$995 Uncontested Divorces
$995 Uncontested Divorces
Agreed divorces are a good way to do your divorce, for a very low cost, with the pleadings prepared by an experienced attorney. (Sample pleadings are here.) And it can be final in as few as 91 days. If you are in King County, you don’t even have to go to court. In Snohomish County, I walk the divorce through with you. Either way, either county, you know it’s done right; you don’t have to worry about deadlines or filing rules; and it will be over in three months. And it only costs $995.
If you both agree on how you want to divide things (or at least have a good idea); and you want to make sure the divorce is done properly, goes smoothly, and – most important! – is final and done in 90 days, then this is the choice for you. A complete set of sample divorce pleadings, including the initial pleadings plus the final orders, for King County, is attached here.
(*) The $995, includes the filing fee. It does not include any recording fees for deeds. (See below.)
COVID-19 Update: The good news is that there is little impact on doing uncontested divorces. That is because I can file these electronically in King County, and via PDF/ABC in Snohomish County. They do not require in-person appearances.
If there are children, both counties still require a Parenting Class. BUT King County allows “attendance” by email; see the website for details.
AND Snohomish County now accepts (among others) King County seminars. See website, here. That may well change when counties go to Phase 4; Snohomish County has always liked using its own providers.
Soooo — IF you can agree on everything with your spouse – you can still get a divorce started. And finished 91 days later, if we are still under the constraints we are now.
How Is This Different From A Do-It-Yourself Packet? Two things: experience and experience. When you work with me, you get the benefit of my experience, and my knowledge, to avoid pitfalls and problems. You avoid the cost of not knowing the questions. I have enough experience – 25 years’ worth – to make sure your divorce orders deal with all the critical issues, and deal with them correctly. It cuts down the risk the divorce will come back to bite you later. The number of times I see uncontested divorces, that I do, come back to court, are very, very few.
You can judge for yourself how using a Do-It-Yourself packet looks, and how my divorces look. Click here.
How it works:
First, we talk. I email you an intake form to fill out, and we talk – in person or on the phone – so I have a good idea what’s going on. In about 50% of the cases I see, there are problems I spot (from experience) that you will not think of. The flat fee includes all the advice you need, as much as you need. I get a good list of the assets you are dividing, how you want to parent the children, how much child support there is (if any). (NOTE: This is not collaborative divorce and is not mediation. I work with you, not with both sides. I do not represent both sides; I only represent you.
Second, I draft all of the pleadings. I get them to you as a PDF document. Example: Jones – Sample Divorce. You go over them and get back to me with corrections or changes. When we are finished with changes, I put together a final packet. You either pick it up, or I mail it you.
Third, you and your spouse sign all the pleadings. Then you get them back to me. I file them with the court. That gives us a cause number, and starts the 90 day clock ticking.
Last, 91 days or so later, I send the final orders in (or walk them in if there are kids), and the court signs the final orders. And you are done. It is that easy. (In Snohomish County, you have to go with me to court; but that is pretty much a formality and takes about an hour. That is covered in the flat fee.)
Is it really that simple? Yes, it is.
The hard part is getting to an agreement. But if you want to try to do this, call me. We can figure out pretty quickly if this is going to be possible or not.
How do we divide the assets? That’s a good question. A sample worksheet is here.
“Assets”, in a divorce, normally means all property, plus debts. “Property” includes real estate, vehicles, investment accounts, 401(k)s, pensions, savings and checking accounts, Stocks/RSUs, stock awards, etc. It also includes personal minor property such as furniture, guns, kitchenware, clothing, tools, lawn mowers, and other things like that.
If an asset was accrued during the marriage, or during the time that people lived together, and then got married, then it is a community asset. The only real exception is if there is inheritance. Otherwise, the presumption is that assets are community if you got them while you are married.
But assets are always offset by debts. If the house in Kenmore is worth $600,000 on Zillow, but has a $400,000 mortgage, then it is worth $200,000 net. The community value of the asset may also be offset by a “separate interest” in the asset. For example, if the wife’s parents loaned her $50,000 for a down payment on the Kenmore house, then she might have a $50,000 separate interest. Similarly, if the husband had $100,000 in a savings account, before the marriage, and put that down on the Kenmore house, then he would have $100,000 separate interest in the house. He will get paid back the separate interest, but will not share in the appreciation.
What the court will do is develop a spreadsheet that lays out all the assets, and the debts, and then divides the overall property in some proportion. Then it figures out how to allocate the property. It will almost always do this before taxes, or liquidation costs. That is, you will not take the cost of sale off the house, and it will not subtract taxes from an asset, unless the asset is actually going to be sold. It will divide stocks as they are, not as you think they will be in the future.
What we do, is develop a simple spreadsheet to do this. Then we allocate the assets out to each party, trying to make it as simple as possible. Each person takes the car they usually use, and each person takes any retirement accounts in their own names, to the extent you can. Then you use one account, typically a retirement account, to even everything out.
In this example, the parties have a house, which they have agreed is going to the wife. Each person has a little bit of retirement accounts, not a lot, and there is no separate property. The cars both have loans on them. They want to do an overall 50/50 division. So they agreed that the wife takes the house, each person takes accounts in their own name, and the use of husband’s Fidelity 401(k) to even everything out.
SOME FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS:
Why Is This Better Than Doing It Yourself? It’s better for several reasons:
- You know the divorce is done correctly and completely.
- The final orders are legible, clear, and enforceable.
- In King County; you never have to go to court; in Snohomish County, you have to go one time, but I take you through it.
- There is little risk that the Judge or Commissioner will not sign the orders at the end.
- In about 50% of the cases I see, there are problems I spot (from experience) that you will not think of.
- My experience helps you make better decisions on the terms of the divorce.
- If you do it yourself, there is a good chance it either goes sideways; or you do it wrong- and the divorce won’t be final at the 91 day point.
- What pleadings are there? Most of the time, the pleadings include:
- State Certificate of Dissolution
- Confidential Information Form (CIF)
- Acceptance of Service
- Parenting Plan
- Child Support Order and Worksheets
- Findings of Fact
- Decree of Dissolution
- Quit Claim Deed and Excise Tax Affidavit
- QDRO (to divide 401K’s and Pensions)
Examples? Sure. I have attached a set of divorce pleadings, from a sample case, here, to show what they look like when I prepare them. (This is NOT an actual case.) Some of the State Forms are here. You decide which ones you would rather use.
How Much Does A Flat Fee Divorce Cost? The cost is simple: $995.00, which includes my time, and the filing fee the County gets (now $316.49). If I am recording a deed, I do have to collect the recording fee, which gets paid to the county (usually $84.00 per deed). I do not charge extra for drafting QDROs or deeds. (Though sometimes the retirement fund will charge you a fee. That does not go through me.) I do not charge you extra for making changes, before the divorce is final. I don’t charge extra for copies. I do get payment up front, though, and I do not take payments. I take Visa, MasterCard, AmEx, and Discover. (And of course checks and cash.)
How Long Does It Take? If you call me, and you and your spouse have an agreement, I can have the draft orders to you in a day or two. From then, it depends on how soon you can get them approved and signed. I get some divorces signed and back the next day; some can drag on. I have one case that took almost two years until the other spouse finally signed the orders. The average length of time is 1-2 weeks. Once I get the papers back, signed, I e-file it with the court. That gives us a case number and starts the 90 day clock ticking. On or after the 91st day, I send the final orders in to be signed by the court, and that is when the divorce is final. So – assuming you get the orders signed quickly – it can be quick. And it will be over and done in three months.
What Do I Have To Do During The Divorce? In King County, your spouse will have to attend the Family Law Orientation Seminar (FLOS). If there are children, then you both have to attend a court-required parenting class. (In both King and Snohomish County.) But that’s it. You will not have to go to court with me in King County; you do in Snohomish County, but only one time at the end of the case.
My Spouse Lives Out of State. Can We Still Do This? Yes; but they will have to agree to jurisdiction in Washington.
What Happens If My Spouse Won’t Sign Papers? About 10-20% of the time, cases that start out as uncontested divorces go sideways. Either someone gets angry about something; your spouse changes their mind; he or she says they will sign but then refuse to cooperate; etc. We need to talk about why and how that happens. At some point you will get tired of talking and waiting, and tell me to simply file and serve the divorce. I have to start billing you at my regular hourly rate at that point; and the $695 is a sunk cost.
If I Change My Mind, Can I Get A Refund? If you change your mind and reconcile before the divorce is filed, I refund the filing fee, but the rest is a sunk cost. That is non-refundable. Once the case is filed, the filing fee is not refundable, because it has been paid.