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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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If you live in Washington State and have an estranged family member, are you worried about them contesting your will after you die? Well, don’t worry quite yet. There are a variety of criteria an individual must meet to contest a will in the state of Washington.
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