Is Washington a No-Fault Divorce State?

August 24, 2022

Within the past half-century, the practice of divorcing without assigning blame to either party has spread throughout all fifty states. Divorcing partners who opt for no-fault divorce can end their marriage without revealing the private and sensitive reasons why their union could not be saved. It is common practice to base a no-fault divorce on irreconcilable differences; this signifies that there is no chance of the couple getting back together in the future and that they cannot get along with one another. An attractive feature of the no-fault divorce is that neither partner is required to point the finger or disclose issues in the marriage.

Is Divorce for Cause Allowed in the State of Washington?

That answer is no. The state of Washington is a faultless divorce state, which means that the court is not interested in finding out what actions either spouse took that led to the breakup of the marriage. Suppose the petitioner requests a no-fault divorce and provides evidence that the marriage has irretrievably broken down. In that case, the court will typically grant the divorce in a relatively short amount of time.

In most cases, it is sufficient for one spouse to claim that the marriage has been irretrievably broken; however, the procedure may be delayed if the non-filing spouse disagrees with the filing and believes that the marriage is still intact. In that scenario, the case might be transferred to the family court, or the couple might be ordered to participate in some counseling session.

The period cannot exceed sixty days, either through counseling or through the intervention of the family court. If, after 60 days, both parties appear before the judge without having made any attempts to reconcile their differences, the court is required to grant the divorce. If the couple gets back together following therapy, the judge may choose to drop the divorce proceeding.


How Does the Divorce Process Work If Neither Party Was at Fault?

In the state of Washington, the first step in the divorce process is relatively uncomplicated. The spouse who wants to get a divorce is the one who is responsible for filing the necessary paperwork with the county court in their area of residence. The complaint contains all of the relevant information about the couple’s marriage, including the following details:

  • The most recent known address for each partner
  • The date of the wedding
  • The location of the wedding
  • if one of the partners is going to have a baby
  • Children’s names and ages if there are any children from the marriage
  • Disclosure of the date that the parties went their separate ways
  • Detailed preparations have been made for the children’s residential schedule

You are required to let the court know if you meet the state’s residency requirements, which means that at least one of your spouses must be a resident of the state of Washington. Washington has no residency requirement after a certain amount of time has passed. It is possible to demonstrate that you fulfill these requirements by providing a copy of your driver’s license, voter registration card, or post office address change paperwork. These are all acceptable forms of identification.


Is There an Opportunity to Take a Step Back?

In the same vein as many other states, Washington has a minimum statutory cooling-off period that must pass before a judge can consider your case, even if you meet all of the requirements. After the petitioner has delivered the documents to the respondent, there must be at least 90 days of waiting time.

In most cases, this period is sufficient for the couple to divorce to the agreement’s specifics. After the period, the parties can either agree and draft a divorce settlement agreement or go to trial. The fact that the spouses can reach a consensus on all issues about the divorce, such as the allocation of property, child custody, and financial support, and produce a written agreement to the court demonstrates that cooperation is the most efficient way to end the marriage. After the judge has signed the divorce papers, the couple’s divorce is considered to be legally finalized.

If the divorce is contested, it may cause feelings of resentment to become even more intense. It is in everyone’s best interest if the two parties can work out a way to get through the process without engaging in any conflict. An uncontested divorce is also better for the spouses financially.


Does It Make a Difference if One of the Spouses Is Unfaithful?

Infidelity is a significant factor in the dissolution of marriages far too frequently. It is reasonable to expect the partner who has been unfaithful to feel distressed in this situation. But during your divorce, is it possible to hold the cheating partner accountable for their actions? No, not in a no-fault state.

Because there is no requirement for “no-fault” divorce in the state of Washington, the behavior of either spouse during the marriage will not be considered by the trial court. This might make you feel upset, and you might question whether or not it’s fair. You might even consider it to be adding salt to the wound.

Since Washington is a community property state, any assets acquired during a marriage are considered jointly owned by both partners. If your partner used money from the marriage to pay for a trip to the Bahamas with someone other than you and then refused to reimburse you, the court might order them to do so.

Contact an experienced family law attorney in your area if you are considering divorce. This is the most effective method for comprehending the process.


What is the Point of Having a No-Fault Policy?

Arguments about who is to blame almost always serve to make the situation even worse. The concept of “community property” is recognized in the state of Washington. This essentially implies that the judge presiding over the case must divide the property in a manner that is “fair and equitable.” All assets and liabilities that are acquired during the course of a marriage, including the income of both partners, are considered to be “community property” and are equally owned by the couple.

This concept is founded on the premise that marriage is analogous to a partnership and that, as partners, both spouses ought to be entitled to the property that is accumulated throughout the course of the marriage. When dividing up the property after a divorce, taking into consideration who was at fault for the breakup only serves to prolong the process.

The resolution of the fault problem results in savings of both time and money. In addition to this, it has the potential to reduce tension, which is unquestionably in the best interests of the children. The litigation of family law in the context of divorce cases is typically an expensive and time-consuming drama. If there is disagreement about who is to blame for the incident, the complexity of the case will only grow. In addition, the judge would have to be presented with evidence of guilt before they could even begin to discuss issues such as the division of property, alimony (also known as spousal support), child support, and so on.


How Are Community Assets Divided up In Washington?

The state of Washington recognizes a divorce on a 50/50 basis. This indicates that practically all property, assets, and debts acquired during the course of a marriage are subject to division if the marriage ends in divorce, regardless of who was responsible for securing them. On the other hand, it does not imply that the spouses will consistently divide everything. In actuality, judges put forth their utmost efforts to divvy up common property in an equitable and just way.

The court or parties involved in the negotiations may decide how to divide the communal property you own. In order to accomplish this, you will first need to determine whether a particular asset, item of property, or debt belongs to the community or an individual. Second, a value will be assigned to every item and piece of property. You can accomplish this goal by selling it or having a trained expert evaluate it. Ultimately, the parties divide their obligations, assets, and property.

How long the marriage lasted, the type and amount of separate property and marital property, and the spouse’s financial information at the time of the division are all additional factors that could impact the division.


Should All Assets Be Divided Up in the Same Way?

The laws of community property in the state mandate that assets must be split evenly between spouses; however, exceptions can be made if any of the following conditions are met:

  • A contract drawn up before or after the wedding states that certain assets will be kept separate in the event of a divorce.
  • The couple concludes that they will divide their assets differently.

Because the application of concepts of community property to the process of dividing assets and property might appear unfair to some couples, they might try to divide their marital property on their own. If they cannot agree on the division of their property, a court in Washington will make the final determination, ultimately subject to the laws governing community property in the state.


You Need an Experienced Divorce Lawyer in Washington on Your Side

No-fault divorce proceedings in Washington may seem like one spouse is getting away with how they treated the other during the marriage. The policy hopes to make a stressful situation more manageable. The best thing you can do is hire a competent family law attorney to navigate you through the process so you can take a deep breath and move on with the rest of your life.

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