When you look at the Washington State Vital Statistics, or highlights from the year 2017, you’ll notice some surprising numbers. There were 25,231 divorces in that year alone. That boils down to about sixty-nine divorces per day. And Spokane has one of the highest rates of divorce in the entire country.
Seeing as how the number of those getting married is less than 50,000, the number of divorces looks even higher.
Are you considering getting a divorce in Washington? As you can see, you’re not alone. And luckily for you, there are many resources out there to help you through the entire process.
This guide will be one of them. Check it out for a general overview of everything you can expect, from timeline and costs, plus more!
How to File for Divorce in Washington
This process is fairly simple.
One of the spouses will file for divorce through the courts. Once they have filled out all the paperwork and turned it into the courts, the courts will then serve it to the other spouse. You have to file for divorce in the current county you live in.
Once a spouse has received the papers, they have twenty days to respond. If you and your spouse have already come to an agreement on your divorce, this process will be easier. They can sign and return the documents, allowing the divorce to finalize promptly.
How Long Does Divorce Take?
From the day divorce papers get served on your spouse, your divorce will finalize in 90 days. So, the minimum amount of time your divorce can take is three months.
This number rises only if there are other factors involved that require more time — navigating spousal or child support; filing with an unwilling or unhelpful spouse; a full court docket; and more.
If your divorce is contested, a lawyer will likely get involved to help you during the stages of discovery. They may have to subpoena financial and other personal documents from your spouse. They may also conduct interviews with coworkers, children, family.
This will all prolong the finalization of the divorce.
How Much Does Divorce Cost?
To file a dissolution of marriage with the courts, it costs $280. If you can’t pay this fee, there is a way to talk to the courts about waiving it. You’ll have to discuss the financial matter with them for more information.
Of course, it’s likely that you’ll both have lawyers for the process, too.
Lawyer’s fees are much more unpredictable, as they depend greatly on the current situation. The cost could get determined by how lengthy the trial is, how much division of property there is, if there are kids involved, and more.
Washington: A No-Fault Divorce State
Some states have a fault- vs. no-fault-based method of handling divorce. In Washington, we are a no-fault divorce state.
This means that one spouse will not have to prove legal grounds to dissolve the marriage. People were getting forced to stay in relationships that weren’t making them happy — and possibly much worse. Going with no-fault divorce creates a direct way, without laying blame on either spouse, for divorce to happen.
This means that getting a divorce is not hard to obtain and either spouse can ask the Court for a divorce.
As long as:
- The marriage was legal
- The spouses meet Washington state’s residency requirements
- They have filed accordingly
- then a person is able to get out of their marriage without having to prove fault.
For your divorce to be eligible, only you have to want it. It doesn’t matter if the other spouse doesn’t — it only makes the process more cumbersome.
Child and/or Spousal Support
If you have children, you’re going to deal with child support and child custody. If you can work these things out and develop a parenting plan with your spouse, it’ll make the trial swifter. If a judge has to figure it out for you, it could take years.
When it comes to child custody, you’ll need to determine if one parent will have more time with the child(ren) or if it’ll be equal. You’ll need a visitation schedule that establishes dates, down to a weekly and daily basis.
Determining child support is no easy feat, either, but Washington state has guidelines that determine the final number. These consider things like income, debts, number of children, daycare costs, and more. You can look at calculators online which can give you an idea of potential custody costs.
Spousal support, or alimony, is honestly unlikely. Only about 10% of divorces result in one spouse giving alimony to another. This number is even lower for things like indefinite alimony.
But, there are some circumstances that may call for inquiring into spousal support.
Say one spouse was a doctor who made a healthy living. His wife, a former librarian, got pregnant. The doctor encouraged her to stay home with the child and quit working.
The women does so, and years and years go by without her having a career on record. This becomes a problem if the two are now trying to get a divorce. The woman would have a chance at asking for spousal support from the husband.
This will all need to get determined by a professional, such as a divorce lawyer.
Division of Property
Washington state believes in the idea of community property. This means that if something was bought while two people were a couple, it’s theirs. It doesn’t matter who bought it, who paid more, who maintained it — it’s a communal thing.
This includes both assets and debts.
Of course, separate property is still relevant. These are items that are separately owned by an individual. This can be family heirlooms, personal injury settlements, gifts, and the like.
You, your spouse, your lawyers and the judge should try to determine the most equal and fair division of property.
Let Family Law Attorney Help You
A divorce lawyer knows what to expect in divorce cases — even the unexpected things that would blindside you. Pacific Northwest Family Law has attorneys in Benton county, Franklin county, Yakima, Spokane, Walla Walla and all parts in between. Don’t stare at a mountain of papers and proceedings in confusion. Instead, have a trusted attorney guide you through the process in nearly every county in Washington.
Divorce is never easys. We’re here to help.
Contact our family lawyers today for a case evaluation. If you mention this post, we will waive our normal $100 fee. But you have to do so in October and you have to hurry because we can only do a handful of these case evaluations a day. Once our schedule is full, we can’t do any more.