Do it Yourself Divorce in Washington State

By Heather Frances J.D.

Though attorneys can be helpful when it's time to end your marriage, you can file your own divorce papers in Washington State. Completing the process yourself can help you save money and time, particularly if your divorce is not complex. You can obtain many of the necessary forms from your local court, or you can use an online legal document service to prepare and file your paperwork.

Grounds and Waiting Period

Washington is a “no-fault” divorce state, meaning that the only legal ground for divorce is the "irretrievable breakdown" of the marriage, which simply put is that you and your spouse cannot get along with each other anymore. Though your burden of proof is low, dissolution is not necessarily a quick process. Even if you file all the proper paperwork and the court’s workload is light, Washington State law requires a waiting period of at least 90 days before the court will finalize a dissolution. This waiting period does not begin until you file your initial dissolution paperwork.

Petition for Dissolution

The dissolution process begins when you file a petition with a local court. On the petition form, available from the court, you must provide basic information about your marriage, including the date and place you were married, the names of any children, and the date you separated. Although dissolving your marriage is the main purpose of the dissolution process, the court can issue other related orders. These typically address property distribution and arrangements for child custody. You can request the terms you desire for these orders, such as how you want joint property distributed, in your petition -- and the court can take those requests into consideration.

Divorce is never easy, but we can help. Learn More

Filing and Service

You must file your petition along with a filing fee and other forms, including a summons, identification information form, a certificate of dissolution from the Department of Health and, depending on your local court, case indexing or designation forms. These forms are primarily for administrative purposes and you can obtain them from your local court. The summons tells your spouse how long he has to respond to your petition, so you must arrange to serve a copy of the summons and a copy of the petition on your spouse soon after you file them. Typically, a process server or sheriff will serve your spouse by handing him the papers in person.

Finalizing Your Divorce

If your spouse does not respond to the paperwork you serve on him, you can get a default divorce after the deadlines pass, meaning the court can grant your divorce based on your filings and without your spouse’s input. If your spouse files a response that disputes items in your petition, the court may have to schedule a hearing on the issues. At the hearing, the judge receives evidence from both sides to help him issue a decision. No matter how your spouse responds, your divorce is not final until you appear before the judge to state, under oath, that your marriage is irretrievably broken and answer questions the judge may have. The judge finalizes the divorce by signing a dissolution decree and any related documents such as findings of fact and conclusions of law, a child support or spousal support order, and a parenting plan.

Divorce is never easy, but we can help. Learn More
Do-it-Yourself Divorce Documents for Michigan


Related articles

Default Judgments in Kansas in a Divorce

By the time you get ready to file for divorce, you and your spouse may not be getting along well enough to cooperate during the divorce proceeding. Your spouse may decide to ignore the divorce paperwork you filed, thinking that will stop the divorce or make you angry. Unfortunately for your spouse, Kansas courts can grant default judgments in divorce cases, giving you a divorce even when your spouse does not want to participate in the process.

How Do I File for Divorce?

The road from deciding you want to end your marriage to beginning the actual legal process can be a bumpy one. Many of your early decisions can impact the entire proceedings and determine whether your divorce is amicable or a hard-fought battle. Although the legal process of filing a divorce petition and serving it on your spouse is similar from state to state, the steps you take to get to that point can vary depending on your personal situation.

Do it Yourself Divorce in Kentucky

In Kentucky, you may file for a divorce without using a lawyer, but you have to proceed carefully. It's essential that you read all the necessary forms and follow the required procedures. A do-it-yourself divorce can save money and time. If your divorce is simple and doesn't involve children, or you and your spouse agree on all the terms of your divorce, filing without legal representation may be a good option.

Get Divorced Online

Related articles

My Spouse Is Unwilling to Sign Divorce Papers in Georgia

Filing for divorce is a stressful process, and it is not always the case that both spouses want the divorce to proceed. ...

How to File for a Divorce Even When the Other Spouse Does Not Want to Sign the Papers

Only under one circumstance would you need your spouse to sign papers so you can get your divorce. You need her ...

How an Inmate Obtains a Divorce in Ohio

Although filing for divorce while incarcerated poses a unique set of challenges, the process itself is the same for all ...

How to File Your Own Divorce Papers in Tennessee

In order to file for divorce in Tennessee, you must draw up the necessary papers, file them with a court clerk, have ...

Browse by category
Ready to Begin? GET STARTED