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Divorce in the Age of COVID-19

Anyone who’s been through a divorce will tell you that even if you and your spouse are on good terms, it’s often a complicated and lengthy process. When you then factor in the effects COVID-19 has had on the state and country, the process can be that much more difficult.

Filing for Divorce in Seattle, Washington

Despite COVID-19, Courts are Still Operating

These past few months, COVID-19 completely changed the way people go about their lives. Here in Seattle, stay-at-home orders were put in place and many governmental agencies were temporarily closed or working at reduced capacity.

But despite some setbacks, it’s still possible to file for divorce and/or be granted a divorce during this time. Before filing, it’s important to know how COVID could affect the process:

  • Expect your divorce to take a few months: Divorces usually take a few months, however they may take longer because many courts are working with fewer staff members and more people are working from home. Divorce rates also saw a spike since COVID, meaning there are more cases that need to be heard by the court.
  • Virtual meetings may be the new norm: Due to social distancing orders, many meetings that once took place in your attorney’s office or in a courtroom may now take place virtually.

No divorce case is the same, and it’s possible that your divorce may run very smoothly, despite COVID-19 regulations.

Beginning the Process

To begin the divorce process, you need to first file a Petition for Dissolution of Marriage — a legal document that’s filed with your local court.

  • No-fault divorce: Across the United States and in Seattle, “no-fault” is the most common way people file for divorce. No-fault essentially means that no one party caused the marriage to fail, but rather the couple has “irreconcilable differences” that prevent their marriage from working any longer. As a no-fault state, Seattle residents don’t have to prove grounds for a divorce if they no longer want to be with their partner.
  • Fault divorce: Though less common, fault divorces are also an option. The most common grounds for divorce are adultery, cruelty or abuse, a long-term prison sentence, and abandonment.

4 Things You Need to Know

Rules and regulations regarding divorce are anything but standard across the United States, making it important to find a lawyer who specializes in Washington divorces.

1. Washington is a Community Property state.

As a Community Property State, all property and debt acquired within a marriage (savings accounts, marital homes, retirement funds, credit card debt, investments and stocks, vehicles, and any other valuables) will be divided equitably. It’s important to remember that equitable does not mean a perfect 50/50 split.

2. Divorce can be difficult for small business owners.

Naturally, most business owners don’t want to lose any part of their business in a divorce. When it comes to determining if your business will be included in your divorce proceedings, a few things will be taken into consideration, such as when the business was founded, your spouse’s involvement and payments from the business (if any), and any shareholder agreements currently in place.

3. The waiting period for a divorce in Washington is 90 days.

Divorces don’t happen overnight or with the quick sign of a piece of paper. Once the non-filing spouse is served the Petition for Dissolution of Marriage, the 90-day required waiting period begins — no matter your situation, it’s not possible to be granted a divorce in less than three months.

4. The outcome of your divorce could impact the rest of your life.

After several months of waiting and negotiating, it can be tempting to accept any offer you’re given in order to expedite your divorce. But it’s important to remember that the outcome of your divorce will have a profound impact on your future. If you enter a divorce without trusted legal aid, you may be jeopardizing much more than you realize.

At our Seattle family law firm, we believe in high-quality counsel that comes at reasonable rates. Everyone deserves exemplary legal care, and that is what you will find at Wakefield Legal, PLLC. Help is always just a call away! Request your case evaluationonline or call (206) 966-6933.