You and your spouse have decided to split up. You’ve thought this through, perhaps gone to couples counseling. When the counseling is not working, you decide to go through with the divorce.
In the case that divorce is a certainty, you need to know what steps to take to get a divorce in Washington. When navigating this significant life change, you’ll want to consider consulting with a lawyer before proceeding.
The first thing to determine is whether your divorce in uncontested or contested. In an uncontested divorce, you and your spouse are not fighting over any of the main issues within a divorce – assets/debts, child custody, child/spousal support. Almost half of Washington divorces are uncontested. Even though you are not “fighting,” you still must follow the court rules and procedures.
If you and your spouse cannot agree on the main issues regarding money, kids or property, you are in a contested divorce. In Washington, nobody has to be “at fault” to get a divorce. All that is required is that one person is unhappy and declares the marriage “irretrievably broken.” Washington has mandatory forms that you must complete and your attorney can help as every word has a significance.
After your documents are complete, you can file for your divorce in court. This is typically in the county where you reside. If you do not want your divorce public to your county, you and your spouse can agree to file elsewhere.
The goal of this process is to reach an amicable settlement. If there are children involved, you want your interactions to be as pleasant as possible. If you can reach an agreement through mediation or another alternate dispute resolution, the court usually honors that agreement.
If you cannot reach an agreement through mediation or other resolution methods, trial is the next step. This can be a stressful and challenging time and is ultimately your last chance to get the settlement you want. You’ll want to consult with an attorney to help guide you through the process.