In Washington State, a married person can file for divorce for whatever reasons he or she wants. In legal terms, the spouse simply has to tell the court that the marriage is “irretrievably broken.” But what happens if the other spouse doesn’t feel the same way? Does it matter if one spouse wants to save the marriage?

The short answer is “no”. One spouse can unilaterally end the marriage and the divorce can continue despite the other spouse’s vehement objections. However, a spouse that does not agree to a divorce can make the divorce process more difficult.

A divorce begins by filing a petition with the court. When a couple agrees to get divorced, they will usually file a joint petition that acknowledges that both partners agree that the marriage is irretrievably broken.

If one spouse refuses to sign a joint petition, the filing spouse will have to locate and legally serve him or her with the divorce paperwork. Some reluctant spouses slow this process by hiding from process servers. However, this will only work for so long, and eventually the case will move forward. Even if a reluctant spouse is successful at hiding from the process servers, the filing spouse still has the option of moving forward with the case by publishing a notice of the divorce in the newspaper.

If a spouse does not want to get divorced, the best way to prevent it is to cooperate with the divorce process. While this may sound counterintuitive, fighting the divorce or causing problems during the case can end up causing more conflict in the relationship and can strengthen the filing spouse’s resolve to get out of the marriage. By working with together and pursuing alternative dispute resolution methods like counseling or mediation, the couple may eventually be able to reconcile.

Divorce is never easy, especially if you don’t want it to happen. If your relationship is heading for divorce, speak with an experienced family law attorney about your options. At Pacific Northwest Family Law, our lawyers help clients work their problems out together through the use of traditional divorces, collaborative divorces, legal separations, mediations, and arbitrations.

Regardless of what decision you make about your relationship, the attorneys at Pacific Northwest Family Law can help you resolve your family law issues. To learn more about your options, contact us today by calling 360-926-9112.