Leaving someone you have vowed to stay with until the end of your life is no easy step and the legalities involved only make it more difficult. However, many states are now making it easier for couples to go through the divorce process without facing unnecessary trouble. One of the things that can be quite tedious in filing for divorce is physically going through every court process.
With most of it being documentation, the need for a paperless solution became inevitable. Thanks to the Internet, people can now find everything they need online and make their divorce process a lot easier. Courts in Washington have also allowed couples to apply for a divorce online, saving them a lot of time and hassle. Given the situation that we are living in, this has also become a necessity. However, you must gather all necessary knowledge about getting a divorce to not run into any issues. In this article, we will share everything about online divorce in Washington.
Does Washington Allow Online Divorce?
Getting a divorce in Washington is relatively easy compared to the other states. The primary reason is that Washington provides a smooth online process that you can follow without leaving home. Divorce over the Internet is not only easier and faster but also a lot cheaper. While the process becomes much easier when you do it online, this option is only possible if there are no conflicts between your spouse. It must be an uncontested divorce.
Contested divorces often require mediation, and you simply cannot get that online. The court’s decision needs to be fair, and a face-to-face audience and mediation are necessary to settle disputes and make sure everything is crystal clear.
What to Expect from an Online Divorce Process?
Before you go through the divorce process, you must understand every step that is involved. In a regular divorce, your lawyer can take care of everything and provide the guidance you need. However, most couples choose an online divorce as a way to reduce the fees associated with hiring a lawyer. So in an online divorce, you are leaning heavily on your ability to tackle the court system and the processes involved in getting the divorce. Therefore, you must learn as much as possible and familiarize yourself with the requirements and the laws governing the process.
Most online services are pretty self-guided, leading you through the early stages from the paperwork preparation to the filing. They will ask you questions ranging from financials to children. It should be relatively easy to answer all the questions since the assumption here is that you are getting an uncontested divorce and have already resolved the division of assets and other matters.
The online service will select and fill out the necessary documents for you using the data you provided in the self-guided questionnaire. You can also get someone to look over your forms to make sure there are no mistakes. While not hiring an attorney is completely fine, having at least one consultation with someone who understands marriage laws could be extremely beneficial.
How to Go About It?
In a DIY divorce, there are several things that you need to provide to the state before your divorce can be processed. In a typical divorce, you rely on your lawyer to take care of all the clerical work and provide you with finalized documents ready for your signature. However, in a DIY divorce, you do everything without a lawyer. If you choose to do the paperwork yourself, you will need to obtain the correct documents and fill them out yourself. Thankfully, the court website provides all the documents that you need to file for a successful procedure. However, they can be difficult to complete, and any mistakes could result in having to start over again. This is the price you need to pay if you want to avoid expensive lawyer fees.
Online Divorce services are a useful option if you want to have a DIY divorce but need assistance with the paperwork. As mentioned above, the service will guide you through a questionnaire then handle all of the paperwork for you. They are much cheaper and faster than a lawyer’s services.
The only thing is that once your forms are ready, you will still need to print them out and submit them physically to the county clerk’s office. That is something you simply cannot go around, as that requires your physical presence. Once you go to the clerk’s office, you will also need to submit the application processing fee. The amount varies by county but is generally around $200-$260.
Depending on the intricacies of your specific case, you may or may not be required to serve your spouse with the divorce papers. Even though the submission of documents to the clerk’s office starts your proceeding, serving your spouse is still required. The only case where you may avoid the service process is by getting your spouse to sign a joinder at the end of your petition documents, where they declare that they agree to the divorce terms that you have set out in the petition.
If you are required to serve your spouse, you cannot do it yourself. The proper process would require you to make copies of the documents and put them in an envelope addressed to your spouse with your return address on it. This envelope can be given to anyone you choose to serve your spouse the documents. In case the spouse accepts the envelope, they can sign the Acceptance of Service and file the documents with the county clerk either themselves or through you. The same applies if they reject the divorce, in which case the person serving will be signing a Return of Service.
Why is Online Divorce Better?
Going through a divorce is not only tedious and time-consuming but also quite expensive. That is without factoring in the cost of divorce lawyers or other relevant steps. Using an online divorce company provides several benefits that you cannot get when going through the standard route. Here are a few things that are worth noting about preferring online divorce in Washington.
- Less Painful: Before anything else, the biggest problem you face with divorce is seeing your spouse repeatedly. While it may not be a situation that causes conflict for everyone, it is still quite painful. Being physically present during the process is a constant reminder that you have lost someone you loved. Online divorce makes it much easier for you to go through the entire process.
- It Happens at Your Convenience: One of the biggest challenges for people these days is to take time out during their daily routines to appear in court and sit through meetings with lawyers. While offices and courts have their schedules that you are forced to adhere to, internet divorce allows you to do it at any time of the day.
- Cost-Effective: Not having to sit through hours of meetings with lawyers also means that you can save your time and money. Divorce lawyers can end up charging thousands of dollars for even the most basic cases. Being able to save that money will put you in a better position after the divorce is complete.
Factors to Consider During Divorce
There are plenty of things that come into play when deciding the terms of the divorce. To ensure that there is no conflict on the terms of divorce between you and your spouse, you need to appropriately consider the following factors.
- Asset Distribution: Make sure that you are fair about how your assets are distributed between each other. Property disputes often lead to spouses having to contest, which wastes a lot of time. Consider the state laws and your marriage agreement and then decide a fair distribution of assets that both you and your spouse can be satisfied with.
- Child Custody: If you have children, custody is typically shared 50/50, except when doing so will be too disruptive to the child’s life. Work out an agreement that will put the child’s best interests first.
- Alimony and Child Support: While you can easily decide this with your spouse, getting advice from someone with sound financial understanding can be quite helpful. The court can also help determine the payable amounts for each parent if there is a conflict. Just be sure to decide an amount that is both appropriate and sufficient, especially for child support.
Once you have submitted your documents, the courts in Washington can take up to 90 days to finalize your divorce. If there are any objections from the court, they may ask you for clarification, extending the time even more. If a new conflict arises during the waiting period, the court may ask you to come for a trial hearing, which you should attend with a lawyer for maximum protection.