What to expect in your uncontested, amicable divorce
Separation Contract - Division of Financial Assets
We use the same process that Bill and Melinda Gates used. First we work out every financial detail for your separation, including property, financial asset division, and how to divide your accounts. If you have children, we guide you step by step through all the decisions you want to make regarding your co-parenting in the future. Finally, we work out your spousal support, asset/debt division, and other financial arrangements. When you're comfortable, you sign you Separation Contract which gives you a legal separation. Then, when you have no disputes for the court to settle, we file your court forms. This keeps you off the litigation calendar, which saves time and money.
Below is a checklist that you can use during the process. Most people feel better if they know what to expect. We will never vary from this checklist, and you will get a copy with your contract draft.
Divorce Without Court: Short Checklist
There are many ways to file a divorce or legal separation. This is the process that our office uses. We've found that following this timeline is the fastest, easiest way to manage your paperwork. Feel free to keep this short checklist with your records. Knowing what to expect helps most people feel more comfortable. We want you to have a good experience
– Jeff and Elizabeth Steen
Checklist and Estimated Times
Divorce Without Court: Westside Collaborative Law PLLC
___ Introduction. New Client Intake filled out and returned, 20~ minutes. Your intake provides the information we need to start your contract and court forms. You will be able to update your intake as more information becomes available. It's only a first step.
___ Mediation/Contract Draft. This meeting takes place in our office or virtually, 1-2~ hours. This meeting can involve one or both parties. You are both welcome to email or call with additional suggestions for the draft either before or after the meeting. Some people think more clearly when they're alone or with a friend rather than their partner. It's always easier to edit than it is to start, so we have lots of ways to get you started. We try to make this stage as easy as possible for everyone. We build on what is already working for you and help you adjust areas where there may be conflict. We may give you neutral suggestions that have helped other couples handling similar situations. You are free to decide what may or may not work for you moving forward. Please focus as much as possible on what you want for yourself. The more clearly you can picture the life you want, the easier it will be for us to come up with ways your contract can make that happen for you.
___ Contract Review. Your contract sets up your personal and financial arrangements, including child support, pet schedules, etc. Editing your contract usually takes 1-2~ weeks, or as you prefer. A mediator is neutral and does not represent either party. Feel free to go over your contract provisions with a financial adviser, tax accountant, realtor, and/or attorney who represents only you. You're welcome to request edits until the document is exactly the way you want it. You can set a timeline in the contract for any financial paperwork that you need to accomplish the goals of the contract. For example: a quitclaim to transfer your house, a will to set up a trust for your children, or a QDRO or other document to transfer funds in your retirement accounts, et al. Most people prefer to sign the contract before starting their bank transfers, stock sales, wills, or other financial arrangements. That way you all know exactly what's going to happen, and when. Your contract is a To-Do list that you can both follow after it's signed. Your transition is easier when everyone knows what to expect. Making legal moves without a contract can be less clear. You're safer and protected if you are both on the same page, with a record that shows everyone exactly what to expect.
___ Signatures. You can sign your contract via DocuSign in 1-2~ days. Remember to check your email, and remember that often a DocuSign packet can only be viewed by one party at a time. If you don't see a DocuSign, please check with the other person. Or, if you're more comfortable dealing only with our office, email [email protected] to ask for a new packet.
___ Legal Separation. You are legally separated and your financial arrangements are established as soon as you have signed your contract. Your finances are now separate. You are no longer accumulating community property or debts. You can use the contract to apply for bank loans, to confirm to the court or any creditor that you do not have any issues remaining to resolve, to protect yourself from paying the other party's debts, to apply for rent for an apartment, to file your taxes, or for any other financial-related purpose, including buying or selling a home. Your contract can be updated or adjusted if you need to change it for any reason, so long as you both agree. Your contract is a flexible document. Your contract is also legally binding on both parties as long as it has been signed by both parties. Most people feel more comfortable dealing with each other after their contract has been signed.
___ Case Number. Our office will file the petition ($314 filing fee) and send a Case Number for your records, 1~ week. This will be emailed by the email address [email protected]. The case number will be in the email subject header. A case number will be a nine-digit number, formatted like this, “22-1-01234-1 SEA.” Your case is filed under Limited Representation for Agreed Orders only. “Agreed Orders” means court paperwork/forms signed by both parties. Your Uncontested case will NOT follow the Case Schedule that is assigned to every Case Number in King County. A Case Schedule sets up parties for a trial. Uncontested cases do not have a trial.
___ Court Forms. About 60 ~days after the petition is filed, you will see a Docusign from our office with additional forms for the court record. If you do NOT have children, you will sign forms 231, 241, and a Declaration of Formal Proof (to waive a court appearance). If you have children, you will sign forms 231, 241, 130, 140, a worksheet, and a Declaration of Formal Proof.
___ Final Court Record. You will get a receipt for your court paperwork about 90~ days after the petition is filed. We send your paperwork to the court and send you a receipt. Most paperwork is signed within 1-2 days. Sometimes, however, individual commissioners have personal preferences and ask for changes, or the commissioners may be delayed for technical reasons or because of the holidays. We will check in with the court reasonably until your paperwork is part of the court's public record, usually every couple of weeks. You can apply for a new marriage license or name change after your forms are in the court record.
We do our best to make sure your process is as stress-free as possible. We hope this checklist helps you feel more comfortable. It's always easier when you know exactly what to expect. Thank you for working with us!
– Jeff and Elizabeth Steen
- If you consult an attorney who represents only you, please tell your attorney that we follow WSBA Advisory Opinion 201901, with a limited representation, for Agreed Orders Only, that is provided after a Separation Contract has been signed resolving all issues between the parties. Your attorney is also free to file your court paperwork if they would prefer.
- Filing paperwork with the court after a petition has been filed is FREE in King County. You do not have to pay a lawyer to forward documents or finalize your case as long as you already have a Case Number. Our office gives you a Case Number and forwards your documents as a convenience, free of charge, to anyone who uses our services. It's usually easier for the court staff and for you if we just move the paperwork for you.
- You can check your case for updates anytime at https://kingcounty.gov/courts/clerk.aspx Scroll down to KCScript Portal, click, and check to see if Form 241 is showing as filed in your court records. If the form is on the website, your case is finalized in the court record. If it is not, your case is still pending finalization with the court clerk. Please be aware that the court website cannot tell you whether or not your documents are in the queue for a commissioner's signature.
- Please do not cause delays by calling or emailing court employees. The employees are ONLY allowed to communicate information that is already posted on the court website https://kingcounty.gov/courts/clerk.aspx
- Our office can only use the online filing system for King County Superior Courts. We cannot join you in informal communication with the court employees - we just don't have the bandwidth to keep up with conversations outside the official court electronic records system. We've found that if you call or email the court clerk directly, then it's going to be easier for everyone if you go ahead and finish by giving them your paperwork on your own. Call or email our office and ask for your forms. You can send your forms to the clerks or facilitators via email, in person, or any other method that they tell you they will allow. It's totally free.
- This checklist is not legal advice, and our office cannot answer any questions about any process outside this checklist. We use this system because we think it's the fastest, easiest way to manage paperwork for an uncontested/amicable process in King County. We don't want to comment on other lawyer's procedures, and we aren't allowed to give you legal advice about other lawyers.