Divorce Process in Washington State
Do you need to be legally separated before filing for divorce?
No. This step is not mandatory. Many couples separate temporarily or legally before filing divorce papers to make sure it is what they want before the divorce process starts in the courts of Washington State. Separation gives you a little breathing room and space away from your partner so that you can best assess the situation.
If one party files for legal separation, you must hold off on filing for divorce for at least 90 days, per Washington State laws. (RCW 26.09.030) The official separation date is the date of parting from your spouse. (You may still live in the same home and be considered “legally separated.” It is possible for you to move your belongings to a new bedroom.)
There is no length of time on how long you must remain separated. A couple may opt to be separated for three months or more before filing for divorce. They may also choose to be separated for the inevitable future and live away from one another.
How should you respond to a divorce petition in Washington State?
It can be overwhelming for one spouse to say, “I want a divorce.” You might not even believe it until the divorce petition arrives, awaiting your signature.
Processing this can take some time. That is okay. Feel free to take a moment to collect your thoughts, but you will want to fill out a Response to Petition about a Marriage as soon as possible. This form includes questions you must respond to regarding the nature of your marriage, family, and finances.
It has a section where you can request a:
- Final Divorce Order (to dissolve your marriage)
- Invalid Marriage Order (to annul your marriage)
- Final Legal Separation Order (to live apart from your spouse but remain married for now)
The petition is time-sensitive. It is important to review the form to determine the filing deadline. You will also want to go through any other forms that are included–in detail–to ensure you answer everything and file in a timely manner.
Next, you will need to retain a divorce attorney/family lawyer in Washington State. The Law Office of Erin Bradley McAleer’s attorneys are up for the task. We will advise you on the best actions to take after receiving your divorce petition. We will also provide a full breakdown of what is to come, along with what documents you must compile.
How long is the Washington State divorce process?
It is at least three months. In Washington State, uncontested divorces (where neither spouse objects) can move fast after that period. If a spouse disagrees with the divorce, the process can take even longer and make it as far as trial.
The following elements contribute to how long it can take to get divorced:
- Whether all papers were filled out and filed accurately
- Property and asset division
If you have children, the divorce process may also take longer. You and your spouse must file a parenting plan for your custody and visitation rights. Child support may also be applicable.
It can take time to fill out the necessary forms and go through the proper channels to finalize your divorce when kids are involved. Some divorces take one year (or more). Here are some general rules of thumb:
- The more assets you have, the longer divorces take.
- The less time you were married, the faster the divorce process usually goes.
- The less you agree, the longer the divorce process takes.
Are assets split down the middle in Washington?
The court aims to allocate the couple’s assets based on any existing prenuptial agreement and what is reasonable. Your assets and property may not be equal by the time the divorce is finalized. However, the judge will aim to divide things as fairly as possible based on each partner’s contributions in the marriage, how long you were married, pre-existing assets, what you gained while married, and more.
If one spouse cared for the children while the other spouse worked outside of the home, the spouse who cared for the children may request spousal maintenance (alimony). They may ask for alimony in addition to property and assets, or they may request a higher alimony amount and forgo some of the property and assets.
Do you need a divorce attorney in Washington State for property division?
Getting an attorney is one of the best things you can do if you and your partner have a decent amount of property and assets. Divorce is sensitive, and a spouse may be attached to specific items. If your spouse loves their car, they may be willing to trade the car for money or something else.
A divorce lawyer, such as Erin Bradley McAleer, can help you and your spouse decide who will get what. Mr. McAleer will help you hammer out all details, and he will stay available to answer any questions and concerns. The negotiation process can be tricky, and you need legal counsel to ensure that you get a fair share based on what you brought in and put into the marriage.
In case you are unaware, the Law Office of Erin Bradley McAleer also offers mediation services for families. That means that if you and your spouse are struggling to agree on property division (or other matters), but you wish to avoid trial, you can retain Mr. McAleer to help you come to a consensus. Mr. McAleer maintains professionalism and a good attitude no matter what. You can trust that he has the expertise and patience to help you in this challenging scenario.
Ready for a qualified divorce attorney in Vancouver?
The Law Office of Erin Bradley McAleer is here to help. We have worked with divorcées throughout Vancouver, WA, for years. When you need a committed legal team who understands Washington divorce laws, our law firm is a natural choice. We can assist with any divorce cases, no matter the amount of assets or children. Call us today to arrange time to review your case. Your first consultation is on us.