Divorce is arguably one of the most emotionally draining events a family will go through. It can be even worse when the couple cannot agree on important issues like child custody, child support, property division, and alimony. Fortunately, if you and your spouse can reach an agreement on these matters, you can opt for an Uncontested Divorce. This option eliminates contested court hearings and potential mudslinging / heated arguments, leaving a more peaceful, quicker, and far cheaper dissolution process.
Are you planning to get a divorce? Contact Alliance Law today to talk to a Tacoma Divorce Attorney about our Flat Fee Uncontested Divorce services.
What Is an Uncontested Divorce?
An UNCONTESTED DIVORCE is a divorce where the spouses have reached an amicable agreement on all issues without the need for court intervention.
In contrast, a CONTESTED DIVORCE is where either spouse is disputing one or more issues that must be resolved before the divorce is finalized. This often requires the parties to attend contested court hearings, mediation, and potentially a long, drawn-out trial with witnesses and evidence so a judge can rule on the disputed issues. This takes the ability for the parties to make decisions related to really important issues such as parenting their child(ren), their finances, or even where they live.
Both processes will legally end your marriage but, again, an uncontested dissolution will be more affordable, easier, quicker, and far less stressful. In an uncontested divorce, you and your spouse will have the ability to discuss important issues and draw up an agreement that is best for the family.
Who Can File an Uncontested Divorce?
An uncontested divorce is very straightforward. Any couple that has agreed to all settlement terms before the case is filed is able to utilize the services of Alliance Law Group to process their uncontested dissolution. However, they will have to establish residency as required by Washington State statute by proving that:
- One or both spouses currently resides in Washington
- One or both spouses is a member of the armed forces and is stationed in the state.
If you plan to use our services for an uncontested divorce, you must agree to all elements of the case which include any spousal support (to include how much and for how long), the residential schedule for all children under the age of 18, child support payments, and the division of all assets and debts. An inability to agree on these issues will force you to file for a contested divorce. You can still reach an amicable agreement, after the process starts, but there is no guarantee that you can avoid all litigation.
THE UNCONTESTED DIVORCE PROCESS IN WASHINGTON STATE
In Washington State parties are required to use standard forms for their dissolution action which are available online at:
Without an attorney or paralegal to help you, at minimum you need to fill out the following forms:
- Confidential Information Form (and Attachment)
- Petition for Divorce (Dissolution) with or without a joinder
- Acceptance of Service or Proof of Service
- Findings and Conclusions about a Marriage
- Final Divorce Order (Dissolution Decree)
There are additional forms if you and your spouse have children together who are under the age of 18:
- Parenting Plan
- Order of Child Support
- Washington State Child Support Worksheets
If you fill them out incorrectly, you risk that the court will not approve your dissolution, causing further delays. Or even more importantly, you run the risk that you made an error which could cost you thousands of dollars in future legal fees in the future to correct the error, if it is even something that can be corrected.
The entire process will take just over 3 months after an agreement is reached. The reason for this is that there is a 90-day waiting period from the date of the initial filing and service before the final orders can be entered. There is no ability to waive this waiting period.
Should I use a paralegal instead?
Paralegals can be a great resource and choice for parties. But remember, they did not go to law school and pass the Washington State Bar. They do not spend their time in court seeing what type of pitfalls exists in completing these matters. What arguments work and which are not successful. If you write in “X” in your orders, how that is generally interpreted by the court. So why wouldn’t you hire a trained lawyer if they cost a similar fee to have this added knowledge and practical experience?
What Are the Pros and Cons of an Uncontested Divorce?
Benefits of an Uncontested Divorce
As its name implies, an Uncontested Divorce should be less stressful than a contested divorce. The couple in an uncontested divorce has the power to decide on the terms of the dissolution. They don’t have to attend contested court hearings to argue or debate who is the better parent, why one party is abusive or any other toxic topic. This is particularly important if you have younger children and have years of co-parenting to look forward to over the years.
An uncontested divorce allows you take charge of your life and the outcome of your case without the need for a judge in a black robe deciding very important issues related to your life or the life of your children. It provides you with certainty and predictability in the outcome of your case. To include the timing of your divorce being finalized.
Consequently, the process is faster and more affordable – even cheaper when you opt for a Flat Rate Divorce. It also allows the spouses to part amicably, and focus on moving forward in your life in a positive manner.
Possible Cons of an Uncontested Divorce
As with any process, uncontested divorces can also have their pitfalls. The spouses simply may not be able to come to an agreement so early in the process. They may need to go to court for the initial hearing to come to terms with what typically occurs in these situations. That is their right. Or they may not want the divorce and may try to delay an agreement.
Another pitfall may be that one spouse is putting undue pressure on the other to settle for terms that are advantageous to one spouse only or that are truly not in the children’s best interest. Don’t let your spouse bully you into an unfair settlement just to save a few hundred dollars.
You can also seek the advice of counsel early on when you are trying to work through an agreement. You are strongly encouraged to consult with counsel early in the process if you have any questions regarding the process, the law, how these matters are typically handled, etc.
Other potential downsides include:
- The process can take longer than expected if one spouse is uncooperative. At which time you may need to file for a traditional contested divorce.
- Issues may arise when both spouses would like to maintain ownership of an asset.
- One spouse may have the upper hand, especially if the couple has a history of abuse.
- Complications may arise where both spouses cannot agree on child “custody” or the residential schedule
The disadvantages of an uncontested divorce should not deter you from choosing this method of dissolution. They should only encourage you to consult an expert Pierce County Divorce Attorney who can advise you, oversee the agreement, and review your paperwork.
Contact us for more information
Court Involvement in an Uncontested Divorce
Because spouses in an uncontested divorce agree on most or all important divorce issues, state courts won’t intervene as much as they do in contested divorces. However, this does not mean that the court will not be involved at all. The court will still have to approve the final settlement. The signed final orders must be presented to the court and they must be in compliance with State law. The court will not approve final divorce orders that are contrary to state law.
An example – the parties are unable to waive child support payment without an approved statutory reason allowing the court to do the same, such as the residential schedule. Nor are you able to finalize a divorce without child support spelled out in some way when there are minor children involved. Just as the residential schedule must be in the children’s best interest. We can help you draft the final orders to improve the court’s willingness to sign off on the same. We can also provide guidance as to what is generally done in similar cases.
Why a Flat Rate Uncontested Divorce?
One major concern of parties about to start a divorce is the cost of dissolving a marriage. Divorce costs tend to be very unpredictable and can rise to hundreds of thousands of dollars if charged at an hourly rate. To eliminate the possibility of accruing a bill you cannot pay or funds better spent on putting your children through college or on a much-needed vacation, Alliance Law Group can help give you control over your divorce fees through our Flat Rate Divorce Option. We tell you upfront how much your attorney costs and fees, eliminating your worry so you can focus on your divorce, provided you are able to reach an agreement.
Talk to a Tacoma Divorce Attorney Today
Many couples will agree to an Uncontested Divorce either because they genuinely want to dissolve the marriage peacefully or they would like the process to be affordable and the most efficient process possible. Whatever your reason for opting for this process, the team at Alliance Law Group is ready to support you through it. We will advise you, draft and review your paperwork with you and explain the process to you. For more information, please contact us today.