Uncontested Divorce in Washington

Posted On November 1, 2021 Divorce

Divorce can be a long, arduous, painful process for some couples, but it doesn’t always have to be. There is a type of divorce called an uncontested divorce.

What Is an Uncontested Divorce?

An uncontested divorce is a simplified process and much less expensive than a contested divorce because it does not require a court hearing. However, the spouses must be able to agree on all divorce-related issues. Relevant issues may include, but are not limited to:

  • Spousal support (maintenance or alimony) 
  • Child support
  • Parenting Plan (custody, residency, and parenting time schedule arrangements)
  • Division of assets and debts
  • Division of real estate and personal property

The spouses may choose to decide these issues independently, or they may still decide to each hire a Spokane divorce lawyer to represent their unique interests.

The State’s Residency Requirements

Before filing, any divorcing couple must meet the state’s residency requirement (RCW 26.09.010, 26.09.030):

  • One of the parties must be a resident of the state or a member of the armed forces and stationed in Washington.
  • The state imposes a waiting period of 90 days before the court will grant a divorce. 
  • The petition for Dissolution of Marriage is typically filed in the county in which the filing spouse resides.

Washington does not require a spouse to have lived in the state for a specified amount of time, unlike many other states.

How Uncontested Divorce Works

Generally, every jurisdiction in Washington will require you to prepare similar documents to initiate a divorce. A divorce petition, documents proving both parties are aware of the case and participating, and financial affidavits disclosing income, expenses, debts, and assets each spouse has, but here is the exhaustive list:

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

For divorcing couples with minor children, the court also requires:

  • Order of Child Support
  • Washington State Child Support Schedule and Economic Table
  • Washington State Child Support Worksheets
  • Financial Declaration
  • Sealed Financial Source Documents
  • Parenting Plan
  • Residential Time Summary Report

These forms can be found online or at a local courthouse. Spouses with minor children must complete a divorce education course then provide the court with proof of attendance.

Before granting a divorce, the court imposes a 90-day cooling-off period to give couples a chance to reconcile. If that is not possible, this time provides the spouses an opportunity to work out final details in their agreement. As long as the divorce remains uncontested, you can submit a settlement agreement, custody arrangement, and proposed judgment. The judge will review your paperwork, and if approved, they will sign the Decree of Dissolution, and your divorce becomes final.

The Pros and Cons of an Uncontested Divorce

An uncontested divorce offers a private and low-cost option for divorcing spouses without much conflict. As long as a couple can remain cooperative, they are likely to keep more assets rather than having to pay extensive attorneys fees, accountants, process servers, etc. However, if there is an unhealthy power dynamic between the spouses or a history of domestic violence, an uncontested divorce can give one spouse an unfair advantage. The other spouse may feel forced to agree to terms and would benefit from having an attorney advocate for them in mediation or court.

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