Grounds for Divorce in Washington

by ECL Writer
Annulment In Washington

Grounds for Divorce in Washington – In Washington State, understanding the grounds for divorce is essential for couples considering the end of their marriage. Unlike some states that require specific reasons or faults to obtain a divorce, Washington is a “no-fault” divorce state. This means that couples can seek a divorce without having to prove wrongdoing or assign blame to either party. However, while no-fault divorces are common, there are still certain grounds that can be cited in divorce proceedings.

In this article, will delve into the grounds for divorce in Washington, exploring the concept of irretrievable breakdown and other circumstances that may influence the divorce process.

Whether you’re contemplating divorce or simply seeking knowledge about the legal aspects of marital dissolution in Washington, this article will provide valuable insights to help you navigate the complexities of divorce law in the state.

What Are Grounds For Divorce?

Anytime someone requests a dissolution of marriage—also known as a divorce—in court, the filing spouse is required to specify a valid reason for doing so. You must provide a clear justification for your request when you prepare your divorce application. In some places, you can petition for a fault divorce, in which case you argue that your spouse’s immoral behavior during the marriage is to blame for the breakdown of your union. Although fault grounds differ by state, some of the most frequent ones are adultery, mental or physical abuse, and drug or alcohol addiction.

In the last 50 years, no-fault divorce has become a common practice throughout all 50 states. A no-fault divorce allows divorcing partners to dissolve their union without disclosing the personal and intimate reasons the union failed. No-fault divorce is typically based on irreconcilable differences, which means that there is no hope of future reconciliation and the couple is no longer able to get along. Many states also permit divorces depending on the length of the couple’s separation. The fact that neither spouse needs to blame the other for the problems in the marriage is one of the most appealing aspects of the no-fault divorce.

Can I Ask For A Fault Divorce In Washington?

No, as Washington is a solely no-fault divorce state, the court is not concerned with discovering the actions of either spouse that led to the separation. The court typically grants a no-fault divorce quickly if the petitioner (filing spouse) requests one and provides evidence that the marriage has irretrievably broken down.

It is typically sufficient for one spouse to claim that the marriage is irreparably broken; but, if the non-filing spouse (respondent) contests the collapse of the marriage, the procedure may be delayed. If the partners can’t agree on how their marriage is doing, the court may:

  • transfer the case to family court
  • refer the couple for counseling services, and
  • request a report from the counseling services professional.

The entire process of counseling and family court intervention cannot go more than 60 days, which may seem demoralizing given the already intensely emotional nature of the situation. The court must issue the divorce if, after 60 days, the couple appears before the judge without making amends. After therapy, if the couple decides to get back together, the judge may decide to dismiss the divorce case.

How Does The No-Fault Divorce Process Work In Washington?

In Washington, the initial divorce procedure is rather simple. The spouse who wants a divorce must submit a petition for divorce to the county court where they reside. The lawsuit includes all pertinent details about the marriage of the parties, including:

  • each spouse’s last known address
  • the date and place of the wedding
  • whether either spouse is currently pregnant
  • the names and ages of any children from the marriage
  • a statement of when the parties separated
  • specific arrangements for the residential schedule and decision-making for the children
  • a detailed description of who will financially support the children, and if either spouse will provide alimony to the other, and
  • whether the parties own any community or separate property, and how they plan to divide it.

You must inform the court if you satisfy the state’s residency requirements, which entails that at least one spouse is a resident of the state of Washington, in addition to supplying facts in the complaint. Washington does not need residency for a certain period of time, in contrast to many other jurisdictions, but you must be able to show that the state is your principal residence and that you intend to remain there following the divorce. A copy of your driver’s license, voter registration card, or post office address change paperwork are acceptable forms of identification to demonstrate that you meet this criteria.

Washington likewise has a minimum statutory cooling-off period before the judge can consider your case if you meet the standards. 90 days must pass at least after the petitioner delivers (serves) the documents to the respondent. It is usually ample time for the separating spouses to sort out the specifics of the divorce agreement during the cooling-off period, which was established by the courts to give the pair some time to try to reconcile if that isn’t possible.

The parties might choose to reach a settlement and draft a divorce settlement agreement (uncontested divorce) or to proceed to trial (contested divorce) at the conclusion of the divorce process. The couple agrees on all divorce-related matters, including as property distribution, custody, and support, and produces a documented agreement to the judge, proving that working together is the most effective way to separate. The couple’s divorce is legally final after the judge signs the divorce papers.

Divorce cases are difficult and drawn out, and frequently the outcome is the same as if the couple had negotiated on their own without the help of the court. However, a hearing will result in much higher legal bills for each party, which is frequently a driving force behind discussions.

My Spouse Had An Affair, Does It Matter?

Not quite. The court can assess your spouse’s bad behavior in other areas of the divorce, such as property division or child custody agreements, in some no-fault states, like Michigan. However, in Washington, a spouse’s behavior throughout the marriage cannot affect a judge’s judgments regarding alimony, child support, custody, or the division of property and debt. But it doesn’t mean you can’t get back the money your spouse lost while engaging in inappropriate behavior.

Since Washington is a community property state, any assets accumulated during the marriage are equally the property of both spouses. If your spouse spent a weekend in the Bahamas with someone other than you while using marital funds, the court may require them to reimburse you.

Contact a skilled family law attorney in your area for advice if you’re thinking about filing for divorce or if your spouse has already filed and you need to know what to do next.

How Do I Get Divorce Immediately In Washington State?

In Washington State, obtaining an immediate divorce is not typically possible. The divorce process takes time and requires adherence to certain legal procedures. While it’s understandable that you may be seeking a speedy resolution, it’s important to recognize that divorce proceedings involve several factors that need careful consideration. Here are the general steps to follow when pursuing a divorce in Washington State:

  • Residency Requirement: To file for divorce in Washington, at least one spouse must meet the residency requirement, which entails living in the state for a specific period (usually 90 days) before filing.
  • Petition for Dissolution: The first step is to file a petition for dissolution of marriage with the appropriate court in your county. This document outlines the grounds for divorce and your desired outcomes regarding child custody, asset division, and spousal support.
  • Serve Divorce Papers: The non-filing spouse must be formally served with the divorce papers, providing them with notice of the proceedings.
  • Waiting Period: Washington State imposes a mandatory 90-day waiting period after the initial filing. This waiting period allows both parties to address any issues, such as child custody and property division.
  • Negotiations and Settlement: During this waiting period, spouses can negotiate and reach agreements on various matters with the help of their attorneys or through mediation. This can expedite the process if both parties are cooperative and can reach a resolution.
  • Finalizing the Divorce: Once all issues are resolved, a final divorce decree is prepared and submitted to the court. If the court approves the decree, the divorce becomes official.

While it may not be possible to obtain an immediate divorce in Washington State, it’s important to consult with an experienced family law attorney who can guide you through the process, help you understand your rights and obligations, and work towards a resolution that aligns with your best interests. Patience, open communication, and cooperation can contribute to a smoother and faster divorce process.

How Long Does Divorce Take In Washington?

The length of time it takes to obtain a divorce in Washington state can vary depending on several factors. In general, the minimum waiting period for a divorce in Washington is 90 days from the date the divorce petition is filed with the court. This waiting period is mandatory and intended to provide an opportunity for reconciliation or negotiation of the terms of the divorce.

However, it is important to note that the overall duration of the divorce process can be influenced by various factors such as the complexity of the issues involved, the level of cooperation between the spouses, and the court’s caseload. Uncontested divorces, where both parties agree on all aspects of the divorce, tend to be resolved more quickly. On the other hand, contested divorces, involving disputes over child custody, property division, or alimony, can take longer and may require court hearings and trial.

In summary, while the minimum waiting period is 90 days, the actual time it takes to finalize a divorce in Washington can range from a few months to over a year, depending on individual circumstances.

How Long After Divorce Can You Remarry In Washington?

In Washington state, there is no specific waiting period after a divorce before you can remarry. Once your divorce is finalized and the court has issued a final decree of divorce, you are free to remarry immediately if you wish.

It’s important to note that the divorce process in Washington can take several months, and the exact timeline can vary depending on the complexity of the case and the court’s schedule. However, once the divorce is officially granted and the court has entered the final divorce decree, there is no mandatory waiting period before you can enter into a new marriage.

However, it’s always advisable to take some time to heal and consider the emotional and practical aspects of starting a new relationship or getting remarried after a divorce. It’s essential to ensure that you are emotionally ready and that any legal and financial matters resulting from the previous marriage have been properly resolved.

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