How Do I File For Divorce in Washington?
While filing for divorce in Washington takes time and patience, it is something that most anyone can do. The legal process can seem intimidating at first, but with the resources available online and the assistance of CompleteCase, you can complete your divorce on your own as long as you and your spouse agree on your divorce. The state of Washington allows you to file for divorce by yourself. Just make sure you follow all the necessary steps to avoid any complications.
File for Divorce in Washington State
- Clarify your situation – Washington is happy to let you file for divorce on your own using an online divorce service, but you need to make sure you qualify. You must be married to file for divorce. If you are in a domestic partnership the paperwork is different, so be certain that a divorce is what you need and not a dissolution of domestic partnership.
- Fill out the necessary paperwork to start your divorce – Washington refers to a divorce as a dissolution of marriage. The “Petition for Dissolution of Marriage” is the starting point for any divorce in Washington, and it will be the key document in your divorce as well. There may be several other documents you need to complete based on your particular circumstances. At CompleteCase we provide you with the forms specific to your situation so there is no doubt that you are filling out all the right paperwork to make your divorce as quick and painless as possible.
- Make copies of all your documents – Paperwork is everything when it comes to filing for divorce. Whether you complete your documents through CompleteCase or on your own, make sure you make copies of everything. You will need copies for your records as well as copies for serving your spouse if necessary.
- File your original documents with your county clerk – Take the original forms you have completed and file them with your county clerk. There may be additional forms you need to complete based on the county you live in. Complete these forms as well and file all of them in the county you live in or the county your spouse lives in. This can help prevent complications later on. The cost for filing a dissolution of marriage typically ranges between $200 and $260, depending on the county you are filing in. If you cannot afford this fee you may be able to have it waived. Ask the county clerk for a waiver form and complete this form. If you qualify, you can submit it in lieu of payment.
- Ask if there is a case schedule – Some counties will have a case schedule. This is an important document that you will need to pay attention to. It provides the dates related to your divorce and will help you avoid missing any deadlines that could delay your divorce.
- Serve your spouse – If you and your spouse agree on everything you may have filled out the divorce paperwork together. In this case your spouse will have signed a joinder at the bottom of your petition and you can easily file for divorce. However, if you spouse did not sign the joinder you will need to notify him or her of your Petition for Dissolution. To serve your spouse, make copies of all the documents you presented to the county clerk, as well as the case schedule if there is one. You can leave out the Confidential Information form if you filled it out, but you will need to serve your spouse with all the remaining paperwork. Take these copies and place them in an envelope addressed to your spouse, with your return address on it, and have someone deliver it to your spouse. Keep in mind that you cannot do this yourself. Ideally your spouse will receive the documents and sign an Acceptance of Service, verifying that he or she received the papers. If he or she refuses to sign this, you can have the person who served the papers sign a Return of Service verifying that the papers were served.
- File the proof of service – Take the Return of Service or Acceptance of Service and file it with the county clerk.
- Wait for finalization – The state of Washington will wait 90 days for any objections to the paperwork you submitted before it will finalize the divorce. If any objections are raised they will need to be resolved, which will require further paperwork and can extend the time frame for finalization.If you and your spouse are not able to come to an agreement on the terms of divorce you will need to proceed to trial. If this happens it is recommended you hire a divorce lawyer.