Divorce is an unpleasant process no matter how much you spin it. There’s paperwork, lawyers, and the anxiety of dealing with your future ex. On top of all that, there’s the financial toll that comes with the process, which begs the question: How much does a divorce cost in WA?
If you are preparing to divorce—or already in the middle of divorce proceedings—it’s important to hire a Seattle divorce attorney to help you understand how much you should expect to spend on ending your marriage.
How Much Is a Divorce in Washington State?
You may be surprised to hear that the average cost of a divorce in Washington State is $13,400, according to a 2020 survey conducted by Lawyers.com. This includes $10,600 in attorney’s fees as well as other miscellaneous costs.
The good news is that Washington is a no-fault state, so you don’t need to go to court to prove fault if you want to dissolve your marriage. In fact, the main grounds for divorce in the state is “irreconcilable differences,” which is vague enough to encompass most situations.
Despite the no-fault advantage, the cost of divorce in WA is still cause for concern. The figure quoted above is nothing more than an average. We’ve all seen the movies, where divorcing couples face a lengthy court battle over child custody and property division, especially in high-net-worth divorce cases.
These adversarial and highly contested cases do happen in real life, and while they’re certainly not the norm, they do distort the average, with costs sometimes well in excess of $30,000.
What Additional Expenses Contribute to the Cost Of Divorce in Washington?
While attorney fees are a significant chunk of the cost of the divorce, they aren’t the only expense to anticipate when getting a divorce in Washington. There are additional costs that both parties in a divorce will have to absorb. Common expenses in a WA divorce may include:
- Court filing fees
- Compensating of expert witnesses
- Document preparation and serving
- Use of child custody evaluation professionals
- Parenting classes or mandated counseling
- Rent for an apartment or a place to stay during the divorce
In addition to the aforementioned expenses, there may be a number of other costs couples may incur during a WA divorce. For instance, transportation costs may need to be considered to and from the courthouse for those without reliable transportation. You may have to refinance your car loan if your soon-to-be ex-spouse’s name is on the title. Having to separate a phone plan or separate any other monthly subscription plans for other monthly services should also be taken into account when factoring in costs.
Factors that Increase the Cost of Divorce in WA: Keeping Your Costs Lower
- Having Minor Children
Couples who divorce with children often spend more money on divorce than couples who do not have children. This is due to a number of reasons. First, couples with children automatically have issues they must address that couples without children do not, such as child custody and child support. Child-centered issues are often the root of much upset in divorce proceedings, especially if parents have differing opinions about what is best for the children. But the longer that litigation goes on, the higher the bill.
- Alimony Disputes
Financial disagreements with your soon-to-be ex can also ramp up the divorce costs. Alimony disputes often require involving additional experts, such as vocational or financial analysts, to provide evidence in your favor. The average price of a vocational evaluation ranges between $4,000 and $5,000. Expect an additional $1,000-$1,500 if you want the evaluator to appear and testify in court.
Demanding high support payments often escalates the conflict between you and your spouse, which, in turn, can result in extended divorce proceedings (on purpose or not). The attorney fee in such cases rises to $15,000 or more and can climb beyond the $20,000 mark if the proceedings drag on.
- Complicated Assets
Washington is a community property state, which means that the law typically counts any assets or property acquired during a marriage as community property. This also means both parties are responsible for any debt accumulated during the marriage.
Like other community property states, Washington tries to equally distribute property and assets during a divorce, but it’s not always as simple as dividing things 50/50. You cannot cut a home or car in half. You and your spouse must agree about who gets a particular asset or whether one of your purchases the other’s half of an asset. When wrangles exist and you cannot reach an amicable agreement, a judge order you to sell the asset and split the proceeds of the sale.
Complex property division takes time. Disagreements about that division further drags out your divorce, leading to increased court costs, attorney fees, and other related expenses.
- An Uncooperative Spouse
Your ability to compromise is the thing that affects the cost of your WA divorce the most. The more that you and your ex can agree on upfront, the better off you’ll be cost-wise. If you can figure out a way to handle things without going to court, you’ll save even more money. The quicker you can resolve disputes, the less time you’ll be billed.
- Filing Without Professional Assistance
Some spouses decide not to use a professional, opting instead to tackle divorce on their own. While spouses may think this is the least expensive and simplest option, filing for divorce without legal assistance often backfires.
Many times, spouses make mistakes on their legal forms and fail to get their case beyond the court clerk. Some spouses think they agree only to learn a month or so into their divorce that this is not the case. Others make mistakes in finalizing their divorces that can cost them financially or in some other way for a lifetime.
Ultimately, it’s more expensive to go back and fix a bad divorce decree than to do it right the first time. It is wise to speak with a WA family attorney before attempting any do-it-yourself divorce.
Contact Our Seattle WA Family Attorneys Today
At Petrelli Previtera, LLC., we understand the financial uncertainty a divorce can cause. Our knowledgeable Seattle WA divorce attorneys will fight to protect your best interests every step of the way and help you prepare for financial success for life after your divorce. To schedule a consultation, call our office today at (206) 231-5789.