You may have several common expectations:. You may be surprised to find out that the reality is quite a bit different.
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Here are six Washington divorce laws that you should be aware of:. This means that all property and debt acquired during a marriage will be divided equitably by the court if the couple cannot negotiate an agreement. If it was acquired during the marriage, chances are it will be counted as marital property. Many people mistakenly believe that they will be entitled to a larger share of assets or primary custody of their children in a divorce if their spouse cheated on them during their marriage. This is not the case. The courts do not consider marital misconduct as a deciding factor in the division of property, and infidelity is not usually an issue in deciding child custody.
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Alimony awards are determined on a case-by-case basis as agreed upon by the spouses or according to the discretion of the court. The courts take several factors into account when determining whether alimony is appropriate, including the length of the marriage, the income and earning capacity of each spouse, the age and health of each spouse, and more. In Washington, the minimum length of a divorce case is three months. This includes fees for filing, a judicial surcharge, and court facilitator costs.
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You may hire an outside process server to accomplish this, or an attorney can handle this part of the divorce proceedings. If this is an uncontested divorce, your spouse only needs to sign the Acceptance of Service to acknowledge that the documents have been delivered.
The court cannot move forward until the papers have officially been received by your soon-to-be-ex. Signing and filing the final documents is truly just that.
Grounds and Waiting Period
There are a series of forms to fill out, including any notarized agreements you and your spouse come to regarding the division of assets and debts, child custody, spousal and child support, and any other specific details the two sides work out regarding your situation. Again, you may want to have an attorney or have a member of the court check these to make sure they are filled out correctly.
After you reach a final agreement—this can be on your own, with the help of counsel, or through trial or mediation— the court will look over your paperwork, confirm it is all in order, and sign off. It is in between the serving of the papers and the signing and filing of the final documents where things can and often do get messy and complicated.
In the case of an uncontested divorce in Washington, the situation may progress smoothly and involve little more than both parties signing a few forms. If your spouse contests the divorce , however, things can become adversarial. You may have to go to trial, or at least mediation, in order to hash things out.
Depending on how contentious your divorce becomes, financial records may be subpoenaed, friends and family members may be interviewed, and you and your spouse may become embroiled in all manner of heated arguments. This is when you will most likely want to enlist the help of an attorney. As you navigate these precarious waters, you and your spouse will both present your respective cases.
If agreements cannot be reached, the court will make rulings when it comes to child custody and visitation, division of property, child and spousal support, and more. In this type of combative situation, you may very well want an experienced hand guiding you towards an optimal outcome. At a minimum, divorce in Washington comes with a day waiting period before it can be finalized.
This means it will be at least three months between when you file the paperwork and when a judge signs off on your case. During this time, the court may issue temporary orders regarding custody, parenting plans, financial support, and conduct.