April 12th, 2023
Can You Divorce Without a Lawyer in Washington State?
Just as every relationship is different, no two divorces are the same. Some couples gradually realize that they have grown apart and decide to pursue a divorce, while other marriages come to an abrupt end because one spouse is unhappy or wants to start a new life chapter. Whatever the specifics of your situation may be, the prospect of divorce can seem overwhelming and intimidating. From locating the right forms to negotiating monumental issues like the division of property and parenting plans, there are several questions that may arise throughout the process. One of the most common questions is whether you may navigate the divorce process in Washington State without hiring an attorney. Although this is an option, working with an experienced and caring attorney is highly beneficial to ensure that you walk away from your marriage with the solid foundation you need to move forward with confidence.
Filing for Divorce in Washington State
When you pursue a divorce in the Seattle area, you will need to locate, complete, and file several documents with the court. These forms are available online, so you can access them and complete them at your convenience. You will need to complete a Summons: Notice About a Marriage of Domestic Partnership form, a Petition for Divorce (Dissolution) form, and other documents as necessary. Once you complete these forms and file them with the court, you will need to have them served on your spouse. From there, you and your spouse can work towards a divorce agreement. After observing a mandatory 91-day waiting period, the court will finalize your divorce. Of course, some couples take much longer to reach an agreement, and the negotiations can be tense and heated. The court may need to intervene in cases where the parties cannot reach an agreement on their own.
The DIY Divorce Process
Some divorcing couples may agree to move through the divorce process without involving attorneys. Perhaps they believe that they can work through any minor differences as they arise, or they are budget-conscious and want to spend as little as possible to complete this process. However, separating your life from that of a spouse tends to be an emotionally complicated endeavor, and you may find yourselves engaging in contentious discussions—especially when it comes to decisions that impact your children. For the majority of divorcing couples, enlisting the assistance of a divorce lawyer is highly recommended. Going the “Do it Yourself” route may work in some circumstances, such as couples who have only been married for a short time, do not have children, and do not have significant or complex assets. Even these types of divorces often benefit from the guidance of a divorce attorney to ensure that both spouses walk away with the secure foundation they need.
Understanding the Benefits of Working With a Divorce Lawyer
Although it is possible to obtain a divorce without an attorney in Washington State, working with a knowledgeable and compassionate lawyer carries several benefits. Below are just a few of the ways in which enlisting the help of a divorce attorney can streamline and clarify the legal process as you and your spouse move through each step.
An Objective Viewpoint
Divorce is a highly personal process, as you and your spouse are working to separate your lives from one another. Emotions can run high, and it can be hard to make objective decisions. An attorney can support you by providing a factual account of your options, allowing you to make more informed decisions that are not clouded by bias. Your attorney can help you focus on the big picture so you can negotiate an outcome that will support you and your family in the long term.
While this may be your first experience with the divorce process, your lawyer has worked with numerous people who have walked this same path you are currently navigating. Whenever you lose sight of where you are or need help working through a difficult decision, you can rely on your attorney to provide the information you need to move forward. Your lawyer likely has helped other people resolve similar issues, which enables them to support you as well.
Avoid Costly Mistakes
Attorneys know the ropes. More importantly, they know what you can’t know. In divorces where assets, retirement accounts, and real property are being divided, mistakes can only become apparent to the untrained eye months or years after they are made. Most well-intentioned mistakes can be corrected, but it is often expensive and time-consuming to do so. Trusted guidance can save you headaches in the long term.
Advocating For Your Best Interests
If you and your spouse are having trouble remaining civil during divorce negotiations, your attorney can step in to advocate for your best interests. Contentious divorces benefit highly from enlisting legal representation, as the lawyers can make sure their clients’ voices are heard—even during heated arguments. Most importantly, working with an attorney can give you the emotional support you need during this tumultuous time. You can find comfort in knowing that they will remain at your side at every stage of the process, working hard to keep your future as bright as possible.
If you are considering filing for divorce in the Seattle area, reach out to the Hemmat Law Group today by calling (206) 682-5200 to speak with a dedicated and compassionate attorney.