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How to divorce an incarcerated spouse: Here’s what Washington State law has to say

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The process of divorcing an incarcerated spouse is not always clear. An experienced Washington State divorce attorney at Divorce Lawyers for Men is here to protect your rights, starting with this brief guide on how to divorce an incarcerated spouse.

Can you get a divorce if your spouse is incarcerated?

It is a common misunderstanding that if one’s spouse is in jail, you cannot legally divorce until they are released. This is a misconception. You can file and become successfully divorced from a spouse who is incarcerated. Even if your spouse is uncooperative, you can still file for divorce. The process is basically the same, with a few additional hurdles along the way.

How to file for divorce if your spouse is incarcerated

The process for divorcing a spouse in jail is the same as divorcing a spouse outside of jail.

In Washington State, the process begins with completing a divorce form. This is a petition to divorce which is initiated by one spouse.

The process of serving the papers to the incarcerated individual will vary from prison to prison. Serving the papers may be simplified because the state knows exactly where to find the inmate. It is important to plan accordingly by researching ahead of time to see what each individual prison’s process is for serving divorce forms.

Serve the papers

This petition is then filed in the county where you currently live. Then these divorce papers are served or presented to your spouse. At this stage, the pending divorce can be contested or uncontested, which can affect the length of the process.

Sign and file

The final stage is for both parties to sign and file the finalized divorce papers with the court. Of course, this is a basic outline of the process. There are several other factors that can influence the process. One being is if your spouse is incarcerated.

What is the process for the divorce hearing?

Even if you are unfamiliar with divorce proceedings, you probably know that there is a final hearing. It is probably envisioned with both parties present and then the finalization of your divorce.

But what happens when one spouse is incarcerated? There are several options available, and they depend on the specific circumstances of the divorce. There may also be more than one hearing associated with your divorce.

The incarcerated spouse does have the right to request to attend every hearing. This request is evaluated by the institution in which they are incarcerated. If the request is denied, then they have the right to have an attorney at the hearing on their behalf. If they are physically not able or allowed to attend, they may have the option to be present by phone or videoconference.

There are instances where the spouse has an absolute right to be there in person. This is primarily in relation to divorce hearings that involve the custodial rights of children.

Want to learn more about divorcing an incarcerated spouse?

Any divorce can be difficult to navigate. There are almost always multiple questions that arise along the way, especially with how to file for divorce if your spouse is incarcerated. The skilled attorneys with Divorce Lawyers for Men are highly qualified to assist you with your divorce.

Do not hesitate to call and speak with a family law attorney for a full case review. Call (360) 866-7393 for your consultation with a Washington State divorce attorney. You can also reach out to our office by filling out our convenient contact form to schedule your confidential, no-obligation consultation today.

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