What Are Grounds for Divorce in Washington?

Washington State recognizes no-fault divorce. This means that the spouse asking the court for a divorce (known as the petitioner) only needs to believe that they and their spouse have irreconcilable differences and that the marriage needs to end as a result. Washington law calls this situation an “irretrievably broken” marriage, and it is the only grounds for divorce available in the state (states with laws like this are sometimes called “strict no-fault divorce states”).

Because Washington only recognizes no-fault divorce, its courts are not interested in knowing the events that caused the marriage to end, and will not consider them when it comes time to decide how property and debts will be divided, who the children will live with, or whether either spouse will receive support payments (also known as alimony) after the divorce is final.

As long as one spouse alleges that the marriage is irretrievably broken, the only other requirement for a divorce is that at least one spouse be a resident of Washington State or a member of the armed forces stationed in Washington State.

Even if one spouse objects to a divorce, this is unlikely to make a difference in the end. When the spouse who was served with divorce papers (known as the respondent) objects to a divorce, a judge has two options. He or she can grant the divorce over the objection, or refer the married couple to counseling or family court to attempt working out their differences. Counseling or family court intervention can last for a maximum of sixty days. If at that point one spouse still wants to end the marriage, then the court will approve the divorce. Then the process of dividing debts and assets, developing a parenting plan if necessary, and determining any spousal support can begin.

No one should deal with divorce proceedings alone. Call the experienced family lawyers at Crouse Erickson today.

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