The Divorce Process In Bellevue, WA

March 1, 2022

When you and your Bellevue, WA, partner can’t reconcile your differences after trying over and over, usually there’s only one appropriate outcome for the situation. The divorce process in Bellevue, WA, is similar to the divorce process in other cities and states, and it’s important to understand how this process works.

There’s a big difference between filing for divorce in Bellevue, WA, and being served divorce papers. If you’re on the receiving end of divorce papers that have been filed, it means your partner moved forward with the process.

Otherwise, it’s up to you to move forward and begin the divorce process in Bellevue, WA. After you take the necessary steps, your partner will be the one who receives the paperwork.

This article will discuss all of the relevant information surrounding the divorce process in Bellevue, WA. Hopefully, you won’t have to utilize this information, but in the event you do, you’ll be better prepared to navigate the proceedings.

You’ve Been Served Divorce Papers in Bellevue, WA

If you’ve been serviced divorce papers in Bellevue, WA, the first thing you want to do is contact an attorney. The way that you respond initially can have a huge effect on the rest of the process, and you want to be sure that you proceed accordingly.

After you are served with a petition for divorce, you have 20 days to respond. What happened to get to this point? What if you’re the one who wants to file and have your partner served? Let’s rewind a bit and review how the process gets to the point of one party responding.

The Filing Process in Bellevue, WA

The following steps review what’s required during the process of filing for divorce in Bellevue, WA.

1)Where Do You File?

First, you must file in the proper city or county in the state of Washington. In this case, it would be Bellevue, WA. It’s important to note that you must file in the county where you live or your spouse lives − in all cases.

2)The Petition

There is only one basis or grounds for divorce in the state of Washington – the marriage is irreversibly damaged or broken. Because Washington is a no-fault state, this means there’s no reason to provide proof of which party was behind the need for the divorce.

First, you must fill out the paperwork to file the petition for divorce. You must state that the marriage is irreversibly broken, and you wish to officially dissolve your marriage in Bellevue, WA.

The next step picks up where we started initially, with the serving process.

3) Serving the Other Party

After filing the petition, you will be assigned an official case number through the courts of Bellevue, WA. The law states that your spouse must also receive a copy of the petition and the summons informing them of the court date.

Once your spouse (or you) is served with the appropriate papers, there will be a 20-day window to respond. If no response is issued, the result is known as a default judgment, and the spouse who filed for the divorce will automatically be granted their request.

What Happens If You Can’t Locate Your Spouse in Bellevue, WA? 

If your spouse can’t be located, you or your attorney must file a petition to have them served through the mail. However, you must show courts adequate proof that you’ve made every effort to locate your spouse. You’ll be required to provide a detailed explanation of the measures you’ve taken to attempt to locate them.

You will need to show proof of the following:

  • Your spouse is deliberately attempting to dodge being served, or
  • Your spouse has moved, and there is no forwarding address, and
  • You have no knowledge of where they work, and
  • Your spouse lives out of state, but you don’t have the means to commute to their location.

Once the court approves the documents being sent through the mail, a third party must mail them.

4) Response

There are two potential outcomes when it comes to the response. Your spouse will contest the fact, or they will be in agreement.

If They Contest and File a Response

If your spouse responds within the 20-day window and contests, you will have to go through the contested divorce process, which we’ll discuss later in the article.

If They Don’t Respond

If there is no response, the divorce is considered uncontested. You must move forward by filing a motion of judgment by default because of the lack of response.

You’ll be required to give the court a copy of your petition, as well as an affidavit of non-military service. This is a document proving to the court that your spouse is not a member of the United States Armed Forces.

Once you’ve filed the proper motion with the court, you are required to wait a period of 90 days to finalize the divorce. After 90 days has have passed, you can apply for a general judgment, and your divorce will be final.

5) Temporary Orders

In some cases, it may be appropriate to file temporary orders. When you file any motion for an order, these orders will remain in effect for the entire duration of your case.

These temporary orders establish a set of rules or code of conduct for your spouse throughout the divorce process. The following list includes some of the most common types of temporary orders:

  • Child support
  • Parenting guidelines or schedule
  • Spousal maintenance
  • Possession of the home
  • Bill payment

Temporary restraining orders may be filed as well if you feel that this is necessary. It’s encouraged to handle these matters without going to court, but sometimes, this isn’t possible. A hearing must be scheduled to establish temporary orders in these cases.

6) Parent Education

All Washington counties and cities, including Bellevue, WA, require that both parents must attend a parenting seminar. This is, of course, assuming children are involved.

These seminars discuss the major details surrounding divorce and how to handle the situation properly if children are present. There is also information regarding co-parenting and how to co-exist with your spouse in the best interests of the children.

The seminar isn’t free, and both spouses will be responsible for paying their portion. However, it is possible to have the fees waived based on income levels.

7) Discovery

The discovery process is simply the exchange of information, so you’re better prepared for the divorce proceedings. During this process, you and your attorney can request certain documents that allow you to prepare for negotiating, mediation, and a possible trial.

All of the facts obtained in these documents can prepare you to achieve the best possible outcome once the process is over. The documents obtained should include information regarding income, taxes, investments, inheritances, and any other financial information.

You’re also eligible to obtain this same information about your spouse. You may have to contact certain institutions such as banks, schools, and employers to compile all of these documents and information.

What If My Spouse Doesn’t Provide the Documents or Information in Bellevue, WA? 

If your spouse isn’t cooperating regarding making the information available, your attorney may file a motion that forces them to produce this information. They may also be responsible for paying your attorney’s fees for filing the motion.

8) Mediation

Assuming you and your spouse are able to communicate in a civil manner, mediation is a preferred outcome instead of a trial. During mediation, normally you, your spouse, and both attorneys sit down in a room and discuss the specifics of the divorce.

All assets, including property, investments, and cash, will be divided, assuming you can reach an agreement with your spouse. During mediation, you and your spouse have more control over the outcome when compared to a trial.

9) Settlement

If you and your spouse come to an agreement on dividing all assets, this means a settlement has been reached. In this case, the final paperwork must be signed, and everything you agreed upon is legally binding.

However, if an agreement isn’t reached, you must continue to trial.

10) Trial

If you and your spouse can’t settle on everything, the result is a trial. Divorce cases in Bellevue, WA, are tried by a judge instead of a jury. Your attorney will present your case to the judge with testimony from you and other relevant parties and include pieces of information known to the court as exhibits.

When you’re the one who filed the initial paperwork, you will be called upon to present your case first. Your attorney will question all witnesses to testify on your behalf, and they’ll be asked a series of questions to paint a clearer picture of the situation to the judge.

After questioning is finished, the other party may be entitled to a rebuttal to explain their side of the story. Additionally, your spouse and their attorney will also go through the same witness calling and questioning process.

Both attorneys will have a chance to make closing arguments, and the judge will close the proceedings by rendering his verdict or judgment. Normally, a divorce trial lasts anywhere from one to three days, depending on the specifics of the case and how many witnesses are called.

You Need an Experienced Divorce Lawyer in Bellevue on Your Side

When you file for divorce in Bellevue, WA, you may be nervous about the process. However, if you and your spouse can be civil, the chances are high that things will end up going much easier than you thought.

Regardless, you should always have an attorney to guide you through the process. This guarantees that you don’t miss any steps and receive the most favorable outcome. To learn more, please don’t hesitate to contact or call us at 206-790-6430 today.

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