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February 2, 2018

How Long Does It Take To Get A Divorce?


In Washington State, the fastest a divorce can be final is the 91st day after the Respondent has notice of the divorce.  That means if you file for divorce today but you don’t serve your spouse for a week, then the ninety-day clock doesn’t start running until your spouse has formal notice.
In traditional litigation, formal notice happens when someone is personally served.  This means that an adult (a person over eighteen) who is not a party to the action must hand deliver the divorce papers to your spouse.  This is sometimes costly, and it is almost always emotionally charged.  It’s best to find other options when possible.  Other options include the signing of a Joinder or a Service Accepted document.


If your spouse signs a Joinder – and joins in the petition with you – then the clock starts running when the case is filed, or once the Joinder is filed.  Your spouse can join in the divorce filing by signing the portion of the Petition for Divorce that addresses Joinder (See Form FL Divorce 201), or by signing and filing a separate Joinder form (See Form FL All Family 119).  If your spouse signs the Joinder, then it means you are in agreement on all of the issues.


If your spouse doesn’t want to join in the Petition, but also doesn’t want the stress of being personally served, he/she can sign and file a document called “Service Accepted.”  By signing and filing the Service Accepted document with the court, your spouse acknowledges that they have received the divorce papers.  Signing this document doesn’t mean they necessarily agree with everything in the papers; it only means that they acknowledge they have received the documents, so that they do not have to be personally served. (The Service Accepted document is Form FL All Family 117)


Even though the soonest a case can be completed is the 91st day after the Respondent has notice, most cases take longer to finish, especially when both spouses are represented by attorneys.  A case cannot be finished until all agreements have been reached, and all paperwork is completed and ready to be presented to the court.


If you and your spouse have reached agreement on all issues at the time you file for divorce, your spouse signs the Joinder, and you have all the paperwork completed, then the soonest you can be divorced is ninety-one days later.







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