Dissolution of Marriage – Procedure
All divorce cases must be filed on official Washington forms. The forms are available in printed version from the Washington Office of the Administrator for the Courts. Separation agreements are specifically authorized by law and, if fair, all portions of the agreements are binding on the court, except those relating to parental rights and responsibilities. The spouses must file a Washington Department of Health Certificate with the petition. There are also certain local court rules which apply to dissolutions of marriage. These are found in Washington Local Court Rules, Rule 94.04. [Revised Code of Washington Annotated; Title 26, Chapters 26.09.020, 26.09.070, and 26.09.080].
The traditional divorce usually begins by a consultation with the attorney followed by the filing of a Petition for Dissolution of Marriage with the Court. This petition is then served on the spouse who has 20 days to file his/her answer. During this period the spouse usually seeks his/her own counsel who would file both an answer and usually a Counter Petition for Dissolution. Many times one party of the other may file a Motion for Temporary Relief seeking temporary support, custody, exclusive use of marital home or temporary injunctions. The next phase of the litigation would be the Discovery Phase where comprehensive financial information would be required of each side. After discovery, the Negotiation Phase would begin, where each side would attempt to negotiate terms most favorable to their client. This is followed by trial preparation. Ultimately, the case will either settle by agreement of both parties or be decided by a judge after the parties have completed a trail before such judge.
Whether negotiated to conclusion or if decided by a judge a Decree of Dissolution of Marriage may not be entered prior to a statutory 90 day waiting period. Non-contested Dissolution In some instances a couple may desire to negotiate settlement where they agree on most issues that arise when seeking a dissolution of the marital contract. In those instances, we are able to represent one of the spouses to facilitate the agreement and shorten the process considerably. We will be happy to examine whether or not you are eligible for this approach.
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