An analysis listed Washington State as the eight most expensive place in the U.S. for a divorce, based on the high cost of filing and lawyer’s fees.
The average rate of divorce filing fees in the state costs $314, while you should have $10,600 to pay the average fee of a divorce lawyer. In Kent, the rates could be lower than hiring an attorney in Seattle. City lawyers often charge more to make up for the higher cost of living, but there are other factors that could increase the rate. As a general rule, cases that take longer to reach a resolution will definitely be more expensive.
The Nature of Divorce in Washington
Couples who file for divorce are known as petitioners and respondents instead of being plaintiff and defendants.
As Washington is a no-fault state, you could only file for a dissolution of marriage if you could prove that your marriage is “irretrievably broken.” While you can’t blame your spouse as the one responsible for causing the damage, it’s enough for the court to grant a divorce based on the petitioner’s belief of a broken marriage.
State laws require petitioners or respondents to have an established residency to file for a divorce. Some of the ways to prove this include having a driver’s license, mailing address or being a registered voter.
How Costs in Washington Compare to the Other States
The cost of divorce in Washington is cheaper than California, where you would have to spend an average of $13,800 on attorney’s fees alone. The average cost in the District of Columbia is higher by $100. In Illinois, the average cost of lawyer’s fees is quite similar to the rates in Washington by a small margin of $300.
If you have been married for not more than eight years without any children, it’s possible to file for a “joint simplified dissolution of marriage.” This requires couples to meet certain income rules and agree on how to divide their assets.
The Least Expensive States
North Dakota has the lowest overall average cost for a divorce in the U.S. You could only spend $8,200 to hire a lawyer, which is still a large amount yet relatively cheaper than most states except for Montana. The average divorce attorney’s fees there cost $6,600. On the other hand, Mississippi has the lowest filing fee for a divorce at just $63 on average.
In terms of processing time, Wyoming courts resolve a divorce within 80 days. It’s also cheaper here to dissolve a marriage, as you will only need to pay around $9,070 on average for filing and lawyer’s fees.
The actual cost of your attorney’s fees and other expenses will depend on your case, but you won’t know for sure without asking around for rates. You should consult at least three law firms before hiring legal representation. As the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act took effect, the implications of a divorce will be more difficult to understand if you don’t have the right legal counsel.