Divorce is referred to as “dissolution of marriage” in Washington. When a couple has determined their marriage cannot be saved, the legal process involves dissolving their marriage. This involves agreeing on property division, child support and custody matters and other legal issues. Each party should have their own legal representation in this process to protect their legal rights.

Washington is a “no-fault divorce” state, meaning there is no need to assign blame or prove that the other spouse is at fault for the failure of the marriage.  According to Washington state laws, only one spouse in the marriage must believe and declare that the marriage is irretrievably broken in order for the divorce decree to be granted. “Irretrievably broken” means that the marriage cannot be saved, and there is no chance of reconciliation.

Answers to the Most Common Questions

  • How long is the divorce process? The minimum waiting period for a divorce is ninety (90) days in Washington, which is the minimum amount of time required before the court will finalizes your divorce. Keep in mind, 90 days is the minimum time it will take for a divorce to be finalized – it will likely take longer if the couple does not agree on certain issues, which can lead to mediation and trial.
  • What does ‘uncontested’ mean? An uncontested divorce means that the couple agrees on all aspects of the divorce – how property should be divided, spousal support, the parenting plan, and child support. Of course, it is ideal to not be at odds with your spouse during the divorce process, but that isn’t always the case.
  • What are other reasons to try to file uncontested? By agreeing on all issues, you’re more likely to get along better after the divorce, which is especially important if you are have children. Additionally, you save money. The cost of an uncontested divorce is significantly less than the cost of a contested one.
  • What is mediation? Mediation requires a mediator or a trained neutral third party, often a lawyer or mental health professional, to help the couple reach agreement.
  • Does Washington recognize common law marriage? No.  You have to be legally married for the court to finalize a divorce. However, Washington does recognize domestic partnerships. If two domestic partners want to separate, then they must dissolve their partnership through the courts.

In some cases, couples may agree on nearly everything associated with the divorce process. This may result in one or both parties determining they do not need to seek the advice of a family lawyer to guide them through the divorce process. However, it can be helpful to have an attorney review their agreements prior to signing them. Bender Law is more than happy to review your agreements to ensure your rights are protected and help you determine if representing yourself is a good idea.

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