March 7th, 2023
Where to File for Divorce in Washington State
Realizing that your marriage is no longer serving you can be one of the most emotionally challenging times of your life. As you mourn the loss of your partnership and start thinking about what your post-divorce life will look like, the prospect of moving through the divorce process can seem intimidating and overwhelming. It’s natural to feel consumed by questions (i.e., Who will keep the house? Who will pay spousal support? What will child custody look like? This post will explore some basic components of the divorce process in Washington State to help prepare you for the weeks and months ahead.
Locating and Completing Your Divorce Paperwork
If you, your spouse, or both of you live in King County, you can find the relevant divorce-related paperwork online here. You can start by filling out the Petition for Dissolution of Marriage form, which will ask you for personal information, a list of your property and debts, whether you are pursuing spousal support, whether there are children, and other pertinent information. It’s important to note that Washington state does not require you to provide a reason for seeking a divorce; as long as you cite that there are irreconcilable differences that have made the marriage unfeasible, you may proceed with your petition. You will also need to complete a Notice About a Marriage or Domestic Partnership, also known as a summons, along with a few other documents.
Filing and Serving Documents
When you have completed the necessary forms, you must make copies of the Petition for Divorce and the Summons. Essentially, these documents serve as the official notice to your spouse that you are seeking a divorce. You can take the original documents to the King County Clerk’s office in person, mail them to the office, or file them online. Next, you will need to have copies of these documents served on the other party personally. Someone over the age of 18 (not you) must serve these documents on your spouse, giving them notice of the start of the case. After your spouse has been served this paperwork, the server will complete a Proof of Personal Service form and give it to you. Make a copy of this document for your records and file the original with the Clerk’s office.
Next Steps for Divorces in Washington State
If you and your spouse agree to the terms of your divorce (i.e., the division of assets and debts, spousal support, the child custody agreement and parenting plan, etc.), you must observe a 91-day waiting period before the county will officially dissolve your marriage. Many divorcing couples encounter disagreements when negotiating the terms of their divorce, so if this is your experience, you are far from alone. The court may send you to mediation, where you and the other party will work through your differences under the guidance of a neutral third party, known as the mediator. Although mediation works well for many divorces, some cases require additional support or a different format, such as arbitration or litigation. No matter what path your divorce may take, enlisting the guidance and support of a trusted and caring attorney is the best way to ensure you walk away from your marriage feeling secure and hopeful about the future.
Empowering You to Take Control of Your Life’s Next Chapter
Even if you and your spouse are parting on amicable terms, it’s natural to experience a range of emotions during this period of transition. Divorce is so much more than a legal process—you are moving from one phase of your life to another, often prompting feelings of vulnerability, anxiety, and stress. It’s essential to acknowledge these emotions and seek out sources of support, like family members and close friends. Additionally, enlisting the guidance of an experienced Seattle divorce lawyer can give you the clarity and confidence you need to move forward. Your attorney can help you with the practical aspects of your divorce, and they can also help you articulate your post-divorce goals and identify strategies to ensure you have the solid foundation you need to achieve them.