In Washington, you no longer need to be able to prove fault on the part of your spouse in order to file for divorce. In fact, fault-based divorces are no longer an option in Washington. Under Washington’s “no-fault” divorce law, either spouse can file for divorce at any time by asserting that the marriage is “irretrievably broken.” No proof or details are required.
Washington’s no-fault divorce law is intended to make it easier for spouses to file for divorce. Prior to the law’s enactment, spouses were forced to provide specific justification, such as adultery or domestic violence, and to provide evidence of the justification before they could file for divorce. By doing away with these requirements, no-fault divorce laws are designed to facilitate easier, more-efficient – and ideally less confrontational – divorces.
“No-Fault” Does Not Mean “Uncontested”
However, it is important to understand that “no-fault” does not mean “uncontested.” While one spouse cannot prevent a divorce, spouses still can – and do – have differences when it comes to issues like alimony, child custody and support, and distribution of marital property.
When this happens, the spouses may be able to work through their differences by using an option such as collaborative divorce; or, they may need to resolve their differences in court. Out-of-court resolution has numerous benefits – for all couples, but especially for couples with children – and oftentimes spouses are able to work together to forge divorce settlements that accurately and fairly represent the interests of both parties. But, if this is not an option, the spouses will ultimately need a judge to make decisions for them.
If you and your spouse agree on all of the issues related to your divorce, you do have the option to file for an “uncontested” divorce in Washington. However, before agreeing to an uncontested divorce, it is important to make sure that you are doing so with full knowledge of the ramifications involved.
Is Fault Ever Relevant to a Washington Divorce?
While fault is no longer a factor in determining when or why spouses in Washington can get divorced, fault may still come into play in other areas. For example, the courts may consider a history of domestic violence when evaluating requests for child custody. If one spouse has exhibited a pattern of drinking or drug use, this could come into play when determining custody rights as well.
Obtaining a No-Fault Divorce in Washington
Obtaining a no-fault divorce in Washington starts with filing a Petition for Dissolution of Marriage in the state court in the county where you or your spouse resides. The Petition must be accompanied by a few other forms as well, including a summons, confidential information form, and vital statistics form. To make sure you complete the forms properly and avoid any unnecessary delays or other issues with your divorce, it is generally advisable to hire an attorney to represent you before the case is even filed.
Schedule a Divorce Consultation at Blado Kiger Bolan, P.S.
At Blado Kiger Bolan, P.S., we provide compassionate, experienced legal representation for individuals going through divorces in the Tacoma area. To learn more about protecting your rights in a no-fault divorce, call (253) 272-2997 or request a consultation online today.