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Divorce: A Step by Step Guide

Updated: Sep 14, 2020

Getting a divorce (also called dissolution) is stressful and can me complicated. Knowing the process can help things go smoother and reduce stress when everything in your life is changing.

Step One: Gather the Forms

The forms necessary to file for divorce are available for free download online, or you can purchase paper copies from the Spokane County Bar Association. To start the process, you will need:

  • Confidential Information (and attachment)

  • Summons: Notice About a Marriage

  • Petition for Divorce

If you have children with your spouse, you must also file these forms:

  • Proposed Parenting Plan

  • Proposed Child Support Worksheets

  • Financial Declaration


Make two copies of each completed form. You will need a copy for yourself and a copy for your spouse. The original document is filed in the Clerk's Office.

Step Two: File for Divorce

After you have filled out your forms completely, take your original documents and file them with the Clerk’s office. You should be prepared to pay the filing fee or submit a GR 34 waiver at the time of filing.


All documents are filed with the Clerk’s office except FINAL Documents. These forms must be signed by a judicial officer to finalize your divorce and make it official.

Final documents for a divorce include:

  • Findings and Conclusions About a Marriage

  • Final Divorce Order

  • Verification Form

Final documents for a Divorce with Children include (plus the forms listed above):

  • JIS Background Cover Sheet

  • Final Parenting Plan

  • Final Child Support Worksheets

  • Final Child Support Order (if needed)

Personal service is the most effective way to serve someone with legal documents.

Step Three: Serve Your Spouse

It is required by law that you serve (give) your spouse the documents you filed with the Clerk (Summons, Petition, etc.). Service must be completed by a third party (anyone other than you). The most effective method of service is to have your spouse personally served (someone physically gives your spouse the papers).

After service has been completed, the person who served the papers (gave them to your spouse) must complete and sign the Proof of Personal Service form. This form must list EVERY document that was given to your spouse. Be sure to make a copy for yourself and file the original at the Clerk’s office.


Service must be completed by someone 18 years or older.

You must first get permission from the court before using an alternative method of service through a Motion and Order. (Alternative service is service through the mail or publication.)

Step Four: Finalize your Divorce

After you have filed for divorce and served your spouse, you must wait 90 days to finalize your divorce. During that time your spouse may respond to your petition (what you are proposing), agree with your petition, or not respond at all.

If your spouse agrees, he or she can join the petition. After 90 days you finalize the divorce together.

If your spouse disagrees, you go to trial. (Mediation before trial is required in Spokane County)

If your spouse does not respond, you can file for Default (getting what you want by default because your spouse has failed to respond).


The 90 day countdown starts the day AFTER your spouse has been served or the day they agree to join your Petition.

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