Washington Divorce Procedures

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Every nation in the world has developed rules and regulations for the smooth running of the society. This is a norm violation, which leads to several issues, big or small, which can hamper the growth of the society. People have to abide by the laws of their state so that issues are resolved peacefully. The same applies to domestic relations laws. The United States has developed divorce laws that are different for the 50 states. Washington divorce procedures are made for individuals who opt to file for a divorce in this state.

Washington is the only no-fault state where divorce can be obtained showing 'irretrievable breakdown of the marriage'. When a person files a Petition for Dissolution of Marriage, the divorce procedure commences. This person is known as the Petitioner. The Petition is served to the spouse of the Petitioner and this spouse is termed as a Respondent. In this state, the Respondent is allocated 20 days to file a Response to the Petition. If the Respondent fails to do so, an Order of Default is entered against the Respondent.

Steps for Uncontested Washington Divorce Procedures

There are a number of common steps involved in an uncontested divorce, which is less time-consuming and less-complicated. These steps are described below:

  • Consider that the Respondent is in complete agreement with the relief mentioned in the Petition. Then, a Joinder document is completed by the Respondent.

  • Consider that the Respondent does not agree with the Petition. Then, the Respondent drafts a Response, files it in the court and serves it upon the Petitioner. The duration allotted to the Respondent to file a Response is 20 days if residing in Washington and 60 days if outside the state.

  • Depending on the agreement reached by the divorcing parties, the following documents are drafted:
    • Decree of Dissolution
    • Findings of Fact
    • Conclusions of Law documents

  • In case the divorcing parties have children, the following documents are essential:
    • Parenting Plan
    • Order of Child Support
    • Child Support Worksheets

The petitioner has to attach a copy of the Parenting Plan, which mentions the terms and conditions of child custody and visitation.

  • All the above mentioned documents must be agreed to and signed by both divorcing partners.
  • There is a 90 day waiting period in the court, and on completion the partner can introduce the issue in the Superior Court.
  • In the Superior Court, either the Judge or the Court Commissioner oversees the divorce case. Judges appoint Court Commissioners who assist the business of the Court by hearing Family Law cases.
  • In this state, every county has its own local rules regarding presentation of the dissolution matter before the Court. Hence, it is recommended that the divorcing partners should enquire with the court clerk or other court officials regarding the same.
  • The divorcing partners must attend the court on the date that is set for the hearing.
  • During the hearing, the court glances the paperwork and enquires regarding both the divorcing partners. If the Court concludes that all aspects of the case are in order, the divorcing partners can leave the court on the same day with the dissolution of marriage complete.

Washington Divorce Procedures regarding Trial

If both the spouses are unable to agree on all or most of the divorce terms, they have to proceed for courtroom trial. The trial process is illustrated as follows.

The date on which the Petitioner files a divorce action in the King County, a trial date is allotted. This date is 11 months after the filing date. This means that the trial date is the termination point. If the divorcing partners fail to reach an agreement prior to this date, a trial would be conducted in court on that date.

During the trial, both spouses are offered a chance to present any relevant documents, relevant witnesses and testimonies. The Judge dwells on all that has been put forth and arrives at the final decision. After this decision is made, the final papers like Order of Child Support, Parenting Plan, Conclusions of Law, Findings of Fact and Decree of Dissolution are drafted. The Judge puts down his or her signatures on these and then the divorce becomes final.

When a couple decides to go for a divorce, they may commit certain mistakes that may ruin their future to a great extent. It is important that the spouses consult an experienced attorney who will throw additional light on each areas of the case. Again knowing the Washington divorce procedures and laws is also deemed necessary. You need to keep yourself updated about the latest changes so that you and your children are not deprived of the legal rights in any way.

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