How Long Will a Divorce Take in Washington State?

Getting divorced is hard. It is a stressful, complicated, and emotionally fraught process. Most people who have made the decision to separate want to get through it as quickly and painlessly as possible. You may be wondering: How long does a divorce take in Washington? The somewhat unsatisfying answer is that the length of the process varies widely based on the circumstances.

However, it will take at least 90 days because of our state’s cooling-off period.

Here, our Spokane divorce attorney provides a more detailed overview of the divorce timeline. 

Know the Law: A 90-Day Waiting Period in Washington

In Washington, you can get divorced on no-fault grounds. You do not need to prove that your spouse did something wrong to justify separation. A divorce will be finalized based on an “irretrievable breakdown” of the marriage. That being said, you cannot simply walk into a courthouse in Spokane and walk out with finalized dissolution of marriage papers. There is a specific process and a waiting period. 

As explained by the Washington Courts, “the waiting period to finalize a divorce in Washington is 90 days.” In practice, this means that a petition must be filed—and the divorce papers must be served—a minimum of 90 days before a judge will sign the legal documents to officially end the marriage. The waiting period is also often called a cooling-off period. It is not optional. 

The Length Can Vary Widely

While you have to wait at least 90 days to dissolve a marriage in Washington, it would be a major mistake to assume that the process only takes three months. That is the minimum. In reality, it can drag on for quite a bit longer than that—particularly if a dispute arises. Divorces in Spokane can be broken down into two broad categories: 

  • Uncontested Divorce: With uncontested divorces, the parties are agreeing to settle all issues—property division, alimony, child custody, child support, etc.—outside of court. They may reach an uncontested divorce settlement through informal negotiations or a structured process like mediation. An uncontested divorce can move forward once an agreement is reached. It could be finalized after 90 days.  
  • Contested Divorce: A contested divorce is one in which there is an outstanding dispute over one or more material issues. Contested divorces are on a path towards litigation—though many are eventually settled before a trial actually begins. Still, a contested divorce can take a lot longer than 90 days. If there’s a full trial, it could take one to two years to finalize a separation. 

Compassionate Family Law Attorney in Spokane WA

At Hodgson Law Office, our Spokane divorce lawyer is a compassionate, experienced advocate for clients. If you have any questions, we are more than happy to help you find the best solution.

Call us now or send us a message online for a strictly confidential case evaluation. From our legal office in Spokane, we provide a full range of representation throughout Eastern Washington, including in Lincoln County, Whitman County, Adams County, and Stevens County.