Divorce does not always have to be a bitter battle between former spouses. When a couple chooses to get a divorce in Washington State, they have the option of filing an uncontested divorce, which is generally a much quicker and easier processes. Unlike a contested divorce, issues in an uncontested divorce are agreed upon between the spouses before filing, which makes the divorce a simple, friendlier process.
What Is An Uncontested Divorce?
An uncontested divorce, also known as a divorce by agreement, is available to all couples in Washington, regardless of whether or not children are involved. By filing a simplified, or uncontested divorce petition, the couple signals to the court that they have agreed on how to settle all of the major issues involved in their divorce.
The couple must agree on child custody, the amount of child support, and alimony. In addition, the couple must agree on how to split personal property and the real estate, including their house. They will also need to decide how to divide their debts like a mortgages, car loans, and credit cards.
If the couple can agree on all of these issues, then they can file a simplified petition that will move through the legal system quickly, without much interference or oversight from the family court judge.
If the couple cannot agree on how to resolve one or more of the issues listed above, the divorce is considered a contested divorce. During a contested divorce, attorneys for both spouses will conduct a thorough investigation of the couples’ assets, debts, finances, and child rearing behaviors in order to build a case. After this discovery process, the attorneys may propose settlement agreements in order to resolve any outstanding issues.
If the couple cannot agree to a settlement about a particular issue or problem, then both sides will attend hearings in front of a family court judge. The judge will make the final decision about any issue that the couple cannot resolve.
Planning Your Divorce
In general, contested divorces take much more time to complete, and cost significantly more money in attorneys’ fees. As a result, whatever the couple can agree on before filing for divorce will not only allow them to determine how their divorce proceeds but also save time and money.
Couples who work together are more satisfied with the results of their divorce than couples who cannot reach any agreement. Remember, the family court judge has no obligation to make either side happy.
Even though it can be difficult to imagine working together with your former spouse, alternative dispute resolution techniques like mediation or arbitration can help couples negotiate with each other outside of the courtroom. At Pacific Northwest Family Law, our attorneys are trained in collaborative law, mediation techniques, and other dispute resolution methods, and use these skills to help divorcing couples decide on a fair and equitable divorce settlement.
To schedule your appointment with one of our experienced Washington divorce attorneys, or to learn more about your options when filing for divorce, contact us today by calling 509-572-3700.