- Average cost
- Key factors that impact the price
- Cost of uncontested vs. contested divorce
- Saving money
If you're in Washington state and considering a divorce, it's essential to understand the potential costs. Let’s take a look at the cost of divorce in Washington and the key factors that impact the final price.
What’s the average cost of divorce in Washington state?
As you might expect, the cost of getting divorced in any state depends on the complexity of the case. For example, an uncontested divorce often costs far less than a contested divorce. A divorce with no lawyers costs less than a divorce that relies on them.
For a divorce with contested issues, the amount you owe can escalate quickly. For this type of divorce, you might expect to spend in excess of $10,000. That’s just an average number, of course. The actual cost could be higher or lower.
Key factors that impact the price
What factors impact price? Look at the complexity of asset distribution, whether child custody is involved, and the hourly rates of the attorneys to get a better idea.
Your costs may climb higher still if you need to hire outside experts such as financial advisors, psychologists, or private investigators. And finally, the length of your divorce proceedings can also significantly impact the overall cost.
Even the nature of your relationship impacts the cost
As we mentioned, the nature of your divorce – uncontested or contested – plays a huge role in your divorce price. How amicable are you and your soon-to-be ex-spouse? Depending on whether you're communicating with them, this can play a significant role in your bottom line.
Let's examine further the difference in cost between uncontested and contested divorces.
Cost of uncontested divorce in Washington
An uncontested divorce refers to a situation where both divorcing spouses agree on all terms of their marital settlement agreement. We’re talking about property division, child custody, and spousal support, to name three of the big ones.
Divorces in which people agree on how to divide their marital estate are usually quicker and less complicated than other types of divorces. Generally speaking, you can expect to pay a few hundred to a few thousand dollars for an uncontested divorce.
Cost of a contested divorce in Washington
A contested divorce occurs when parties cannot agree on one or more key issues of their divorce settlement. Because things must be settled, court intervention becomes necessary.
Interpersonal disputes make the divorce process far more complex and time-consuming, resulting in higher costs. If you have to spend extra time arguing about your settlement (or having legal representatives argue for you), you could pay $10,000 or more. The more contentious your divorce, the higher the cost.
Contested divorces often require help from additional experts. For instance, a vocational evaluation (which assesses a spouse's earning capacity), can cost between $4,000 to $5,000, with in-court testimony from the evaluator adding another $1,000. If you have minor children, you may need home evaluations and parental evaluations, further bulking up your costs.
Common issues that lead to a divorce being contested include the following:
Disagreements over property division: This could involve disputes over who gets the house, vehicles, or other valuable assets.
Child custody and parenting plans: Parents may disagree on who should have primary custody or how parenting time should be divided.
Spousal support: There may be disagreements over whether alimony should be awarded and, if so, how much.
Division of debts: Couples often disagree on who should be responsible for marital debts.
Divorce filing fee
There are court costs involved in divorce that are separate from the fees charged by a divorce attorney. The filing fee for a divorce in Washington is a significant part of the overall cost. As of 2023, the fee to file for divorce is over $300. This fee covers the cost of filing the initial petition to start the divorce process.
There’s hope if you're unable to afford the filing fee. Washington courts offer the possibility of waiving or reducing this fee for those who face financial hardship. You can request a waiver by completing a form obtained from the court clerk or online.
How much does a divorce lawyer cost in Washington?
Most divorce lawyers in this region charge an average rate of $250 and $350 per hour. The total cost can fluctuate, however, depending on the complexity and duration of the case.
Every divorce attorney has their own preferred fee structure. Some charge an upfront retainer fee to secure their services. Some offer flat fees, particularly for simple, uncontested divorces. For example, you might find an attorney who agrees to prepare all your divorce documents for a flat fee of just a few hundred dollars. This option may attract you if your divorce is straightforward and uncontested.
Notably, most divorce cases are billed by the hour rather than by a flat rate. This is especially true for divorces involving disputes over assets, alimony, or child custody. Costs can accumulate quickly, particularly in contested divorces.
Choosing the right fee structure depends on your situation. A flat fee might be best if your divorce is uncontested and you agree on all terms with your spouse. However, if there are significant disputes or complexities, an hourly rate might be more appropriate, though it could lead to higher costs.
How can I save money on divorce?
Divorce can be costly, but there are strategies you can use to reduce expenses. Here's how you can save money during a divorce.
This is often the least expensive way to get divorced. In an uncontested divorce, both parties agree on all settlement terms, including child custody, property division, and alimony. By eliminating the need for a trial or multiple rounds of negotiation, you can save a significant amount of money on legal fees.
Even in a contested divorce, divorce mediation can help resolve some, if not all, disputes between you and your spouse. While you'll need to pay the mediator for their time, their goal is to help you resolve your issues quickly, reducing the time you need to spend in court. The cost of hiring a mediator is generally far less than the cost of a courtroom divorce.
In a collaborative divorce, although each spouse has an attorney, it’s not an adversarial process. The spouses and their attorneys are one team working together to resolve issues outside of the courtroom. This approach gives you some professional assistance yet costs less than a traditional courtroom battle.
If you want to handle your divorce yourself but prefer to have expert guidance waiting in the wings if you need it, Hello Divorce is here. Especially for uncontested divorces, you can save hundreds by doing most of the work yourself, leaning on us only when you need it.
We offer affordable plans to guide you to your fresh start. If you’d like to speak with an account coordinator to learn more, schedule your free 15-minute call here.
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