1511 Third Avenue
Seattle, WA 98101
Pro Se Divorce FAQs
Q: Do I Need An Attorney?
A: It Depends. If you have no assets , you trust your soon-to-be ex spouse, and you have sufficient time, then you probably don’t need an attorney. However, if you have the following, I would definitely recommend an attorney:
Q: Can my spouse and I work-out the basic property / debt distribution, parenting / support issue ourselves and then hire one attorney to do the paperwork for both of us?
- Significant liabilities;
- Real property;
- Pension; or
- You and/or your spouse own a business.
A: I occasionally facilitate an uncontested divorce – meaning that I work with both parties to determine the parties’ assets / liabilities and suggest a fair and equitable distribution. I then prepare and file the documents. This generally only works when the parties have pretty much agreed ahead of time on the asset / liability distribution and have both agreed that the potential benefits of litigation are outweighed by the costs.
I will undertake this role only if both parties agree to meet with me together and they call me independently to confirm the appointment. In the event that this process doesn’t work and the parties “lawyer-up” I am ethically unable to represent either party.
Q: If my spouse and I want to get divorced ourselves, how do we do it?
A: I have developed the following list:
To start the process:
- Go to the Washington State Courts website and download the following forms:
- Confidential information form
- Fill out the forms.
- Respondent must sign the joinder at the end of the petition
- Fill-out two additional forms available from the King County Superior Court Clerk’s office
- Case assignment area
- Case designation
- Go to the clerk’s office, and:
- Pay the $280 filing fee (cash or check with in-state address)
- File the four documents
- Obtain the case scheduling order
- Obtain the family law information handout
- Give a copy of the case scheduling order and family law information packet to your spouse
- Take the parenting class within 60 days (or pay the non-compliance fee if you wait over 60 days) (ensure that the parenting class facilitator files your certificate of attendance.)
- Obtain the following forms from the same website:
- Findings of Fact / Conclusions of Law
- Decree of Dissolution
- Parenting Plan
- Order of Child Support
- Fill out the forms
- Obtain Respondent’s signature on each form (sign in blue ink. The clerk will only accept originals for filing)
To finalize the process:
- Make 2 copy sets of the original signed documents so now you have three copy sets on total (the two copies plus the original)
- Put on your Sunday best
- Go to the clerk’s office and obtain stamp “Present in Person”
- Go to ex parte, hand original copy set to clerk
- Wait until the ex parte commissioner calls your last name
- Approach the bench, introduce yourself, and stand at attention
- The commissioner will run a JIS background check on you. If you have children and a criminal background and your parenting plan does not address this, you may have a problem.
- Assuming you pass the JIS test, the commissioner will then question you regarding the elements of a divorce, required per statute e.g.: what is your name, is the asset/liability distribution in the decree fair and equitable? Etc.
- The commissioner will then sign your final papers
- The clerk will put them in her basket for filing
- Walk out of the court room with your two copy sets
- Conform the copy sets with the stamps in the lobby
- Keep one copy set for your records
- Give the other copy set to your now ex-spouse
Congratulations. You are now divorced.