How to File for Divorce Without Hiring a Lawyer in Washington?

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Family law in Washington does not prohibit spouses from independently initiating and organizing their divorce. By refusing the services of a lawyer, they get a chance to reduce the cost of divorce significantly. However, it is not possible in all cases. In this article, we will tell you when you can get a divorce without a lawyer and how to do it.

Types of Divorce in Washington

The first step is considering the type of divorce. In Washington, there are two main ways to end a marriage: contested and uncontested divorce.

A contested divorce occurs when there are disagreements between the spouses that they cannot resolve on their own. Namely, property division, children custody, spousal support (alimony), children support, and any other issues that may arise during the divorce process.

A judge considers every unresolved dispute in a contested divorce. The final decree will be provided only after the judge decides on all disputes. This can last up to a year.

For a contested divorce, the spouses will have to hire lawyers to protect their interests in court. This type of dissolution is almost impossible without an attorney.

An uncontested divorce is an opposite situation. Quite often, it is called a peaceful dissolution. It occurs when the spouses can resolve all the controversial issues, bypassing litigation. To do this, they will have to sign a settlement agreement.

The judge makes the final decree based on a settlement agreement, so they do not need to investigate all the controversial aspects of the termination. Therefore, the end of the marriage comes faster. Besides, in case of an uncontested divorce, spouses can go through the entire process independently, without hiring a lawyer, and it is totally legal.

Basic Requirements for Getting a Divorce in Washington

To file for divorce in Washington, one of the spouses must be a resident and have a strong desire to continue to live in the state. However, in Washington, there is no clear indication of how long a petitioner or respondent must live in the state to be able to file a complaint with a court. Instead, a driver’s license, voter registration, or mailing address are used to confirm the residency.

Another requirement for getting a divorce is the grounds that the spouses demonstrate to the judge. Washington is a no-fault state. This means that from a legal standpoint, the only basis for divorce is that the marriage is irrevocably broken, and the spouses have no chance for reconciliation.

No-fault grounds for divorce are pretty convenient since, in this case, neither spouse blames each other for the broken marriage. Although the real reason for termination can be any, it is unlikely to be taken into consideration.

Divorce Without a Lawyer in Washington

Divorce begins when the plaintiff submits the relevant papers to the court. To do this, they need to select and fill out the necessary forms. These may vary depending on the circumstances of the couple, but the basic ones are:

  • Petition for Divorce (Dissolution)
  • Confidential Information Form (and Attachment)
  • Summons
  • Acceptance of Service
  • Certificate of Dissolution
  • Proof of Personal Service
  • Agreement to Join Petition
  • Notice of Hearing
  • Proof of Mailing (for all documents after you file)
  • Findings of Fact and Conclusions of Law, and
  • Decree of Dissolution

When the plaintiff fills out the forms on their own, it is called a do-it-yourself divorce. After that, they will have to make copies and hand them over to the court clerk. The clerk will stamp the divorce papers and take the originals, opening the case. The plaintiff keeps the other two copies, one of which must be sent to the defendant.

The process of handing over documents to the defendant is called serving. This must be done to notify the spouse about the beginning of the divorce. After the respondent receives the forms, they must provide the court with the corresponding receipt, which will allow the judge to proceed with the consideration of the case.

The final divorce decision in Washington can be provided no earlier than 90 days after the filing of paperwork in court. The court will usually assign a date for the final hearing, but the spouses do not always have to be present in the courtroom.

Best Option to Prepare Divorce Forms

Preparing divorce documents without a lawyer can be a real challenge. The plaintiff will have to choose and fill out the forms on their own. In the case of an error, the court will reject the papers, which means that the divorce process will not begin. Although, for simple uncontested cases, the services of a lawyer can be too expensive.

But the good news is that there are online divorce services for instance that allow you to prepare quality documents. These are web platforms that automatically generate forms and fill them out following the specifics of the client’s marriage and separation.

Online divorce is provided by special divorce companies. These are non-governmental websites, although this kind of service is entirely legal and costs significantly less than a lawyer’s fees. On average, the cost of preparing forms online is about $150-$500.

For an additional price, such companies can also file your papers with the court, thereby making divorce even more convenient.

Today, preparing an application for divorce online is one of the most popular ways to obtain the necessary documents. On average, it takes about 2 working days, which is much faster than waiting for a lawyer to figure it out.

However, note that with an online divorce, you are unlikely to receive legal advice. If questions arise in your case, it is better to consult with attorneys.

Final Words

Many couples want to save money on their divorce and do everything on their own. This is quite natural and permissible. Moreover, services like internet divorce make things much more manageable. If you want to get quality papers quickly and reduce the cost of dissolution, online divorce is a great solution.