Bellevue Family Law Frequently Asked Questions
Making important decisions about your family's future can be difficult -- and learning about the legal avenues that can make those changes happen can also be hard. This page of Bellevue, WA, divorce frequently asked questions is here to help those who are learning about Seattle family law issues such as divorce, child custody, domestic violence, and divorce mediation.
Do you have a question that isn't addressed below? Contact us today to talk to an experienced Seattle family law attorney.
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What is emotional abuse?
Abusive behavior in any marriage or relationship can take on many forms beyond physical violence. Emotional or psychological abuse is particularly insidious because unlike physical abuse, it leaves no marks on the outside. Emotional abuse can happen to anyone, young or old, male or female, and it can cause mental and emotional pain.
If you believe you’re in an emotionally abusive marriage, it’s important to know what to look out for, how it can affect your divorce, and resources if you need help.
Emotional Abuse Is Still Abuse
Emotional abuse is often present in relationships that are more broadly abusive, but it doesn’t always accompany physical violence. Physical violence is not a requirement for a relationship to be considered abusive. Much like physical abuse, however, emotional abuse often means the abuser is attempting to gain control or power over someone. Those closest to the abuser are typically the targets, especially a spouse or intimate partner, other family member, or even a child.
The tactics and methods that an emotional abuser use can vary depending on the situation and the specific relationship, and there is no one definition of emotional abuse that fits every case. Not all negative interactions, arguments, or emotional outbursts between couples constitute abuse. However, there are some signs that may indicate abuse is happening, especially if the behavior is repeated over time. Here are some of the themes that may be common to an abusive relationship:
- Emotional abuse is often about control. One hallmark of emotional abuse involves dominant behaviors that are intended to control the victim’s behavior such as verbal abuse or insults, intimidation, or threats. This can include threats of harm to the victim or to others. Some abusers may threaten self-harm as a way of controlling and manipulating others, as well. As a means of control, abusers may also destroy or threaten to destroy, withhold, or sell property, especially property that is emotionally significant to the victim.
- Emotional abuse may involve unpredictability. Another common hallmark of emotional abuse is unpredictability. Some abusers may go back and forth between “normal” behavior and behaviors that are controlling, demeaning, or insulting to their victims. This constant uncertainty can cause victims to live in a state of fear and unease, unsure of what will cause the next “incident.” Victims may try to change their own behavior to prevent another outburst, but this cycle is repeated again and again, and it may escalate over time into other forms of abuse.
- Emotional abuse may involve isolation. Abusers often try to isolate victims from friends and family. This may be by limiting the victim’s social interactions; regularly spying on the victim’s phone, email, or social media accounts; or even by withholding financial support. These attempts are usually intended to cut off the victim from any support systems that she may be able to use to escape from the abusive relationship.
How Emotional Abuse Affects a Divorce
The state of Washington follows no-fault divorce law, which means that abuse victims do not need a reason to file for divorce beyond the belief that the marriage is irretrievably broken. Victims do not need to prove that there is emotional or physical abuse to obtain a divorce, and an abusive partner cannot legally “veto” the divorce. Although he may attempt to coerce the victim into abandoning the divorce proceedings, the choice to continue the divorce lies with the person who filed the paperwork.
If there are any records of abuse, such as police reports of violence or other crimes, restraining orders, evidence of drug or alcohol use, or other documentation, this can help victims in court later. The court can take this evidence under consideration when determining how to divide up marital assets, when determining spousal support or alimony payments, and when making a final determination on child custody arrangements via a parenting plan.
Further Resources for Victims of Domestic Abuse
If you or your family have suffered or are suffering from an emotionally abusive spouse, please know that you are not alone, and there are many resources for domestic violence survivors that are available to help you. If at any time you feel that your life or the life of a family member is in danger, call 9-1-1 right away. If you do not believe you are in immediate danger, you can reach out to local or national organizations for help, including:
- The National Domestic Violence Hotline (24 hours: 1-800-799-SAFE)
- The Washington State Domestic Violence Hotline (8am-5pm: 1-800-562-6025)
- The Domestic Abuse Women’s Network (South King County)
- New Beginnings (24 hours: 206-522-9472)
How to Get Legal Help
Nobody deserves to be in a relationship that’s abusive or violent, regardless of age, skin color, gender, or sexual orientation. A family law attorney can assist you in obtaining the protective order you need to keep your family safe, filing for divorce, and in pursuing any criminal charges against your abuser.
The attorneys at the Law Offices of Molly B. Kenny understand that this may be a difficult time in your life, and we are here to assist you and your family in your time of need. To reach out to one of our experienced family law professionals, call us by phone or use our email contact form to arrange a private consultation in our Bellevue office.
How Long Does It Take To Get Divorced In Washington State?
It is very understandable that most Washington State residents want their divorces to be finalized as quickly as possible so that they can move on to their new lives. However, the time that it takes to complete the divorce process will vary considerably depending on the details of your marriage. A divorce can take as little as 90 days in Washington State, though this timeframe is usually only accurate for amicable divorces that don’t involve children or complicated finances or property. A divorce can take two years or more both spouses are uncooperative, if you must determine child custody, or if you have a significant net worth.
Here are a few factors that may affect how long your divorce process takes from beginning to end:
- How long have you been married? If you’ve only been married for a few years, it may be significantly easier to separate your lives, figure out how to split your assets, and start anew. If you have been married for a number of decades, however, it may take you longer to untangle your lives and prepare for divorce.
- How complicated are your finances? Couples with separate accounts who don’t own property may find divorce and property division to be a breeze. However, couples with complicated lives, many assets, and multiple investments might find themselves fighting over exactly who gets what.
- Do you have kids? If you have children with your spouse, you will need to discuss the issues of child custody, child support, and child visitation. You also may want to extend the divorce process so that your kids experience a more gradual and less jarring change.
- Is the divorce acrimonious or amicable? If you and your ex are both on the side of compromise, empathy, and understanding, you can aim for a shorter divorce process by working together. If one or both partners decide to put up a battle, you may end up with a trial and a much longer divorce. Divorce may also take considerably longer if it involves issues of domestic violence or abuse.
- Are you considering divorce mediation? Divorce mediation can speed the process of divorce considerably—only if you and your spouse are willing to work together and follow the rules set by the mediator.
How Long Does It Take To Get Over A Divorce?
How long does it take to recover from the emotional strain of a divorce? While the answer is obviously different for everyone, one group has conducted a study and found an average: 17 months and 26 days. The timeframe includes both getting over the emotional stress of a divorce and getting through the legal aspects of ending your marriage – including the separation of property, child custody agreements, and moving.
One out of five respondents said that they have still not and may never get over their divorce. A few more numbers: most begin to feel better 16 months after their divorce and content after 18 months. The average time before a divorcee begins dating again is 15.5 months.
While every divorce is different, and everyone is allowed their own feelings, it can be comforting to know that the vast majority of those going through a divorce do reach the light at the end of the tunnel and are able to move on.
Do you need legal counsel? Contact the Law Offices of Molly B. Kenny today to speak with a Bellevue divorce attorney: 425-460-0550.