Many people want to know “what can I expect in my divorce?” There are many factors that can change the path of divorce, but here’s a quick overview of the divorce life cycle in Washington:
- Initial filing: After a Petition is filed, Respondent either joins the Petition, accepts service, or is personally served with the petition. Unless Respondent joins the petition, then Respondent has 20 days to file a Response to the Petition. Many courts in Washington automatically issue orders that prevent either party from moving assets, cancelling insurance, or removing the other party from accounts (bank, credit cards).
- Interim arrangements: While the divorce is pending, there needs to be ground rules for parenting, support, and use of property/paying debts. In litigation, these are called “Temporary Orders.” In cooperative/collaborative cases, the parties generally reach an agreement as to interim arrangements.
- Information gathering: The parties need to have all of the information they need to make decisions or present their positions to finalize their divorce.This can be done formally (interrogatories, requests for production of documents, subpoena, evaluations, assessments) or informally (voluntary exchange of information and records).
- Reaching a resolution: Prepare to reach a resolution through mediation, settlement negotiations, or trial. The parties decide (or build their position) what they want in the divorce.
- Final orders: Once a resolution is reached, final orders are drafted and submitted to court for entry. This may include several documents, including a Divorce Order, Findings and Conclusions of Law, Parenting Plan, Child Support Order, and Child Support Worksheets. If a settlement is reached, parties often use a Separation Contract, which they can opt not be filed in the court record. Due to the waiting period for divorce in Washington, the Divorce Order cannot be entered prior to 90 days after the Respondent is served with the petition, joins the Petition, or accepts service of the Petition.
- Post-order wrap up: After Final Orders are entered, there may be follow up tasks that need to be done, such as transferring title to assets, such as vehicles, accounts, or real estate, or dividing assets/debts, such as a Qualified Domestic Relations Order for certain types of retirement accounts.
Each step described above may be more complex or simple.
Sakaguchi, Felbeck & Reese, PLLC. Is located at 520 Kirkland Way, Suite 400, Kirkland, WA 98033 and our office phone number is 425-456-1840.