How Long Will a Divorce Take?

Washington law provides that no marriage may be terminated until after 90 days from the date the Petition was filed, or served, whichever comes later. This is known as a "forced cooling off" period. If you and your spouse agree on all of the issues, or an Order of Default is entered (in the event your spouse has not responded to the Petition for Dissolution), a Decree of Dissolution may be entered on the 91st day after the later of service or filing. If you and your spouse are unable to agree on any issue, your case may be tried before a judge (you are not entitled to a jury trial in a dissolution case), unless you subsequently reach an agreement or agree to an alternative dispute resolution process such as arbitration. In Snohomish County, the trial date is approximately 5 to 7 months after the Response to the Petition and a Note for Trial Setting are filed. The goal in Snohomish County is to have trial dates 9 months after the Petition is filed, but that goal is far from being reached. Trials where there are children take longer to schedule than those without children.

In extremely extenuating circumstances, the process may be speeded up, but certainly many more months may transpire. If early resolution is not in your favor, your may choose to postpone the entry of a final decree until the case goes to trial. It is even possible to file a motion to postpone the trial date if a parenting evaluation has not been completed or for other limited reasons.