Should I File My Divorce in Lincoln County?

Should I Divorce in Lincoln County?

After deciding to file for divorce, one of the subsequent decisions to be made is where you will file for divorce. As a general rule, you should file your divorce case in the county where you or your spouse reside, but Washington law allows spouses to pursue in any county they choose if both spouses agree. Deciding where to file is important because it will decide how convenient – or inconvenient – it is for you to participate in the case. An experienced divorce lawyer can help you understand your options and choose the best jurisdiction for your divorce case.


What is a Lincoln County Divorce?

Lincoln County allows spouses to file and even finalize their divorce by mail. In other words, you could obtain a divorce without ever having to appear in court. For this reason, 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 or online services that help people with divorces like to use Lincoln County because the divorce there can be done by mail. Therefore the service can handle the divorce for their clients without the service 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 Are Overrated

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 your divorce is not that difficult and often not that time-consuming. In addition, it may not be needed in other counties either.

For instance, in King County, if you have an attorney, there is generally no need for you to be present at the finalization hearing.  During the Covid pandemic, the courts greatly tried minimizing in-person contact. As a result, it is relatively unusual to have to appear in person at the courthouse for any reason if you have the assistance of an attorney.

Another possible advantage to filing for divorce in Lincoln County pertains to parenting classes and parenting plans. While most other counties require divorcing spouses with children to take a parenting class before they finalize the case, Lincoln County does not.  Aside from the fact that these classes may be beneficial to you, your spouse, and your children, the effort involved with taking these classes is now very minimal.  Instead of having to attend a class in-person at the courthouse, most classes are now offered in a convenient online forum, and can generally be completed without taking much time out of your day.


The Disadvantages of a Lincoln County Divorce

On the other hand, a significant risk with a Lincoln County divorce is that if anything goes wrong, such that you have 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.


Why People Choose to Pursue a Lincoln County Divorce

Lincoln County divorces are attractive primarily to people who want to represent themselves and are looking for a quick, low-cost option for ending their marriage. This may be a viable option for spouses who do not have children and have modest, uncomplicated financial matters who are able to agree to terms as to how they will separate.

Unfortunately, it is quite common for both spouses to agree to terms without really thinking through the future implications of what they are agreeing to. Alternatively, they discover that they cannot come to an agreement as to how to divide their assets and debts. The situation becomes far more difficult when there are children involved. The end result is that many Lincoln County divorces result in an unnecessarily complicated divorce that requires more time and money than they would have spent had they filed in a more convenient jurisdiction. In other words, Lincoln County does not always offer the shortcut to divorce that many people think.


Invest in Your Future and Call Seattle Divorce Services

At Seattle Divorce Services, we help our clients navigate the divorce process quickly and cost-effectively, balancing their immediate needs with their future interests. From collaborative divorces to “kitchen table” divorces, we match you with the best option that suits your needs. To discuss your case and how we can help, contact us today at 206-784-3049 to schedule an appointment.