Divorce in Washington State: The Basics
How Long Does a Divorce Take?
The length of time a divorce will take from start to finish can vary widely depending on the complexity of the case. However, Washington state law requires a minimum of 91 days to pass before a divorce is final. The average time between filing the initial paperwork and finalizing an uncontested divorce is about one year. If the case goes into litigation, it can take much longer.
How Do I Start the Divorce Process?
The process begins when one party files a divorce petition in the county with jurisdiction over the case. The petition must be filed with the appropriate court and served on the filer’s spouse. The respondent spouse must fill out a form acknowledging receipt of the petition and indicating whether they agree with all of their spouse’s requests. At this point, both spouses should seek the advice of a divorce attorney if they haven’t already done so.
How Much Does a Divorce Cost?
It depends on many factors, especially whether the divorce is contested. In an uncontested divorce, both parties have agreed on all terms, including asset division, child custody, and alimony. Depending on the case's specifics, uncontested divorces in Washington state typically incur a few hundred dollars in charges. If the parties cannot agree, a contested divorce could cost each party tens of thousands of dollars.
Will We Have to Live Together Until the Divorce Is Final?
No. The person who files for divorce can request temporary orders that stay in place until the divorce is final. Temporary orders can decide who will live in the family home, where the children will live during separation, request temporary child support, or even order a spouse to find work. The respondent spouse will have an opportunity to challenge these orders and request modifications.
How Much Money Will I Get in the Divorce Settlement?
Washington state follows community property laws when dividing a married couple’s assets. All shared property will usually be divided equitably between spouses, while separate property (such as an inheritance given to one party before marriage) will go back to the owning spouse. However, this rule also applies to debts acquired during the marriage, which could significantly decrease each party’s settlement. An attorney can help you discover all shared assets and assign an accurate value to each to ensure you receive an equitable portion of marital property.
Who Gets Custody of the Kids?
Courts decide custody based on which living arrangement is in the child’s best interest. If you have children, you and your spouse must complete a parenting plan outlining where they will live, how much access the non-custodial parent will have, and the amount of child support you expect. Custody is a highly-contested factor in divorce and involves certain state-specific rules, but your attorney can help you navigate this process.
Will We Have to Fight Each Other in Court?
There’s a big difference between how movies and TV shows portray divorce and how it happens in real life. Instead of going to trial, most divorces are settled using alternative dispute resolution, such as divorce mediation. If you and your spouse agree to some of the terms but cannot agree on one or two factors, mediation can help you reach an agreement and finalize the settlement.
Let a Washington State Divorce Attorney Advise You During This Stressful Time
The choices you make during a divorce can impact you for the rest of your life. At the Law Offices of Molly B. Kenny, we can ease the pressure you’re under, protect your rights, and help you secure your future. Call us at 425-460-0550 today to arrange a private consultation, or read through our free guide, 9 Urban Myths About Divorce That Can Hurt You.