Posted on Apr 22, 2014

Think the mandatory “cooling-off” period in a no-fault divorce is too long? Conservatives in Washington State want to make the waiting period four times longer, projecting their objection to divorce nationwide.

Under Washington Senate bill 5614, couples who have filed for divorce will have to wait up to one year to have their divorce finalized; if the bill is defeated, the waiting period will remain at 90 days.

Conservative lawmakers in several states have introduced similar bills to deter divorce and prevent couples from ending their marriages without any “legitimate” reason. Arizona, Louisiana and Utah have already passed legislation imposing longer waiting periods, making counseling courses mandatory for separated couples, or limiting the reasons a couple can legally divorce.

No-fault divorce has offered millions of couples the ability to dissolve a marriage without the burden of proving abuse or neglect. Before the practice was instituted in 1969, any spouse seeking divorce had to present evidence of infidelity, battery, or abandonment before a judge. Even when such allegations were recognized, accused spouses could fight the divorce in court.

Forty-five other states adopted the measure in the decade after Ronald Reagan signed no-fault divorce into law, with New York becoming the last state in the union to join them in 2009.

A 2003 Stanford University study, as well as a report from the Center for American Progress, confirmed the benefits of no-fault divorce—especially for women.

  • Domestic violence declined 30 percent in just 10 years.
  • Husbands who were convicted of murdering their wives dropped 10 percent.
  • Suicide rates among women declined up to 19 percent.
  • Only 28 percent of divorced women wished that they had stayed married.

Despite the success of no-fault divorce, conservatives continue to hinder those seeking an amicable dissolution of marriage. In 2013, seven lawmakers in Iowa introduced a bill that would prohibit no-fault divorces for couples who have children under age 18, unless parents could demonstrate adultery, abuse, abandonment, or felony imprisonment. Although the bill failed, similar measures are still pending in other states. One such state being Oklahoma, where lawmakers are considering a bill that would only allow divorce in cases of “impotency.”

Not sure how to begin your King County divorce proceedings? Click the links below to learn more, or download our FREE book, The Savvy Woman’s Guide to Divorce in Washington.

Molly B. Kenny
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Divorce and Child Custody Attorney Serving Bellevue and Seattle Washington