check out our free divorce guide for men or contact our office to meet with an attorney about your particular circumstances.

Find out more about the divorce process:

Is military divorce handled in military court?
How often will I be able to see my children?
How much will I pay in alimony?