What Can You Expect from the Divorce Process in Washington?
Divorces are as different as the people getting them. Your divorce will depend much on the two of you and how willing you are to compromise and go through the divorce as quickly as possible.
That being said, there are some benchmarks and requirements for every divorce, outlined here by the Washington State Bar Assocation. In Washington, a divorce is legally called a “dissolution of marriage.”
To start your divorce, you need to file a summons and petition for dissolution of marriage with the court. This document is then “served,” or given, to your spouse. Your petition includes basic facts about your marriage and also specifies what you want regarding property division, child custody, and spousal support.
Many states have strict residency requirements, meaning that you have to have lived in the state for a certain period of time in order to file for divorce. Washington is more lenient, however: you only have to reside in the state on the day that your divorce is filed.
After your spouse receives your petition, he or she has 20 to 60 days (depending on location) to reply in writing. Similarly, his or her reply will contain what he or she wants regarding property division, child custody, and support.
Depending on your situation, the next step in your divorce might be to request temporary orders. Temporary orders spell out things like the residential arrangements of your children and spousal support while the divorce is in progress. If you and your spouse can’t agree on the terms of your temporary orders, a judge will decide them during a court hearing.
All issues related to divorce—from the division of your property and debts to the custody arrangements of your children—have to be resolved before your divorce can be finalized. If you and your spouse can agree, you may be able to settle these issues in negotiations outside of the courtroom. But if your spouse is unwilling to agree or is making unreasonable demands, you may have to go through a trial. During this trial, a judge will listen to evidence presented by your attorney and make the final determinations.
The final step in your divorce is having a judge sign a Decree of Dissolution of Marriage. This happens after the judge reviews and approves your settlement or after the trial is concluded.
In Washington, there is a three-month waiting period before you can get a divorce. This means that three months have to have passed between the time when you file the petition and get the divorce decree signed.
This is just a basic overview of what you can expect from the divorce process in Washington. If you have other questions or are considering divorce, I encourage you to contact the Law Offices of Jason S. Newcombe. We’re here to help, and one of our experienced divorce lawyers would be happy to discuss your situation with you.