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What is the Mandatory Waiting Period for Divorce in Washington?

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Are you wondering what the mandatory waiting period is for divorce in the State of Washington? The answer to the question is 90 days. But you may also have bigger questions like: What is a mandatory waiting period for divorce? Why does it exist?

What is a mandatory waiting period?

Mandatory waiting periods are actually one of the more straightforward parts of the divorce process. They offer a reassuring constant in a process that is filled with unknowns and negotiable terms.

A “mandatory waiting period” is the mandatory minimum number of days after the filing of divorce paperwork that a couple is required to wait before their divorce can be finalized by the court.

This law is an example of the legal system trying to manage public policy. In general, state and federal court systems and the legislative system support the institution of marriage and family. As a result, our laws tend to make it easier to get married and more difficult to get divorced. Some make a very good argument that it should be the other way around.

Why does the mandatory waiting period for divorce exist?

The purpose of mandatory waiting periods is to impose a “cooling off” period of time on married couples. This is supposed to allow them time to reconsider their options and possibly decide to reconcile, rather than go forward with the dissolution of their marriage and the restructuring of their family, especially when children are involved.

Mandatory waiting periods for divorce are established separately by each state and can vary dramatically across states. Historically, states with particularly short waiting periods had cottage industries. This attracted individuals looking for “quickie” divorces that they were unable to get in their home state.

Of course, that is more complicated than it seems in that changing states for filing divorce also means meeting the residency requirements of that state to use their court system.

Does a divorce case actually take 90 days?

Remembering and considering the required waiting period when planning your divorce is important. However, it is also important to realize that very few divorces are actually finalized at that 91-day mark, (90 days mandatory plus 1). Divorce is a process that can move very slowly. Usually, it is only those uncomplicated divorces with the parties agreeing to all terms of the divorce that can be completed in the 90 – 100-day time frame. Most others stretch out into a several-month process, and some contentious and complex cases can take years to resolve.

So, if you are hoping to finalize your Washington divorce quickly, it is important to reach agreement with your spouse on all the terms of your divorce shortly before reaching the end of the mandatory 90-day waiting period.

Can I get divorced before the mandatory waiting period?

If you are compelled to look in other states with shorter waiting periods, (Nevada is a popular choice,) research the residency requirements associated with those states. Be sure to meet the residency requirements for the state where you plan to file for divorce. Otherwise, the court will reject your case, and you will likely not achieve your goals.

If your case involves some degree of negotiation to resolve the differences between you and your spouse, or if your case is particularly contentious or complex, the mandatory waiting period will likely pass with it having little to no effect on the progression of your divorce.

However, if you or your spouse file for divorce and get second thoughts, take advantage of the “cooling off” time. That is its intention, after all. Let your emotions settle and consider all your options carefully before proceeding. Divorce is a difficult emotional and financial process to put yourself and your family through if reconciliation is a viable option.

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If you are considering divorce, contact Divorce Lawyers for Men in Bellevue today. Our attorneys are tough litigators who have experience in both contested and uncontested divorce. Whether your case ends in a few months or a few years, we are here to represent you.

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