If you have decided to file for divorce, you should know that every state has its own version of the divorce process. If you or your spouse lives in the state of Washington, you will generally start the process by filing a petition for the dissolution of marriage with the clerk's office in your county or the county where you spouse lives. You will also file a certificate of dissolution, or vital statistics form, with the family law court in Washington. If you choose to hire a divorce attorney, they can help you with every step of the divorce process, starting with the initial filing.
As a no-fault state, Washington courts will not require you to establish which spouse caused the divorce. In your petition, all you will have to do is state that your marriage is "irretrievably broken" and request the dissolution of your marriage. You will also need to provide information regarding your spouse and children and enter requests for child support, spousal support, health insurance, and property division.
Once your initial petition has been filed, the court will typically set a date for trial. You must then serve your spouse with a copy of the petition and a summons to ensure that your spouse is aware of the filing. Your spouse will then have 20 days to respond to your petition. If they fail to respond, your requests in the petition may be granted via default judgment. There are specific requirements you will have to meet to ensure that you serve your spouse properly. Your divorce attorney can make arrangements to ensure all of the requirements are met.
In many cases, spouses and their attorneys are able to work out divorce issues prior to the trial date through mediation. In such cases, your attorney will draft a settlement agreement that both you and your spouse will sign. The signed agreement will be presented to the court, and once the judge signs the agreement your divorce will be finalized. If you and your spouse are unable to work out your issues, your case will go to trial in front of a judge. After both you and your spouse present your evidence, the judge will make a decision on the issues and sign a final order, which thereby finalizes the divorce.
Filing for divorce can be a complicated process, but your attorney can build your case and handle the paperwork, while you focus on taking care of yourself and your family during this difficult time.