Divorce is a painful process, and many steps must be taken to protect the futures of yourself and your children. Our team of divorce attorneys at Cohen Family Law, LLC will meet with you, analyze your unique situation and provide you with the legal support you need based on your specific circumstances. Call (360) 953-5000 for a free consultation today.
In addition to the considerable amount of legal paperwork involved, a divorce attorney will help with all aspects of your case. They can offer:
When emotions are running high, it is easy to make rash decisions. Having a lawyer in your corner to offer objective, experience-based advice can help you avoid costly mistakes. They will assess your options from a strategic standpoint and help you stand your ground.
In contentious divorce proceedings, the advice and testimony of experts such as a forensic accountant, an appraiser, investment consultant, mental health professional, etc., may be necessary to support your case. An experienced divorce attorney will have the resources and professional contacts to recruit the experts you need.
Litigation experience will be critical if your case goes to trial. A divorce lawyer can give unparalleled insight into the tactics an opposing attorney may use, as well as how a judge will react to various evidence and arguments.
When filing for divorce, each state has unique residence requirements that must be met. Under RCW 26.09.010, 26.09.030, Washington’s are as follows:
The state does not require you to live in Washington for a specific length of time before filing. You can file for divorce as long as you or your spouse has established residency in the state.
Washington is a “no-fault” state which means that the grounds for divorce are not difficult to establish. The only reason a person needs for filing is that the marriage is “irretrievably broken.” The state can, however, consider fault-based arguments for the division of property or spousal support.
There are several steps to initiate divorce proceedings.
One spouse (the Petitioner) must file a petition for divorce with the court.
The Petitioner must prove to the court that their spouse (the Respondent) has received a copy of the petition. In most cases, that is done by using a professional process server.
The Respondent has a limited time to file a response to contest the divorce if they do not agree with the terms. If there is no disagreement, the respondent can sign the “joinder” on the petition for dissolution, and after a 90-day waiting period, the divorce can be finalized.
A request for temporary orders can be submitted to the court to temporarily resolve issues regarding child custody, visitation schedules, spousal maintenance, child support, etc., until the divorce is final.
If children are involved, the parties to a divorce are required to attend a mandatory parenting seminar. Information will be provided on how divorce impacts children.
A fact-finding process where each party will exchange information and disclose facts and documents related to the case to prepare for settlement or trial.
If both parties can resolve their disputed issues in mediation, a written settlement document can be presented to the Ex Parte Department commissioner. If the commissioner approves your agreement, your divorce is final.
When the parties cannot resolve their disputes, each spouse or their attorney will present their case to a judge at a final hearing. The judge will decide on the issues at hand, then approve final orders and final judgments and legally end the marriage by granting a Decree of Dissolution of Marriage.
It is important to note that there are alternative ways of proceeding. For instance, both parties can bypass this entire process by signing the initial petition.
To file for an annulment or a “declaration of invalidity,” you must be eligible for one, which is rare. The marriage must be considered void or invalid. Invalid marriages are illegal marriages, to begin with, and were never recognized by the state of Washington. Examples of invalid marriages can include marriage by force, fraud, or while under duress, as well as if bigamy is involved, incest, incompetence, or an underage spouse.
Mediation is an informal meeting between the two parties to a divorce that can be a good alternative to trial. The spouses are assisted by a mediator who is a neutral third party and is trained in conflict resolution. They will speak to each side, with their goal being to find common ground and help the parties communicate effectively to resolve disputed issues. If a mutually agreeable settlement can be reached, mediation can be a relatively fast and inexpensive means of resolving a divorce.
If you are facing a divorce, the Washington divorce lawyers at Cohen Family Law, LLC are ready to help. Whether you need immediate representation or advice about your legal options, we will consult with you on your situation at no cost. Call us at (360) 953-5000 or contact us online today.