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

Divorce can be a time of confusion and complexity. In addition to any emotional or other stress, your divorce can impact both your and your ex’s will. Therefore, it is important to understand what that impact may be and what…

While software developers are among the professions with the lowest divorce rates, coming in at 20.3%, workers in the technology sector who divorce face specific challenges during the divorce process. From how to locate and divide assets to determining parenting…

For parents, divorce often raises many questions surrounding extracurricular activities. These questions usually include whether the children will get to participate in the extracurricular activities (sports, performing arts classes, music lessons, art classes, etc.) they did before the divorce, expanded…

Divorce is a time of transition, which can bring about changes in your professional life as much as it can in your personal life. Perhaps you are one of the ones, like many, who have decided that a fresh start…

If you are in love and looking to plan a life with your partner, congratulations. This is an exciting time for you both, and the goal is that the relationship will stand the test of time. However, a recent study…

Divorce is not only about protecting assets and deciding who will keep the marital home afterward. Divorce is about re-envisioning your life following the end of a marriage and about discovering who you are today. This may include learning about…

The expression “in sickness and in health” is common in wedding ceremonies of all faiths. So when most people recite these words, it is probably safe to assume that they envision themselves married at a time when the unthinkable may…

Instead of marrying, increasingly, more couples are choosing to cohabitate outside of marriage. Many couples decide this for a variety of reasons, including testing the waters about whether they are suitable to live together as a couple or don’t believe…

Divorce can be a relatively straightforward process if you and your spouse are on good terms and can agree on certain issues in your case. In such a situation, you can file for an uncontested divorce which is often a…

One spouse’s diagnosis of a significant illness can impact a marriage in substantial ways. According to a study published in the National Library of Medicine, many aspects of a family (defined in various ways across the research) can be affected.…

Until 1987, Washington, like most states, awarded “custody” of the children to one of the parents at the conclusion of a divorce or separation case. This changed with the passage of the Parenting Act. Today, instead of ordering child custody,…

Going through a divorce can be a stressful, expensive, and time-consuming process. In an attempt to minimize some of these burdens, more and more companies are offering online divorce services, touting the process as quicker, cheaper, and less anxiety-ridden than…

As a co-parent during or following divorce, you may no longer have the authority to make certain unilateral decisions regarding your children’s health and well-being. The restrictions on making decisions unilaterally are most commonly related to matters that are considered…

The decision to move forward with a divorce is often a difficult one. The end of a marriage can affect your perspective on the memories you have from the relationship, as well as your expectations for the future. Divorce can…

                  Raising teenagers can be difficult under any circumstances, but add divorce to what can already be a difficult time in child's life and many parents feel find themselves grasping. We have gathered some of the most important things you can do as a parent to help your teenager man...