How much does it cost to divorce in Washington?
We get asked this question all the time. The honest answer is "it depends." A divorce where lawyers argue back and forth on behalf of their clients can cost tens of thousands. Most uncontested divorces cost each spouse several thousand dollars before a final agreement is reached.
What is the most affordable way to divorce in Washington State?
The best thing any couple can do is to reach an agreement before hiring any lawyer. In Washington State, the law only requires one spouse to petition for the divorce. Since the other spouse cannot legally prevent the divorce, working with each other to accomplish the divorce amicably is wise and the most affordable approach.
In an amicable divorce, you and your spouse work out the issues of your divorce instead of having your lawyers fight it out. In more complicated cases your attorney and your spouse's attorney may be unable to reach an agreement, and you will be required to attend mediation. Finally, if none of these measures work, the court, commonly known as the judge, will make the decisions for you.
We understand that it can be hard to reach an agreement with your spouse. After all, you're getting divorced. Nevertheless, 99% of all cases end up with the spouses reaching an agreement. So the real question is, When will you and your spouse come to an agreement? Unfortunately, most couples reach their agreement much too late to save themselves thousands of dollars in attorneys fees.
We always say it is better to take your money and spend it on yourself. Take a vacation, take a trip, or visit family or friends. Then come back and try to reach the agreement with your spouse. This time allows you to think more logically than emotionally. Try to reach some common ground with your spouse. You are better off spending your money on yourself and even your spouse than on attorney's fees.
What do we need to agree upon?
You and your spouse need to reach an agreement on how to divide your property and debts. Let's face it, unless you have lots of property, it makes little sense to spend thousands in legal fees to "fight" over your property. Indeed, in some cases, your legal fees may even equal or exceed the property you are fighting over. Of course, if you have a significant estate, you likely already have an attorney and would not be reading this article about affordable divorce options.
If you have children, you should also reach an agreement on custody, visitation schedules, and basic decisions about how you will parent the children. And you will have to either work out your own child support arrangement or agree to use the standard child support calculation.
We know that this may seem like a tall order, but it is in the best interest of you, your spouse, and your children to reach an agreement. The benefits are not only financial, but also emotional.
You can use this divorce online tool to determine if you qualify for an uncontested divorce in Washington.
Okay, we agreed...now what?
Since your divorce is uncontested, all you will have to do once you and your spouse reach an agreement is to have your divorce documents prepared and file them with the court. If you choose to file your case in Lincoln County, Washington, you can complete this process by mail and never have to appear in court.
But even if you decide to file in your local county, the process is still simple because your case is uncontested. If you do not use the divorce-by-mail option, you will simply have to deliver your documents to the court. Then either you or your spouse will have to attend a three to five minute hearing to confirm your divorce with the judge.
What are the options for getting documents prepared?
There are several options for preparing your divorce documents. Since your divorce is uncontested, you can have an attorney complete your divorce for you. Most Washington attorneys will draft the documents, have you and your spouse sign them, file them with the court, and complete the entire court process for you. This is known as full representation.
However, most people who are on a budget can't afford $1,500 for an attorney to draft, file, and finalize their uncontested divorce. Instead, they seek the help of a non-attorney, such as a paralegal or typing service. You can find plenty of typing services by doing a simple Google search. However, not all services are equal, and some will not even provide all of the documents you need to file and finalize your uncontested divorce.
What is the best option?
We believe the best solution is to have an attorney prepare the documents for a fixed price, and you complete certain tasks yourself. This option is called limited representation. It is becoming more popular for attorneys to offer this service. The most common type of limited representation is for the attorney to simply draft all the documents for you and answer basic questions.
In a limited representation, you and the attorney share the responsibilities of completing your uncontested divorce. For example, the attorney drafts the documents, and you submit them to the court and attend the five-minute hearing to finalize your divorce case.
This arrangement should save you well over $1,000 on an uncontested divorce in Washington State.
But do I really need an attorney to prepare my documents?
The law does not require that an attorney prepare your divorce documents. You can prepare the documents yourself. But in order to prepare the documents you must first determine what documents apply to your situation, then edit and revise each document for your situation and circumstances. In addition, each county often has unique requirements and special documents specific to their court that is in addition to the mandatory documents required by the state. Most people become overwhelmed or spend countless hours completing this process, usually by trial and error.
However, there are many advantages to having an experienced family law attorney prepare your documents. First, an attorney can review the agreement you and your spouse reached to ensure that it is legal and likely to be approved by the court. If there are parts of your agreement that a judge may not approve, the attorney can bring these issues to your attention so that you and your spouse can revise your agreement. This will save you from having delays with your case that will result if the judge rejects any provisions of your divorce.
An attorney that has extensive experience with the family court system knows exactly what documents and language are required for your particular situation and set of circumstances. Under your attorney's guidance, you can rest assured that the court will accept your documents.
Non-attorneys cannot practice law, just as non-doctors cannot practice medicine. Therefore, all a non-attorney can do is type your documents for you using the exact information you provide. A non-attorney can't advise you on whether your agreement is valid or likely to be approved by the judge.
Finally, by having an attorney prepare your documents, you can often get "free" legal advice. For example, an attorney can advise you of options and explain the legal process to you. In contrast, it is against the law for a non-attorney to give you any legal advice, such as explaining your legal options based on your particular situation and circumstances.
What about Washington Divorce Online?
We offer exceptional limited representation for uncontested Washington divorces via our website at www.WashingtonDivorceOnline.com. You can have all your divorce documents prepared by a duly licensed attorney for a flat fee of $249.
The process is simple: You pay the processing fee, answer some questions online, and submit your answers to the attorney. The attorney reviews the agreement you reached with your spouse and then prepares all the necessary documents for your unique situation and circumstances. If the attorney has any concerns about your agreement, he or she brings these issues to your attention, allowing you and your spouse to amend your agreement.
Once your documents are complete, you can download them along with detailed, step-by-step instructions drafted specifically for you and your situation. You can follow the detailed instructions to complete your part of the process easily and efficiently. Instructions are provided for all counties in Washington State, including the divorce-by-mail option in Lincoln County, Washington.
What if I am already in mediation?
If your case started out contested and you and your spouse are now working together to reach an agreement, or if you've been in mediation and recently reached or will soon reach an agreement, you may still use our website to prepare all of your documents based on your final agreement.
We hope that this article will help you if you ever need a Washington state divorce. Divorce isn't easy. Reaching an agreement with your spouse and having your documents prepared affordably by a licensed attorney will save you time, money, and stress. We created www.WashingtonDivorceOnline.com to make the uncontested divorce process as quick and painless as possible for couples seeking uncontested divorce in Washington State.