How To Get a Divorce Without Your Spouse

How To Get a Divorce Without Your Spouse

How To Get a Divorce Without Your Spouse

Going through a divorce can be a lonely and stressful time for any individual—especially when many different aspects are involved, including children, assets, and properties. It can be even more challenging to get a divorce without your spouse because it may require more steps to locate them, or because they disagree with the divorce and are being uncooperative. If you are currently feeling the tribulations of this unfortunate event, then this article will provide information on how to divorce without your spouse’s agreement or cooperation.

Is It Possible To Get a Divorce Without Your Spouse?

When you are seeking a divorce in the state of Washington, but your spouse is not present, you may file to start your divorce action so long as one spouse believes the marriage is irretrievably broken. In fact, all 50 states have laws that allow one partner in a marriage to initiate a divorce without the other’s presence or cooperation. Whether your spouse chooses to cooperate with you is up to them. Still, you must notify them of the divorce and serve them the divorce papers in order to move forward in the process as a contested divorce.

Requirements for a Contested Divorce

If you are filing for divorce in Washington, you must be a resident of the state on the day you file the papers. The Court allows you to file for divorce but may tell you to file it in another state if you, your spouse, children, or property are not located in Washington during the marriage. You should file in the state you reside in, your children are residences, and property is located. Otherwise, the Court may not be able to make decisions regarding the children or property if they are in another state.

It would be wise to seek legal help throughout this process from family law in the Tri Cities of WA to protect your rights to marital assets and debts, child custody, child support, spousal support, and other financial stipulations.

You will need to file a Petition for Dissolution of Marriage and other forms from your local Superior Court to show that this Court is the appropriate place to initiate your divorce. After filing the papers with the court clerk and pay the filing fee, you will need to have someone over the age of 18 personally give your spouse the paperwork for service to be acceptable. Your spouse does not need to participate unless there is agreement to file as a non-contested case, in which case they may join the divorce action. In contested matters, once you serve the divorce paperwork, your spouse has 20 days to respond if they were served in Washington state. If your spouse is located in another state, then you will need to serve in the state where they are located, and they will have an additional 60 days to respond.

Once the response is received, your divorce officially becomes contested, and you will have a case schedule and dates set for trial to complete mediation. If your spouse does not respond within the required time period, then you can move forward with finalizing your divorce by default without their participation. If a response is provided promptly, then the divorce action may go forward as contested.

What If You and Your Spouse Agree to the Terms?

If you and your spouse agree to the legal issues involving your marriage, such as dividing property, parenting arrangements, or alimony, then you can file for an uncontested divorce. This path to divorce is much less rocky if an agreement can be reached before or during the divorce action. Oftentimes, the divorce process is shortened because you do not need a judge at trial to resolve the divorce issues.

However, divorce paperwork has requirements you must comply with, especially if there are children involved. It is best to speak to an attorney to make sure you are doing what you need to do to move forward.

What If Your Spouse Never Lived in Washington?

Specific orders from the court will require the state of Washington to have personal jurisdiction over your spouse. This means your spouse needs to have one of the following:

  • They currently live in Washington.
  • They lived in the state at one point in your marriage.
  • You conceived a child with them in the state.
  • You are stationed here through the armed forces.

Your spouse might not meet these requirements—you can still file for divorce, but the court cannot order you alimony, child support, or parenting plans because the Court does not have authority over children and property located out of state.

What If You Cannot Find Your Spouse?

How do you get a divorce without your spouse when you cannot find them? Fortunately, you can still file for divorce. You will need to attempt to find your spouse before moving forward with other options to show the Court you have followed the correct process to start your case.

Exhaust all the possible places your spouse can be, and put in the effort to do this. While trying to locate your partner, document your actions so you can prove your diligence to the court.

After exhausting all avenues, you may ask the Court to serve your partner through publication—which means they will post notice of the divorce action in a newspaper or advertisement where you believe the person resides. If there is no response to the publication, you can motion for default and ask permission for the divorce to proceed without your partner’s participation.

How Long Will This Process Take?

After filing for divorce and serving your spouse, you must wait 90 days before the court can give any final orders. This process will take longer if you and your partner cannot agree on the legality of certain aspects of your marriage. The timeline can also depend on the county you reside in and the complications of your divorce, such as claims of alcoholism and domestic abuse, which often cannot be resolved without Court action. Remember, the path is always smoother when you can agree on things instead of going on trial. If this is not possible, then seeking help from an attorney is always a good option.

Is There an Alternative to Trial?

You can avoid a divorce trial altogether if you and your spouse are willing to communicate effectively in mediation. This will involve both parties, their attorneys, and a mediator. You will have more control over the results of the divorce in mediation if you can cooperate with your spouse and resolve all issues. If all goes well, you can reach a marriage settlement, sign the papers, and take everything back to court to be signed by a judge after 90 days to finalize your divorce without the need for any further litigation or trial.

What Can You Expect From a Divorce Trial?

In the state of Washington, a judge—without a jury—oversees a divorce trial. Your attorney will gather witness testimonies and exhibits that plead your case and present them to the judge. Your spouse and their attorney will do the same. After hearing testimony and seeing evidence from both parties, the judge will make their final decision. It is best to contact an attorney if your case cannot be resolved after trial to make sure deadlines are met for discovering materials, identifying witnesses, and providing a list of exhibits to use at trial.

Finding the Suitable Attorney

Before finalizing your decision on which attorney to work with, consider what exactly you want out of the divorce. If child custody is your main concern, find a lawyer that focuses on practicing family law. Ensure you are searching for attorneys in your local area to make this process more straightforward. Look into multiple attorneys and review their websites to get a better understanding of the best individual to work with.

Our firm, Lacoste Family Law, focuses all of our time and energy on our clients to ensure they receive the best outcome possible in their cases. We bring compassion and empathy to our clients and go the extra mile to make your divorce case as easy as possible.

Divorce can create sticky situations, especially if you cannot find your spouse, or they are being uncooperative. Understand that you are not alone throughout this process and laws and processes can help you proceed with your divorce. To ensure you have completed the court’s requirements, our legal team is ready to help! Call our office today to begin your divorce process so you can enjoy your life again.

How To Get a Divorce Without Your Spouse