Important Legal Terms & Filing Eligibility
Washington State is a no-fault state so you don’t need a reason to get a divorce. The only requirement to get a divorce is that two people are married, and one person no longer wants to be married. If you decide divorce is the option for you, there are a number of steps you have to take to start an action.
First, you have to figure out if you can even file in Washington
If you have figured out Washington State is the place to file, you need to know some
One thing to keep in mind is that Washington State is a community property state, meaning that anything and everything acquired during
The Basic Documents You Need to Start a Divorce
If you’ve gotten this far, you should be happy to know that Washington is
- Petition for Divorce (Dissolution)
- Summons: Notice about a Marriage or Domestic Partnership
- Confidential Information Form
- Certificate of Dissolution, Declaration of Invalidity of Marriage or Legal Separation
If you have children, you will also need:
- Parenting Plan
- Washington State Child Support Schedule Worksheets
- Child Support Order
What Happens Next?
Once you have these documents and are ready to fill them out, please read them carefully and answer the questions as fully as possible. The documents are designed to be an easy step-by-step process, but if you have questions, leave the section blank and wait to ask an attorney.
If you have successfully completed the documents and they are ready to be filed, you need to do a few things before taking them to the courthouse. First, you need to make two sets of copies: one for you to keep, and one for you to give to your spouse. You will be taking all three sets of documents (one set of originals and two sets of copies) to the courthouse when you are ready to file. Next, you need to do some research and find out what the filing fee will be. The filing fee is set by each county and required at the time of filing, so make sure you do your research first. If you are someone with a low monthly income, you may qualify for a fee waiver so check to see what the requirements are to be able to obtain a fee waiver. Filing fees are generally a few hundred dollars, so this is something you might want to check prior to setting too many things in motion (for example, Clark County’s filing fee is $314.00).
After you have completed the items above, you are ready to go to the courthouse with your copies and fee (or fee waiver). Go to the Superior Court Clerk’s Office and provide the Clerk with all the original forms you filled out. Since you are starting a new matter, you will receive a case number. The case number you receive is unique to your divorce, and the number will need to be on all the documents you provide to the Court throughout the course of your matter. The Clerk will provide you with a stamp that has this number, and you need to stamp the first page of all of your copies with that stamp. You will also need to stamp the first page of all of your copies with the “copy” stamp. This stamp has important information on it: that the document is a copy, the date the original was filed, and what county it was filed in. After everything is stamped, you provide the Clerk with your form of payment for the filing fee.
Once you finish at the courthouse, one set of copies is ready to be served on your spouse. “Service” simply means personally handing the documents to your spouse, or to someone of suitable age that lives with your spouse. One thing to keep in mind is that if you and your spouse agreed and signed the initial documents together, then your spouse does not need to be served, but it is a good idea to give them a copy of the documents anyway. If your spouse did not sign the initial documents with you, then you need to have your spouse served. Any person over the age of 18 can serve the documents so long as that person is not you. All documents you file at the courthouse need to be given to your spouse. No exception. Whoever serves your spouse then needs to fill out and file at the Clerk’s Office a Proof of Personal Service (can be found at www.courts.wa.gov/forms).
Once your spouse has been served, a
Conversely, if you have been served with divorce documents, then you need to take these documents
This blog talks about what to do to start your divorce, but there are several steps that might be involved in your matter that I didn’t have a chance to get to today, but you should keep in mind:
- Temporary Orders
- Contempt (violation of court order)
- Restraining Orders
- Final Orders
- Alternative Dispute Resolution
Getting divorced can be very overwhelming, and try not to get too discouraged. If you have any questions about starting a divorce or any of the topics mentioned above that weren’t covered, contact Navigate Law Group for assistance.
Our Family Law Attorneys
Amber M. Rush
Chelsie M. Elliott
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Every legal issue is very unique. Accordingly, the information in this blog is intended as general education material and not as legal advice. If you think you may have a legal issue you should consult an attorney.