Divorce Process Overview
State where you file
One of the options available to you is where to file your divorce in. Every state has different laws. In Washington State, divorce is called Dissolution of Marriage.
Before filing you need to know the difference between ‘legal separation’ and ‘divorce’. Your spouse or lawyer may want you to consider legal separation. Keep in mind that a legal separation does not end a marriage and you will just be called ‘legally separated’. If you legally separate, you are not required to file a legal action. Spouses are not required to seek legal separation before getting a divorce.
Understanding the framework of dissolution will give you a better understanding of the divorce process. Usually the spouse files a petition against the other for dissolution of marriage. A petition is a legal document served to your spouse in court for the dissolution of marriage and indicates your divorce act. The document contains vital information about you, your children and your spouse. It may also include what you require from a divorce such as property, child support, spousal maintenance and parenting plans etc.
Documents and Location for Initial Filing
Make a copy of your official divorce documents. The documents will be provided by Washington Divorce Online. Also if you have children under the age of 18 you need to sign the parenting plan and a child support form.
Next, take the documents to the courthouse of the county where you want to file for your divorce. After that you pay the filing fee. You can also ask the court to waive off the fee by filling and submitting a form. The form can be obtained from a court clerk or a family law facilitator.
Your original documents will be kept by the clerk and he will be stamping all the copies for you. Make sure you ask him to stamp all the copies and writes case numbers on all your copies too.
Once you are done with all the paperwork. You are ready to serve the papers to your spouse. Make sure you serve the signed papers.
After you serve the papers, you can ask the spouse to sign ‘Acceptance of Service’ to acknowledge in writing that he/she has accepted the documents. You will need to file the signed Acceptance of Service with the court then.
Wait till the court signs your papers when your divorce will become final.
The process does not take very long if your spouse is available on time and all the documents are completed on time. To make the process longer and slow, your spouse may resist and may intentionally create difficulties for you such as
- Avoiding contact with you and not giving confirmation about receiving the documents on time.
- Your spouse may have relocated from his/her last known address and may not have updated you with the new address.
- Not providing accurate information about his/her whereabouts.