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Washington Divorce Process

Washington Divorce ProcessNavigating the divorce process in Washington State can be challenging and stressful. However, you can ease the stress and feel more confident about the process when you hire an experienced divorce attorney to handle your case.

Our Seattle divorce lawyers provide our clients with experienced, aggressive, and dedicated legal representation. With 33 years of combined experience in family law, our divorce attorneys are equipped to handle the most complex divorce cases. We handle all types of divorces, including gray, LGBTQ, military, corroborative, contested, same-sex, high-asset, and uncontested divorces.

At Twyford Law Office, we work to resolve your case in the most cost-effective and efficient way possible. We use mediation and negotiation when appropriate, but are not afraid to take an assertive, aggressive approach when necessary.

Contact us at 206-590-7085 to schedule a free consultation with one of our divorce lawyers in Washington State.

How Twyford Law Office Can Help You Navigate the Washington Divorce Process

How Twyford Law Office Can Help You Navigate the Washington Divorce Process

If you are contemplating a divorce, let our Seattle divorce lawyers be your advocates and guides. We’ll help you navigate the Washington divorce process successfully. Divorce can be messy. Disagreements can quickly cause frustration and anxiety. You need a trusted, seasoned divorce lawyer to handle your case.

Washington State’s divorce laws can be complicated. Experience matters when negotiating a settlement or battling your spouse in court. Our Seattle divorce lawyers have high ratings from prestigious legal organizations, including Super Lawyers. The National Association of Distinguished Counsel has also recognized Attorney Julie Twyford as one of the Nation’s Top One Percent of Lawyers.

When you hire our top-rated family and divorce lawyers in Washington, you can trust that we will:

  • Explain the Washington divorce process and how state divorce laws impact your case
  • Assist you in identifying your priorities for a divorce order
  • Protect your best interests throughout the case
  • Fight to obtain fair settlements for property division, alimony, child custody, and child support
  • Handle all communications with your spouse and their attorney
  • Explore options for a collaborative divorce, divorce mediation, or an uncontested divorce
  • Help you protect your parental rights and your children’s best interests
  • Prepare your case for trial and aggressively represent you in court if necessary

Our lawyers have extensive experience handling divorce cases. We understand what is at stake for our clients and work to ensure their best interests are protected.

Contact Twyford Law Office to schedule a confidential and free consultation with one of our experienced divorce lawyers.

Understanding the Steps Involved in the Washington Divorce Process

Knowing what to expect when you file for divorce in Washington helps reduce stress and anxiety. The basic steps in the Washington divorce process include:

Filing a Petition for Dissolution of Marriage

A divorce case begins when a spouse files a Petition for Divorce (Dissolution of Marriage). Washington does not have a length of time to establish residency for divorce cases, so any current resident can file for divorce in Washington State. The Petition for Divorce is filed with the Clerk of Court in the county where the petitioner (the spouse filing for divorce) or the respondent (the spouse being served with divorce papers) lives.

The grounds for divorce in Washington do not include adultery, substance abuse, or other wrongdoing. Instead, Washington is a no-fault divorce state. Your divorce petition alleges that the marriage is irretrievably broken because of irreconcilable differences.

The divorce papers must be served on the respondent. The respondent has 20 days to file an answer to the petition if they are served in Washington State. If the service occurs outside the state or by publication, the respondent has 90 days to file an answer.

Washington State Has a Mandatory Waiting Period for Divorces

Washington State has a mandatory 90-day waiting period for obtaining a divorce. Therefore, the soonest you can get divorced in Washington is 91 days. The 90-day waiting period begins when the respondent receives the divorce papers.

Divorces usually take longer because couples take longer to negotiate a divorce settlement. Factors that complicate divorce cases and could lengthen the divorce process include:

  • A spouse who is uncooperative or combative
  • Disputes regarding child custody
  • Arguments regarding domestic support payments (i.e., child support and alimony)
  • A spouse who evades service of divorce papers
  • Disputes regarding the division of marital assets and debts, including concealing assets
  • High-net-worth divorce cases and/or complex assets
  • Allegations of domestic violence and/or child abuse

Our Seattle divorce lawyers work to minimize complications in your divorce case. We will work with you to resolve problems and obtain your divorce decree as soon as possible.

Response to Petition for Divorce

Your spouse has the right to respond to the Petition for Divorce. There are several options. Your spouse may file a response asking for a divorce with the same terms you seek.

On the other hand, your spouse may file a response alleging entirely different facts and terms. If your spouse fails to respond to the petition, you can request a hearing on the 91st day after your spouse was served with the papers.

Court Issues Temporary Orders

If your spouse contests the Petition for Divorce, you or your spouse can request temporary orders pending a final hearing. Temporary orders address issues regarding child custody and child support. The court may order temporary alimony and give one of the spouses possession of the marital home.

You and your spouse can agree on temporary terms. If that’s the case, we can submit an Ex Parte Order for the court to consider. In most cases, the court will enter the order unless there is a question of law or the child’s best interests.

Attend Parenting Education Course

If you have children, you are required to attend a parenting education course. The instructor provides information about the impact of divorce on children and how to co-parent effectively. You have 60 days to complete the parenting education course from when your spouse was served.

Engage in Discovery

Discovery is the process of gathering information from your spouse and other parties before the trial. Your attorney may depose your spouse and other interested parties. Subpoenas, requests to produce, and interrogatories are other forms of discovery.

Divorce Mediation and Negotiation

Courts in Washington often require spouses to try to resolve their divorce by alternate dispute resolution, such as settlement conferences and mediation. The materials gathered during discovery can aid in negotiating a divorce settlement.

Settlement conferences involve the spouses and their attorneys. Mediators are neutral parties who assist parties in communicating effectively to facilitate settlement.

Settlement or Trial

If we reach a settlement with your spouse, we’ll prepare a stipulated agreement to submit to the court. The judge then reviews the order and approves the settlement.

It is important to understand that judges have jurisdiction over matters related to child custody. All child custody decisions are made based on the best interests of the child. Therefore, the judge can modify the terms of an agreement if the judge believes it is not in the child’s best interests.

When spouses cannot agree to divorce terms, the case is set for a trial. Each attorney presents their client’s case in court. The attorney may call witnesses, present evidence, and make legal arguments. After both parents present their case, the judge decides all unresolved issues. The judge then issues a Decree of Dissolution of Marriage.

Our Seattle divorce lawyers are aggressive negotiators and seasoned trial lawyers. We are prepared for all situations that could arise in your divorce case.

What Happens After the Divorce Is Final?

The divorce judgment legally ends the marriage. It also contains the terms of the divorce. Depending upon the issues before the court and any issues the parties may have settled, a divorce judgment may include, but is not limited to:

You and your spouse must work to comply with the terms of the final order. That might include transferring title to assets or assuming debt. You may be required to close financial accounts and divide the funds based on the property division terms.

Can a Final Divorce Decree Be Modified in Washington?

Even though your divorce is final, the terms of the divorce could change. Generally, property division does not change. However, life events could result in a substantial change in circumstances. If so, either spouse can petition the court to modify an order.

The person requesting a modification has the burden of proving that the change in circumstances justifies modifying an existing family court order. For example, childcare or the child’s developmental needs increase. These situations could justify an increase in child support. A spouse receives a large inheritance, which may justify a change in alimony terms.

Our Seattle divorce lawyers are here to help you after your divorce with any issues that arise. If something changes after your divorce, contact our office to discuss the matter with an attorney.

Divorce Is Complicated. Our Washington State Divorce Lawyers Are Here To Help.

At Twyford Law Office, we fight for your rights in a Washington State divorce action. You can trust our lawyers to be fierce advocates for your best interest and work diligently to achieve a favorable outcome. Call today to schedule a confidential consultation with an experienced Washington State divorce attorney.

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