Trusted Divorce Attorneys in Vancouver, Washington

Filing for a Divorce in Washington

With over 50 Years of Combined Experience, we are known in the local community for being fierce advocates!

A divorce is where one or both parties in the marriage wish to separate and dissolve the marital relationship. To request a divorce in Washington, you must be married legally, you or your spouse live here and plan to stay here (or you are in the military and will be stationed here for at least 90 days after you file and serve your divorce petition), and at least one spouse believes the marriage cannot be fixed (is broken).

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Types of Divorce

Divorce without Children

Divorce is the ending of your marriage. Our attorneys can get you through the process. A divorce includes the division of your assets, debts, and potential spousal support (aka alimony or maintenance). Your divorce may be agreed or contested – we can help with either. Our attorneys are masters of strategizing, counseling, giving legal advice, negotiating, explaining difficult concepts, drafting legal documents, and litigating. We are here to assist you with whatever is thrown your way during your divorce – simple or complex.

Divorce with Children

Everything explained for Divorce without Children holds true in a divorce with children, except divorce with children adds more complexity. If you are divorcing with children, you will have to come up with a plan to co-parent and share time with the children. Our attorneys can help you craft a plan that is unique to your family’s needs while also being strategic in the short-term and long-term. We are here to help with anything from navigating court documents, calculations for a Child Support Order, to assisting in situations where you may want to limit the contact of the other parent, and everything in between – our divorce attorneys are here for you!

Agreed Divorce

An agreed divorce occurs when both parties are amicable and agree on all terms of the divorce (i.e., you agree on how everything will be divided/shared). Our lawyers are collaborative, cooperative, and help amicable couples smoothly move through the divorce process with their agreement intact.

Mediated Divorce

A mediated divorce is where the parties attend mediation in an effort to reach agreed terms outside of court. A mediator assists the parties with reaching a resolution on all aspects of the divorce. Once a final agreement is reached, an attorney will usually step in to draft the pleadings necessary to complete the divorce.

Contested Divorce

A contested divorce is when one or both parties do not agree with the divorce and/or has an issue with the divorce process or what is being requested. Contested divorces often end up in Court, which is called litigation. We are skilled in the courtroom and will be there to protect you in and out of Court.

Litigated Divorce

A litigated divorce means that your divorce is contested and there is active litigation in Court. Litigation usually happens in the form of hearings, and can ultimately end in a trial. We can represent you in any form of litigation that happens in your family law matter.

Military Divorce

There are several things to consider when going through a divorce when one or both spouses are in the military, such as can the state divide the military members’ retirement, what happens to your healthcare, and what happens if you’re deployed during the proceedings. There are also several protections afforded military members during a dissolution, according to Service Member’s Civil Relief Act. Our military divorce attorneys can assist you through this complex process.

How Can We Help?

Matters that our Divorce Attorneys Specialize in Vancouver, WA

Spousal Support (Alimony)

Spousal support (alimony) is the term for money that is paid to one spouse from the other spouse for financial support. This can either be temporary or permanent support, depending on the facts and circumstances. Spousal support (alimony) is not guaranteed in family law cases, as it is very case-specific and depends on a variety of factors, including but not limited to length of marriage, financial position of both parties, age/health, lifestyle during the marriage, etc. Our attorneys can help you analyze whether alimony/spousal support applies to your situation, and if so, to what degree.

Child Custody

Child custody refers to the legal right to have time with your child in a family law legal case such as divorce, separation, dependency, guardianship, etc. A parent’s custody rights will have an impact on a variety of things such as day-to-day decision making, health and medical decisions, as well as educational decisions. This applies to parents splitting up who were in a marriage as well as parents that never married. Child custody could also apply to grandparents, close relatives, or family friends if they are granted legal rights to the child. In a case regarding child custody, the Court will determine if one parent will have more time than the other. Navigate attorneys can help you work through this dynamic and complex issue.

Child Support

Child support is the financial responsibility of both parents to support their child. Child support is mandated by law, and it is where one parent pays financial support to the other parent for the care of the child unless an exception applies or a reduction is granted by the Court.  The Court will consider the child’s needs and the parties’ incomes. Child support can also be assessed when non-parents have custody of children. Child support issues come up in a variety of different family law cases mentioned on this page, and our attorneys are skilled with these issues.

Child Support for College

Post-secondary support (aka child support for college) is additional financial support paid by parents for their child to go to college. If requested by the applicable deadline, the Court may order both parents and the child to contribute to college financial support. Post-secondary support extends beyond the Child Support Order for minor children. You want to make sure you are making a formal request for post-secondary support before the deadline – generally child support for a minor child will terminate when the child turns 18 or graduates from high school, which ever occurs last, and the request for post-secondary support must be made before that time. A parent looking to make a request for post-secondary support should review the current Child Support Order for details, and Navigate attorneys can help to ensure this request is made properly.

Immediate Restraining Order

An Immediate Restraining Order can be requested as part of a pending divorce case with little or no notice to the other party. It is a same-day court order for an urgent issue that can restrain the other party from you and/or your children, protect finances, and use of property. Immediate Restraining Orders are often requested in between filing your divorce and a hearing to establish temporary court orders in your divorce matter. Our divorce attorneys in Vancouver, Washington can help you with your Immediate Restraining Order needs.

Contempt

Contempt is when there is a failure to comply with a valid court order, even a temporary one, and the other party had the ability to do so. This is a legal cause of action that a party can bring if the other party is refusing to follow the court order regarding any aspect of the parties’ divorce, including but not limited to a Temporary Parenting Plan, Temporary Child Support Order, or Temporary Family Law Order. Potential severe penalties can apply to the party found in contempt, including court fines, attorney’s fees, loss of parenting time, and jail. Our attorneys are experienced advocates when dealing with order violations.

Temporary Orders

In Washington state, a divorce can’t be finalized until after a minimum 90-day waiting period from the date of filing and service has passed. It is very common for parties to want/need temporary orders in place that provide temporary rules about day-to-day issues until they are able to get final orders in place. Temporary orders address lots of daily issues including but not limited to parenting time, child support, spousal support (aka alimony or maintenance), allocation of household expenses, restraining orders, attorney’s fees, and temporary use and possession of vehicles and personal property. Temporary orders can stay in place until a different order replaces them (usually a final court order when your case is finalized). Temporary orders are a critical piece in the divorce process and often set the stage for how the rest of the divorce will play out. It is highly recommended that you consult with an experienced family law attorney if you are needing to get temporary orders in place. Navigate Law Group has numerous experienced family law attorneys that will guide you through this process and protect what matters most.

Why Choose Our Divorce Attorneys in Vancouver, Washington?

Our family law attorneys have over a combined 50 years worth of experience.  Navigate Law Group is known in the local community for our volunteer work and for being fierce advocates. Our Vancouver divorce attorneys have extensive knowledge and experience inside and outside of the courtroom, we can help you navigate every step of the way.

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Great Communication

We take pride in making sure everyone is on the same page, so you can make informed and educated decisions about your legal matters.  

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Knowledgeable

We have knowledgeable and skilled divorce attorneys in Vancouver who practice in all areas of family law. Whatever your needs are, we can help!

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Strong Advocacy

Our team has a client-centered approach to advocacy and we advocate zealously for the best outcome in our client’s family law matter.

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Reasonable Costs

We have reasonable fees, and work with our clients to provide the scope of legal help they actually need and want.

How To Start A Divorce in Washington?

Washington is forms based, meaning you need to use the forms helpfully provided by the state. You can find PDF and Word versions of the forms you need at www.courts.wa.gov/forms. The basic documents needed to start a divorce are:

  • 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

Each case is different, so it is best to speak with an attorney about what the next step is for your case. For more information, read this blog, “How to start a divorce in Washington state?“, written by attorney Chelsie Elliott.

Our Family Law Attorneys in Vancouver WA:

Relationships are complicated. Our experienced family law attorneys in our Vancouver office are here to help if you are experiencing issues in your personal relationships. From drafting a prenuptial agreement to filing for a divorce in Washington, we help you strategize, protect you and watch out for your best interests. Our family law attorneys focus their practice on these sensitive and dynamic issues to ensure you have the best representation and advice.

Divorce | Child Support | Alimony and Spousal Support | Cohabitation Agreement| Prenuptial Agreement | Committed Intimate Relationship | Minor Guardianship | Parenting Plan Modification | Adoptions | Surrogacy and MORE!

Chelsie M. Elliott

Chelsie M. Elliott

Attorney/Co-Owner

Tanya M. Green

Tanya M. Green

Senior Attorney

Frequently Asked Questions

Filing for Divorce Is Stressful. Our Divorce Attorneys in Vancouver, WA, Are Here to Help!

How much does a divorce cost in Washington?

The filing fee for a divorce in Washington is $314.00, and if you pay a professional third party to assist with serving the other party there is usually a cost associated with that as well. However, if you hire an attorney, you will also be paying for the attorney’s retainer and fees.

How long does divorce take in Washington state?
The length of time it takes to complete a divorce depends on many factors. If the parties are in agreement on all the issues like separation of assets and debts, spousal and child support, and the parenting plan, then the parties can enter agreed orders. There is a mandatory waiting period of 90 days between the date the Petition for Dissolution (Divorce) is filed and served on the other party or date it is filed if the other party has agreed and signed the Petition and the entry of final orders for the divorce. If the parties don’t agree on all issues, the matter must go to mediation or a settlement conference and / or trial, which takes time and is dependent on the trial judge’s schedule and when the parties set the notice for trial. In most cases, the divorce should be resolved within 1-2 years if it goes to trial, based on the cooperation of both parties, but if heavily litigated can take longer.
What is the fastest way to get a divorce in Washington State?
The fastest way to complete a divorce is to do so by agreement. Both parties can sign the initial Petition for Divorce and agree on the final orders to be entered after the 90 day waiting period expires. Most counties require a hearing to finalize your divorce, but some counties like LIncoln and Wahkiahkum do not, so many people file their agreed divorces outside of their county of residence for that reason.
Is Washington a “community property” state?
Yes, Washington is a “community property” state. This means all property and debts incurred during the marriage are jointly owned or owed. When the court divides up the assets they will consider all property and debts of the parties and determine if they are community (jointly owned) or separate (solely belonging to one party only). Separate property usually consists of things owned or owed before the marriage or acquired separately such as an inheritance, even if during the marriage. There are specific rules on how the courts divide up these assets and debts based on how they are categorized, so it is important to consult with an attorney if you have specific questions about your assets or debts.
How many years do you have to be married to get alimony in Washington?
There is not a set number of years or months that you have to be married in order to get alimony. Alimony is determined by a variety of factors in Washington state, such as financial resources of both parties, job history, age, health, standard of living during marriage, length of marriage, need and ability to pay. If the court determines that someone in a divorce proceeding is in need of maintenance, then the longer you were married usually means a longer period of alimony.
What is a no-fault divorce?

A “no-fault” divorce means that the Court does not care about the reason for the divorce. No one is “at fault,” and anyone can ask for a divorce, no matter what the reason.

 

How long do I have to live in Washington to get a divorce?

There is no set period of time you have to live in Washington before being able to file for a divorce. The issue becomes whether Washington has jurisdiction over your spouse or the children (if any). If your spouse never lived in Washington then Washington likely doesn’t have jurisdiction over them and it could be an issue when dividing property, among other things. If the children haven’t lived in Washington for at least the 6 months prior to filing, then another state likely has jurisdiction over them.

How do I know if an annulment is an option?

In Washington, there are specific factors that need to be met before a marriage can be annulled. The factors are set forth in RCW 26.09.040: “The marriage or domestic partnership should not have been contracted because of age of one or both of the parties, lack of required parental or court approval, a prior undissolved marriage of one or both of the parties, a prior domestic partnership of one or both parties that has not been terminated or dissolved, reasons of consanguinity, or because a party lacked capacity to consent to the marriage or domestic partnership, either because of mental incapacity or because of the influence of alcohol or other incapacitating substances, or because a party was induced to enter into the marriage or domestic partnership by force or duress, or by fraud involving the essentials of marriage or domestic partnership, and that the parties have not ratified their marriage or domestic partnership by voluntarily cohabiting after attaining the age of consent, or after attaining capacity to consent, or after cessation of the force or duress or discovery of the fraud, shall declare the marriage or domestic partnership invalid as of the date it was purportedly contracted.”

Does it matter who files the divorce first in WA?
Generally no, unless there is a request for a restraining order due to safety issues. In Clark County, when a case is filed, the courts issue an automatic temporary order that is served with the rest of the divorce documents on the other party which orders parties not to sell, hide, or transfer accounts and funds, or remove the children from their natural home.
Can I get sole custody of my child?

Probably not in the way you are thinking, but it completely depends on your facts. The typical terms for a custody matter are primary parent and non-primary parent. In most parenting situations, one parent is named the primary parent, and the other parent is the non-primary parent, but given visitation. In extreme circumstances a parent might not be given any visitation at all. If a parent’s rights are terminated, then it would be possible for the other parent to have sole custody.

How do I file for child support in Washington state?
You may request child support in a marital dissolution petition, a parenting plan petition, and a paternity petition. You will need to provide your income information for the last couple of years as well as proof of current income.
How is child support calculated in WA state?
Child support is calculated according to a state mandated schedule. The state has calculated how much it takes to raise a child each month based on the parents’ combined incomes, so the standard child support calculation is based on those amounts. The court may consider a deviation in child support if the non-custodial parent has the child a substantial amount of time, the child has extraordinary expenses, or a parent has extraordinary income.
Is there a cap on child support in Washington state?
That depends on the facts of each situation. The varying factors include, the parent’s combined income, the number of children between the parents, any other dependent children of either parent may have from prior relationships, and how much residential time a child spends with each parent.
Can you waive child support in Washington?
This depends on if the child is enrolled for state benefits or if a parent is enrolled on temporary assistance for needy families (TANF). Even if the child or family doesn’t receive state benefits, if parents have costs associated with health insurance, uninsured medical expenses, and certain other child related expenses these cannot be waived.
How do I serve divorce papers?

You must serve the opposing party with copies of all pleadings that you file. After you file the initial paperwork, you must have the opposing party personally served with it (especially the  Summons and Petition). Most other pleadings can be served by mail or email (if agreed). 

Can I personally serve divorce papers?

No, you as a party to the case cannot personally serve the other party with pleadings. However, you can either hire a process server to serve the other party, or have an uninterested third-party who is over the age of 18, like a family member or friend, serve the pleadings.

What can I do if my spouse doesn't respond?

If you file the initial paperwork, have your spouse properly served, and 20 days (60 days if service is done outside of the state and 90 days if service is done outside of the country) pass from the date they were served, you could be eligible to file a Motion for Default. This means that you will be requesting that the Court enter final orders based on what you initially filed without the other party participating.

How long is the divorce process after the papers have been served?

The minimum waiting period (usually for uncontested matters) is 90 days. This is the shortest amount of time a divorce can take in Washington. However, for contested matters, the time it takes to finalize a divorce can be much longer, sometimes up to three or four years. 

What is an Acceptance of Service?

An Acceptance of Service is a court pleading that a party signs if they are willing to accept pleadings in a way other than what is required under the law. For example, if you file the initial paperwork and the other side agrees to accept the pleadings from you directly without going through a third party, the other party will need to fill out the Acceptance of Service stating when they accepted the pleadings and what pleadings they received, among other things. It is then signed, and filed at the courthouse. 

Does it matter who files the divorce first in WA?
Generally no, unless there is a request for a restraining order due to safety issues. In Clark County, when a case is filed, the courts issue an automatic temporary order that is served with the rest of the divorce documents on the other party which orders parties not to sell, hide, or transfer accounts and funds, or remove the children from their natural home.
Jennifer Joslin and navigate law group have been a god send. I do not know how I would have navigated through my complex situation without them. For such a long time my reality had been taken from me and they were able to be the voice for me that wasn’t being heard. She and her team really fought by my side and were professional, honest, and clearly well intended for me as a person and not just a client. The legal system is a complex one in which some can take advantage of and abuse the system, due to this I wouldn’t have survived without Jennifer Joslin, Melody LaRue, Tristan Harvey, Amber Rush, and Navigate Law Group by my side.
– Kristina Cortez
In order to make an informed decision regarding divorce and custody cases you need the best source of information which is what I found as a client at Navigate Law Group. Chelsie and her team of incredibly knowledgeable attorneys give structure to the process so, as a client, I know the options available to me for making tough decisions. Their rates are some of the best I’ve found and the quality of support is top notch. Consider a consultation with Navigate Law Group and let them help you in your time of need.
– Brandon Peacock

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