I Want to Complete This Divorce as Soon as Possible, but My Spouse Is Not Cooperating. Is There Anything that I Can Do?
This may come as a surprise, but Washington law does not require the consent of both parties to grant a divorce. However, the law does require that a husband or wife have notice that their spouse is seeking a divorce and that they are given an opportunity to resolve differences before a court order dissolving the marriage is entered.
If you successfully serve your spouse with a petition to dissolve your marriage (commonly known as “divorce papers”), you must wait at least ninety days before your divorce will become final. Your petition will include your requested terms for your children’s residential schedule, decision-making authority related to your children, and a division of your marital property.
After ninety days, if your spouse has not filed a response, you can receive a default judgment. Effectively, this means that because your spouse has not bothered to respond, the terms requested in your initial order will become binding on your former spouse, and your divorce will be final.
If you are unable to serve your spouse with your divorce papers, because they have moved out of state or you don’t know their current address, it may be necessary to hire a private investigator to find your spouse and serve them with the petition in person. In extreme circumstances, when you have done all you can to find your spouse and are still unable to find them, you may be permitted to serve the petition through the mail or by publishing notice of your intention to divorce your spouse in the newspaper. The court may only have limited authority over the other party in this circumstance, however, so they may be unable to divide debts and assets between the parties. This is the kind of scenario where an experienced family law attorney is truly indispensable. Call the team at Crouse Erickson today.