When people decide to divorce, they are often at a point wherein they no longer agree with their spouse about much of anything. People get into major disputes about how to divide their property or share time with their children. In some cases, they may not even agree about the necessity of the need to divorce.
Someone who has endured abuse or discovered an affair might decide that they want to exit their marriage even though their spouse wants to stay together. Others want to divorce for personal reasons that their spouse can’t understand.
Some people in Washington worry that they might file for divorce, only to end up trapped in an even more miserable marriage when their spouse fights back and prevents the divorce from occurring. Can one spouse keep the other trapped in an unhappy marriage?
Mutual consent is necessary for a marriage to continue
No one can force someone to enter into a marriage lawfully, and they also cannot force someone to remain married if they would prefer to divorce. Only one spouse has to decide that they want to file for divorce for the Washington family courts to proceed with the marital dissolution.
The spouse who wants to divorce submits paperwork to the courts and then officially serves the other. The spouse opposed to the marriage cannot prevent it from occurring but will need to respond. They can challenge suggestions for property settlement, support and custody matters and propose their own terms.
If they do suggest their own settlement, then the spouse who originally filed can ask the courts to move forward with a default divorce. The courts can potentially grant the terms requested by the spouse who filed due to the lack of input from the other spouse. In some cases, the courts may schedule a hearing as soon as 90 days after someone files their initial petition if their spouse defaulted by failing to respond.
Even if someone responds and contests the terms of their divorce, all that they can do is ensure that a judge makes decisions on behalf of the couple, rather than prevent the divorce from occurring. Oftentimes, even those who are opposed to divorce will eventually speak up and express their preferences so that they have some input concerning custody and property division matters.
Understanding what happens during Washington divorce proceedings can help individuals to evaluate their rights and options under the law so that they can exercise them effectively with the assistance of a legal professional.