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How Does Getting a Divorce Work in Washington State?

No two marriages are alike, and neither are any two divorces. Divorce is a different process in every state, and each couple takes their own path along that process. No matter what, the desired end result is the same: to arrive at a place of freedom and healing for your entire family. At Akiona Law, we are here to walk you through the process of getting divorced in Washington State.

The divorce process begins by speaking to someone. Getting the help of a compassionate and knowledgeable lawyer will help you understand and determine your options in starting your Washington divorce. From there, your lawyer will help you file a Petition For Divorce (Dissolution). This petition formally asks the state and your spouse for a legal divorce. It needs to be filed in your proper county and then served to your spouse.

In Washington State, there is a 90 day “cooling off” period after your petition has been served to the other party. This means that, technically speaking, the earliest a divorce could be finalized is 91 days after a petition was originally served. Most divorces take much longer than this. This “cooling off” period may be used for parties to negotiate what they want their divorce final orders to look like.

There are two types of divorce – contested, where you have to reach an agreement in court, and uncontested, where you can both reach an agreement without the help of a judge. Uncontested divorce results in a much quicker turnaround. However, even an uncontested divorce (or agreed divorce) may not be finalized before the 90 day cooling off period. 

The process for a contested divorce begins with a Temporary Orders Hearing. This is where it will be decided what the parenting plan and child support order will be while the divorce is pending. Washington State temporary orders establish a visitation structure and financial relief for the children during the months or even years that a contested divorce can take.

Another issue in contested divorces is how much Spousal Maintenance (Washington’s name for alimony) will I receive? Or; how much spousal maintenance will I have to pay? The court looks at several factors when determining payment and receipt of spousal support. For example, length of marriage; age of the parties; standard of living during the marriage; a person’s age, physical and emotional conditions; and one party’s need and the other’s party ability to pay spousal maintenance considering both spouses’ financial obligations, financial resources and the ability to meet their own needs. 

A Washington divorce court may order how possessions are divided; such as property, vehicles, debt, insurance (auto, health) and even pets. To summarize, at a Washington divorce temporary orders hearing, the court may be deciding your parenting plan, ordering child support and spousal maintenance, and temporarily dividing physical property and some of the assets and debts. 

Akiona Law provides effective and efficient legal guidance to help you explore and understand your options considering the goals for yourself and your family as you begin your divorce journey in Washington State. Contact Akiona Law today, no matter what time of day it is, to get started on your divorce journey. We can help 24/7, 365!