Woman Looking at a Divorce Petition in Bellevue Washington for Law Offices of Molly B. KennyIf your spouse has served you a divorce petition, it’s essential to provide a thorough and considered response. An experienced Washington state divorce lawyer can help you complete and file your response accurately while meeting all the deadlines necessary to begin the divorce process.

How to Respond to a Divorce Petition in Washington State

You may receive several separate documents when you are served divorce papers. The first is your copy of the Petition about a Marriage. Depending on the action your spouse intends to take, the document could be a Petition for Divorce, Petition for Legal Separation, or a Petition to Invalidate (Annul) Marriage.

The first thing you need to do is read through the petition carefully. The answers you give on the response form relate directly to the information in the petition. Keep the petition open to the relevant page when filling out your response in case you need to provide further details.

A typical Response to a Petition about a Marriage includes acknowledgment of the following:

  • General information. You are required to check the boxes beside each section indicating whether you agree or disagree with any of your partner’s statements, preferences, or requests. Note that disagreeing with any area simply because you do not want a divorce will not work in your favor. The court will always grant a divorce if either spouse requests it.
  • Child support and parenting plans. If you have children, the petition should state where they live, who can spend time with them, and your spouse’s proposals for child support and parenting schedule. If you disagree with your spouse’s intentions, you can list your reasons on the form and provide your own proposed parenting plan and child support worksheets along with your response.
  • Assets and debts. An overview of shared assets and debts should be provided. You will need to review it carefully and note any additional assets that should be included in the division of property.
  • Spousal support. Your spouse may make a request for spousal support in the initial petition. They may also request that you cover their attorney fees and court costs. If you disagree, you will be expected to state your reasons, such as that you cannot pay or that your spouse does not need financial support.
  • Court orders. The petition may include temporary protection or restraining orders, which will take effect after the document is filed.

Once you have completed your responses, you should make several copies of the document. Keep at least one copy for your records and serve one to your spouse.. The original should be filed with the court clerk’s office for the county that has jurisdiction over your case.

If you have an attorney, they will fill out the Response for you so you do not need to worry about it.

Deadlines for Responding to a Divorce Petition in Washington State

If you live in Washington state, you have 20 days to respond to the petition from the date you were served. If the other party mailed the petition and supporting materials to your home outside Washington, you have up to 60 days to respond.

You should check the paperwork that comes with the petition to see if it includes a motion. A motion requires a separate response that has its own deadline, which depends on the kind of motion and the county rules. Typically, you must respond to a motion in writing at least a week before the hearing. Motions usually include a note warning the respondent of the deadline.

Let a Washington State Divorce Attorney Protect Your Future

The petition and response are just the beginning of your divorce. The Law Offices of Molly B. Kenny can stop you from becoming overwhelmed and making mistakes that will affect the rest of your life. 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.


Molly B. Kenny
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Divorce and Child Custody Attorney Serving Bellevue and Seattle Washington