A divorce spells significant change in the lives of couples. The Washington state divorce process may lead to eventual discussions and agreements over child and spousal support, custody, and property distribution.
Before the couple decides on these issues, however, they first must file for divorce through the proper channels and take all necessary measures to ensure they take the appropriate steps. If you are pursuing a divorce, use the following information as a guideline and contact a Bellevue lawyer to learn more about the divorce process at our offices for help today.
Complete and File Divorce Papers
The first step in achieving a divorce in Bellevue is completing and filing necessary paperwork through the proper channels. The spouse pursuing the divorce must complete a Petition for Dissolution of Marriage form and subsequently file it with the County Clerk in King County. The petition must be accompanied by a filing fee as well; in the event the spouse cannot pay, he or she may ask for a fee waiver.
Serve the Spouse with Divorce Papers
Once the paperwork has been filed at the County Clerk’s office, the petitioner may proceed by serving his or her spouse with a summons detailing the divorce. To do so, the petitioner may ask his or her spouse to accept service, or, if the spouse chooses not to accept, the petitioner may serve his or her spouse personally. If the spouse still evades service, the petitioner may serve his or her spouse through publication or certified mail.
After the spouse has been served, the petitioner then must complete and file the Acceptance of Service form. Again, this form must be filed in the King County Clerk’s office. The petitioner then may schedule a final hearing date where the assigned judge makes a determination on the divorce and related issues if the spouses cannot reach an agreement prior to the hearing. (Spouses may appear in front of Judge Richard D. Eadie, Judge Ronald Kessler or others who are assigned to the unified family court.)
Finalize Issues Relevant to the Divorce
It is important to note that under Washington law, parties must wait three months before a divorce can be finalized. This does not mean, however, that the Washington state divorce process will not take longer, especially if there is contention over division of property or child support or custody.
If either or both spouses disagree about these relevant issues, they may, with the help of legal representation, conduct discovery to gather evidence bolstering their case. This could include financial statements, witness testimony from those close to the family, or other information that can be included in the hearing.
If the parties come to an agreement about issues, they may settle the divorce in the Ex Parte courtroom without the need for a trial in front of a judge. If the issues remain contested, however, both will need to appear before a judge, who will make a final ruling.
Do you have other questions about the divorce process in Bellevue?
This is simply a general overview of the divorce process in Bellevue, although it may include further steps, depending on the specifics of each individual case. If you need help pursuing a divorce in the area or even have any questions related to family law, please don’t hesitate to reach out to a family law attorney in Bellevue, Wash., at the Law Offices of Molly B. Kenny. We are happy to help you in any way we can. You can call us today at 425-460-0550 or reach us online to set up your free consultation.