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Washington Court Records

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How to file for divorce in Washington

The legal term for divorce in Washington is dissolution of marriage. Dissolution of marriage refers to the legal termination of a marital union between two persons who are still alive. It differs from the nullification of a marriage union where the terms and conditions of marriage were not valid ab initio. How long it takes a divorce to get completed in Washington depends on several factors. However, if there are no complications involved in the case, a divorce process should become final after 90 days according to the state’s rules of procedure. As of 2018, the United States Census Bureau put divorce rate in Washington at 9.6 divorces by 1000 women aged 15 years and older. This rating also places Washington in the ninth position of divorce rates in the US. A 10-year earlier record shows that the divorce rate in Washington has dropped by 2.9 divorces by 1000 women of ages 15 years and older.

The Superior Court in Washington has jurisdiction over divorce cases across the state. A divorce process without other issues may be straightforward. However, related issues like the need so resolve who gets child custody. The arrangements for spousal maintenance, the division of assets and liabilities all make the entire process a complex one. So it is important that anyone filing for a divorce get enough information.

Do I need a reason for divorce in Washington?

The state of Washington operates a no-fault grounds principle for divorces in the state. It means that reasons for divorce do not have to be because of blame on either party. Irreconcilable differences, irretrievable breakdown, incompatibility are all no-fault reasons for divorce.

In residency requirements for filing a divorce, the state of Washington is much more liberal relative to other states. Persons who wish to file for a divorce in the state need only to be resident as of the time of filing. While Washington state courts may end a marriage union, they must have who is diction over involved children. In specific terms, the children must be residents in the state for at least 6 months before the date of filing. Although jurisdiction over property does not have to be absolute, it presents problems if the assets and liabilities involved are not within the borders of the state.

Why do I need a divorce lawyer?

The process of divorce comes with a lot of nuances. Navigating them successfully will require a sound knowledge of the law and good background experience. The role of a divorce lawyer is to provide counsel on strategy to getting the best outcome from a divorce case. Should both parties consent to the divorce and agree on all associated matters such as child custody and property settlement, they may not need the services of a divorce lawyer.

How do I get started in a divorce in Washington?

One spouse must file a summons and petition for a dissolution of marriage with the County Clerk’s office. The filing party is also the petitioner. If both parties agree to the divorce, then the summons is unnecessary. They can receive additional documents such as a proposed parenting plan or proposed child support worksheets.

The filing party or petitioner must serve the other spouse (the respondent) with copies of the documents. Again, the exception to this is if they filed jointly. When serving court papers to the respondent, be sure to follow the court rules of procedure about service of process. this is so as not to hinder the progress of the case. Read the Family Law Handbook for more information. The respondent has between 20 to 60 days for response whether they live within or outside Washington.

Respondents have a right to file a counter petition stating their position on spousal support children and property. Regardless, the respondents must send a response within the time frame to avoid a default order by the court. The court only grants default orders to requests for such in the initial documents. Certain situations warrant the arrangement of a temporary court order to guide the conduct of the parties. Temporary orders extend to custody arrangements, child support, spousal maintenance, protection orders, etc.

Suppose spouses do not agree on settlement, a court commissioner or judge can decide temporary orders at a hearing. There are compulsory local court rules regarding page limits and hearing schedules. The waiting period to complete a divorce is 90 days. Precisely, 90 days from filing must lapse before a judge can sign the dissolution decree. The waiting period gives allowance for parties to consider reconciliation. If the case goes to trial, the waiting period might extend.

How to file for a divorce in Washington without the lawyer?

In an uncontested divorce, parties can file for a Dissolution of the Marriage. Here, both parties consent to divorce and also come to an agreement in terms of settlement. In Washington, when this happens, there is no need to go to trial.

How does Washington divorce mediation work?

Washington state laws do not impose mediation on divorcing parties. However, the system encourages it. Mediation systems for people undergoing divorce function based on local rules. County governments set up alternative dispute resolutions as options. Some counties however insist on mediation, but it is not a state requirement.

How long after mediation is divorce final in Washington?

Mediation in the divorce process does not influence the finality of divorce unless its purpose was to salvage the marriage. If a reconciliation is successful, the filing party may withdraw the case in court. If it was for the purpose of bringing both parties to an agreement on the terms of settlement, then it might affect how long it would take to complete the divorce. There is no one size fits all rules to this.

Are divorce records public in Washington?

According to the laws of the state, divorce records are public information as far as the law defines them. To put it differently, what the law defines as confidential information in a divorce record will not be available to the public. Only the persons listed in the record, their authorized delegates, and persons with an executive or court order, can have unlimited access to the contents of a divorce record. Some confidential information as defined by the law includes data about involved minors in the marriage, documentation on domestic abuse, juvenile records, adoption information, personal identifying information such as social security numbers and contact details.

How do I get Washington divorce records?

Washington divorce records dating back to 1968 are available at the Washington state Department of Health. To get divorce certificates in person, go to any of the vital record offices in the state. Make this visit during business hours on Monday to Friday. Otherwise, download and fill out the counter order form for marriage/divorce certificates and submit in person to the location of choice. Mail order requests are to use the mail order form for marriage/divorce certificates. It costs $20 to get a copy of a divorce certificate. Mail it to:

Department of HealthP. O. Box 7909Olympia WA 98507

Additional charges for mail requests apply.

Third-party websites also provide services of furnishing divorce records to request. Go to the order options page of the Washington State Department of Health for more information.

Another way to get divorce records is to contact the office of the Clerk at the Superior Court with current jurisdiction of the divorce case. Earlier records than 1968 are also available in their primary form at the court that received filings for the case. Court fees may vary. Contact the relevant local courthouse for more information.

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