There is a lot of misinformation among the general public about divorce. Part of our job here at Pacific Northwest Family Law is to educate individuals on their rights and responsibilities with respect to divorce, as well as tell them how the divorce process really works. Here are some common misconceptions about Washington divorce law that everyone should know about.

First, since there is a 90-day waiting period under Washington law to finalize your divorce, many individuals assume that their divorce will be completely after 90 days have passed from the time of filing divorce paperwork with the court and serving the other spouse. However, the only way that a divorce can be finalized immediately after 90 days is if the parties are completely in agreement on all issues related to their divorce and they submit a signed agreement to the court for approval. In reality, spouses do not always agree on all issues in their divorce proceedings, and even if you eventually reach an agreement, it may take more than 90 days to do so. Additionally, if you can’t reach agreement on all issues with your spouse, the court will have to schedule a trial, which can take more than a year for the date to arrive.

Second, some individuals also believe that divorce under Washington law is fault-based. A wife might believe that since her husband cheated on her, he is at fault for the divorce, and therefore, she should get everything and he should get nothing. In the state of Washington, there is no fault-based divorce. You don’t have to prove that one spouse or the other was “at fault” for causing the divorce. The fact that one spouse cheated is usually irrelevant to how assets and debts are divided or a parenting plan is created.

A third common myth is that if a child’s father doesn’t pay child support, then the mother doesn’t have to allow the father to see the child. Even if a parent never pays child support as ordered, he or she still has the right to spend time with the child. In fact, keeping a child from a non-paying parent could subject the other parent to sanctions and penalties. In some cases, withholding a child from a non-paying parent could lead to a change in the parenting plan altogether. There may be an indirect impact on parenting time if a parent fails to pay child support, in that he or she may lose a driver’s license or passport, or even go to jail. In general, however, parenting time and child support have absolutely nothing to do with one another.

Pacific Northwest Family Law knows how to handle all of the different issues that Washington divorce cases involve. We understand how emotional and stressful these types of cases can be, which is why we are here to help guide you through your divorce proceedings. Contact our offices today to set up an appointment with one of our Washington divorce lawyers and see what we can do to help with your case.