The process of a divorce can be expensive, time-consuming, and stressful.
As difficult as divorce may seem, a “quick” and easy divorce is possible. If you have an agreeable relationship with your spouse, an uncontested divorce may be the perfect solution to your situation.
What is an Uncontested Divorce?
An uncontested divorce refers to divorce without any dispute or disagreement between the parties concerning the terms of the divorce.
Compared to a contested divorce, an uncontested divorce usually has the advantage of saving money and time. A contested divorce gets complicated because of the disputes between the parties. This can lead to lengthy, costly court proceedings. However, since the parties have already reached an agreement in an uncontested divorce, all you need to do is file the required documents in a timely manner.
Another benefit that comes with an uncontested divorce is a less stressful experience. It allows an incompatible marriage to draw its conclusion peacefully.
Nevertheless, when attempting an uncontested divorce, the ability for it to play out in that manner will be based on your specific circumstances. A divorce settlement requiring unreasonable capitulation on your end, might not be in your best interests. In those cases, it is better to consult an experienced divorce attorney who can balance your situation and help you make the right decision.
How to Get an Uncontested Divorce in Washington State?
To get a divorce here in Washington state, you first need to satisfy the residency requirement—e.g., you must be a resident of the state at the time of filing.
Once you have confirmed your residency, here are the next steps:
1. Reach an Agreement with Your Spouse
The prerequisite of an uncontested divorce is that you and your spouse must agree on all the issues related to your divorce, which may include:
- Division of assets
- Spousal Maintenance (Alimony)
- Child custody
- Child visitation
- Child support
Once you are on the same page, the rest of the process is to simply work together to complete the necessary paperwork.
2. File the Petition and Other Required Documents
You can start your case by filing the Petition for Divorce and proof of other necessary information, which can be found and downloaded on the Washington court website. If you are uncontested, don’t forget to inform your soon-to-be ex that you are filing. You don’t want to create an issue by surprising them with the filing. Summons and service can be skipped if you and your spouse file the petition together as joint petitioners.
3. Attend Hearings and Classes
You may need to attend temporary hearings regarding issues such as child support orders. The state also requires parents of minor children to attend mandatory parenting classes as a part of the divorce proceedings.
4. Gain Approval from the Court
As early as 90 days after you file all the necessary documents and complete the service, the court can approve your divorce settlement and sign the divorce decree, finalizing the divorce.
Do You Need a Divorce Lawyer in an Uncontested Divorce?
The presence of a divorce lawyer is not completely necessary in uncontested divorce proceedings. However, you should still consider consulting a divorce attorney due to the sensitivity of the process.
The most common scenario is that both parties hire legal counsel. You can seek advice tailored to your interests from your lawyer on all aspects of the divorce, including which proceeding is more beneficial to you.
A divorce attorney can serve as a legal advisor in an uncontested divorce as well. Usually, the divorce attorney is hired to review the divorce papers after the uncontested divorce process has started. Plus, you can save on legal fees since the documents are already drafted. Or, you can have the attorney draft all the necessary documents and save yourself the confusion and hassle of doing it yourself.
It is also wise to consider hiring a divorce attorney as a mediator. In this case, the attorney will not be representing either party, but instead act as a general advisor for both parties. With the assistance of the attorney, the parties will work on resolving disputes and understanding the divorce process together, which can result in agreement and a successful uncontested divorce.