Litigation

Going to court

You do not have to go to court to get a divorce in Washington State. Did you know that divorces settle without going to trial more often than not, even in litigation? That said, sometimes the best approach is to ask the court to decide on your finances, property, safety, or children. 

 

The cost of going to court is directly related to the level of conflict. Choosing an attorney who can help reach an out-of-court settlement while knowing when to push back is critical. 

 

RELIEF DURING THE PROCESS

Temporary Orders

 

After a case is filed and before it is resolved, it may be necessary to ask the court for an award of temporary relief. This usually happens when the parties dispute payment of bills, support, or issues involving children. The court has the power to make a temporary award of custody, parenting time, child support, and spousal support, which will remain in place until further order of the court or the case is resolved. It also allows the court to decide what needs an immediate answer, such as who will stay in the family home, who can drive which car, or if certain outside experts, like a guardian ad litem, are needed. 

 

You can reach a temporary order on these issues by agreement, through mediation, or asking the judge or family law commissioner to decide on a temporary basis. 

FACILITATING THE NEGOTIATION PROCESS

Mediation

 

Most counties in Washington State require mediation or some other means of alternative dispute resolution before a divorcing couple can go to court. The mediation process involves a neutral third-party charged with facilitating the negotiation process. 

 

Mediation does not have to be an all-or-nothing experience. You can come to terms on certain aspects of your divorce and, if necessary, go to court and have a judge make a ruling on any remaining issues. 

 

It is important to remember that your mediator is not your attorney. Having a lawyer represent you through mediation and review your final agreement before signing is highly recommended.

 

What to Expect If You Do Go to Court for Your Divorce

A divorce trial does not include a jury. A judge will hear all testimony and review all evidence before making a final ruling. The judge in your case will have the final say in the division of assets, residential time, and child support and spousal support payments. 

 

The courtroom experience requires a great deal of preparation and requires great skill. Our experienced Washington divorce litigation attorneys will work to keep your goals front and center throughout the process to help mitigate conflict. 

 

Issues to Consider When Choosing a Litigator 

Shopping for an attorney can be a lot like shopping for a car. You may be spending a significant amount of money, so you want to be sure that you find the right fit. Here is some information to keep in mind when comparing your options. 

 

Are They Transparent? 

An attorney who promises to be a bulldog and destroy the other side may not be a great choice. This view is not realistic with regard to what the court is likely to award. Fighter attorneys want to fan the flames, create additional conflict, and paint a picture to you of a best-case scenario (getting the whole pie while your ex gets none). At best, this approach fails to warn you of the reality of divorce, and at worst, it actively encourages false expectations. Instead, find an attorney who will be candid about the pros and cons of your arguments and educate you so you can make the best decision about your future. 

 

Are They Effective Communicators? 

Good communication with you, opposing counsel, and even your ex is imperative to minimize conflict and help you achieve a settlement in line with what matters most to you. Lawyers who resort to name-calling, harassment, and bullying are not effective communicators. This tactic creates hostility and causes clients to become defensive which means they are also likely to go for a winner-take-all approach. The higher the level of conflict, the more fighting in court, and the faster the lawyer bills escalate for both sides. 

 

Do They Have Your Best Interests in Mind? 

Digging in your heels and fighting to fight is going to cost you a lot of money.  Attorneys who practice this way know this. The legal system can be expensive, between court costs, attorney’s fees, and the paperwork. Revenge might feel good in the short term, but it will hurt your bottom line in the long run. Chasing that win at all costs is not a win when it ends up costing more in fees than it is worth. Having your best interests in mind means taking the time to understand what is important to you, helping you understand how the decisions you make support your long-term goals, and helping you stay focused on the success of your family.

 

Do You Trust Them?

If you look for an attorney who is candid, open, and honest, you will find someone who can educate you about your options and help you understand your choices along the way. Find an attorney who will be your partner, an attorney who helps you consider your short- and long-term goals and how best to achieve them through the court process. An attorney you can trust.

STAY UP TO DATE

Subscribe to our newsletters

 
Subscribe to one or more of our newsletters, delivering meaningful insight on topics that matter to you and your family.

FURTHER READING

Blog Posts

Spoiler alert: If you’re doing everything around the house (or at work) because you’re living (working) with a bunch of incompetent fools, or so they’ve led you to believe they are, you’re being manipulated. So pervasive is this phenomenon, there’s…

If you're 18 or older and live in Washington State, you can legally change your name to anything you want as long as you're not doing so to commit fraud. For example, if your goal is to change your name to evade…

When a couple decides to divorce, and one spouse is unable to support themselves, spousal support becomes a hot-button issue. Learn how to mitigate conflict and move forward.

Divorcing your spouse while they're battling an addiction can be grueling for you and your children. We can help you navigate your options for a brighter tomorrow.

For those searching for or embarking on a new relationship or marriage, I’m here to tell you that it’s never too late to learn how to communicate better.

Having to complete a QDRO in Washington State as part of your divorce will force you to take a look at your retirement accounts, what's in them, and their terms. Learn how this impacts your divorce and your estate plan.

No one but Kim Kardashian and Kanye West knows if their marriage is moving toward divorce, but all signs point to it being amicable if it does. Putting the kids first is always the best strategy. Learn more.

Do you know the damage you do when your child thinks you don't want to pay child support?

Moving into a new home can be exciting, but that excitement can quickly wane if it is because their parents are splitting up. Learn how to ease the transition and make a welcoming space.

The overall divorce rate has declined, it has nearly doubled among those over 50 since 1990. Learn how to navigate divorce after 50 and thrive!

Single and divorced mothers have continued to struggle to earn as much as men. Learn how co-parenting can help narrow the gender pay gap.

Many people fail to prepare for what could happen should they become incapacitated or die during their divorce. Learn how to protect your assets and wishes.

Let us help you understand the variables at stake because the short answer is how much a divorce will cost depends on the divorce. Every divorce is unique.

If you're currently going through a divorce in Washington State, you're probably digging through piles of papers looking for bills, statements, and other important documents. During that search, most people, however, forget to revisit their estate planning documents. Learn why you should.

A high-net-worth divorce doesn't necessarily have to become a circus or take years to finalize. With awareness, a couple with extensive assets can emerge from a divorce financially and emotionally sound, ready for a solid future. But it will require a commitment from both parties to ensure that happens. As a Seattle family law attorney, here are a few of my tips to keep tensions at bay.