Divorce is a legal proceeding that involves many different steps and requirements. Each state has its own laws and processes for handling divorces and separations. Divorce can be a complex subject and may touch upon several different legal issues. These can include:
- Division of property between the parties;
- Rights and responsibilities regarding children, such as child custody, child visitation, child support, and other matters;
- Issues with spousal support or alimony (payments from one spouse to the other, intended to help the other spouse get back on their feet after the divorce);
- Disputes about whether one party was at fault in the relationship;
- Mediation and other alternative dispute methods; and
- Various other issues.
In Washington, filing for divorce starts with completing and filing a formal divorce petition. The spouse who is initiating or filing the petition is called the petitioner. The spouse that is being served with the petition is called the respondent.
Keep in mind that every divorce proceeding is unique and can have different outcomes depending on the circumstances of the case. It is never a “one-size-fits-all” situation, so be prepared to be flexible and adapt to changes.
- What are Some Other Things to Keep in Mind When Filing for Divorce in Washington?
- What Happens After the Response is Filed?
- What if We Can’t Agree on the Terms of the Divorce?
- Do I Need to Pay Spousal Support or Alimony in Washington State?
- Should I Contact an Attorney about Filing for Divorce in Washington State?
The petition must generally be filed in the Washington county where the petitioner lives. After this happens, the petitioner is required to serve the respondent with the divorce papers. It is a state requirement that at least one spouse live in the state of Washington prior to starting the divorce process.
Washington courts can generally grant a divorce after 90 days if the respondent signs a joinder attached to the petition. If the respondent does not agree to the petition, they then have 30 days to file a response to the petition.
It is reasonable to expect a request for any changes to the terms of the divorce. Many divorce or separation cases will naturally involve some disagreements between the parties. Common terms that are contested and require a request for changes may include child support, child custody, division of property, and spousal support.
You and the other party will generally be expected to work on resolving the terms of the divorce. This can be done outside of court, informally between the two of you. If this is not possible (for instance, if you do not get along, or if there are issues with physical abuse or other concerns), this can be done with the assistance of a divorce mediator.
After spouses come to an agreement on the terms of the divorce, a final hearing is held. In this hearing, both spouses must appear in front of a judge together over their divorce in order to finalize it. The court will request several documents from the parties, including:
- Findings of Fact;
- Conclusions of Law;
- Decree of Dissolution;
- Order of Child Support;
- Parenting Plan Final Order; and
- Child Support Worksheet
Of course, not all of these will apply to every divorce situation. For instance, it might not be necessary to submit a child support worksheet if the couple doesn’t have any children. The divorce decree is generally filed after a 90-waiting period.
Again, it can happen in many instances that the parties do not agree on the terms or provisions in connection with the divorce. If both spouses cannot reach an agreement after discussing the terms, a hearing will need to be scheduled with the court.
At the hearing, the judge will listen to the points of both sides. After this, the judge will decide the terms. Once the judge has decided on the final terms of the divorce, they will issue the final divorce decree.
Disagreements can sometimes be intense, and sometimes the parties might not be willing to compromise or budge on their terms. For this reason, it is highly important to work with a qualified divorce attorney. An attorney can help when it comes to discussing and negotiating terms according to the laws of the state of Washington.
One of the most contested legal issues in a divorce is that of spousal support or alimony. In some cases, the judge may order one of the spouses to pay the other alimony payments after the divorce. If this has been ordered by the judge, it must be followed since it is legally enforceable.
However, during the divorce process, it can sometimes be possible to contest alimony or the amount of alimony. Spousal support payments are typically calculated according to factors like:
- The amount of pay difference between the parties;
- Whether one party will be experiencing financial hardship directly caused by the divorce;
- Whether one party was at fault in causing the divorce conditions.
Here. it may be possible to present arguments to the court based on these factors. Again, the assistance of a lawyer can be valuable for arguing points like these in a Washington divorce court.
Whether the spouses agree to all of the terms of a divorce or not, it is recommended that anyone filing for divorce in Washington talk with a Washington lawyer first. Specifically talk to a Washington State lawyer with experience in family law and divorce.
An attorney will help protect your legal rights and advise you of how to proceed with your case. If there are any specific concerns or questions, your attorney can help with these as well.