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What Happens When You Want a Divorce and Your Spouse Doesn’t?

Many family law clients seeking divorce have spouses that have already agreed that the marriage is over. However, in some cases there is one spouse who isn’t ready to end the relationship. In these cases, the spouse that is prepared to divorce is often concerned about what happens when the other spouse tries to stop the divorce. In some cases, the responding (non-petitioning) party ends up agreeing that divorce is imminent after the petition is filed, but sometimes the responding party remains steadfast.

If the responding party argues that the marriage is not irretrievably broken, the court may (after a review of the relevant circumstances) order the parties to participate in counseling. RCW 26.09.030. Then, if the parties reconcile the petition for dissolution is dismissed. If the parties do not reconcile, the court will enter a decree of dissolution regardless of the other party’s dissent.

However, while your spouse will not be able to stop you from getting divorced, they can slow the process down. The dissolution process can be slowed by failing to agree on reasonable terms, requesting unnecessary discovery, and by arguing for continuances (among other things). It is important to tell your lawyer that the other party may be dragging his or her feet in the litigation process. Your lawyer may advise taking actions against the other party for unnecessary delays.

If you or your spouse is considering dissolving your marriage, and you would like to speak to a Seattle family law attorney, please contact us today.