The legal terminology for divorce in Washington State is dissolution of marriage. Veronica Freitas is skilled at working with individuals who are contemplating or going through a divorce and are experiencing one of the most difficult periods in their lives. At V. Freitas Law, we are sensitive to the needs of our divorce clients and have the experience, skill and judgment to get them through the process and place them in the best position possible to continue with their lives. We are highly protective of our client's privacy and confidentiality, yet effective in achieving results for them, whether through agreements, negotiations or court litigation over issues such as child custody, property division and spousal support.
A divorce or legal separation action begins with the service of a summons and petition. Divorces can be agreed or contested. If parties agree to how they want to divide their assets and share custody of their children, they can file the appropriate documents with the court and be divorced within 90 days after the case is filed. A contested divorce will likely take much longer to resolve, especially if there is a dispute over child custody. In King County, a case schedule assigning a trial date is generated whenever a dissolution action is filed. Trial dates are currently being scheduled 11 months from the date the case is filed.
If you have been served with divorce papers, contact an attorney immediately. Often a motion for temporary orders and/or a temporary restraining order will be included in the service documents. You should read over all of the service documents as soon as possible. Look for a Note for Motion or Show Cause Order. Those documents will notify you of future hearings. Fourteen days notice is required prior to most hearings. Evidence in family law hearings is presented via written declaration, live testimony is rarely allowed. It is important to prepare your responsive documents well in advance of the hearing date. The response must be filed with the court and served on the opposing party four days in advance of the hearing. It is critical that you seek the advice of counsel immediately upon being served in order to prepare a timely response.
A Temporary Orders hearing usually occurs shortly after a dissolution or legal separation is filed. At that hearing, the court will make important decisions that will impact the parties’ and their children’s lives until the case is settled or goes to trial. The court will decide who will live in the family home pending the final resolution of the case; which parent will be the primary residential parent and what the other parent’s time with the children will be; who will pay which liabilities and who will have use of what property; how much one parent will pay the other for child support and whether or not there is a need for spousal maintenance or payment of attorney’s fees. One party can place themselves in an advantageous position at the temporary orders hearing by gaining control of the family home or custody of the children. Each party should be well prepared before going to court for any hearing, but the temporary orders hearing is a critical stage of the proceedings that can set the stage for the final outcome of the dissolution proceeding.
If you are considering filing for divorce seek the advice of counsel before you make any decisions that could permanently alter your rights to property or your position with respect to custody of your children. Do not move from the family home, especially if there are children involved. (If you do not feel safe staying in the home, then you may need to seek a Protection Order.) Do not allow yourself to be pressured into signing off on car titles or quit claim deeds. Learn about your options before you a make any agreements, move out, or sign off on any documents.