Seattle Divorce Lawyer
Find the right Seattle Divorce Lawyer on our experienced team. We understand the special challenges faced in divorce – and we have a few local offices near you.
Location: 701 5th Ave #4200, Seattle, WA 98101
Seattle divorce attorney
Splitting from your spouse is a challenging experience. You might be anxious about the future and have a lot of unanswered questions. Biases against men in the family law system only compound these feelings — but you do not need to face your divorce alone.
At Divorce Lawyers for Men, we understand the unique challenges men face during divorce and are committed to providing you with honest advice, dedicated advocacy, and superior legal representation. Call (360) 866-7393 to learn more and schedule a consultation with a divorce attorney in Washington State.
Divorce process in Seattle
No two marriages are the same, so no two divorces will be exactly the same. However, the divorce process in Seattle generally follows a similar pattern that can help you know what to expect when getting started.
1. Determine jurisdiction
The divorce process begins when one party files a petition for divorce. To do this, the filing party (the petitioner) must determine which court has jurisdiction over the divorce. In Washington, this is typically the Superior Court in the county where either party lives.
The petitioner is the party who files for divorce. They are responsible for providing the court with details about the marriage, the reasons they want a divorce, and their requests for a divorce settlement.
The respondent is the party who is served with the petition. While this person does not have the responsibility for filing the initial paperwork, they should respond to the petition and may provide their own requests for a divorce settlement.
2. Serve the petition
After the petition is filed, it must be served on the respondent in a timely manner. This can be done by mail or in person. Personal service may be completed by any person who is over the age of 18, is of sound mind, and is not a party to the case. Most often a process server is hired to serve the petition, but sometimes the Civil Process Unit of the county sheriff’s office is hired to serve the papers.
3. File a response
Once they have been served the petition, the respondent has 20 days to file a response. This is their opportunity to agree to or contest the requests made by the petitioner.
4. Establish temporary orders
In some cases, the court may issue temporary orders while the case is pending if the requests are brought before the court. In other circumstances, the parties may agree or stipulate certain temporary orders pending final resolution of their divorce.
To make the agreement a binding, enforceable order, the agreement must be signed by both parties and submitted to the court for the judge’s signature. In either scenario, these orders can cover a range of issues including child custody and support, spousal maintenance, and property division.
5. Attend required parent education classes
Washington requires divorcing parties with minor children to attend a parent education class. This class is designed to help parents understand the ways their divorce might affect their children and provide guidance on how to make the process of divorce less traumatic for them, and how to co-parent effectively.
6. Exchange financial disclosures
Each party to the divorce is required to provide a complete disclosure of their properties, assets, debts, income, and expenses. In addition to completing, filing, and serving the requisite financial declaration form, you must also provide copies of your financial documents such as your tax returns, pay stubs, and statements for all banking, investment, retirement, and credit card accounts.
7. Conduct discovery
If, after the exchange of the financial disclosures, you need additional documents and information, you may seek the production of other documents through discovery. Discovery can be completed in writing, through a deposition, or by issuing subpoenas. This will allow you to ensure that you have all information necessary to either reach a settlement agreement or go to trial. Discovery can be used for a multitude of reasons, including:
- If your spouse is refusing to provide their financial disclosures.
- Obtaining records for a longer period of time than what was required to be produced with the financial disclosures.
- If you feel that your spouse is hiding assets, debts, or information.
8. Participate in mediation
Early in the divorce process, your case will likely be assigned a trial date several months in the future. Before that date rolls around, you will have the opportunity to participate in mediation.
Mediation is a process in which both parties agree to work with an impartial third party to try to reach a settlement agreement on their own terms without the court’s intervention. If both parties agree to the terms of the divorce, they may submit their settlement agreement to the court, skipping the trial phase altogether.
You can also attempt settlement through negotiations between attorneys without the assistance of a mediator. However, a mediator’s impartial role can be invaluable in reaching agreements because either party’s agenda or goals are not driving them.
9. Move forward with trial
If you do not reach a settlement agreement during mediation or in negotiations through counsel, the case will go to trial. The judge will hear and evaluate the evidence and arguments presented by both sides. They will then decide how the marriage should be legally dissolved with the interests of both parties and their children in mind.
10. Receive your final orders
If you and your spouse reached an agreement in mediation, it will be submitted to the judge for their approval and signature. If the judge issued orders at trial, those orders will become the final orders. In either scenario, these final orders are legally enforceable and must be adhered to by both parties, so it is crucial that you fully understand the terms of the agreement before signing anything.
A divorce involving minor children requires the creation of a Parenting Plan. This document outlines how parents will share responsibility for their children, including physical custody, visitation rights, and decision-making authority (legal custody). Other details such as holiday schedules, transportation arrangements, and communication expectations may also be outlined in the plan.
Decree of Dissolution of Marriage
The Decree of Dissolution of Marriage is a comprehensive document that finalizes a divorce. It details the division of assets and debts, as well as any agreements regarding spousal support or child support. This document also officially proves that the marriage is terminated and can be used for a legal name change, remarriage, and other post-divorce actions.
Legal separation vs. divorce
Some couples in Seattle may decide to seek a legal separation instead of a divorce. Legal separation allows couples to remain legally married but live separately and establish arrangements for matters such as child custody, spousal support, and property division.
Legal separation can be helpful when couples are uncertain about their future or if they want to maintain their spouse’s health insurance or other benefits. It may also be a viable option for couples whose religion prohibits them from getting divorced.
Couples who seek a legal separation must follow the same procedures and processes as those who are seeking a divorce. The major difference is that legal separation does not officially end the marriage. This means that neither party may remarry unless and until they dissolve the status of their marriage by converting their Decree of Legal Separation into a Decree of Dissolution.
If either spouse wishes to convert their legal separation into a divorce, they may do so if at least six months have passed after the finalization of the Decree of Legal Separation. Only one spouse needs to request the conversion; it may not be objected to by the other spouse. It is a fairly straightforward process that requires the filing of certain forms or a hearing in some situations.
Cost of divorce
The cost of divorce in Seattle varies widely depending on the complexity of the case, the amount of disputed issues, and the amount of time required to resolve it.
Contested or uncontested divorce is the greatest factor affecting costs
All of the above elements are greatly influenced by another factor: whether the divorce is contested or uncontested. A contested divorce is where the parties do not agree on all issues and a trial or other legal proceedings are necessary to resolve them.
This type of divorce is more costly and time-consuming than an uncontested divorce where the parties reach a mutual agreement outside of court.
Contested divorce cases require more of an attorney’s time and may involve multiple court hearings, negotiations, and other proceedings such as depositions. Preparing for trial can also be costly as both sides need to assemble evidence and witnesses. However, some cases must be litigated to reach a fair resolution and to protect your assets and your future, so the cost of attorney’s fees may be well worth it in the end.
Who pays attorney’s fees and costs?
Most of the time, each party is responsible for paying their own attorney’s fees and costs. However, the court has the discretion to order either party to pay a portion of the other party’s attorney’s fees in certain circumstances.
This most commonly happens when one spouse has significantly more resources or earning power than the other. In these cases, the court may order the higher-earning spouse to pay some of the other spouse’s legal expenses. This is done to ensure that both parties have equal access to representation and a fair outcome.
The court may also order one spouse to pay the other’s attorney’s fees if there is evidence of misconduct or bad faith behaviors during the divorce process.
From start to finish, here is how long your divorce could take
Divorces in Seattle can take anywhere from a few months to a few years depending on the complexity of the case and whether or not it is contested. Generally, a divorce in Washington will take a minimum of three months to complete as the state has a mandatory 90-day waiting period between the filing of the petition and when the divorce can be finalized.
In many cases, uncontested divorces may be finalized immediately after this 90-day period ends. Some uncontested divorce cases may take slightly longer if the parties have complex financial or child-related issues to sort out together.
Contested divorces, on the other hand, often take between six months to two years to resolve. If the parties cannot reach an agreement on divorce-related matters, the court will have to intervene and may require extensive mediation or trial proceedings. Even relatively uncomplicated contested divorce cases may take many months to be heard due to court backlogs for hearings and trials.
Why do I need a lawyer for a divorce?
Divorce is a deeply personal and emotionally challenging process. It is also filled with legal requirements and complexities, all of which can have long-term financial implications for both parties. While the family law system in Washington allows for self-representation, you do not want to leave your future up to chance. Navigating the legal intricacies of divorce is best done with experienced legal guidance.
Skilled legal representation becomes even more paramount when biases against men come into play. It is not uncommon that courts make decisions regarding child support, child custody, and spousal support that favor the female party, putting men at a disadvantage. Battling these outdated biases and prejudices is not an easy task and is best done with the help of a divorce attorney in Washington State who is not afraid to stand up for your rights.
How we can help
At Divorce Lawyers for Men, we are committed to securing the best possible outcomes for our clients. We understand the high stakes involved in divorce proceedings and strive to provide you with the support needed to protect your rights.
From start to finish you can expect us to be your partner in navigating the complexities of Washington’s family law system. While each case requires a personalized approach, our strategy may involve any of the following services:
- Discussing your goals and legal options
- Assisting with your divorce petition or your response to the petition
- Gathering evidence to support your case
- Leading negotiations and settlement discussions
- Appearing before the court on your behalf
- Helping you understand and comply with court orders
No matter what your divorce entails, you can depend on our Seattle divorce attorneys to provide the top-notch legal representation needed to resolve your case quickly and effectively. Whether that requires aggressive representation in court or creative negotiation of a favorable settlement, we are here for you every step of the way.
Divorce Lawyers for Men is on your side
Fighting for your interests takes more than just knowledge of the law — it requires skill, experience, and perseverance. When you turn to Divorce Lawyers for Men, you will find all of these qualities and more. Our statewide legal network has helped thousands of men like you seek fair resolutions to their divorce proceedings, and we are confident that we can do the same for you.
Our Seattle divorce attorneys boast diverse backgrounds and skill sets, while all sharing the same dedication to protecting men’s rights. The difference this makes can be life-changing.
We are ready to listen to your story, answer your questions, and plan a strategy to help you reach your goals. Contact Divorce Lawyers for Men at (360) 866-7393 today and start your divorce case on the right foot.
Local Communities Our Seattle Divorce Lawyer Office Serves:
We serve the following areas: Leschi, Atlantic, Central District, Rainier Vista, West Seattle, Delridge, Highline, Georgetown, Pike/Pine, Belltown, Rainier Valley, North Beacon Hill, Mt Baker, Pioneer Square, Columbia City, Lakewood, South Seattle, Judkins Park
Learn the Divorce Rules for Men
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