Dating laws washington state

You might be losing your emotional support and the uncertainty can further weigh on you.

What are the laws for dating a minor in Washington state?

It's no surprise that a lot of people choose to start dating again before their divorce is even final. This is a personal choice that everybody makes for themselves.

But we hope that before you choose to start dating while separated, you recognize the effects it can have emotionally as well as legally in the state of Washington. Washington is a pure no fault divorce state. State laws changed several years ago to create a streamlined divorce process that requires only an assertion of irreconcilable differences for the state to grant a divorce. You don't have to prove that any party is at fault for the divorce. So even if you begin dating while you are still legally married, the courts won't hold the "adultery" against you in your divorce case.

But it could have more indirect implications for your divorce.

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An amicable divorce could turn messy if you begin to date someone new — whether or not your soon-to-be ex has also moved on. While there is nothing legally wrong with dating before your divorce is official in Washington State, it can often begin disputes and complexities that you could otherwise avoid.

In some high-conflict cases , one spouse might purposefully make the negations more difficult simply out of spite if the other spouse started dating. Be aware of this possibility before you start dating again. Individuals aged 15 or younger in Washington are not legally able to consent to sexual activity, and such activity may result in prosecution for statutory rape.

Washington Statutory Rape Laws

Washington statutory rape law is violated when a person has consensual sexual intercourse with an individual under age The age of consent is raised to 18 when the partners are a foster parent and foster child, when the older partner is at least 60 months older than their 16 or 17 year old partner and abuses their significant relationship as defined by RCW 9A.

Washington does not have a close-in-age exemption. Close in age exemptions , commonly known as "Romeo and Juliet laws", are put in place to prevent the prosecution of individuals who engage in consensual sexual activity when both participants are significantly close in age to each other, and one or both partners are below the age of consent.


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  • The Impact of Dating While Separated in Washington | Law Offices of Molly B. Kenny.
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Because there is no such "Romeo and Juliet law" in Washington, it is possible for two individuals both under the age of 16 who willingly engage in intercourse to both be prosecuted for statutory rape , although this is rare. Similarly, no protections are reserved for sexual relations in which one participant is a 15 year old and the second is a 16 or 17 year old.

Serious jail time and monetary fines are the penalties for these crimes. Washington has a wide range of punishments depending on the exact nature of the crime.

Divorce, Dating & Adultery in Washington State

However, each degree of severity is classified as a felony, which means a successful conviction can result in lifelong changes. In these situations, both first and second degree Rape of a Child is considered a class A felony, and have similar levels of punishment. The difference between first and second degree are the the circumstances of the crime.

Finally, there is Sexual Misconduct with a Minor, which is either a low-grade felony or a gross misdemeanor. The type of severity of the charge is not always easy to determine before you are formally charged by the prosecutor. But once you know the exact charge, then you can better predict what sort of penalty or punishment you may be facing.

Dating Before Divorce is Final Could Make It More Contentious

If you have been accused of statutory rape , or if you or your child are a victim of a violation of the laws as described above, a criminal defense attorney may be able to assist you. An experienced Washington criminal defense lawyer can help you either to deal with the charges you are facing, or in seeking a legal remedy for the abuse you or your child has suffered.


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  3. Washington Age of Consent | LegalMatch Law Library.
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