Divorce Process in Washington State
Below are the four basic steps in getting an uncontested divorce in Washington State:
- Complete divorce forms.
The divorce process begins with the divorce form or petition for divorce. It is completed by one spouse and will be served to the other spouse.
- File divorce papers with the court.
A divorce petition must be filed in the county where you live, not where you got married.
- Serve your spouse with the divorce papers.
The divorce papers must be served on the spouse or presented to the spouse.
If it is an uncontested divorce, the other spouse only needs to sign the “Acceptance of Service” to acknowledge that he/she has received the divorce documents. The divorce process for an uncontested divorce may be made faster if the other spouse files a response to show that he/she agrees with the divorce.
If the divorce is contested, lawyers will most probably get involved after your spouse has been served the divorce papers. The lawyers may subpoena your spouse’s financial records and interview your friends, co-workers, even your children and their teachers. In adversarial litigation, all your dirty laundry will be dug up and used against you. You may then need to go to trial, which may take up to a year to schedule. This is why most try to come up with a marital settlement before reaching trial as it saves you a lot of money, time and energy.
- Sign and file final divorce documents.
How long is the divorce process?
The waiting period for a divorce in Washington is three months. This is the minimum period required before the court finalizes the divorce. This means the petition should have been filed with the court and served on the spouse for 90 days before it is signed by the court.
However, it may take longer especially when your spouse has objections to any aspect of your petition. Other issues surrounding your case such as property disputes, domestic violence, child abuse, alcoholism or drug addiction that may pose a threat to your children may drag the case much longer.
During the three month waiting period, temporary orders may be issued to establish parenting plan for dependent children, provide protection or financial support, or control conduct of the spouses.
How much does a divorce in Washington cost?
The court filing fee is $280 for a dissolution of marriage (divorce). Other costs may include photocopying and delivery service fees. If you can not afford this fee, you may fill out a special form that will request the court to waive the filing fee.