Washington does make a legal distinction between divorce and separation. Under Washington law, a divorce is the final termination of a marital relationship. A separation, on the other hand, does not terminate the marital relationship. A Washington court will oversee and facilitate a legal separation in much the same process as it would a divorce. Contact your divorce lawyer today if you have questions or concerns about the differences between a divorce and a separation or need help deciding which is the best option for you and your family. 

What Paperwork Do You Need to File for Divorce?

There can be considerable paperwork required to file for divorce. The paperwork can greatly increase if:

  • there are contested child custody issues,
  • a spouse is seeking alimony,
  • parties are hostile or uncooperative,
  • there are considerable assets or debts involved, or
  • the marriage lasted a long time.

Failure to file, or incomplete filings, may lead your divorce claim to being improperly handled or even dismissed. An experienced divorce lawyer can act as your advocate through the entire divorce process and this will include ensuring all paperwork is filed in a proper and timely manner.

Washington also allows couples to turn a legal separation into a divorce and annul a marriage.

Community Property vs. Separate Property

Washington is considered an “equitable distribution” state. This means the court can make any division of property and debts in a manner that is just and equitable. To do so, a court will consider:

  • the nature and extent of the community property and separate property,
  • the length of the marriage, and
  • each parties’ economic circumstances at the time the property division.

Ensuring that a court properly values all marital property are properly calculated can be very difficult, but filing all your paperwork on time can help the process.

What Should You Do If There are Children Involved?

Child custody issues can make a divorce extremely contentious. A court will always try and place the best interests of any children ahead of the interests of adults in a divorce – this is known as the “best interest of the child” standard. If necessary, a court may appoint a Guardian ad Litem to advocate for the child during the divorce process.

Child support is another serious issue that can make a divorce more difficult. Ultimately, the court will set the amount of child support depending on the financial status of the parents and the type of child custody that the parents share. 

Do You Need to Pay Alimony?

Alimony – also known as maintenance – are payments one party makes to the other for financial support. The law does not automatically award either spouse maintenance. Before requiring alimony payments, a Washington court will look at things such as:

  • the length of marriage,
  • both parties’ financial situations,
  • time it will take for the spouse asking for maintenance to get education or training,
  • standard of living during the marriage, and
  • age and health of the spouse asking for maintenance.

Alimony payments are generally required to help former spouses transition out of the marital relationship.

Where Can You Find the Right Divorce Lawyer?

If you have questions regarding the divorce process, child custody, alimony payments or any other divorce related issues, then contact a Washington divorce lawyer with experience in divorce.