It often happens that one person in a marriage wants a divorce, but the other partner doesn’t. Perhaps there’s an objection for family reasons, religious beliefs, or maybe that partner just isn’t ready to move on. When only one partner in the relationship is ready for divorce, it’s important to understand the divorce laws in Washington State.
Washington No-Fault Divorce Laws
The state of Washington is a no-fault divorce state. This means, there is no legal need to prove that one spouse is responsible for the breakdown of the marriage or to find a “fault” with the relationship. A claim of “irreconcilable differences” by either party is enough for a court to agree to end the marriage.
In short, if one person wants out of a marriage, he is legally able to do so, whether the other person agrees or not. This is a freedom that hasn’t always been the case—prior to 1970, no-fault divorce laws didn’t exist in the United States. While a few states also maintain a fault-based divorce system, every state has since enacted some form of no-fault divorce. As a purely no-fault state, the state of Washington does not recognize fault in divorce proceedings at all, so claims and evidence of infidelity, abuse, or other issues aren’t needed to get divorced.
If you don’t want a divorce but your spouse does, you have few options if your spouse has made up his mind. You may try to talk through your issues as a couple, and you may consider marriage counseling or legal separation for a period of time. What’s most important, however, is not to be legally uncooperative.
High-conflict divorces are often time-consuming and expensive, and being the source of conflict is unlikely to make your spouse change his mind about ending the relationship. The emotional and psychological toll that a drawn-out and challenging divorce takes can be extremely high, not just for you and your spouse, but also for your family, especially if you have children.
However, you also don’t have to give up your legal rights in a divorce in the name of expediency. For example, you have a right to your fair share of marital property. Since Washington is a community property state, you typically have a right to half of all assets (and debts) that either partner has gained since the marriage. These can include:
- Cash, checking, and savings accounts
- Retirement accounts such as an IRA, 401(k), and pensions
- Investments, including stocks, bonds, profit-sharing plans, and mutual funds
- Life insurance policies
- Real estate, including the family home, vacation homes, and rental properties
There are many other kinds of assets to consider during the asset division phase of a divorce that you may have a right to, depending on your specific financial situation. Your divorce attorney will be able to review the facts of your case and help you negotiate with your spouse to obtain a fair settlement—or represent you in court if your spouse is being unreasonable.
Get Help With Your Divorce Today
Divorce can be legally complicated and emotionally challenging, but you don’t have to face it alone. If your spouse has asked for a divorce or has already filed, now is the time to seek legal help from a divorce attorney to discuss your options for moving forward.
To speak to an experienced divorce attorney about your situation, call the Law Offices of Molly B. Kenny. To arrange a private consultation with a legal professional at our Bellevue office, call us, or use our contact form to send an email.