On a purely legal level, marriage and divorce are both matters of paperwork. At a time in your life that’s often full of complex and highly-charged emotions, the technical procedure required to get started with a divorce can seem overwhelming and confusing. It’s important to understand the paperwork needed to get a divorce, including the official forms and other documents that you’ll want to have ready.
The Forms You Need for a Divorce in Washington
There are multiple pieces of paperwork and documents you need to prepare for your divorce. While all are important, there are several key forms that must be filed in order to initiate the divorce. Here are some of the most important forms you may need:
- Petition for Dissolution of Marriage. This is one of the longer forms you’ll need to fill out. It includes information about when and where you were married, information indicating that the court has jurisdiction over the marriage, whether you have children, marital debts and assets, spousal and child support, custody, and a formal request to dissolve the marriage. You can also use this form to change your name as a part of the divorce.
- Confidential Information. This form contains information not to be filed in the public record but is still necessary for the divorce. The only way that your spouse or his attorney can see the information contained on the CI form is by court order. It mainly asks about issues related to health and safety, including any restraining or protective orders—especially those that affect children. There is also an addendum form that may be required.
- Summons. The summons form, or Notice about a Marriage or Domestic Partnership form, is a two-page document that gets served to your spouse in order to begin the divorce proceedings. It notifies him that you have started an action to ask the court to end your marriage. This form is also used for ending a domestic partnership or engaging in a legal separation. Your spouse typically has twenty days to respond, unless he was served out of state, in which case the deadline is extended to sixty days.
There are other forms that may be required, including a vital statistics form. There is also additional paperwork if you’re requesting a restraining order or if you have children with your spouse. Your divorce attorney will be able to help you select which forms are necessary, how to fill them out, and how to file them.
In addition to filling out the right forms, you may also need to spend some time compiling some additional information to include with these forms. Financial paperwork such as credit card and bank statements, bills, records of debt such as loan or mortgage documents, retirement plan information, and deeds or titles to real property such as a home or a car may be needed. If your divorce involved domestic violence, you’ll want to compile medical records, police reports, logs of 9-1-1 calls, and other evidence of the situation.
If your spouse is the one who filed for divorce and you received a summons and a petition, the summons will include directions about how to reply. Typically, this reply is with a form called the “Response to Petition about a Marriage,” and is available, as are the other forms, on the website of the Washington State Courts.
Get Legal Help for Your Divorce
Legal divorce paperwork can be confusing, but you don’t have to face it alone. An experienced divorce attorney will be familiar with all of the necessary forms and can help you every step of the way.
To get the legal help you need with your divorce, the Law Offices of Molly B. Kenny is here for you. Reach out to us by phone, or send us an email via our contact form to arrange a private consultation with an experienced and caring attorney in our Bellevue office.