How to Divorce in Washington without Lawyers


Divorce can be a messy and emotionally draining process, but it doesn't have to be. With the right approach, getting divorced in the state of Washington without lawyers can be simple and straightforward. Not only can you save money by opting out of hiring a lawyer, but you can also maintain more control over the outcome of your divorce. 

Uncontested divorce requires no lawyers in Washington

In a contested divorce, the two parties cannot agree on the terms and issues surrounding their divorce and settlement agreement. This may include disputes over property division, child custody, and spousal support (alimony), called spousal maintenance in Washington. 

For example, if one partner wants to keep the family home and the other wants to sell it – and a compromise cannot be found between the two of them – the divorce may be considered contested.

In an uncontested divorce, both parties agree on the terms of their divorce. Again, this may include the division of assets and debts, child custody arrangements, and support payments. 

For example, if a couple agrees to share custody of their children and evenly divide their bank accounts and debts, their divorce may be uncontested.

Uncontested divorces generally do not require lawyers because, with both parties in agreement, the legal process is straightforward. With the right tools and resources, couples can complete the paperwork and file it with their county court without the need for legal representation. This can save time and money, allowing for a more peaceful and amicable resolution to the marriage.

Basic steps of uncontested divorce in Washington

In Washington, local courts can set rules that impact your case. For example, some courts have county-specific forms they require. Some require classes or conferences to end marriages. Call the clerk in the courthouse you’ve chosen for your case to ask about local requirements. 

The steps below apply to a generic uncontested divorce in the state:

Step 1: File

These three basic forms start the divorce process in Washington State:

If you share children with your spouse, you also need the Parenting Plan: FL All Family 140 form.

Fill out each form carefully, and bring the forms to the clerk at the courthouse that will process your case. Pay a filing fee, and you’ll get official copies back for the next step.

Step 2: Serve

The spouse who initiates the divorce (the petitioner) must serve the other spouse (the respondent) with a copy of the divorce petition.

In an uncontested divorce, partners often collaborate on the split and agree to work together. If you ask your spouse to accept the forms you need to provide in person and they agree to do so, you can submit the Service Accepted: FL All Family 117 form to prove the handoff happened. This document should be filed with the court.

If your ex won’t accept paperwork from you or sign the form, you can ask a third party unaffiliated with your case to deliver the documents. This can be someone you hire. Give that person a blank Proof of Personal Service: FL All Family 101 form to fill out when the handoff is complete. File that document with the court.

If these methods don’t work, or if you’re not sure where your spouse is at the moment, you can contact the court. Other methods (like serving by mail or publication) are available, but you’d need a court order to use them.

Step 3: Wait for a response

The respondent (the other party) must file their response with the court within 20 days if they live in the state and 60 days if they live outside of the state. Your partner will move through the same serving process to notify you of their response.

Read: How to Find a Good Process Server

Step 4: Negotiate with your spouse while you wait

Washington law requires a 90-day waiting period between filing for divorce and entering final orders. Use this time to work with your spouse and settle your estate.

At the end of your conversation, you should have an agreement that covers topics such as the division of assets and debts, spousal and child support payments, and child custody and visitation arrangements.

Several other forms are required, including the following:

Step 5: Finalize the uncontested divorce

After the parties have reached an agreement, they submit their proposed settlement to the court for review. Washington state courts may require a final court hearing to confirm the terms of the divorce. If the court approves the proposed agreement, they will issue a final divorce decree (Final Divorce Order: FL Divorce 241) that legally ends the marriage. This final divorce order includes all the terms of the settlement agreement.

FAQ about divorce in Washington

Do I have to live in Washington state before filing for divorce?

To file for divorce in Washington, at least one spouse must be a resident of the state. This means that one spouse must currently live in Washington and be a resident on the day the divorce petition is filed. Most states require at least one spouse to have lived in the state for a few months, but Washington does not have that requirement.

However, Washington does have a waiting period. A judge cannot issue a final order of dissolution until at least 90 days have passed since the date of filing for divorce.

Read: Guide to Divorce Waiting Periods

How much does it cost to get divorced in Washington?

The cost of getting divorced in Washington varies based on several factors, such as the contested or uncontested nature of the divorce, the presence or absence of a lawyer, the complexity of your assets and family life, and filing and administrative fees with the court.

If you file an uncontested divorce, the cost can be relatively low, typically ranging from $300 to $500 in court filing fees and related administrative fees. However, if you hire a lawyer to handle your divorce, the cost can increase significantly, with legal fees ranging from a few thousand dollars to tens of thousands of dollars, depending on the complexity of the case.

It is important to note that the costs mentioned are only estimates, and the exact cost of your divorce will depend on your individual circumstances.

Do I have to take a parenting class?

If you have children who are minors, the divorce laws in Washington require parents to complete a parenting education course before the court will finalize the divorce. This course aims to inform parents about the effects of divorce on children and teaches the parents effective co-parenting strategies to help them navigate the post-divorce family dynamic. 

The course is mandatory, and the certificate of completion must be submitted to the court to finalize the divorce. There are various approved providers for this course, and you can choose to take it online or in person.

How should I handle joint accounts?

It depends. In general, you must agree to split the things you own (like bank account balances) equitably. You might choose to divest the funds 50/50 and open new accounts in your own names, or you might opt for a partner to keep one account while you manage the other.

What about insurance policies?

An insurance policy is an asset, so you must factor in the value when you’re making plans. You could trade something with your soon-to-be ex (like a bank balance) in return for leaving the policy alone. Or, you could cash out the value and split the proceeds.

Are you getting divorced in Washington state? Hello Divorce is here to support you with online divorce plans that give you professional help and access to the right divorce documents, flat-rate services, and free do-it-yourself worksheets to help you get your exciting next chapter off to a fantastic start.


File for Divorce: Instructions and Forms. (January 2023). Washington Law Help.
Finalize a Divorce (With Children) by Agreement. (July 2023). Washington Law Help.


Divorce Content Specialist & Lawyer
Divorce Strategy, Divorce Process, Legal Insights

Bryan is a non-practicing lawyer, HR consultant, and legal content writer. With nearly 20 years of experience in the legal field, he has a deep understanding of family and employment laws. His goal is to provide readers with clear and accessible information about the law, and to help people succeed by providing them with the knowledge and tools they need to navigate the legal landscape. Bryan lives in Orlando, Florida.