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First Steps to Take When Pursuing a Divorce in Washington State

On Behalf of | May 7, 2019 | Family Law

If you have reached the conclusion that a divorce is the best option for your future, you are probably faced with several questions. What do I do? Where do I start? How long will the process take? How much will it cost? All of these questions are natural, and working with a trusted divorce attorney who understands your concerns can help you manage your expectations.

Like any process, a divorce takes time and is composed of several steps. Below are some helpful tips on what actions to take when you first decide to pursue a divorce.

Fill Out & File Divorce Forms

To get started, you need to first locate the appropriate forms. You may complete these forms on your own, with your spouse (if you are pursuing an uncontested divorce), or with the help of a knowledgeable divorce attorney.

Once the forms have been filled out, they will need to be filed in the county where you reside, not in the county where your marriage took place. Your divorce attorney can help you with this step, or you can file the petition with the divorce court yourself.

Serve Divorce Papers to Your Spouse

The divorce papers will then be served on or presented to your spouse. (You cannot personally serve your spouse. It must be served by someone other than yourself.) If you and your spouse are pursuing an uncontested divorce, meaning you are in general agreement about the divorce itself, your spouse simply needs to sign the form entitled “Acceptance of Service” to confirm that they have received and are aware of the divorce papers. They could also file a response to acknowledge that they agree with the divorce moving forward. If you are in agreement on all aspects of the divorce, your spouse may want to join in on the divorce petition.

In instances where the divorce is contested, it is wise to work with divorce attorneys who can handle the notification process. Heated arguments may arise, and it’s helpful to have an attorney who can subpoena your spouse’s financial records or other important documents to make sure you are working with all of the relevant information that your spouse may try to keep hidden from you.

Collaboration, Mediation or Trial

Depending on whether the divorce is contested or uncontested, the terms of your divorce can be negotiated in a variety of ways. If you and your spouse are able to communicate effectively, you can collaborate on the terms of your divorce and present them to a judge for approval. In mediation, a neutral party will help you and your spouse (and your attorneys, if you have them) discuss, negotiate, and ultimately reach a consensus on the terms of your divorce, which will then be submitted to a judge for approval. Of course, if you and your spouse are unable to communicate civilly and the divorce is much more contentious, you will likely head to court for the judge to determine the final outcome of your divorce. In some Washington counties, you may be required to attempt to resolve the matter in mediation. If the mediation fails to it then have to be set for trial.

If you are ready to get started with the divorce process in the Spokane area, Stanley A. Kempner Jr. Attorney at Law is here to help. Call (509) 484-1104 today to speak with an experienced divorce and family law attorney.