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CONSIDERING A DIVORCE IN WASHINGTON?

When spouses divorce in Washington in an uncontested fashion, they petition the court on grounds of irretrievable breakdown of the marriage (the only ground for divorce in Washington). When you have an uncontested divorce situation where both spouses are willing to cooperate and sign the divorce papers, you have the option to do it yourself and file Pro Se or to hire a lawyer to handle the divorce. Choosing which path you take is a decision that is driven by saving time and money. If your divorce is not uncontested you may find hiring a lawyer is your only and best option.

Advantages of Doing Your Own Divorce in Washington

Filing for divorce in Washington Pro Se, means you are representing yourself in your own divorce case (without a lawyer). With or without legal representation, the filing process that you follow is the same, except you are responsible for completing your own divorce papers and filing them with the Clerk at the court for a Judge to review and sign.

Most couples decide to file Pro Se because they want to save time, and especially money. The courts have streamlined the process of filing an uncontested divorce in WA, which in turn has made filing yourself extremely popular. If you do not have anything to argue about, the only thing left to do to finalize your divorce is submitting the proper signed paperwork to the court.

Before you take on the job of representing yourself in your divorce case, you should focus on making sure you have resolved the legal aspects (primarily property and debt division and child related issues like support and custody). If you are not able to keep your emotions from influencing your decision making, it is best to hire a divorce lawyer who can help with negotiating. You should only consider filing yourself if you and your spouse are working towards what would be a fair settlement for both of you.

1. Cost. By filing an uncontested divorce Pro Se you avoid the expense of hiring a lawyer. According to one source, the average cost of a contested divorce in the United States can be upwards of $15,000 for each spouse. Even an uncontested divorce with a lawyer can cost $1,500 to $3,000. Also, many lawyers offer uncontested divorces for a flat-fee, but also keep in mind that there may be additional billable hours that can add to the bill. By comparison your Pro Se divorce could cost you just the filing fees (in Washington range from $180-$220), and any fees you pay for a solution like 3StepDivorceTM (which helps you prepare your own paperwork) for a total of approximately $500-$600.

2. Control. When you file Pro Se you are in control of your own settlement (agreement) and file the paperwork when you are ready. You do not have office visits or lengthy delay periods that hold up your filing. Washington's family law courts highly support a Pro Se divorce because it is a no-fault only state. Irretrievable Breakdown of the marriage is the only ground for divorce in Washington. If the other party joins in the Petition or does not deny that the marriage is irretrievably broken, the court enters a Decree of Dissolution wether it is submitted by you, your spouse, or a lawyer.

3. Ease. In the past the challenge for spouses who agree to file their own divorce has been the court process and the preparation of the correct divorce forms. Washington courts have streamlined the divorce filing process smacking it much easier to file yourself and with 3StepDivorceTM, preparing your own divorce papers has never been easier and more affordable.

Deciding to Hire a Lawyer for Your Divorce in Washington

In Washington, an experienced lawyer who specializes in family law may be the professional you need to assess your situation especially when you have a large or complicated marital estate or little chance of coming to an amicable agreement on your own. You may decide that a lawyer can help you negotiate a settlement because you are having problems setting your emotions aside. He or she will also educate you about you legal rights and responsibilities regarding the termination of your marriage. For example, a experienced divorce lawyer may be the person to advise you if your divorce also involves a bankruptcy or potential tax ramifications of certain property distributions.

Selecting a lawyer can be challenging to say the least. Some people turn to family and friends for a recommendation, which is an ideal option if it is available. Another place to consider is the Washington State Bar Association (http://www.wsba.org) where you can search for a lawyer based on specified parameters, like name, city and areas of practice. The State Bar can give you the word on a lawyer's standing and any disciplinary actions against him or her, both past and current. Many of the more than 33,000 members of the WSBA specialize in marriage and family law.

Many lawyers offer an initial consultation at little or no cost. In addition, some people are eligible for the Moderate Means Program, which connects middle-income earners with lawyers who offer legal assistance at a reduced cost. The program is open to individuals facing a family, housing, or consumer law issue and your household income must fall between 200% - 400% of the federal poverty level (FPL). Family Law means separation or divorce, child custody or visitation, child support, personal safety due to family member, establish the biological father of a child, adoption and juvenile dependency matters

Washington is the first state in America to offer affordable legal support to people unable to afford an attorney. In Washington, Limited Licensed Legal Technicians (LLLT)s, advise and assist people going through divorce, child custody and other family-law matters. They consult and advise, complete and file divorce papers, help with court scheduling, and support someone navigating the often confusing maze of the legal system.

As seen on Forbes, USA Today, CNN and NPR
Disclaimer: This is a quality non-lawyer self-help divorce solution. The 3StepDivorceTM Documentation software and service is not a substitute for the advice of a lawyer. 3 Step Solutions, LLC does not practice law and does not give out legal advice. This software and service allows you to represent yourself in doing your own divorce. If you need or desire legal representation, we recommend that you hire a lawyer. Click here to learn more.
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