A Primer On The Divorce Process: Documents, Procedures, And Timelines
In the state of Washington, filing for divorce requires preparing several documents. In addition to a $314 filing fee, you will need to prepare at least five documents, referred to as starting documents. These documents that are a part of the process of a standard divorce in Washington consist of a:
- Confidential information sheet;
- Certificate of dissolution;
- Proposed parenting plan (if children are involved).
Once filed, the court will issue two important documents. The first document, an automatic financial restraint, is what I alluded to toward the end of the previous chapter. It notifies both parties that they are prohibited from disposing of or dissipating any assets without court authorization. The second document is known as a case schedule, which outlines the specific tasks and deadlines that must be followed throughout your case.
After filing the case, negotiations typically begin, so long as the other party responds to the petition. If they do not respond, the option to default is available. This can expedite the finalization of your divorce in as little as 90 days, as their failure to acknowledge being served is interpreted as a forfeiture of the case. However, if the other party does respond, you will proceed to follow your case schedule.
Case schedules typically have negotiations as the first step. If the negotiations are successful, you can finalize your divorce after only 90 days. Should negotiations prove unsuccessful, the case proceeds to discovery, where the court investigates, or “discovers,” the financial information of each party involved, addressing ownership, mortgage payments, and bank statements, among other things. After completing discovery, negotiations are reattempted. If an agreement is reached at this point, the divorce can be finalized. If not, the case moves to mediation, as the state of Washington requires mediation prior to a trial. Should mediation be successful, the divorce can be finalized. However, if mediation fails, the case would proceed to a trial, where a judge would ultimately decide on the dissolution of the marriage.
If a divorce case goes to trial, the process typically spans about one year. Because of this, many people seek temporary orders to be put in place at the beginning of the case. These temporary orders serve as temporary arrangements that remain in effect until the finalization of the divorce.
Unraveling No-Fault Divorce: Exploring Implications And Waiting Periods
Since Washington State is a no-fault divorce state, anyone can file for dissolution without needing to provide specific grounds. The court gives no consideration of the basis for filing for the dissolution. This plays into the issue of a waiting period when it comes to a divorce.
Determining the date of separation of a legal separation involves several factors. It can be defined as the point at which a spouse ceases acquiring community property, establishes a separate household (even if residing in the same home but in a separate bedroom), or when the petition for legal separation is filed – it ultimately varies depending on what is alleged in the case. For example, some people may choose an earlier separation date to preclude the other spouse from claiming any income or assets acquired after that date. For example, if a spouse anticipates a significant bonus payment on a future date, they may state an earlier separation date to exclude that income from being divided.
Nevertheless, there is no required waiting period to file a divorce petition, strictly speaking. In Washington, one can file for legal separation and cite the filing date as the separation date. This applies to all counties within the state, not just King County or Pierce County where most divorces occur. However, there are instances where couples have been separated for a significant period without pursuing a divorce. In these cases, the divorce process may be simpler when there are no assets or liabilities to divide due to the long separation period.
In summary, a divorce in Washington takes at least 90 days to complete. This assumes you reach an agreement with your spouse, which is not always the case. As such, the process often extends to about a year. The court will not sign off on a divorce decree until 90 days have elapsed since the other party received the necessary paperwork.
For more information on the Process Of A Standard Divorce In Washington, a free initial consultation is your next best step. Get the information and legal answers you are seeking by calling (425) 276-7390 today.