During a divorce, if one of the parties does not agree to some or all of the terms, it becomes a contested divorce. They also occur when only one spouse wants to call it quits. These divorces usually take longer to proceed through the Washington court system, so they often take a more significant emotional toll. These divorces often go before a judge or mediator who can take months to make a final decision.
Filing for divorce in Washington
The process begins with the filing of FL Divorce 201 in the court clerk’s office. The papers can be filed in the county where either spouse lives or be filed in certain counties, even if neither spouse lives there.
Serving the spouse with divorce papers
Since you and your spouse cannot come to terms about handling children, assets or other items, one spouse will be served with the divorce papers. A professional process server, sheriff or any adult not connected to the divorce must hand-deliver them. If the server cannot locate the spouse, the case must go before a judge for approval to send the divorce papers through the mail or publish it in the local newspaper.
Exchange of information
You and your spouse will need to exchange information about assets, child support and other financial details. Since you and your spouse have not agreed to the divorce terms, you must participate in divorce discovery to determine finances. Then, lawyers will present the findings to a judge.
If you and your spouse do not agree at some point, then a contested divorce trial will be held. Expert witnesses will be called to testify, and a judge will divide the assets and determine who has custody of minor children. If either spouse does not agree with the judge’s decision, they can file an appeal with a higher court.
A contested divorce leaves the decision-making power to a judge.