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Divorce-Dissolution of Marriage

If a marriage falls apart and is considered “irretrievably broken,” one or both partners may seek a dissolution of the marriage. This court proceeding legally terminates the marriage. Washington is a “no-fault” state, which means that either party may file if they believe that the marriage is “irretrievably broken” without proving any wrongdoing on the part of the other party. Major issues to be decided either by agreement or by the Court include division of property and debts, residential and support arrangements for any minor children, and spousal maintenance.

A dissolution may be finalized following a 90-day “cooling-off” period if both parties are in agreement on everything and sign the final decree. After the proceedings are finalized and the court signs a Decree of Dissolution, the
parties are divorced and may legally remarry.

If you have been served with a Petition for Dissolution of Marriage, your written response is generally due within 20 days. There are some complex
points in a dissolution, such as tax ramifications, discovering and valuing property, debt division, child custody and residential disputes, child support and spousal maintenance.

The only thing worse than going through divorce, is going through it with an unsuitable attorney. You owe it to yourself to choose carefully and retain an attorney who is sensitive to your needs and personal values.

Once the final decree is entered with the court, it is very difficult to go back and change things because of a legal principle called res judicata, which means that “the matter has been adjudicated.” The courts are reluctant to reopen a final decree or judgment and it is almost impossible to do so in most cases, although there are some exceptions in the law.

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