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How long does it take to get divorced in Washington?

On Behalf of | Jun 10, 2024 | Divorce

If you are considering a divorce in Washington, one of your biggest concerns may be how long the process takes. Almost everyone has heard stories about divorces that have gone on for many years and even if you know your marriage is over you might fear a long, drawn-out process.

How long the divorce process takes is different for everyone. However, many states, including Washington, impose a mandatory waiting period between the filing and finalizing of a divorce.

90-day waiting period

Washington’s waiting period is 90 days. This means that the fastest divorce can take is 90 days. Realistically, that does not happen often. It generally takes a little longer for most couples to get divorced.

A more typical timeline is six months to one year. The reason is that most divorces involve more than signing a piece of paper declaring that you want to be divorced.
There are usually property division issues to be resolved or custody issues if you have children. Even if you do not believe you have much property, even smaller assets, such as vehicles or bank accounts that are marital property must be divided.

Why the waiting period?

The division must be put into writing and signed by you and your spouse before a divorce can be finalized. The idea behind the 90-day waiting period is to allow you and your spouse time to negotiate these items and to decide if divorce is truly what you both want.

Additionally, even if you and your spouse agree to the divorce, property division and custody, a hearing must still be held to finalize your divorce. You might be dependent on the court’s calendar. This could result in your final hearing being scheduled beyond day 91 even if all issues are resolved.

When do the 90 days start?

Another point to know is that the 90-day waiting period does not begin the day you file your divorce petition with the court. It begins after your spouse is served with a copy of the divorce petition.

There are specific requirements for service of process. Generally, your spouse must be served by a process server or sheriff. If you cannot locate your spouse, there are other ways to accomplish service but doing this will extend the overall process.

Ideally, both you and your spouse want to finalize your divorce as efficiently as you can. So, what causes some divorces to take so long?

Not agreeing on custody or property division terms is one of the biggest factors. Using mediation or another method to resolve these issues can often result in a quicker divorce resolution.

One spouse not agreeing to the divorce, having an uncooperative attitude or being non-responsive can make the process longer.

When you resolve all outstanding issues and the 90-day waiting period is passed, a judge signs a final divorce decree that details the terms of your agreement.

Can a divorce be appealed?

Spouses do have a right to appeal a final divorce decree if they disagree with the judge’s ruling. The appeal must be filed within 30 days of the final divorce decree being entered.

Once this 30-day appeal window passes, the divorce is truly final. But you should remember that terms involving alimony or child custody can be modified if there is a substantial change in circumstances so you could potentially find yourself in court again.