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. 



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. 





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.


Subscribe to our newsletters

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


Blog Posts

Unsure where to begin gathering the foundation you need to go through the divorce process with confidence and well-prepared? Consider the following 10 tips to prepare for divorce.

A common question about legal fees is why they are so high. The following article details what is built into legal fees and explains their cost.

Prenuptial agreements (also known as prenups) can play a pivotal role in safeguarding individual spousal rights in the event of divorce and can also strengthen a marriage.

Valentine’s Day can be tricky for single parents, maybe even you. Unpartnered, at least for the time being, you might not foresee your plans fitting into conventional images of the holiday. But that doesn’t have to be. Valentine’s Day, when you’re single, can be more than a day you need to survive. It can be a day to look forward to.

Collaborative law has evolved into a globally practiced
discipline, extending well beyond the realm of family law, and is used frequently in Seattle divorces.

Classifying January as divorce month could be misleading, given how some of the numbers tell a different story. However, one thing remains clear: January is a great time for a fresh start.

If you and your partner reside in Washington state and are unmarried, you each might qualify for the legal protections availed to you by law by classifying your relationship as a committed intimate relationship.

A co-executor can help facilitate the distribution of assets, minimize conflicts, and provide much-needed support to grieving families.

The law makes it easy for people to get out of bad marriages. Washington, like most states, acknowledges no-fault divorce. This means that if you want a court to dissolve your marriage, all you have to do is file for…

Washington state’s laws on non-marital relationships, including committed intimate relationships (CIRs), can be convoluted, especially in the absence of a cohabitation agreement. Given the ambiguity that exists for unmarried partners in Washington state, thinking about the future and what it could look like is more important than ever. This is especially true in terms of aging, incapacity, and death. Fortunately, you can address each of these issues in a comprehensive estate plan.

Prenups and postnups can strengthen a marriage, given how they require relationship partners to put their cards on the table for each other to see, offering transparency and peace of mind. Despite their similarities, there are a few significant differences between the two.

Child support is one of the most contentious issues in divorce cases where parties have minor children. Even though Washington state law uses the same complex mathematical formula to determine the amount of child support for each child, there is…

Family law and estate planning often intersect. This is particularly true when contemplating divorce, remarriage, or blending families.

At some point during your divorce case, friends and family members whose own marriages ended in divorce probably told you that it gets better, and it does. Of course, from your perspective, getting out of a bad marriage might be…

Co-parenting over a long distance when you are a non-residential parent does not have to equate to sacrificing involvement in your children’s lives. But it likely does mean you will have to make tweaks in your communication and parenting style to accommodate the new living arrangement.