One party must reside in Washington State. If your spouse lives in Washington State and you do not, you may still be able to file in the county your spouse lives in whether your spouse is in agreement or not. For more information call us at (866) 946-0325.
|Legal Separation,||Victim Assessment Fee||30.00||36.18.016(2)(c)|
Most counties have courthouse facilitator programs. A courthouse facilitator is an individual who assists self-represented parties with their family law cases in superior court. A person is self-represented if he or she is not represented by an attorney. Sometimes self-represented parties are referred to as acting "pro se."
Courthouse facilitators are also referred to as court facilitators, family court facilitators, or family law facilitators. Often, the courthouse facilitator's office is located within the courthouse. Some programs are sited in other agencies, such as a volunteer legal service program. It is important to remember that the courthouse facilitator is not your lawyer, cannot give you legal advice, and will not represent you in court. When you meet with the courthouse facilitator, you will be asked to sign a disclaimer informing you of these limitations on the program's services.
All counties, except Lincoln County and Wahkiakum County, require that the parties each take a parenting class. Every court has a list of the authorized providers of the classes. The cost is approximately $60 per person. If you have requested and received a waiver of your filing fee, you may qualify for a waiver of the fee for the class.
Filing in Lincoln County Superior Court or Wahkiakum County Superior Court
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 as required by all other counties. Once the 90 day cooling off period ends the judge will sign your decree and you will be divorced.
Requirements Lincoln County
Requirements Wahkiakum County
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 or Wahkiakum County.
In Washington State a legal separation, the court may grant all of the relief that is available in a marital dissolution but the court does not actually end the marriage (in other words, the couple is not divorced at the end). Sometimes persons will choose to file for a legal separation instead of a divorce because they do not want to end the marriage, but they want the other relief (such as property and debt division) that is available through a formal legal separation. This may be the case, for example, where a person's religious beliefs discourage him from filing for dissolution.
There are a few important facts about Washington State legal separation that you should keep in mind if you are thinking about filing one:
There is no legal action called an "annulment" in Washington State. There is a little-used action called a petition for a declaration of invalidity, which is like an annulment in that it declares that the marriage was void (could not legally exist) from the day it started. There are very limited circumstances in which you can have your marriage declared invalid.
A Washington State Court can declare a marriage invalid if it decides that the parties should never have been married because:
Even if the court finds one of the six factors, the court will declare the marriage valid unless the petitioner also proves that the parties have not "ratified" their marriage (showed that they wanted to continue the marriage) by voluntarily continuing to live together as husband and wife after turning 18, or after having the ability to consent, or after the force or duress stopped or the fraud was discovered. In addition, only the spouse who was the victim of force or fraud may petition for a declaration of invalidity.
In Washington State if you and your spouse reconcile and decide you want to continue with your marriage you may file a "Motion and Order to Dismiss the Decree of Legal Separation" with the same court that ordered the Legal Separation.
In Washington State the party who files first is listed as the "petitioner," the other party participates in the divorce as the "respondent." Under Washington law, the person to file first should receive no advantage. However, the person filing first certainly has options that the other party doesn't. For instance, the filing party can control when the first court hearing will occur and has a great influence on what issues will be addressed. The filing party is the first to be able to request "ex-parte" relief from the court and often has the option of where the case where be litigated.
You and your spouse do not both have to live in Washington State in order for you to be able to file for marital dissolution in Washington. You may file a marital dissolution in Washington State, IF:
In order for the Washington State court to make certain types of orders, Washington must have personal jurisdiction over the responding spouse (the one who did not file the dissolution).
Washington State generally will have jurisdiction over the respondent if:
If you are the responding spouse and you have never lived in Washington State, Washington State will not have personal jurisdiction over you unless you do something to give Washington State jurisdiction over you. If Washington State does not have personal jurisdiction over the responding spouse, the Washington State court cannot order that spouse to pay maintenance or any debts, or divide any property that is not physically in Washington State. However, the petitioning spouse may still be able to obtain a divorce even if property issues will not be heard because of lack of personal jurisdiction over the responding spouse. You may agree to Washington State having jurisdiction over you if you would like to do so.
In Washington State, if you are not able to locate your spouse, you may still be able to file a marital dissolution and serve your spouse by publication. If you serve your spouse by publication, you may ask the Washington State court to end your marriage and divide any property and debts that are located in Washington State. You should think carefully before relying on service by publication, however. First, if you serve your spouse by publication, you must follow the rules for service very carefully - if you do not, your court orders could be set aside years later. Second, service by publication does not give a Washington State court personal jurisdiction over your spouse unless you can prove that your spouse is hiding either inside or outside Washington State in order to avoid being served, or to avoid paying debts. If the Washington State court does not have personal jurisdiction over your spouse, you will not be able to ask the court to order maintenance or enter restraining orders.
You may file a petition for dissolution of marriage in the county where you live, or in the county where the respondent lives. If the case is filed in the county where one spouse lives, and the other spouse wants to move the case to the county where she lives, the court may (but is not required to) change venue. There is also the option of filing in Lincoln County or Wahkiakum County (no matter which county in Washington either party resides) where everything is filed through the mail and no court appearance is required.
In Washington State you must wait at least 90 days after you filed the marital dissolution and you have served it on your spouse before you may enter final orders. However, marital dissolutions often take longer than 90 days. If your spouse responds and does not agree with everything in your petition, the amount of time that will pass until your case is finished will depend on your county and how complicated your case is. In some counties, such as King County, the court will give you the date for your trial at the beginning of the case. In most other counties, you will need to file a request that the court set a trial date after the other parent has filed a response. If you filed the papers in Lincoln County or Wahkiakum County and the respondent either signed (agreed) the papers or did not file a response, then the final papers are sent in approximately 1 week before the 90 days is up and thereafter the Judge will sign the final documents.
In a Washington State divorce, each spouse must tell the court about all of his or her property and debts - separate and community. The court must divide all of the spouses' property and debts in the Decree of Dissolution. Washington State is a community property state. Generally, in Washington State, all property that either spouse gets during the marriage is community property and belongs to both spouses. If property, such as a house, other real estate or a car, is purchased during the marriage, the property is probably community property even if only one spouse is on the title. Each spouse's earnings, any pension benefits accrued, and any 401(k) contributions made during the marriage are community property. Separate property (which belongs to only one spouse) generally is property that the spouse got before the marriage, or which was given to that person by inheritance or gift (whether before or during the marriage), or which the spouse got after separation. (However, if you lived together in a stable relationship before your marriage, the property and earnings that you had during the time that you lived together may also be considered community property). Generally, all debts created by either spouse during the marriage are community debts, which both spouses are equally responsible for paying. Separate debts are those that are made before the marriage or after the date of separation.
In Washington State, the court is not required to award one spouse's separate property to that spouse, or to divide the community property 50/50.
In Washington State, the court can make any division of property and debts that is just and equitable, after considering:
In Washington State, how much property the court awards to each spouse, and who is ordered to pay what debts, will depend on a number of factors.
In Washington State, the main factor the court will consider is in what type of financial condition will the division of property and debts leave each spouse after divorce. The court generally will not want to leave one spouse extremely wealthy and the other poor. [However, if the marriage is very short (less than five years), and there are no children, the court may decide to return the parties to the financial condition they had before the marriage, even if that means that one spouse ends up much better off.] The court will consider issues such as each party's age, health, education, and prospects for employment. Thus, for example, in a long-term marriage in which one spouse has not worked much outside the home, the court is more likely to award that spouse more of the community property (or long-term maintenance) to make sure that spouse does not end up much poorer than the other spouse. Or, if one spouse is disabled and will not be able to work, the court may award the disabled spouse more of the community property. Likewise, the court may consider which spouse will be able to afford to pay the debts after dissolution when deciding who must pay them.
In most cases, the court will award each spouse his or her separate property and order each spouse to pay his or her separate debts. The court will award one spouse's separate property or separate debts to the other spouse only in very unusual circumstances.
Some people sign a written agreement before they marry that states how the parties' property and debts will be divided if they should divorce. This is often known as a prenuptial or ante nuptial agreement. Other people sign an agreement during the marriage regarding their property, which states which property is community and what is separate. This is known as a Community Property Agreement. These are sometimes completed as part of an estate plan. Still others may sign an agreement after they separate that divides property and debts - an agreement known as a Property Settlement Agreement or Separation Contract. In Washington State, this type of contract or agreement may (but does not always) determine how the court will divide property and debts in your particular case.
Not necessarily. If your car and other property were purchased with money earned during the marriage, it is community property. Each spouse's income during the marriage is community property, so anything that you buy with either spouse's income belongs to both of you. It does not matter whose paycheck was used. In Washington State, the court will divide the car and other property according to what the court decides is just and equitable overall.
Maybe. In Washington State, the court may award you an interest in the house (sometimes called an equitable lien), depending upon a number of factors. Because your spouse bought the house before your marriage, the house is your spouse's separate property. Therefore, the house remains separate, even after you marry (unless the house is given as a gift to the community, such as could happen if it is refinanced in both spouse's names). You may be entitled to an interest in the increase in any value due to improvements (such as a remodel or new deck) to the house, plus the community payments toward the mortgage. However, your community interest would be reduced by the reasonable rental value of the house because you had the benefit of living there during the marriage. Thus, in some cases, the court could rule that you have no community interest in the house because your community contributions were offset by the value you got from living there.
Yes, a Washington State court has the power to order that your house should be sold even if one spouse objects. The court is most likely to do this if a sale of the home is necessary to enable the court to divide the property equitably or if the parties are behind on payments.
Not necessarily. In Washington State, retirement or pension benefits, including 401(k) plans that are earned during the marriage, are community property in which both spouses have a legal interest. If a pension was earned both before and during the marriage, the portion of the pension earned during the marriage (and the increase in value of that portion) is community property. Some disability benefits that substitute for pension benefits may also be community property in which both spouses have an interest. You may be able to get an order entered, called a Qualified Domestic Relations Order (QDRO), under which your spouse's pension plan will pay benefits directly to you after your spouse retires.
No. Because Washington State has "no fault" divorce, the court may not consider which spouse "caused" the dissolution when deciding how to divide the property. However, the court may consider the conduct of the other spouse if that spouse wasted assets from the marriage without the other spouse's consent, or if that spouse tried to hide assets from the court.
Maybe. In Washington State maintenance, or alimony, is a payment that one spouse makes to the other to provide financial support. Maintenance is not automatically awarded to either spouse.
The court looks at several factors in deciding whether a spouse should get maintenance, including
If you have been unemployed for a long time (such as may be the case if you stayed home to care for the children), the court may be more likely to award you maintenance than if you have been laid off temporarily. On the other hand, even if the spouse seeking maintenance is capable of working (or is working to support him or herself), the court may still award maintenance to that spouse if awarding maintenance will help that spouse enjoy the standard of living that was usual during the marriage. The court uses maintenance "not just as a means of providing bare necessities, but rather a flexible tool by which the parties' standard of living may be equalized for an appropriate period of time." Long term or permanent maintenance is more likely to be ordered after long marriages and if one spouse is disabled and/or stayed home to care for the children while the other worked and is therefore less likely to be able to get a well-paying job. Unless the Decree of Dissolution states otherwise, maintenance payments end when the person receiving the payments remarries or dies.
In Washington State, you may end up paying a debt even if your spouse was ordered to pay it. As part of the final Decree of Dissolution, the court will order one or both spouses to pay any debts that the parties owe. This includes your mortgage, any car loans, credit card debts, utility bills, back taxes, etc. Even if the court orders your spouse to pay a particular debt, the creditor (person to whom the debt is owed) may still come after you to collect any community debts. You will not be able to stop the creditor from collecting from you by telling that person that your spouse is supposed to pay. If your spouse fails to pay the debt and you end up paying it, you will need to sue your spouse in court to force your spouse to pay you back. If you think that this might be a problem, you should make sure that you check the "hold harmless" provision in the Decree of Dissolution form (paragraph 3.6, second box). Then, if you must sue your spouse to force him or her to reimburse you for debts you paid, your spouse will be required to pay your attorney's fees and costs as well.
Your spouse may try to avoid paying marital debts by filing for bankruptcy. If your spouse files for bankruptcy after your Decree of Dissolution is entered, the bankruptcy court may relieve your spouse of paying for those debts. If your spouse files for bankruptcy, you should get notice of it. You should immediately talk with an attorney who is familiar with bankruptcy law about your rights. You may need to participate in the bankruptcy case in order to protect yourself.
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.
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.
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. 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Response to a Divorce - No Child, Paralegal Service
By Do It Yourself Documents,
Independent Paralegal Services
We complete all required documents with this service!
Washington State is a no-fault divorce state and is just as it sounds - neither party is at fault. If you were served with legal papers and disagree with anything your spouse 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.
In order for us to complete this service, fax or email us a copy of legal papers you were served as well as a list of all the sections of the documents (petition, parenting plan, child support, etc.) that you disagree with and any additional requests you may have in regards to your specific legal matter. We will complete all your forms within 2 business hours.
** If required for your case.
Names of forms may differ for each state
Additional charges if Respondent will not sign: