A significant portion of married couples eventually find themselves in divorce court. Divorce is a very personal process that unfolds in vastly different ways depending on family circumstances and the location where someone files divorce paperwork with the family courts.
Washington state has some unique laws, not the least of which is the community property statute used to divide marital property. Someone considering divorce in Washington will want to know the basics of the rules that apply before they take legal action. Understandably, worrying about whether one can meet a state’s necessary legal standards for divorce is a common concern. What do people actually have to prove to get divorced in Washington?
Proving fault is not a requirement
Washington has been a no-fault state for divorce for many years. People do not need to have actionable grounds to initiate divorce in Washington. In other words, they don’t have to prove that their spouse cheated or abused them to end an unhealthy marriage. A no-fault divorce comes from the claim that there are irreconcilable differences between the spouses or that the marital relationship has undergone an irreversible breakdown. Either spouse can file for divorce without submitting any evidence of misconduct or even a separation from their spouse to move forward with the process.
The spouse who did not file will need to respond promptly. Their response will not prevent the divorce but may alter the final terms. Those who fail to respond to a divorce filing may lose their right to challenge the proposed terms for property division, financial support and parental responsibilities. The person who filed can pursue a default divorce judgment once 90 days have passed since they filed the initial paperwork and provided service to their spouse.
In a nutshell, the person who files for divorce does not need to prove anything to be eligible for dissolution. Furthermore, the person responding to the filing will not be in a position to prevent the divorce by disproving the claims of the person who filed or ignoring their filing. Making sense of the laws that apply during Washington divorce proceedings, including its approach to the issue of fault, may help those nervous about the requirements to legally end a marriage.