Family law attorney
If you’re struggling in your marriage, and looking for a solution, divorce may be an option for you. And to do so successfully, you need a competent family law attorney. It is vital that before you begin to pursue this, you understand all of the legal, procedural, financial, and personal implications of a divorce.
The complexity of the divorce process requires the assistance of a family law attorney or other legal professional. They will help you with the filing of the summons, petition, motions, and all procedural processes related to your divorce. Many assume that they should handle their divorce on their own, especially when spouses ‘agree’ on big issues. However, there are significant disadvantages — and even dangers — of filing divorce on your own.
Here is a legal checklist that you should use to help you understand and navigate your divorce — with or without the help of an experienced Family law attorney.
Conditions to Petition for Marriage Dissolution with or without a family law attorney
There are requirements that must be met in order to successfully file for divorce in the state of Washington. It isn’t as simple as filling out a form, dividing everything in half, and waving goodbye. Here are some requirements that you must be aware of before beginning your divorce process:
Legal Resident of the State of Washington
In order to file for divorce in the State of Washington, either you or your spouse must be a legal resident of the state. You may also be a member of the military who is stationed in Washington.
Only one spouse must be a resident. For example, if you live in Washington but your spouse does not, you may still file for divorce within Washington State.
Legal Grounds for Divorce
Washington is a “no fault” divorce state. This means that the only requirement to file for divorce is a representation that your marriage is “irretrievably broken”. In the event that only one party believes this to be true, a divorce may still be granted. Only one spouse is required to confirm legal grounds for divorce.
The Mediation Process
Nearly all of the counties within the state of Washington require that if both parties (each spouse) have not agreed on all issues, including division of assets, custody, etc. a mediation process is required. Mediation requires that each party and their family law attorney, with the addition of a mediator (often a senior attorney or retired judge), work together to come to an agreement that is satisfactory to all parties. The mediator facilitates communication between the parties, who are very rarely in the same room during these discussions, and provides insight into what is reasonable, fair, and acceptable for a settlement.
If the mediation process is successful, the agreement is put into a written contract which is then signed by all parties, resolving the case.
Mediation is extremely helpful for most parties in reaching a satisfactory conclusion and reasonable compromise. Mediation also tends to be significantly less costly than a trial. The process of mediation also allows the spouses to have a voice in the decision making process, which is not an option when a case goes to trial.
A Family law attorney’s assistance during mediation is extremely valuable. Their legal expertise helps ensure that you are receiving a compromise that will be good for you in the long-term, as anything agreed upon in the contract is legally binding. They will be able to represent your interests, explain the proceedings and ramifications of decisions, and answer the many questions that will inevitably arise.
The Issues of Divorce
During a divorce, there tends to be one spouse who will dominate discussions and another who is unsure and uncertain of their rights and how to ensure they are met. For example, one spouse may assert that the law requires a 50/50 division of assets and liabilities (this is not true), or that monies earned from a pension are the sole possession of the party that earned it (also untrue).
Combine this with legal jargon, confusing procedures, and nuances that vary from court to court, and you’re looking at an extremely complex process. Divorce is one of the biggest financial, personal, and legally binding transaction that anyone will ever make.
Property division is often the most emotionally charged issue in a divorce. Distributing family property, such as the home, vehicles, retirement accounts, investments, business interests, heirlooms, and various family possessions will require patience, and the assistance of a family law attorney. Your divorce lawyer will be able to help you ascertain which items you most need or value and what areas you can compromise on. They will also assist you in understanding the laws of Washington State that define and address property in a divorce. Their experience can also give you the legal basis to be awarded the property you are entitled to, ensuring your rights and interests are protected and that a fair settlement is made.
Divorces often involve children. Because of this, divorces typically include a main source of conflict in regard to where the children will live.
“Custody” is a frequently misunderstood term. Residential schedule is more in keeping with the intent of ‘custody’. This determines where the minor children will reside and when. This is decided by the parties or the court, if the parties are unable to agree.
It is vital to remember that the goal of the residential schedule, or custody, is in the best interests of the children involved. This can become subject to personal opinion and debate very quickly, so having a divorce attorney to help you work through the options and the process of establishing a feasible, healthy residential schedule is invaluable.
Child support in Washington State is determined by using the “Income Shares” model. This model takes the income of both parents when determining the amount of child support to be paid.
However, Washington does deviate from the model in that certain situations allow for this to be avoided for one of the parties. These exceptions are difficult to achieve, however, and you will need the assistance of an experienced divorce lawyer in order to establish a fair sum to be supplied as child support.
Child support is an important piece of your divorce and is an ongoing responsibility for the parent required to supply it. This is a source of support for the child(ren) and must be viewed as such. Addressing child support immediately and candidly is vital, and a good attorney will be extremely helpful as you do so.
Alimony payments are not always a given factor in a divorce. When they are, they are typically monthly payments from one spouse to the other in order to help the receiving spouse remain financially stable. Alimony may or may not be granted and there are specific legal factors to be considered by the court when coming to a decision regarding it. However, much of the decision will come down to the discretion of the court when they choose to award or deny a maintenance request.
Alimony is a significant aspect of a divorce case, as the total value is often tens of thousands of dollars, if not much more. Whether you are trying to be granted monthly alimony payments from your spouse or trying to deny the responsibility to pay monthly maintenance to your spouse, having good legal advice is extremely important. The input and aid of an experienced divorce lawyer can award you hundreds of thousands of dollars.
Working With an Experienced Family Law Attorney
Divorce is an extremely difficult process to walk through, whether you desire the divorce yourself or not. Attempting to work through the significant financial and personal issues involved in a divorce without a divorce attorney by your side puts you in an even more difficult situation. Especially if there are disagreements between you and your spouse regarding any of the major issues discussed above.
As you navigate the complex and draining process of divorce, you should ensure that the interests of you and your children are protected by working with an experienced family law attorney. Their support, advice, and aid will be an invaluable support to you and yours during this difficult transition. Many attorneys offer free initial consultations, so be choosy as you meet with various attorneys. After all, much of your future will be determined by the outcome of your divorce negotiations.
I’m the marketing manager for Anderson Hunter Law. At home I love to spend time with my wife, 4 children, and golf. At work, I help connect my clients to their customers through content that helps people solve problems.
- 2707 Colby Ave., Ste. 1001
- Everett, WA 98201
- Phone: (425) 252-5161 Fax: (425) 258-3345