Facing Divorce? Here’s What You Can Expect to Happen

Your spouse has just told you that they want a divorce. Even though some of your friends have been through the process, and you routinely see celebrity breakups shared on your social media newsfeed, none of it adequately prepares you for facing your own divorce. What can you expect to happen in the days ahead?

Let’s talk about the emotional aspects first. Even if you knew deep inside that this was coming, you’re going to be shocked and possibly in denial. Then strong emotions will take hold, ebbing and flowing in intensity over time.

There will be times when these feelings are especially difficult, such as after you tell the kids, your spouse moves out, and you visit a divorce attorney. One minute you’ll be fine, but when you open a separate bank account or take another, similar step towards your new life as a single person, the sadness can set in. That’s okay. Before long, it will be replaced by hope and excitement as you pursue new opportunities and possibilities that lead to a fulfilling life.

Now let’s address the legal aspects. After your spouse files the Summons and a Petition, for Dissolution of Marriage with the clerk of the superior court, and serves you with a copy, the next steps depend on whether or not you both agree on some or all aspects of the divorce.

Uncontested Divorce

With an uncontested divorce, you and your spouse are able to agree on all of the main issues that need to be resolved, namely child custody (known in Washington as a residential schedule) and child support, spousal support, and division of marital property. If you have minor children, state law requires you and your spouse to take a mandatory parenting education course within sixty days of officially starting your divorce process. You and your spouse will work with your attorneys to create a complete settlement agreement. An uncontested divorce is the ideal outcome because you and your spouse have been able to cooperate from the onset. This ability to work together is an essential part of a successful co-parenting relationship, so congratulations!

Contested Divorce

If you and your spouse disagree on even one issue (for example, you are in agreement about the residential schedule, and support for the children, but they want to sell the house, and you want to keep it), your divorce is considered contested.

Fortunately, there are many ways to resolve disagreements, some are considered adversarial whereas others are considered non-adversarial. You can pursue private mediation or a collaborative divorce, as two different models in working with professionals, to help resolve the differences between you and your spouse, without seeking court invention.  In the private mediation, or the collaborative divorce model, you and your spouse, and your attorneys, will work together in a structured environment to create a fair settlement agreement. Working with an attorney in this process will help ensure that your rights are protected from the moment negotiations begin, until the settlement agreement is signed.

If you are unable to resolve all issues, the divorce will have to be litigated. The court will decide on the matters presented by your attorney, approve final orders and judgments, and issue the Decree of Dissolution of Marriage. Once this happens, you and your spouse can focus on developing a strong and positive relationship as co-parents.

Let Us Help

These are general guidelines. You are unique, and your divorce will be too. Whether your divorce will be contested or uncontested, you want to work with a Washington divorce attorney who is experienced, qualified, and cares about you as a person. At Bliss Law Group, we will provide you with the legal guidance you need to make the right decisions for your future. Call us today at 253-844-4412.

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