Many people in Washington have heard of the “Lincoln County Divorce” and wonder if that is a good way to go. To my mind, the cons tend to outweigh the pros.
Many paralegal services that help people with divorces like to use Lincoln County because the divorce there can all be done by mail. Therefore the service can handle the divorce for their clients without having to actually appear in court (which they generally are not allowed to do).
On the other hand, most attorneys will file in their local county as there is no restriction on them doing so and there is little advantage to going out of county.
The advantages of filing in Lincoln County are fairly minor. You avoid having to make a personal appearance to finalize the divorce. However, a trip down to your local court to finalize is your divorce is not that difficult, and it may not be needed in other counties as well.
For instance, in King County, if there are no children involved your attorney can submit your final divorce papers online without having to make a trip to the courthouse. If there is a parenting plan, then a brief appearance by at least your attorney will be needed.
I also understand that Lincoln County may more easily waive the requirement for a parenting seminar prior to entering a final parenting plan. Again, however, this is a fairly minor thing to accomplish in most counties.
On the other hand, a significant risk with a Lincoln County divorce is that if anything goes wrong, such that you end up having to go to court for anything, your court hearing will be in Lincoln County. This means that you should never file in Lincoln County unless all of the final orders have been agreed to and signed by both parties.
Even then, it is possible that one party will change their mind and want to rescind their agreement, or that one party will act out in some way requiring a hearing for temporary orders. Unless you live very close, you DON’T want to be stuck having to go across the state for a hearing, or even worse, trying to hire an attorney to represent you there.
Even after the divorce is over, there is a potential for having to go back to court. There could be a need to enforce the agreement, or there might be a need to modify child support or a parenting plan.
Lincoln County might not even have jurisdiction to hear a petition to modify a parenting plan if neither party lives there, which would mean paying a new filing fee in the appropriate county (as opposed to the cheaper modification filing fee) to have it filed where it needs to be heard.