If you’re looking to hire a divorce lawyer, here are some informational and actionable tips that might help provide some relief to a stressful journey.
There are some things to keep in mind like for instance, years of experience, areas of practice, rates, and making sure your questions are taking into consideration when you’re doing a consultation.
Will the lawyer handle child custody disputes?
A divorce lawyer might also do child custody cases as well and often can be found under family law firms. If you have children involved, it might be best to look into a divorce lawyer that has high experience with custody disputes.
Divorcing your spouse can be a difficult journey especially if it wasn’t amicable, so when hiring your lawyer, make sure you feel comfortable, that your questions are answered clearly and that the communication is to your satisfaction.
Decide if a lawyer is what you need.
If you and your spouse can come to an agreement then it would be better to handle it outside the legal system. Divorces can be expensive which means hiring a lawyer can be more of a burden than a relief when it comes to financing.
When do you need to hire a lawyer?
- If your spouse has already hired one, it is best to make sure you’re covered as well.
- If child/ren are involved and you can’t come to an agreement, talking to a family lawyer could help ease the conflict even if you don’t hire a lawyer.
- If your spouse is abusive, dishonest, vindictive.
- If would feel more comfortable having a lawyer during the divorce process.
If you decided to hire a lawyer than check out our Tacoma attorney page where we recommend some lawyers in family law, child custody, and divorce.
Are divorce records public in Washington state?
Yes, divorce records are public. You can access divorce records online, however, as with other court cases, there is some confidential information such as someone’s finances, medical, records that have to do with private information.
How to apply for a divorce and the process?
The process begins with filling out the divorce papers, it is completed by the spouse seeking the divorce and then it will be served to the other spouse. If the divorce is uncontested, meaning that both spouses agree that divorce is in their best interest and have a marital agreement already in place, then the process can go faster without having to get the lawyers and courts involved.
The minimum waiting period for a divorce is 90 days (three months), however, it can take longer if the divorce was contested and the other spouse continues to object and if it’s a case of domestic violence, child abuse, it can take much longer. It’s not unheard of for a divorce to take longer than six months.
How much does it cost to file for divorce?
The court filing fee is $280 for a dissolution of marriage (divorce) and other costs can include photocopying and delivery services.
Can divorce papers be rescinded once signed?
Yes, of course, certain factors will play into how complicated it might be to do so such as if you agreed to everything and then suddenly you don’t like what you agreed to in the settlement, then it can be a complicated matter which will involve your attorney, however, if you and the other spouse agree that divorce is not something you both want, it shouldn’t be complicated, read more here on how rescinding a divorce is possible.
Can I get a divorce if I was only married for a short amount of time?
Often instead of a divorce and depending on the length of the marriage and other factors, you can get an annulment which is like saying you were never married as if it never existed. Getting an annulment is harder than getting a divorce. Do keep in mind that some states do not have a time frame and the average states that do have a time frame are commonly six months and less than 12 months.
When it comes to getting an annulment you have to prove to them that your marriage is grounds for being annulled, such as fraud, getting married for a green card, wasn’t able to legally consent to your marriage, the spouse was still married, the marriage was a joke or a dare, and other serious claims. Read more about filing for an annulment rather than a divorce here.
Washington state and annulment
In Washington State, it’s important to note that it’s not called an annulment but it does have the same effect. Again, there are rules to which you can be granted one over a divorce, and for the requirements in Washington state visit here.
What about getting a legal separation because divorce is not being considered?
Legal separation means you’re still married and still retain the benefits of being married such as healthcare, marital status, property rights. You’ll still have the shared benefits along with the debts of a marriage such as bills, liabilities, the difference that you are now separated from your spouse and live apart. You’ll still go through the proceedings of child custody, visitation, and separation alimony and child support as you would a divorce.
Reasons to get legally separated rather than divorce?
- It can be a trial to see if divorce is something that you both want
- It gives the space needed to each spouse to figure out their personal matters
- It allows you to retain benefits as a marriage and if you’re in no position to start on your own right away and need time to figure out your life outside of being married, it gives you time to do so with a cushion.
Reasons for filing for divorce?
- There is no chance of reconciling.
- The other spouse infidelity issues.
- It’s unsafe to continue to have that person in your life and you are ready to start over with a fresh start.
- Here are some of the top 10 reasons divorce happens.
Legal separation in Washington
Yes, Washington does allow for legal separation and if down the road you decide you want a divorce you can covert your separation into a divorce. If you both decide that you want to reconcile and remain married, a legal separation can be undone as most times when spouses consider legal separation it’s because they still are trying to figure out their personal matters while figuring out if there is a way to work on their marriage.
How long can I be legally separated?
The separation is really up to you and your spouse and how long the both of you need space to cool off or figure things out. It’s a good idea to have a length of reasonable amount time for the both of you to have your space but also a timeline to when you both might be willing to revisit reconciling or if divorcing might be the better situation for the both of you.
It isn’t unheard of couples being separated for indefinitely never remarrying and it’s also common for couples to move on and divorce or reconcile once the matters at hand were resolved, but if you decide that you want to file for divorce our next section can help you get through the process and start the next chapter.
The next section: the chapter after divorce.
So we covered how to attain an attorney, the process of divorcing and how long it can take for the divorce to be finalized, how annulment is the better option in some cases if proven to be, how legal separation might be the better choice if you and your spouse are unsure of getting a divorce but do need time apart to figure out the next move. Now, we will provide some insight how to start the next chapter.
The aftermath of hiring a divorce attorney; how to start over?
Starting over can be frightening for anyone but even more frightening when you no longer have the support of a spouse or someone to share household responsibilities with and the bills continue to come through the mail.
If you have yet hired an attorney to start the process of divorce proceedings, I recommend reading our Tacoma divorce lawyer page that will provide you with insight that will allow you to make some clear concise decisions.
Starting over after the divorce when it comes to bills.
When it comes to starting over we recommend separating your bills from the ex-spouse if you have not already done that, separating bills can make the weight of debt or owing money easier than taking on everything, and this only works for bills that are solely from the ex-spouse, anything that was joint should be handled between the two of you or try to get the company that is expecting payment to split the cost to each of you.
Starting over and taking on a new household.
Keep your costs low and live within your means, divorcing someone might mean that you no longer can afford the lifestyle you’re used to depending on alimony, child support, et cetera, if it turns out that you will be accumulating less than what you’re used to, then this will mean starting from what you can afford and then working you’re way up.
Cancel any services or subscription that no longer make sense for your household, cut back on spending that is not a need, and build up a savings account with any amount possible to get yourself on track and a nice start to your new chapter.
Starting over when it comes to children.
When there are kids involved, it’s easier if the split from your ex-spouse was clean and non-dram filled as it will make the child custody agreement easier to deal with when dropping off the kids at the agreed place of drop off.
If you’re not sure how to talk to your child, we wrote a separate article with tips and resources to help you talk with your child about building a new home and chapter which you can find here.
Finding yourself and reinventing who you are.
Often times when we are in a relationship for so long we forget who we are as people by ourselves and we mold into just being a spouse and a parent because we pride ourselves on being the best we can be for others, however, now that you are starting a new chapter, this a great time for you to rebrand yourself and find some hobbies that will bring you joy and happiness.
WebMD has 8 ideas on what to do when reshaping yourself after a divorce.
The overall cost of being single after a divorce.
Now, that we covered some of the basics, let’s dive into the overall cost of being single and building living arrangements, depending on the city you live in, finding an apartment can be a better option than a house, in the beginning, to cut down on costs.
Making sure that health insurance, auto insurance, and other important policies are paid for and now only carrying you, can give you some peace of mind and be keeping track of what everything can cost will allow you to see where your money is going. Mint is a great website/app that will track your bills and income so you can account for every dollar coming in and going out. The key is to keep your outgoing cash flow minimal while starting over.
A great article that speaks more about how expensive divorce is is on penny hoarder.
Talking to your children going through with a divorce.
We understand that going through with legal proceedings is hard enough when there are only adults involved, however, when children are involved it gets tougher.
Explaining Divorce to your kiddos.
First, please understand that your child loves and trusts you and that although you might be feeling guilty, it is better to be as open and honest with your child while reaffirming that you love them.
Don’t bad mouth your spouse to them and don’t lose your cool, remain calm and let them know it is okay to feel what they’re feeling and that no matter what their emotions matter and that you’re in this together.
Articles on speaking with your child about divorce.
Suzanne Gelb, Ph.D., an attorney with family law, psychologist, coach offers her advice on how to talk to your child about divorce.
“Give your child plenty of hugs, play together, cook together, read together, share plenty of quality time together.”
You can read more about making sure your actions speak louder at psychology today.
Lisa Herrick, Ph.D. has a guide that provides you with steps on helping you get your children through with the process of divorce.
“Tell children approximately 2-3 weeks prior to separation. Have a plan – at least the basics – before you tell them”
Read more from her separation and divorce guide.