Understanding No-fault Divorces In Washington

Unlike other states where you would need to prove that one partner is “at fault” in a divorce, Washington state has an exclusive “no-fault” divorce law. What are no-fault divorces? How could this impact your case?

What is an “irretrievable breakdown”?

A no-fault divorce cites the reason for your divorce as an “irretrievable breakdown” of the marriage. This does the following:

  1. Takes the court’s guesswork out of marital disagreements.
  2. Avoids making private information public.
  3. Saves you time and money in preparing evidence against your spouse.

The reasons for your divorce do not concern the court. They will help settle financial disagreements, legal custody of children, child or spousal support, schedule counseling services and property division. They will not spend time deciding who was “right” in an argument.

Are there exceptions to a no-fault divorce?

There are few exceptions to a “no-fault” divorce. One is the rare circumstance of an annulment and the other is legal separation. You can pursue a legal separation from your spouse instead of or before a divorce. However, you would still be legally married under a legal separation.

“No-Fault” does not mean that you cannot object to the divorce. After a 90-day waiting period, you can classify your divorce as contested or uncontested, and the process will continue from there.

Even if you cannot locate your spouse, if your marriage is under Washington’s jurisdiction your divorce is still filed as no-fault. If you have a domestic partnership, it is subject to nearly identical divorce proceedings. Many same-sex domestic partnerships were merged by law into marriage on Jun 30, 2014 and are subject to a marriage’s divorce proceedings.

If your spouse spent large sums on a mistress or intentionally destroyed joint property, the judge may take that into consideration and award you a larger settlement. However, this is not an indication of “fault.” If there is domestic violence or cruelty, civil or criminal charges would be separate from the divorce proceedings.

Even though Washington legally declares that your divorce is a “no-fault” situation, you are still entitled to a fair settlement. If you are planning to file for divorce, you may want to explore your legal options.

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The Law Offices of Stacy D. Heard, PLLC

Stacy Heard is an accomplished and well-respected family law attorney in Seattle, Washington who has served clients for over 20 years. Stacy specializes in matrimonial and family law. She handles matters of divorce, high-conflict parenting plan/child custody issues, international custody disputes and Hague Convention cases, complex financial issues, relocation, restraining orders, child support, and modifications of Parenting Plans and Child Support Orders.