Divorce FAQs

Divorce FAQs

How do I choose a divorce lawyer?

It’s always a good idea to be informed about your legal rights.  An initial consultation with a divorce lawyer is typically either free or reasonably priced.  Choosing the right lawyer for your particular case is very important.  It is best to find a lawyer who specializes in family law.

The best way to find a lawyer is word of mouth.  If you know a lawyer, ask him or her who they recommend.  A therapist or accountant is also a good referral source.  If you know someone who has been through a divorce, talk to them.

In general terms, how does the process of divorce work?

In Washington, there is a 90 day waiting period before a Judge will sign your divorce papers.  During that 90 days, the court may issue a temporary order.  That order addresses issues such as who will remain in the family home, how much child support the non-custodial parent must pay, what the visitation schedule will be and other financial issues such as spousal maintenance and attorney fees.

Your lawyer will then collect all information on assets and debts of the marriage.  Once all information has been gathered, your lawyer will talk to you about possible settlement options.  If you and your spouse are unable to agree, mediation will be required (Yakima County).  If no resolution is reached at mediation, your case will be set for a trail.  Only a small percentage of cases go to trial.  Most can be settled out of court.

Do I have to be physically separated from my spouse before filing for a divorce?

No.

Do I need to know what our current “community” and “separate” liabilities are?

No, but the more informed you are about your finances, assets and debts, the better.

With minors, should I have an idea of what kind of parenting plan I’m looking for?

Many counties have guidelines for visitation.  You can review that online to get an idea of what the norm is.  You should have an idea of what you would like to propose for a visitation schedule, but your lawyer can help you with that as well.

Do I need to provide any tax forms? (federal income tax returns, W2’s, etc.)

Yes.  Three years of tax returns, W-2’s and a current pay stub should be provided to your attorney.

What other information might my attorney want?

Copies of bank statements, credit card statements, stock/bond statements and retirement account information as of the date you and your spouse separated. If you are not yet separated, as of the date you first hire your attorney and file for divorce.

Do I need to provide insurance policies for me?

Yes.  Information about life and medical insurance is needed.  If you provide medical insurance for children, your attorney will want information showing how much it costs you to insure them.

Should I provide a copy of any secured or unsecured personal loans made to me since separation?

If your lawyer requests this information.  If they are loans after separation, your lawyer may want to know about it but it may not be relevant.

Do I need to provide a breakdown of all our monthly expenses or just those that I am paying (i.e., utilities, food and supplies, transportation, health care, personal expenses)?

Yes.  Your lawyer will give you a document to complete called a financial declaration where you will list all of your monthly expenses.

Can I postpone having my spouse served the divorce papers until a certain period?

Yes.

Do I need to provide a copy of all current debts owned by me including credit card statements, loans and mortgages.

Yes.

Will I need to speak to my spouse at mediation?

Not if you don’t want to. The mediator can put you in separate rooms at your request.

Who will pay for mediation?

If you can’t agree, the mediator will usually split the fee equally.