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How Can I File for Divorce in the State of Washington?


Divorce is never an easy decision, but if it has been determined to be the best route for you and your family, certain regulations need to be followed - including seeking the help of a divorce attorney in Washington State.

If you reside in the State of Washington and would like information on filing for a divorce, we encourage you to read through this blog post to learn valuable details regarding the legal process to obtain a dissolution of marriage. 

Our qualified team at the Hodgson Law Office will explain all of the necessary steps involved in successfully obtaining an uncontested divorce within Washington State's jurisdiction to give you peace of mind and complete understanding throughout this sometimes complicated and stressful time.

Overview of the Divorce Process in the State of Washington

to file for divorce

The divorce process in the state of Washington begins with either filing a formal petition for dissolution of marriage or a declaration of an informal marital contract. Strategic divorce planning is also recommended.

Depending on the circumstances, a couple may pursue whichever option works best for them. So, how to file for divorce? Couples who choose to file for divorce need to provide information regarding both parties and then sign an agreement on how to divide marital assets. 

Washington laws also require that spouses attend mediation meetings that focus on resolving disputes related to parenting plans, alimony (or spousal support) payments, and other related topics.

Divorce proceedings can be lengthy and complex, so couples should seek legal counsel when navigating through the process to minimize the waiting period.

Requirements for Filing for Divorce in the State of Washington

Filing divorce papers in Washington State can be a complex and emotionally-charged process. 

To start, at least one of the spouses must have lived in Washington for at least 90 days before initiating the divorce paperwork. 

Additionally, both spouses must agree to take part in mediation sessions as part of the proceedings, and must also provide detailed financial and asset information to avoid property settlement disputes. Consulting with a Spokane property division attorney can help spouses make informed decisions about their rights and obligations related to their own strategic divorce planning.

Ultimately, divorcing couples should seek out legal counsel and guidance from family law specialists to help ensure their divorce is filed properly, equitably, and lawfully.

Types of Divorces Available to Residents of the State of Washington

filing for divorce

Depending on its complexity, a divorce case file in the State of Washington can take up to several months or even years, particularly in contested divorce scenarios. The different types of divorce available to Washington residents include traditional litigation divorce, collaborative divorce, simplified dissolution of marriage (or summary dissolution), and settlement conference, uncontested divorce, contested divorce

Filing Fees and Other Costs Associated with Filing for Divorce in the State

The process of filing for divorce in Washington State can be costly, and the overall divorce cost associated varies depending on the individual circumstances. According to statistics, the typical filing fee with the court is approximately $284, while an attorney may charge anywhere from $1,500 up to $2,000 or more depending on the complexity of the situation. 

Many states require a certain length of time before being granted a legal divorce - some six months, others two years. It's important to note that this timeline doesn't necessarily include any other associated costs such as those incurred for professional services such as mediators, or court reporters and depositions required for evidence gathering during the trial. 

So even after filing fees are taken care of, one should expect additional expenses along their journey toward finalizing their divorce proceedings.

From Start to Finish: Your Guide to Divorce in Washington State

divorce case file

Step 1: Understand the Grounds for Filing for Divorce in Washington State

One of the first steps in getting a divorce in Washington State is to understand the legal grounds for filing. It's important to know which papers to fill out when filing for divorce, as it impacts the length and complexity of the proceedings. 

In Washington State, basic divorce papers must be filed with either "at-fault" grounds or "no-fault" grounds. If one spouse is filing on at-fault grounds, then you must prove that the other spouse was responsible for the breakdown of the marriage with evidence such as adultery or criminal activity. 

On the other hand, if you're filing on no-fault grounds, then only a court-recognized statement that confirms that the marriage has broken down is needed. 

Understanding exactly what grounds best suit your case and collecting evidence if required can help make sure that getting a divorce goes as smoothly and quickly as possible.

Step 2: Gather Necessary Documents and Information for Your Filing

Step two of divorce in Washington State is all about assembling the necessary legal documents and information to initiate a filing.

Documents may include any relevant bank, retirement, or investment accounts, tax returns, property ownership records, and other financial information covering income, assets, debts, and expenses. 

In addition to documents concerning finances, it's important to prepare adequate detail regarding living arrangements for the family children that are involved. This could involve current custody arrangements, parenting plans, school choices, and health care decisions. 

Once you've obtained all of the requisite documents and organized the related information into an informative packet for your attorney to review you'll be ready to move on to step three of the divorce process in Washington State.

Step 3: Complete the Required Forms and File Them with the Court

court to file for divorce

Going through the process of divorce can often be an emotionally and financially draining experience. When it comes to filing for a divorce under Washington law, the third step is to complete the necessary divorce forms.

While these forms may vary depending on your circumstances, they generally consist of court documents—such as a summons, divorce petition, and confidential information form—as well as any additional documents that are specified by Washington's Mandatory Declaration of Disclosure law. 

Once all the required paperwork is filled out, individuals should make two copies of each document, submit them to their local court and pay a filing fee, which varies by county. 

Collecting a parenting plan—if applicable—is also highly recommended before submitting the paperwork; this will save time and energy down the road as courts often prefer an agreement to be made between parties before proceeding with a case. 

Following these steps will ensure that your divorce will progress smoothly from start to finish.

Step 4: Serve Your Spouse with the Filed Divorce Papers

Once you've filed the divorce documents, your next step is to serve your spouse with them. This is an important part of the process as it legally notifies them of the divorce and allows them to respond to the paperwork. 

Depending on the individual state laws, this may involve hiring a professional process server who will deliver these papers in person to make sure they are served properly, according to Washington State law. 

You must follow all the steps necessary when dealing with filing and serving divorce papers; otherwise, you may be subject to fines or other penalties if done incorrectly. 

With a clear understanding of how this process works, however, you can rest assured that your filings should be served properly and completed on time.

Step 5: Attend a Mandatory Parent Education Program

basic divorce papers

The fourth step in the divorce process in Washington State is attending a Mandatory Parent Education Program. This program is designed to help parents understand the nature of divorce and how it affects their lives, as well as those of their children. 

During this class, parents will learn about how their parenting style might need to change to better meet the needs of the child throughout and after the divorce process. 

It will also provide information about legal issues related to child custody, and strategies for co-parenting that can help ensure a successful transition for everyone involved. 

By attending this program, both parents can be assured that they're well-prepared for the changes ahead and can work together towards an amicable solution.

Step 6: Submit All Required Documents to the Court

And the last stage of the divorce process is the submission of all necessary documents to the court. After both parties have completed the required forms, it's important to make sure that they are accurately filled out and signed, then submitted as soon as possible to the appropriate court. 

Depending on the case details, a fee may be required for paperwork filing and processing. In addition, it's recommended that you keep several copies of your documents - one for yourself and others for any third parties involved in the matter - so that you can easily refer back to them if needed. 

Submitting all the necessary documents marks the completion of your journey through the process of a contested divorce, so take a moment to celebrate your accomplishment!

Get Assistance for Your Washington State Divorce from the Hodgson Law Office

divorce documents

Going through the divorce process can be a difficult and emotional experience, especially if you don't understand the rules in the Washington courts. We hope that the information provided here has provided some guidance on what to expect and how to navigate through the steps. 

It's important to note that divorces are complex matters, and not all cases are alike. This means that you'll want to seek a professional opinion from an experienced family law attorney if you have questions or uncertainties regarding your case. 

At Hodgson Law Office, our seasoned attorneys are well-versed in divorce law and are happy to discuss how best to approach your situation based on your goals, circumstances, and any other relevant factors.

Contact us today so we can help guide you through this challenging process toward the most desirable resolution for your case.


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Mark D. Hodgson

Mark D. Hodgson

Mark D. Hodgson and his legal team at Hodgson Law Office provide exceptional, personalized representation in family law and divorce cases. With a commitment to trust, integrity, and vigorous advocacy, Hodgson Law Office offers reliable and compassionate legal assistance for all your family law issues.

Schedule a Free Consultation With an Experienced Spokane Divorce Lawyer Today!

When it comes to divorce, you need a trusted advocate on your side. Hodgson Law Office is here to help. Schedule a consultation today and get the legal support you need.

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Traditional litigation divorce

With traditional litigation divorces, the spouses typically have their attorneys handle matters in court and settle on a final judgment with a judge's ruling, often in consultation with the court clerk.

Collaborative divorce

A collaborative divorce is a less confrontational approach where an agreement is reached through cooperative problem-solving instead of battle lines filled out in a courtroom.

Simplified dissolution of marriage

In some situations, couples can pursue a simplified dissolution or summary dissolution when the marriage doesn't possess certain complexities like those posed by significant assets, child support obligations, or minor children from the marriage.

Settlement conference

Lastly, if both parties are willing, working with an unbiased mediator can lead to successful negotiation and strengthen communication resulting in an agreeable settlement via settlement conference.

Uncontested divorce

An uncontested divorce is a process in which both parties agree to all terms of their divorce, making it faster and less expensive than a contested divorce. It can reduce stress, financial strain, and time spent on the legal process, and may require consulting with experienced Washington uncontested divorce lawyers.

Contested divorce

A contested divorce is a process in which one or both parties don't agree to all the terms of the divorce, which can be more time-consuming and expensive than an uncontested divorce. The court will make the final decision based on the evidence presented in court.

Contact Our Spokane Family Law Attorneys for Assistance

Don't navigate family law issues alone. Let Hodgson Law Office advocate for your best interests. Schedule a free consultation now.
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