There are several decisions you will need to make when ending your marriage. In addition to sorting through your complicated emotions during this challenging time, you and your soon-to-be ex-spouse need to determine how your property, debts, and other assets will be divided. If you have children, you will need to establish a parenting plan and negotiate a child support agreement. Although Washington state does not require divorcing couples to retain legal counsel to obtain a divorce, enlisting the support of a compassionate and experienced family law attorney is the best way to ensure you make informed decisions with greater certainty. Your attorney can answer each of your questions as they arise, even those that concern decisions or events occurring after the court finalizes your divorce. This post will explore some of the most common questions about the divorce process in Washington and why enlisting the guidance of a divorce attorney is highly recommended.
First, it’s important to understand that either spouse may file for divorce. As a “No Fault” state, Washington does not require the petitioner to provide a specific reason for pursuing a divorce (i.e., claiming that the other spouse’s behavior or infidelity caused irreparable damage to the marriage). Instead, the petitioner may start the divorce process by completing and filing a Petition for Divorce (Dissolution), a Summons, and other required paperwork. Once the court receives the petition, you must observe a mandatory 91-day waiting period until the court finalizes the divorce. While some couples are able to negotiate the terms of their divorce within this timeframe, more complex or contentious divorces may require more time to obtain a resolution.
As you move through the divorce process, several questions will arise. Working with a knowledgeable attorney is the best way to access the information and answers you need to make informed decisions with greater clarity. Below are some of the most common questions that divorcing couples encounter.
Some people seek a divorce so they can start a new relationship with someone else. If you are ending your current marriage so you can marry another person, Washington requires that you wait a minimum of three days before applying for another marriage license. Other than this guideline, there are no additional restrictions on remarrying after your divorce.
There are a few basic requirements for pursuing a divorce in Washington. You may seek a divorce as long as one of the following applies: (1) You live in Washington; (2) Your spouse lives in Washington; (3) You are in the military and stationed in Washington; or (4) Your military spouse will be stationed in Washington for at least 90 days after you file and serve the divorce.
Like most states, Washington seeks to establish a child custody agreement that allows both parents to nurture their relationship with the child. As long as there are no reasons to restrict one parent’s time with the child (i.e., a history of domestic violence, long-term willful abandonment of the child, etc.), the court will seek a parenting plan that encourages both parents to take an active role in raising the child. The court will consider several factors, such as the child’s age and emotional needs, the ability of each parent to care for the child, the work schedule of each parent, and other relevant factors.
Many people assume that the divorce process will be highly combative and contentious. However, many couples are able to separate on relatively amicable terms, working together to negotiate the terms of their separation. While amicable divorces tend to reduce the stress and cost involved in the process, the spouses must still observe the mandatory 91-day waiting period until the divorce is finalized. It’s still in your best interests to work with a trusted and caring divorce attorney to ensure that the process moves forward as smoothly and efficiently as possible.
Even if you and your spouse agree that a divorce is your best option, the process can sometimes be challenging and emotionally draining. However, it’s important to recognize that you are never alone in this process. Consider reaching out to a compassionate Seattle family law attorney who can help you determine the most strategic path forward. Your attorney can help you articulate your divorce goals and create a plan to achieve them. Together, you and your lawyer can lay a solid foundation for your life’s next chapter.
If you need help navigating the divorce process in Seattle, call the Hemmat Law Group today at (206) 682-5200 to speak with a caring and experienced family law attorney.
The Hemmat Law Group (HLG) was founded in 1994 by Steven Amir Hemmat, a former DOJ Trial Attorney. We specialize in family law, supporting victims of the legal system.
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Our divorce lawyers provide expert legal advice for all aspects of divorce, including child custody, support and property division. Contact us today.