Frequently Asked Family Law Questions

How long will a divorce take in Washington?
In Washington state, the soonest a divorce can be finalized is 90 days after both filing and service have occurred. However, a contested divorce can potentially take a year or longer to resolve. The amount of time that a specific case will require will depend entirely on the issues of the individual case.
 
What steps are involved in the divorce process?
This depends on the issues involved. First, you file a petition and summons. Once the other person is served, then the process begins. If you cannot wait until finalization of the process to get relief, you can always ask the court for temporary orders to carry you through the process.
 
Does it make a difference who files for divorce first?
It does not.
 
Can you estimate the cost of my divorce?
Generally, no, as it is not possible to guess what the other side is going to do. However, if your divorce is issue-specific, it is possible to give you a fairly close estimate.
 
What if my spouse fights the dissolution?
Everyone has a right to be heard by the court. However, you do not need your spouse’s “permission” or agreement to get a divorce. Fighting it, though, does increase the financial and emotional costs of the process.
 
What about legal separation?
You can get a legal separation, which will, in essence, give you all the “benefits” of a divorce without obtaining a divorce. This is an option for people who need to remain as a dependent of the other spouse for financial reasons, such as medical coverage, or for religious reasons.
 
What if I am served divorce papers?
You need to promptly and formally respond to avoid the other side getting court orders in your absence.
 
Who gets custody of the children?
The law is gender-neutral when it comes to custody; the court considers many factors when determining custody.
 
How are property and debts divided?
The law requires that property and debts be divided in a fair and equitable manner.
 
Will I have to pay or receive spousal maintenance?
This depends on many factors. You will need to consult with an attorney who can discuss your case with you and determine whether this would apply.
 
Who pays child support and how much?
Technically, both parents pay child support! The amount one parent pays directly to the other (called a transfer payment) depends on many factors, for example, who has custody, how much both parents make, the amount of visitation the noncustodial parent gets and whether there are children from other relationships.
 
What if I am in the military and want a divorce?
You can still get a divorce in Washington if you are in the military. Any rights or benefits you receive from the military will be factored into the divorce process.
 
Why hire a divorce attorney?
Divorce is a complicated process. In the divorce process, you only get one chance to have it done correctly. You need an attorney to help you navigate the process and to make sure all your rights are represented.
 
If I am a grandparent, do I have rights?
Generally, no. There are, however, some minor exceptions.
 
If I am a stepmother/father, can I adopt the children?
That may be an option. Also, in some cases, stepparents have rights to remain in the lives of their stepchildren.
 

Other Questions?

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