Filing for divorce is a decision worthy of the appropriate consideration and research. States differ in the divorce process, this is something to be aware of and seek out professional assistance with navigating. Washington State for example has “no-fault” and “community property” laws.
In this guide, we map out 4 steps to follow when filing for a divorce in Washington State.
Considering Filing for Divorce?
Divorce is a major, life-changing decision. It will be stressful, test friendships, cost money, and be an overall emotional time. While these things are true, there are plenty of reasons divorce is the right decision for many.
Studies show marriages end in divorce for a variety of reasons, including:
- Lack of commitment
- Too much arguing
- Marrying too young
- Unrealistic expectations
- Lack of equality
- Financial issues
- Spousal abuse
These are all very real and valid reasons for divorce. Thankfully, in some circumstances, your marriage may not be at its end. There are ways you can reconcile and avoid getting divorced. With the help of therapists, financial counselors, and other professionals, couples can resolve issues and stay together.
Cause for Divorce
If you decide to move forward with a divorce, Washington State is a “no-fault” state which means you don’t need to prove anything to the court. Instead, you will claim “irreconcilable differences.”
To get through this time you will want to understand your rights and what to expect legally and financially. The process can be overwhelming by the complication of children, assets, and working with your soon-to-be ex-spouse.
Another important piece to note is Washington State has a 90 day waiting period. This means after petition and before the judge signs the dissolution, 90 days need to elapse. Although this may be frustrating, the main reason for this waiting period is to avoid decisions made in the heat of the moment.
4 Steps to Filing for Divorce in Washington State
If you are considering divorce, we recommend following these 4 steps to avoid confusion and prevent emotional strain.
1. Reflect on what you want
Once you get started with the divorce, you will begin to plan for your future life without your spouse. This is a big change and in this step, you will want to determine if a divorce is right for you and what you want out of the divorce when it happens.
With that said, know that Washington is a community property state, meaning all assets acquired during the marriage are considered shared and can be divided between the couple in divorce.
2. Assemble Your Legal Team
You will want to consult with and hire an attorney to help you understand your rights and if you are able to get an annulment or legal separation. In addition to an attorney, you might find it valuable to have an accountant for financial questions, a therapist for help adjust with this change, and family/friends for support.
3. Gather Documents
Depending on the years of your marriage, you might end up with stacks of documentation. See the list at the end of this post for a guide on important forms to have when filing for divorce.
To officially start the divorce process, an “Original Petition for Divorce” will be required. This is also called a “Letter of Complaint.” This document will acknowledge all parties involved, state a reason for divorce, will the request for the court to grant the divorce, and will include anything the filing party is asking for.
In Washington state, once one spouse claims the marriage is “irretrievably broken”, the divorce decree can be granted after the 90-day waiting period.
Important Forms for Filing for Divorce
When you begin this process it’s helpful you have all forms and documentation gathered and/or completed. Consult this list for what to gather and where to get them:
Your divorce will start with the Petition for divorce. This form can be accessed on the Washington Courts website where you’ll also find Confidential Information and Attachment to Confidential Information and Agreement to Join Petition forms.
You will need documentation of all income and assets. This means: Tax returns, pay stubs, property tax returns, bank statements, investment statements, stocks, pension statements, etc.
This includes Wills, Trust, and Power of Attorney paperwork.
All Insurance Policies
Car, home, and/or business insurance.
Any record of property ownership, contracts you or your spouse have entered into, and don’t forget any debt as well.
Anything you would consider an asset and all prenuptial agreements if applicable should be gathered. You may require assistance compiling this paperwork, this is where your attorney can step in and help you, or you can call customer service lines at companies to get documentation mailed to you.
Hire a Divorce Attorney in Kirkland, Washington
At a glance, the divorce process can appear overwhelming and painful. With the assistance of an attorney who has the knowledge and experience, you can be led in the right direction and supported in this process. Need help? Hire a Divorce Attorney in Kirkland Washington.