◊ Divorce FAQ
There is no charge for the initial contact with DLFM. We believe that everyone has to have access to a good lawyer. One of the first questions is whether you even need a lawyer, or whether this is the right time for you to go forward with a divorce, modification or paternity action. We do not charge for that initial call or meeting.
It is a divorce in which neither person is required to, or allowed to blame the other for the breakdown of the marriage. There are no accusations and no need to prove marital misconduct or "guilt." The basis for a no-fault divorce is "irreconcilable difference" or "irretrievable breakdown of marriage." The court will grant the divorce, but will not assign blame. Washington is a no-fault divorce state. The only grounds for divorce is the irretrievable breakdown of the marriage. There is no burden of proof. If the Petitioner states that the marriage is irretrievably broken, the court will grant the divorce, even if objected to by the other party.
No-fault divorces are considered a more humane and realistic way to end a marriage. Husbands and wives who are divorcing usually are suffering enough without adding more fuel to the emotional fires by trying to prove who did what to whom. The laws of no-fault divorce recognize that human relationships are complex and that it is difficult to prove that a marriage broke down solely because of what one person did. The Court will only consider the issues and terms of the divorce, not the misconduct or reason for the divorce.
Washington permits do-it-yourself divorces (Pro Se) where one or both parties represent themselves. In cases where custody, child support and property division are not in dispute, many people are able to proceed without the assistance of an attorney. Legal representation will be needed where there is disagreement over custody, support, or complex property division issues.
Not surprisingly, it is mothers who are most often awarded primary custody of the children. In the past women were nearly always given full custody, and many judges find it difficult to change their ways. But in the past, few attorneys were willing or able to present a good case on behalf of the father to be awarded full or joint custody. The attorneys at Divorce Lawyers For Men have been fighting for and winning custody cases for fathers for 30 years. For Dad to gain custody, he has to play a no-errors ball game. There is a heavy burden of proof on the father, but a well presented case with good facts will prevail. There are more and more men asking for and receiving primary custody of their children. There are more and more the courts hearing these cases for good fathers, and granting fathers custodial rights or increased visitation rights. The issue is truly what is in the best interest of the child(ren).
The judge will seek to maintain stability and continuity in the child(ren)’s life. To achieve this, the judge must decide who can best care for the children on a daily basis and communicate with the child(ren). The judge has to consider which parent can meet the emotional and physical needs of the child(ren) through the divorce and post divorce. Keep in mind that the child(ren) may have already become attached to one parent more than the other, and the judge will typically want to attempt to protect this relationship.
The court does believe that each child should have the right, and it is in his or her best interest to grow up with the parenting influence of both the mother and the father. Even if the mother is technically awarded primary custody, a well presented case will win significant visitation and involvement in all aspects of the childrens’ lives for the father.
The statutory waiting period for a divorce is 90 days after filing a petition with the court and serving the opposing party with the initial pleadings. If the parties are able to reach an agreement on all terms of the divorce, the court will grant the divorce after 90 days based upon the agreement. In a contested divorce, it is difficult to estimate how long a case will take to conclude. If the parties have not reach an agreement during the 90 day waiting period, the court will assign a trial date which is typically within one year. The parties are encouraged to continue to negotiate while waiting for the trial date. If an agreement is reached, the divorce can be granted before the trial. Most cases settle without a need for a trial.
Divorce Lawyers For Men will not represent both the husband and wife. To do so creates an automatic conflict of interest. No lawyer can equally represent both sides of a contested situation. Even if there is agreement in the beginning, disagreements can arise during the process. If the two spouses are certain that they agree on all aspects and terms of the divorce, then we will represent one spouse, draft all of the documents as directed, and the other spouse can review the documents and sign them if they are is still in full agreement. But we would at all times represent only the one client.
There is no state formula for setting Spousal Support / Alimony. Each court can make its own ruling based upon the financial facts and needs presented to the court. The longer that you have been married the more likely you will be ordered to pay Spousal Support. The more years that your wife has been out of the work force the more likely you will be required to pay support. If you earn a great deal more than your wife, you will most likely have to pay her support. This is an area where you will need to work closely with your attorney. You have to make certain that all the facts that will help you are properly presented to the court.
No one can truthfully tell you how much a divorce will cost. Each divorce is unique. There are several possible contributing factors: court costs, attorneys fees, Guardian Ad Litem fees when children are involved, whether you and your spouse are able to reach an agreement on key issues, appraiser and accountant fees for complex property issues, special counseling costs if ordered by the court, and possibly your wife’s attorney fees if she is without funds.
Court costs vary in each county. Generally, the fees will be between $400-$500. The cost may or may not include service of process, publication, and court costs other than the filing fee.
Attorney fees will vary based upon the complexity of the case and the level of cooperation between the parties. The cost of your will increase if your spouse is being unreasonable, there is significant disagreement over the parenting plan, or there are substantial assets to protect and divide. The attorney fees for a basic case with a level of reasonable cooperation will normally between $3,000 to 6,000. Quality legal representation will more than pay for itself in the final outcome of the divorce.
The Washington State Legislature has adopted a statewide formula that sets child support. The formula takes into consideration the income of both parents and the number of children. The law does not allow the court to not award child support, or to award support outside of the formula without the showing of a significant reason. Basic child support is determined by statutory formula, but additional support can be ordered for special needs or child care cost. In the Forms section of the menu we have provided a link to the Washington State Department of Social and Health Services “Support Calculator” website. You can calculate your potential child support obligation by going to Support Calculator. On occasion the court can order a deviation from the standard formula calculation. Ask your attorney if deviation is possible.
If you are active military you should discuss your marital problems with your Commanding Officer, and keep them informed of any significant changes at home or any legal actions. You should contact the JAG officer for advice on how to proceed in this jurisdiction. Generally the JAG officer cannot represent you in a divorce, but they can provide helpful information and direction.
As an active or retired military person you will face some special issues and problems. Often your spouse and children live in a different state, or will want to move out of state. Washington may not be your chosen state of residence. Frequently your spouse has filed for divorce in a different state. Some states follow the Common law, whereas Washington is a Community Property State. Your military retirement and disability payments create special issues. The attorneys for DLFM are experienced in handling military divorce cases.
Select an attorney with experience in Family Law, and who limits their legal practice to representing Family Law clients.
Call 877-866-7393, or see the Contact Us section of this web site.
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