Getting a divorce can have serious, long-term effects, both emotionally and legally, which is why working with a skilled divorce attorney in Moses Lake, WA is essential. It can be difficult to part ways with someone after spending so much time together. There may be times when you want to stay and try to work things out, and there may be times when you feel like family law is your only option.
If you are having a difficult time deciding if divorce is right for you, our legal team can help. In every family law case we handle at McBurney Law, we continuously assess your situation and determine the best approach. Contact us now and schedule an initial consultation with our competent Washington family law attorney to explore your legal options.
Why Do I Need a Divorce Attorney in Washington?
For many people, divorce can be one of life’s most daunting and emotionally taxing experiences. You may feel guilt, remorse, anger, loss, worry about children, and whether the children will blame you for separating the family. The decisions you make regarding divorce can affect your family for years to come. That’s why working with a qualified Moses Lake divorce attorney you can trust is important.
At McBurney Law, we are committed to:
- Providing comprehensive legal advice in both traditional and complex family law matters.
- Helping clients achieve a truly balanced and fair judgment for both parties involved without causing even more pain and stress during the divorce process.
- Guiding you throughout the process of divorce and how it will affect you, your family, your finances, and your life.
- Providing legal assistance in various issues emphasizing family law, divorce, child support payments, child custody, alimony, marital property division, bankruptcy and insolvency, criminal defense, and wills and estates in Benton and Franklin counties, Yakima, Adams, and Walla Walla counties.
We pride ourselves on providing our clients with the highest quality legal services in a timely manner. Contact our law office now and schedule an initial consultation with our trusted Washington family law attorneys.
What is Divorce?
Divorce is the termination of a marriage by court judgment. In most cases, divorce is obtained by agreement between both parties to the marriage, allowing the couple to progress through the court system easily and quickly, some with and some without legal representation. A judicial decree is awarded declaring the marriage to be dissolved.
Divorce involves lots of rules, paperwork, and negotiation. It is generally an intensely emotional process, which is why it’s crucial to consult with our knowledgeable divorce attorney in Moses Lake, WA who can protect your rights and discuss your options.
What are the Legal Requirements for Divorce in Washington?
There are a few legal requirements that must be met to file for a divorce. Before filing legal documents for divorce, you must ensure that you meet your state’s residency requirements; otherwise, the court won’t have the authority to review your case. Our top-ranking Moses Lake WA divorce lawyer can ensure that you’re eligible to get a divorce in the state where you’re planning to file.
In the vast majority of states, at least one of the spouses must have lived there for a certain period just before filing for divorce. Usually, the minimum time is six months, but it ranges from six weeks to two years, depending on the circumstances. Washington courts have consistently held that in this context, being a resident means having your domicile in the state, meaning that it’s your fixed home where you plan to stay indefinitely. If you or your spouse are in the military, you may file where you are currently stationed. However, in a military divorce, there are rules to protect active duty service members from civil lawsuits.
Most states require couples to wait before the court finalizes the divorce. Depending on where you live, you could have no waiting period, or you may need to wait for up to one year before the judge will sign your divorce paperwork.
States implement waiting periods so that spouses have time to negotiate the specifics of the divorce, like property division, child support payments, child custody, and other divorce-related issues. In some cases, divorcing spouses may repair their broken relationships during the waiting period and reconcile. In reconciliation cases, couples can withdraw the divorce petition and continue the marriage.
Grounds for Divorce
When someone asks the court for a dissolution of marriage or divorce, the court requires the filing spouse to identify a legal ground to terminate the marriage. When you prepare your application for divorce, you must list a specific reason for your request. There are typically two types of legal reasons—fault and no-fault.
Some states allow parties to file for a fault divorce, where you claim that your spouse’s bad acts during the marriage are the reason for the failed relationship. The requirements may vary depending on where you live. Some examples of fault-based divorce grounds include drug or alcohol addiction, mental or physical abuse, adultery, abandonment, or neglect.
Washington is exclusively a no-fault divorce state, which means that the court isn’t interested in knowing the behaviors of either spouse that caused the breakup. A no-fault divorce allows a court to enter a divorce decree without one party having to prove legally the other party did something wrong in the marriage. Instead, one spouse may simply allege that the marriage has broken down and there’s no reasonable hope it can be preserved, and a divorce can be granted with or without the other spouse’s consent.
Generally, no-fault grounds include incompatibility and irreconcilable differences, which mean that the parties have marital difficulties which they can’t resolve, and as a result, there is no possibility of reconciliation. Most couples choose to pursue a no-fault divorce. No-fault divorces are less complicated and less contentious than fault-based divorces.
What are the Steps to Getting a Divorce in Washington?
The divorce process can be expensive and time-consuming. Understanding the steps involved in a divorce can make the process easier. Our competent Moses Lake divorce lawyer can help you learn what to expect in the divorce process and how you can avoid a prolonged, costly divorce.
Complete the Divorce Forms
If you’ve decided that divorce is the right choice for you, you’ll need to initiate the legal process to get your divorce case started. The Washington divorce process begins with the divorce form or petition for divorce. It is completed by one spouse and will be served to the other spouse.
Typically, the petition will include the following:
- each spouse’s personal information (name, address, social security number)
- the filing spouse’s requests for property division, child custody, child support, and/or spousal support.
- the legal grounds for the divorce
- the names and ages of any children from the marriage
- whether the parties own any community or separate property and how they plan to divide it.
File Divorce Papers With The Court
The spouse requesting the divorce must file a divorce petition with the local court to start the divorce case. Generally, a divorce petition must be filed in the county where you live, not where you got married. Before you file any paperwork, check with the court to determine if your state requires you and your spouse to live separately before filing. If you file too early, you risk the court rejecting your case, and you’ll have to start over.
Serve Divorce Papers
Unless you’ve filed a joint divorce petition, you will need to serve your spouse with all the divorce papers you filed. Generally, this means another adult must physically give the papers to your spouse. Service of process ensures that both spouses know about the divorce and can respond to and participate in the proceedings.
Answer a Divorce Petition
After being served with the divorce papers, your spouse will have a certain amount of time to file a response. In Washington, you will be given 20 days if the divorce papers were served personally, or 60 days if served personally out of state or by publication. If the respondent doesn’t answer in time, the petitioner may request a default divorce.
During this time, you still have the opportunity to tell the court what you do and don’t want in the divorce. If there are disagreements about what to do with children or property, consider hiring a trusted Moses Lake divorce attorney.
Consider Mediation and Settle a Divorce Case
In divorce mediation, you and your spouse meet with a trained, neutral mediator to discuss and resolve the issues in your divorce. A mediator can help you reach an agreement on the issues you and your spouse need to resolve to finalize your divorce, such as parenting plans, child support, child custody, and property division.
Mediators don’t make decisions or offer legal advice but rather serve as facilitators to help spouses figure out what’s best for their situation. When spouses reach an agreement through mediation, most mediators will draft or may even file a divorce settlement agreement with the court.
Trial and Appeals
If you are not able to agree on the matters related to the divorce, then you could end up going to trial. This process will be easier if you’re represented by a credible Moses Lake divorce lawyer at trial.
At trial, both your attorney and your spouse’s attorney will be able to put on evidence to show that your demands should be granted. You can include testimony from witnesses, so the judge can decide on a property settlement for you. If you are unhappy with the outcome of the trial, you may be able to appeal. If you are unhappy with the outcome of the trial, you may be able to appeal.
Call Our Seasoned Moses Lake Divorce Attorney Now!
Every divorce case is different. Every couple has a unique history, financial matters, and issues regarding children. Whether you have decided to end your marriage, your spouse is the one who wants a divorce, or you both agree to get divorced, our Moses Lake WA divorce attorneys at McBurney Law are here to advocate for your personal and financial interests.
Our family law firm has established a legacy of success in navigating our clients through some of life’s most difficult challenges. We have extensive experience and knowledge to represent you in any divorce, bankruptcy, estate planning, criminal defense, and family law cases in Washington. Let us make the process of ending your marriage as easy and seamless as possible by scheduling an initial consultation with us today.