Divorce is rarely easy on anyone. This is particularly true when one spouse opposes the divorce. What options do you have when your spouse files for divorce, but you don’t agree?
First, you should understand that if your spouse wants a divorce, they will most likely get it; the only question is how long and difficult the process will be. Washington is a “no fault” divorce state. If your spouse decides to seek a divorce, they do not need to show any wrongdoing by you. They only need to allege that the marriage is irretrievably broken; that is, that the two of you have irreconcilable differences and can no longer get along. But they do not need to provide proof of irreconcilable differences to file the divorce petition.
A court may dismiss a divorce petition in limited situations, but these cases primarily involve one spouse being fraudulently induced or coerced to file the petition. These types of situations, fortunately, are few and far between.
A court may also dismiss a divorce petition if the petition is not properly filed or served, but these issues only delay a court’s consideration of the petition. Eventually, your spouse will figure out how to get the petition in front of the court.
What you can do is contest the divorce and argue that there are no irreconcilable differences that exist. But this does not mean that the court will deny the divorce petition. In Washington, when one spouse contests the existence of irreconcilable differences, the court has limited options. One option is for the court to delay the proceedings for up to 60 days and allow the parties to discuss their differences. But the court is unlikely to do this without some legitimate showing that there is any potential for reconciliation.
If you truly believe that you can repair the relationship, then you should ask the court to refer counseling. When the court agrees that counseling may be beneficial, they will ask the counseling service to report back to the court within 60 days. If the counseling service finds that the parties have reconciled, then the court will dismiss the divorce petition. If, on the other hand, after counseling your spouse still claims irreconcilable differences, the court will move on to consider how to divide your assets, whether either spouse is entitled to maintenance (Washington’s term for alimony) and how to address custody issues, eventually granting the divorce.
If you don’t agree with your spouse that irreconcilable differences exist, you should carefully discuss your options with an attorney. At the Law Offices of Molly B. Kenny, we understand how difficult it is to end a relationship. We serve a diverse range of clients in the Seattle area and have decades of experience with many difficult divorce situations, including high-conflict divorces, domestic violence cases, and high-asset situations.
To arrange a private consultation to talk about your own divorce situation, call us today, or use our online contact form to send an email.