You and your spouse have decided to end your relationship. What are your next steps?
Since Washington is a “no-fault” state, you do not have to worry about proving anything more than the marriage is irretrievably broken.
The next step is to identify whether or not your divorce will be contested or uncontested.
Uncontested Divorce in WA State – What Does It Mean?
An uncontested divorce is one in which you and your soon-to-be-ex come to an agreement on all issues in your divorce. Examples of the types of issues that the parties will have to reach agreement on are:
- The division of debt
- How you will share custody
- The amount of child support
- Duration of child support
- Parenting time
- Parenting responsibilities
- The amount of alimony
- The duration of spousal support
- The division of all property/assets
The details of these arrangements are considered a “divorce settlement agreement.” That agreement, along with various court forms, will need to be filed with the court. A judge will review your case and approve your settlement and divorce.
The process is, for the most part, straightforward. However, if a judge deems that the terms of your uncontested divorce in Washington state is unfair to one party or that one party was under duress, the judge will not approve the agreement.
If the judge finds everything in order and approves your settlement agreement, your divorce will be finalized after the 90-day waiting period.
Would You Benefit from an Uncontested Divorce in Washington State?
As with every major decision, it is best to look at the pros and cons.
The main advantage of an uncontested divorce in WA state is cost. Since you do not need to hire an attorney or go through a lengthy court process, you can save on court fees and legal retainers.
Another benefit of an uncontested divorce is the timeline. With fewer proceedings, you can simply file and have your divorce settled as soon as any necessary timelines have been met. Contested divorces can take much longer as more people are involved and because of the sometimes-difficult process of getting the spouses to come to an agreement.
Some of the disadvantages of pursuing an uncontested divorce in Washington state include heated disagreements while trying to come to terms regarding issues like:
- Spousal support
- Child support
- Disputed property
The uncontested divorce process is also not as simple if you have children, a business, or multiple assets. The more there is to have to agree on, the harder it is to reach a complete agreement.
Should You Get a Divorce Attorney Involved?
Typically, a divorce attorney is not needed for uncontested divorce proceedings. It may be a good idea, however, to get a Washington divorce lawyer involved if you have significant assets. Though not legally necessary, your attorney can help you make sure your rights are protected.
If you choose to proceed without an attorney, you will need to make sure you:
- Have all the paperwork you need
- Fill the forms out correctly
- File the papers with the correct courthouse
What to Include When You File for an Uncontested Divorce in WA state
When filing for an uncontested divorce, you will need to complete and submit the appropriate forms which may include:
- Petition for Divorce
- Confidential Information Form
- Acceptance of Service
- Proof of Personal Service
- Certificate of Dissolution
- Agreement to Join Petition
- Order of Child Support
- Washington State Child Support Worksheets
- Sealed Financial Source Documents
- Financial Declaration
- Washington State Child Support Schedule and Economic Table
- Residential Time Summary Report
- Parenting Plan
- Proof of Mailing
- Notice of Hearing
- Findings of Fact and Conclusions of Law
- Decree of Dissolution
A Legal Document Preparer Can Help
Before filing your documents with the court, you should check with the county clerk where you intend to file to see if your case requires additional forms.
Once you have all the necessary forms completed, you can choose to have a Washington divorce lawyer review them for you. Another option is to retain the assistance of a legal document preparer.
Also known as a paralegal or legal typist, a legal document preparer can help you review your forms or even help you prepare them in the first place. While they cannot offer legal advice, they can direct you to resources that can provide the necessary information you need.
Is an Uncontested Divorce Realistic?
The benefits of an uncontested divorce should not be overlooked. However, they may not outweigh the disadvantages in your particular case.
Take a realistic look at your circumstances. By taking this course, could you potentially give up certain legal rights?
To determine whether an uncontested divorce in Washington state is truly going to benefit you, it is best to discuss your case with a Washington divorce attorney. Your lawyer can determine the best course of action, one that will benefit you and your partner.
Are you interested in learning more about an uncontested divorce in WA state? Call us at 360-866-7393 or fill out our online form to schedule a consultation.