For most couples, the decision to seek a divorce, or dissolution of marriage, comes after a painful journey and careful consideration. If you are considering filing for divorce or have recently been served papers, the first step is to get answers to your questions. You need to inform yourself on how the process works, what your responsibilities are, and how to protect yourself.
If you reside in Spokane County or neighboring communities, we invite you to contact our firm to schedule a consultation. Our caring, qualified divorce attorneys can answer your basic questions and help you understand your rights based on your unique circumstances. Call David J. Crouse & Associates today at 509-624-1380.
How does the divorce process work in Washington?
No two couples or cases are exactly alike, but the general process for dissolutions in Washington follows a basic pattern:
- Initial filings: The divorce process begins when one spouse (petitioner) files a petition for dissolution and has the papers served on other spouse (respondent). The respondent has 20 to 60 days (depending on where the respondent is located) to prepare and file a response to the petition.
- Temporary hearings: The next step will be temporary hearings, in which the parties ask the courts to create temporary orders for things such as child custody, finances (e.g., spousal maintenance or child support), protective orders (e.g., if a spouse or child’s safety is in jeopardy), and who will reside in the marital home until the divorce is final.
- Discovery: The parties will share information, such as a detailed financial affidavit, with each other. During this time, they can also garner information from third parties. This is known as the discovery phase.
- Negotiation and mediation: Then negotiations typically begin. If both spouses cooperate, they can discuss the important matters of the divorce together and try to reach amicable terms. Lawyers and mediators can be very useful in coming up with solutions and ways to compromise. If the parties are able to agree on all the terms of divorce (e.g., custody, support, property, etc.), then one of their attorneys can draw up the settlement and parenting plan and ask the court for approval.
- Trial: While most parties are able to resolve dissolution cases through an agreement reached at a mediation or as a result of settlement negotiations, some cases require completion by trial. When trial is necessary, it is critical that the attorney you hire is an experienced litigator, capable not only of dealing with high conflict cases but also capable of making an excellent presentation to your assigned judge.
What are the requirements for divorce in Washington?
The requirements for divorce in Washington are basic and straightforward. The only two requirements are that:
- One party must reside in the state on the day s/he files for divorce, and
- At least 90 days must pass from the time one party files the initial petition for dissolution and the other party is served before the court will grant the couple a divorce. This time, known as the waiting period, gives the parties a chance to reconcile before making the dissolution official. How long this divorce process lasts depends on whether the divorce is contested or uncontested (i.e., both parties agree on everything).
Washington is also a no-fault state, which means you do not need to provide a specific reason for requesting a divorce or prove the other spouse did anything wrong. An “irretrievable breakdown of the marriage” is sufficient grounds.
Do I really need an attorney for my divorce?
Divorce is one of the most challenging events of a person’s life. It is emotionally, mentally, and financially draining. The manner in which you handle the proceedings and, more importantly, the outcome of your divorce will impact your future for the long haul. It will dictate how much time you can spend with your children, the division of your property, and what types of future support payments you can expect, amongst other critical matters.
Because there is so much on the line, it makes good sense to have a knowledgeable divorce attorney counsel you and facilitate the process. Our attorneys are among the most experienced divorce litigators in the Spokane County area, as testified to by the Order of the Barristers Award for excellence in courtroom advocacy. Our attorneys are top rated by AVVO, have been selected as the “Top Attorney” in Spokane in divorce and custody by Spokane Coeur d’Alene Magazine, and have been selected as a “Top Attorney In North America” by Who’s Who Directories.” We understand the intricacies of divorce proceedings and know how to navigate complex issues.
All dissolution cases require the distribution of property and liabilities, establishing a parenting plan and child support if there are children of the marriage, and the entry of a decree, which legally ends the marriage. All parties must agree on these issues, which are challenging for many couples to resolve, before the court will finalize the divorce. (If couples are unable to come to an agreement, the court will draw up its own orders for the couple to follow.)
Though every divorce requires the same general procedures and documents, each case is unique. Many issues can arise during the process and intersect with other areas of the law, such as tax, real estate, domestic violence, health care, retirement and benefits, business evaluations and/or compensations, or wills and trusts. Our attorneys understand when and how these other laws intersect with your divorce proceeding and are experienced in handling these complex issues.
We can help negotiate for terms that are in your best interest and fight for the things that are most important to you. We can also collaborate with other professionals like tax professionals, social workers, appraisers, etc. on your behalf to collect important data and present the best case.
Our Divorce Attorneys in Spokane County Are Here to Help
Family relationships are the most important influence on our personal lives. Our mission as a firm is to provide personalized client service that is attentive, understanding, and diligent throughout the entirety of your case. Our ultimate goal is to deliver highly successful legal results.
For over twenty years, we have represented thousands of clients in divorce proceedings, including mediation, negotiation, and/or litigation of all the issues that may arise in a divorce case, such as child custody, child support, business valuation, property division, or spousal maintenance.
David J. Crouse & Associates is well equipped to answer any questions and handle all divorce matters, whether agreed or contested, straightforward or exceedingly complex. Call us today to see how we may be of service to you: 509-624-1380.