Frequently Asked Questions About Filing For Divorce in Bellevue
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 frequently asked questions is here to help those who are learning about Seattle family law issues related to the divorce process.
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 Community Property in Washington State Divorce?
Washington State has community property laws in place to help couples more easily and fairly divide their property during the divorce process. Community property is basically defined as any property that is shared between husband and wife. This usually includes:
- All money earned by both the husband and the wife after the marriage.
- All property bought by the married couple with community funds.
- All gifts given to both the husband and wife.
- Property or funds brought into the marriage that are then mixed with community funds.
Other types of funds and property are considered separate property:
- Gift that are specifically meant for either the husband or wife.
- Inheritance that is intended only for the husband or only for the wife.
- Property acquired before the marriage that is not clearly intended by both spouses to be part of community property.
- Funds acquired before the marriage that is kept in an unshared bank account and never intended to be community property.
It can be difficult to understand Washington State community property laws. To learn more about who is entitled to the funds and property in your own divorce proceedings, speak with a Bellevue divorce attorney today for more information.
Learn More About Washington State Community Property Laws +
Can a Divorce Adversely Affect My Health?
A number of studies have linked divorce with higher rates of chronic diseases, health problems, and mobility issues later in life - not great news for someone who is considering divorce or in the process of divorce. Those who have been divorced or widowed are significantly more likely to suffer from heart disease, diabetes, and cancer, and those without partners may suffer from issues such as weight gain, high blood pressure, and even hair loss.
However, it is very important to understand that these health issues absolutely do not spontaneously happen when you divorce and that a troubled, stressful, or abusive marriage very well may be more harmful than a divorce. You can take preventative measures against many if not all of the health issues associated with divorce.
During and after a divorce, it is important to keep your health as a priority. Knowing that divorce can come with health issues can help you prevent these problems from becoming a part of your life. Eating right, exercising, and controlling your stress levels are more likely to affect your health than your marital status - as can regular visits with your doctor.
If you are in the process of a Seattle divorce and need legal guidance, contact Washington family law attorney Molly Kenny today to schedule a private meeting.
Does adultery matter in a divorce in Washington State?
Adultery has no bearing on a divorce in Washington State. Cheating doesn't matter because Washington State is a "no-fault" state, which means that either party can file for divorce without providing proof of a particular cause, such as adultery.
Instead, the filing party only has to state that the marriage is "irretrievably broken." Because adultery doesn't matter in a Washington State divorce, it does not impact the parenting plan or divorce settlement.
Grounds for Divorce in Washington
Some states require that the spouse filing for divorce has a legal reason or “grounds” for divorce. In these “fault states,” the filing spouse tells the judge why she wants a divorce and explains the marital misconduct (such as adultery) of the other party. The grounds will be a matter of record and may impact the child custody, alimony, and the divorce settlement.
Washington State, on the other hand, is a no-fault state. Because Washington subscribes to a no-fault philosophy, the courts don’t give any consideration to the reasons you want a divorce. In fact, Washington judges won’t hear couples’ nitty gritty qualms or their dirty laundry. All the filing party must specify is that the marriage is unfixable and irreconcilable.
Factors the Judge Considers in a Divorce
The law makes it very clear that judges are not to consider fault when determining divorce arrangements. As such, adultery does not come into play in decisions about custody or property division, nor does it impact spousal support, a common concern amongst couples.
Many wronged spouses want to use the adultery as the reason to convince the judge that they deserve alimony, but this won’t impact the judge’s decision.
The only kinds of factors that Washington courts consider when determining alimony include the following:
- The income and financial resources of the spouse requesting alimony (obligee)
- How much time the obligee needs to obtain adequate education/training to find suitable employment
- The duration of the marriage
- The couple’s standard of living prior to the divorce
- The age, physical health, and financial obligations of each spouse
- The paying spouses (obligor’s) income, assets, and ability to pay spousal support until the obligee can earn an adequate living
Does Infidelity Affect the Settlement?
Since Washington is a no-fault divorce state, you cannot cite the infidelity of your spouse, or cheating as the reason for divorce. The courts are not interested in why your marriage fell apart. Does that mean that cheating has absolutely no impact on the divorce, or that your spouse’s adulterous behavior has absolutely no influence on the financial settlement that you received? Not exactly.
How Infidelity Can Affect the Divorce Settlement
While you cannot name your spouse’s adultery or cheating as the basis for the divorce, you can use his or her behavior to influence the financial terms of the divorce settlement.
Say, for example, during the adulterous relationship, your spouse rented a luxury apartment for his girlfriend. In a settlement, your divorce attorney could argue that you deserve the cost of the apartment on top of a standard dissolution of marriage amount. However, for this, you must prove these expenses with documented evidence
That doesn't mean that you undertake illegal activities, like hacking into your spouse’s social media or email accounts. While commonplace, logging on to someone's account is illegal without permission.
Any evidence that you procure through such activities is probably not admissible in court. If you suspect that your spouse is cheating on you, use legal means to obtain evidence. This means hiring an investigator, usually, so verify to yourself first that the cost is worth it.
Egregious Adulterous Behavior
If you were mistreated during the marriage in other ways, like having your spouse openly flaunt his/her affair, then your settlement could ostensibly be higher. Higher settlement amounts very often are determined by hiring a competent divorce lawyer.
If the adulterous relationship was also accompanied by violence or abuse in your marriage, then a court may consider this an extenuating circumstance. It is possible you could be awarded additional funds as the abused spouse if your divorce goes to court.
It is possible to fully answer questions about adultery and divorce only on a case-by-case basis. Discuss your case with a divorce lawyer, and find out if you can obtain an increased settlement amount based on adultery in your marriage.
Reaching for a Divorce Resolution in Washington
You will also want to have an attorney review your case to assist with negotiations, offer tips on how to achieve an amicable divorce, and protect your interests. For a divorce lawyer in Washington, call the Law Offices of Molly B. Kenny today at 425-460-0550 for a consultation.
What Are the Most Common Causes of Divorce in Washington State?
Just as every marriage is different, every divorce is also different. However, there are some common reasons that couples often site when splitting ways after a long-term relationship. Some of the reasons listed for divorce are specific, such as issues with money or infidelity. Others are much broader, such as "growing apart" or "irreconcilable differences." It is also important to understand that some reasons for divorce, such as arguments about how to raise the children, cover up more underlying reasons, such as difficulty with communication.
Here are some of the more common reasons for divorce in Washington State:
- Growing apart or becoming different people
- Irreconcilable differences
- Arguments and poor communication
- Failed expectations
- Lack of commitment
- Boredom, need for life change, or "mid-life crisis"
- Substance abuse and addiction issues
- Domestic abuse issues
- Money, spending, and finances
- Infidelity and cheating
Most divorces don't happen because of a single issue listed above, and no divorce is simple or clear-cut. The bottom line is that in some cases, two people simply cannot continue a healthy relationship for a variety of reasons, and it is better for everyone to move on and make a fresh start.
If you are in need of legal help regarding your Washington State divorce, contact Seattle divorce attorney Molly B. Kenny today.
What Should I Do If My Ex Isnt Paying Court-Assigned Debts?
During property division in a Washington divorce, joint debts are either paid or assigned. In cases in which joint debts cannot be transferred to one person’s name, one ex-spouse’s credit will suffer if the other does not follow through with regular payments. Some might stop payments because they don’t have to money to do so, some may not be acting responsibly, and some may be stopping payments out of spite.
If joint debt payments stop, request a free credit report to find out exactly what the issue is. Next, attempt to communicate with your ex about the issue and determine why the debts are not being paid – in writing and perhaps with the guidance of a family law attorney. Finally, attempt to have your ex move the debt into an account in their name only or enforce the terms of the divorce in court.
Generally, it is not a good idea to keep any joint debts in both spouses’ names after a divorce. During the assignment of debts, try to make certain that debts are only under the name of the person assigned to pay the debt.
Are you struggling with debt assignments from your divorce? Speak with a Seattle divorce attorney today.
What Happens To Our Debt In A Divorce?
Married couples share everything – including debt. During a marriage, you may rack up joint debt through credit card debt, car loans, a mortgage, and home equity loans. It is vital that during the divorce process, all of these loans are either assigned or paid for with assets.
Debts should be assigned to one spouse or the other according to the nature of that debt. If the debt is a car loan, the person getting the car in the divorce should often take responsibility for that debt. If the debt is a credit card debt, the debt should often be assigned to whomever made the charges. In cases in which debt assignment isn’t as clear, divorcing couples may consider assigning the debt to the more financially responsible person or the person with an income that allows then to pay the debt.
Remember: just because a debt is not assigned to you in a divorce decree doesn’t mean that your name is no longer connected with it. An ex-spouse who doesn’t pay off assigned debts could harm your credit. Be sure to dissolve all joint accounts involving and move them to just one name.
Perhaps the simplest way to handle joint debt during a divorce is to use joint assets to pay the debts; however, this is not an option for many couples.
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.