time it takes to divorce

How Long Does Divorce Take in Washington?

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The minimum amount of time required to finalize a divorce varies from state to state. In some, like New Hampshire, it only takes a couple of weeks. Others, however, have a mandatory waiting period that exceeds six months. We often field the question: How long does a divorce take in Washington?

Does Washington Have A Waiting Period For Divorce?

The short answer is: In Washington, divorce takes a minimum of 90 days. That’s the absolute minimum, but many take much longer.

The 90-day clock starts when you or your spouse file the divorce action. If you both agree on every aspect of your case, the judge may sign your divorce decree after the three months is up. Presto, your divorce is finalized.

But you have to agree on everything. This includes the division of assets and debts, child custody, child support, spousal support, and any other issues.

Unfortunately, not all divorces are so simple. Shocking, right?

The more you have to fight about, the more complicated the process becomes. With every disagreement, point of contention, and new wrinkle, the finish line gets farther and farther away.

Why Can Divorces Take Longer Than 90 Days?

Contentious splits not only often require more time, but additional expenses and resources.

The more complex the case, the more likely you are to require the services of a divorce lawyer.  When you add kids and a lot of assets to divide to the process, it prolongs the process, often by months or more.

But additional services aren’t limited to your attorney. You may need to enlist a variety of other professionals along the way.  These are just a few types of experts you may need depending on the complexity of your situation and how contentious your divorce becomes.

Related Reading: Can You File For Bankruptcy During a Divorce?

Common Experts Needed in A Divorce Proceeding

    • Gaurdian Ad Litem
    • Forensic Accountent
    • Financial Planner
    • Home Appraiser
    • Data Recovery Specialist
    • Meditator or Arbitrator
    • Private Investigator
    • Special Master
    • Parental Evaluation
    • Process Server
    • Vocational Evaluator

Related Reading: How Is Debt Divided During A Divorce? In-Depth

The Waiting is the Hardest Part

So, 90 days is the minimum time it takes to divorce in Washington. As you see, however, many factors pop up to extend that timeframe.

If you can’t reach a settlement on your own or through mediation or arbitration, your case ultimately goes to trial. There a judge rules the case and determine the outcome. This, of course, takes a great deal of time. The courts commonly schedule trials months ahead of time.

On average, divorces that go to trial take in excess of one year.

Related Reading: A House Divided: Splitting Up a Home in Divorc


From the Radio

One of our founding partners, Rick Jones, regularly hits the airwaves to join the Danny Bonaduce and Sarah Morning Show, where he answers pressing family law questions from listeners.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, the question “How long does a divorce take in Washington” has come up. This call is a prime example of how a divorce can seem simple but wind up taking a long, long time.

Caller: “Hi, I have somewhat of a simple divorce. [Audible groans in the background.] Coming up I have my discovery cutoff and in two weeks it’s the exchange of evidence. We don’t have any home or children. However, when we split, she had me thrown out of the rental we had and moved in with her boyfriend [and] made a bunch of false statements in court documents.

“When I eventually filed for divorce, she quickly replied with a bunch more false statements. I’d like to know how I can present that on the discovery cutoff if I have to have my statement of evidence completed, or is that something I show up to court that day with the documents finished?”

Listen to the Conversation:

Rick: “The first thing I’m hearing is, ‘I’ve got a simple divorce,’ yet you’re already up against your discovery cutoff, which means you’re getting to the doorstep of a trial. A simple divorce would have been done by now.

“Let’s switch gears to the middle question, which is what can I do about her making false statements or claims? And the question I really have is, are they anything relevant to the divorce? If she’s saying what a bad dude you are, it doesn’t matter, true or untrue. If all you have is assets and liabilities, Washington is a no-fault state.

“The third one is more procedural. By the time you get this close to the discovery cutoff–what that’s meant is to basically tell both sides, ‘Hey, if you want to get information, and you want the power of the court to go subpoena bank information or require something of the other person, that means you would have had to wrap it up by then.’ That’s what the discovery cutoff is.

“Then you fast-forward to that joint statement of evidence. Without getting too deep in the woods here, what’s required is that both [parties] present to the court prior to going to trial, so at least the issue is framed and nobody is getting surprised by what comes on at trial.”

Related Reading: How Can I Protect Myself During Divorce?

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