Lincoln County vs. Wahkiakum County. Ending your Marriage without a Court Appearance - Divorce - Legal Separation - Annulment

Residency

Are you a resident of Washington State? Then you may file your Washington State Divorce (Dissolution), Legal Separation or Annulment in Lincoln County Superior Court or Wahkiakum County Superior Court and avoid a court appearance and parenting classes as required by all other Washington State counties. Everything is completed through the mail!

Do It Yourself Documents is located in Federal Way, Washington and has helped thousands of divorce clients in Washington State since its founding in 2001. Most of those divorces were filed in Lincoln County where clients not only did not have to appear in Court, but did not have to take the Parenting Class for divorce with dependent children as required by all other Washington counties.

Lincoln Filing Fees & Fee Waiver

Filing Fees. The initial filing fee in Lincoln County is $314.00. Lincoln County also charges an additional $30.00 at the end of the 90 day cooling off period for an ex parte hearing. This hearing is to review your documents and notarized signatures; thereby, not requiring you to appear in court.

Divorce. When filing for divorce you send the initial filing fee ($314.00) with your petition to start the process. Approximately 70 days after the initial filing you will send the additional $30.00 with the remainder of the required documents. These will be separate money orders or cashier checks. Do not send a personal check or cash!

Annulment & Legal Separation. For an Annulment (Petition for Invalidity) or a Legal Separation you can send the total amount ($344.00) using one money order or cashier check with the initial filing. Do not send a personal check or cash!

Fee Waiver Form. Regarding fee waivers in Lincoln County, Washington. The court will review all fee waiver requests submitted with a Petition; however, the fee waiver form must include all financial information requested for BOTH parties. If it does not, the fee waiver request will generally be denied. If it does include all financial information for both parties and they are below the poverty level, the court will consider it. There is no guarantee that it will be approved.

Wahkiakum Filing Fees & Fee Waiver

Filing Fees. The initial filing fee in Wahkiakum County is $294. Wahkiakum County also charges an additional $30 at the end of the 90 day cooling off period for an ex parte hearing. This hearing is for the judge to review your documents and notarized signatures; thereby, not requiring you to appear in court.

Divorce. When filing for divorce you can send all of the documents in at the same time with money order or cashier's check in the amount of $300. Do not send a personal check or cash!

Annulment & Legal Separation. For an Annulment (Petition for Invalidity) or a Legal Separation you will send a money order or cashier's check in the amount of $300. Do not send a personal check or cash!

Fee Waiver Form. Regarding fee waivers in Wahkiakum County, Washington. The court will review all fee waiver requests submitted with a Petition; however, the fee waiver form must include all financial information requested for BOTH parties. If it does not, the fee waiver request will generally be denied. If it does include all financial information for both parties and they are below the poverty level, the court will consider it. There is no guarantee that it will be approved.

Pros & Cons to filing in Lincoln County

Pros. If both parties are in agreement everything is completed through the mail and neither party need appear in court. If there are dependent children of the marriage neither party will be required to take parenting classes. Once the 90 day cooling off period ends the judge will sign your decree and you will be divorced.

  • The petitioner must be a Washington resident.
  • If the respondent resides in Washington State the respondent must be in agreement (sign the joinder) for Lincoln County to have jurisdiction. If not you will need to file in the county you or the respondent resides.
  • If the respondent is not a Washington State resident (and you have no minor children in common)you may file in Lincoln County as no other county has jurisdiction over the respondent.

Cons. If you have dependent children of the marriage and there will be a need for future modifications of either the child support or parenting plan you should consider the following before electing to file in Lincoln County.

  • If both parties will be in agreement for future modifications you will be allowed to file in Lincoln County where the filing fee will be $86.00 ($56 filing of an existing case plus $30 exparte fee). Both parties will need to be in agreement to file there. Lincoln County Superior Court will retain jurisdiction in these cases.
  • If both parties will not be in agreement of future modifications (99% of the time this is true) you must file your modification in the county the children live in. This is the only court that has jurisdiction over the children. Therefore you will need to pay a new filing fee of $260.00 to the court in which you reside and all subsequent modifications will be $56.00 (at the time of this writing).

Pros & Cons to filing in Wahkiakum County

Pros. Everything is completed through the mail and neither party need appear in court. If there are dependent children of the marriage neither party will be required to take parenting classes. Once the 90 day cooling off period ends the judge will sign your decree and you will be divorced.

  • The petitioner must be a Washington resident.
  • Wahkiakum County allows you to file through their Court regardless of whether your spouse is in agreement or how they are served (personally, by mail (if ordered by the court) or by publication (if ordered by the court). If you cannot personally serve your spouse you would request that the court allow you to serve your spouse by mail or by publication. These options are only available if you can show that you have made a diligent effort to locate him or her and can show proof that you have attempted personal service.

Cons. If you have dependent children of the marriage and there will be a need for future modifications of either the child support or parenting plan you should consider the following before electing to file in Wahkiakum County.

  • If both parties will be in agreement of future modifications you will be allowed to file in Wahkiakum County where the filing fee will be $86.00 ($56 filing of an existing case plus $30 exparte fee). Both parties will need to be in agreement to file there. Wahkiakum County Superior Court will retain jurisdiction in these cases.
  • If both parties will not be in agreement of future modifications (99% of the time this is true) you must file your modification in the county the children live in. This is the only court that has jurisdiction over the children. Therefore you will need to pay a new filing fee of $260.00 to the court in which you reside and all subsequent modifications will be $56.00 (at the time of this writing).

Paralegal Services

Ending the Marriage. Are you a resident of Washington State? Then you may file your Washington State Divorce (Dissolution), Legal Separation or Annulment in Lincoln County Superior Court or Wahkiakum County Superior Court and avoid a court appearance and parenting classes as required by all other Washington State counties. Everything is completed through the mail! Lincoln County both parties must be agreement, unless the respondent resides out of state. Wahkiakum County the respondent does not need to be in agreement.

Response. If you were served with legal papers and disagree with anything the other party asked for you may file a response. You must file any response to the documents within 20 days (60 days if you were served outside the State of Washington). You should take steps immediately to ensure your rights are protected. If you cannot afford an attorney to represent you, you should try to receive a free consultation for legal advice. Once this is completed and you need help completing the forms we are here to help.

Kits written specifically for Lincoln County

There are presently many do it yourself kits available from other vendors for completing your divorce (dissolution) in Washington State (some claim for use in Lincoln County); however, these are the only ones available on the market that specifically deal with Lincoln County and come with full detailed instructions.

These Lincoln County Divorce & Lincoln County Legal Separation kits provide all the necessary forms and instructions for filing your divorce or legal separation in Lincoln County. Among the benefits of filing in Lincoln County are no court appearances and no parenting classes as are required by all other Washington State County Courts. Included with these Lincoln County Divorce & Lincoln County Legal Separation kits are the Lincoln County special "Verification Findings" form, Lincoln County "Waiver/Fee Delaying" form, detailed instructions and a time-line for use in filing your legal separation or divorce with Lincoln County. There are no other Lincoln County Divorce, Lincoln County Legal Separation or Lincoln County Petition for Invalidity kits like these available on the market.

Lincoln County Superior Court Address

County Clerk, Peggy Semprimoznik
Lincoln County Superior Court
PO BOX 68
Davenport, Washington 99122-0068
(509) 725-1401

Wahkiakum County Superior Court Address

County Clerk, Kay M. Holland
Wahkiakum County Superior Court
PO Box 157
Cathlamet, Washington 98612
(360) 795-3558

The Seattle Times Monday, April 28, 2003 --DAVENPORT, Washington (AP By John K. Wiley) -- Monday is Divorce Day in the Lincoln County Courthouse.

In the morning, assistant County Clerk Mary Gamble brings bins and mailbags from the post office full of new filings for dissolution of marriage.

In his office one floor up, Superior Court Judge Philip Borst gets writer's cramp signing final decrees in marathons that can last six hours or more.

Welcome to the divorce capital of Washington, the only county in the state where marriages can be dissolved by mail without a court appearance.

In the early 1980s, a Spokane divorce lawyer convinced a judge that allowing people to divorce by mail would save the county time and the divorcing couple money, according to Joyce Dennison, former court clerk in Lincoln County. The judge agreed.

Paralegals and attorneys from across the state swamp County Clerk Peggy Semprimoznik's office each week with filings for clients anxious to be shed of spouses more quickly and inexpensively than in the counties where they live.

This wheat-farming county of just over 10,000 residents last year handled 4,035 domestic filings, most of them divorces.

That's more than any other county except King, home to more than 1.75 million residents, which had 5,487 filings, according to state Department of Health statistics.

By contrast, Skamania County in southwest Washington -with about as many residents as Lincoln County -had 83 domestic filings in 2002.

"Realistically, there's a lot of reasons for people getting divorced," Borst said. "If I had my rathers, I'd rather people stayed married and had a happy marriage."

But the judge said he's not saddened by the volume of marriages that are ended with a stroke of his pen because many of those seeking divorces in his court have tried marriage counseling, without success.

The ease with which a couple can legally separate or divorce here does upset a Washington-based family group and some church pastors in this county seat about 35 miles west of Spokane.

Typically, Borst's signature makes a Lincoln County divorce final in a little more than the 90-day waiting period mandated by the state. In some of the state's larger counties, where court appearances are required, court dockets are crowded with other matters and divorces can take a year or longer.

Pastor John Hammond of the Harvest Celebration Church, an Assembly of God congregation about a block away from the sandstone courthouse, is among those who don't welcome the county's status as a divorce haven.

"What kind of message are we sending," he said. "We have to consider what this means for families."

On its Web page, Families Northwest, a pro-marriage organization in Bellevue, calls the Lincoln County system "a travesty."

"The judges who set this up are unintentionally, but in all reality, undermining couples and robbing families of the opportunity to stay intact," the group says.

Semprimoznik estimates her office has handled more than 40,000 divorce filings in the 13 years she has worked there. She says she has little contact with the couples calling it quits, but thinks the county's quickie divorces are appreciated.

For his part, Borst has heard complaints from others about the county's loose divorce system, but claims he has never heard complaints from couples getting divorced.

"Its a pretty complex situation. Everybody has an opinion on it," he says. "Nine of 10 people say there are too many divorces, except they count theirs as valid."

Borst says many who file through his court can't afford an expensive divorce, and shortening the time it takes couples to dissolve their marriages eases the strain on them and the children.

"From practical experience, once they get to court and fight, they can't agree and kids suffer and they suffer," Borst says.

When both parties agree to split their assets and on child-care responsibilities, an attorney isn't necessary, the judge says.

The number of divorced couples who later file to amend their divorce decrees is about the same as those who appear in court with attorneys, he says.

Lincoln County charges a $120 filing fee and another $20 when the dissolution becomes final. The county last year earned $489,000 from domestic filings, such as divorces and annulments, Semprimoznik said.

Of that, the county netted about $283,000 for its general fund, law library and legal-facilitator program after the state took its $206,000 cut, she said.

The filings come from counties all across the state. Only about 40 a year are from Lincoln County residents, about average for its size. Semprimoznik estimates 80 percent of the filings are from Western Washington.