When a couple is seeking to end their marriage, it is critical to do so the right way. The dissolution of marriage (divorce) is not only the end of a romantic relationship, but the finalization of a legal and financial partnership.
With so much at stake, including child custody and financial security, you want to rest assured knowing that your sensitive family law issues are in the careful hands of a seasoned and knowledgeable marriage dissolution attorney.
Our team can help craft an approach to your dissolution of marriage that accomplishes your goals and addresses your concerns.
We have represented clients in all aspects of family law for over 40 years.
We will truly listen to you and will work hard to ensure you understand all of your options.
When Is A Petition for Dissolution of Marriage Filed?
A dissolution of marriage is the formal petition that is filed in order to legally end a marriage by a court in Washington, or what is commonly called a divorce.
Although it is the first legal step when seeking a divorce, there are numerous steps either spouse can take prior to filing the petition that can expedite proceedings.
That may include engaging in mediation, negotiating agreements to various disputes and beginning the process of dividing property.
Grounds and Residency Requirements for a Washington Dissolution of Marriage
Washington is a “no-fault” state, which means there is no need for a spouse to give a reason for filing for divorce.
A married individual can file a petition for a dissolution of marriage at any time on the grounds that the marriage is “irretrievably broken.” The spouse must also be a resident of the state on the day they are filing.
Dissolution of Marriage Process
Serving and Response
Once the petition is filed with the court, a copy must be served to the other spouse, who is called the respondent. The respondent may then choose to file a:
Response to petition, whether in agreement or not;
File a counter-petition; or
Choose to not respond at all.
When a respondent spouse does not respond, the divorce is considered to be uncontested and can proceed to reaching a settlement. When a response or counter-petition is filed, a temporary hearing will be held next to arrange court orders regarding temporary custody and support.
The state of Washington requires that parents of minor children who are involved in a dissolution of marriage action to attend a mandatory parenting seminar, with the exception of Lincoln County.
The seminar discusses how children and the home can be affected by divorce, and how to successfully co-parent. The couple has 60 days to complete the parenting seminar after filing or being served.
Before finalizing a divorce, a parenting plan must be either agreed upon by each spouse or determined by a judge, but a court will only approve a final parenting plan once both parents have completed an approved parenting seminar.
Discovery and Finalization
After temporary orders are either entered by agreement or ordered by the court, there is a stage called discovery. Discovery involves figuring out all of the financial and custody aspects of the case.
This involves determining and dividing all of the parties’ assets and debts equally, according to the state’s community property laws.
Dividing property fairly may call for appraisals by real estate experts, valuations of stock options or businesses owned by the parties, or separate property tracing.
When children are involved, a court-appointed neutral parenting evaluator may conduct an investigation then provide a recommendation to the court regarding care.
Once “discovery” of all the facts is complete, the parties can either work towards settling their disputes with the help of their attorneys, attend mediation, or take the case to trial for a judge to rule on all remaining issues.
Our Spokane Marriage Dissolution Attorneys are Here to Help
Let us guide you through this difficult time and help reduce the emotional impact divorce can have on you and your family.
Schedule a free consultation with a dissolution of marriage lawyer by calling us or filling out our online contact form.