What is a status-only divorce in Washington?

Understanding Status-Only Divorce in Washington State

In the realm of family law, the term 'divorce' often brings to mind the comprehensive process of legally dissolving a marriage, which includes addressing property division, child custody, and spousal support. However, there is a particular type of divorce that focuses solely on the termination of marital status, known as a status-only divorce. In Washington State, this unique legal option allows individuals to return to single status while leaving other issues to be resolved later.

Status-only divorces may be sought for various reasons. For example, one or both parties may wish to remarry before all financial matters are settled, or they may need to file taxes as a single individual. This legal measure can also be beneficial for couples who have negotiated a separation agreement but are waiting for the requisite one-year period to elapse before their divorce can be finalized.

It's important to note that a status-only divorce does not resolve financial issues or child-related matters. After the termination of marital status is granted, the parties will still need to address and resolve these aspects either through negotiation or litigation. The court retains jurisdiction over these remaining issues until they are settled either by mutual consent or through a court order.

An example of how a status-only divorce might be used can be drawn from a couple who has separated but has complex financial holdings that will take time to disentangle. They might choose to file for a status-only divorce so that they can legally end their marriage and potentially remarry while still working on an equitable distribution of assets.

Historically, the concept of dividing the dissolution process stems from times when personal and societal circumstances necessitated a swift change in marital status without waiting for the completion of property settlement. Over time, this has evolved into what some jurisdictions refer to as 'bifurcation' of divorce proceedings.

In conclusion, a status-only divorce in Washington State serves as a valuable legal tool for individuals seeking to end their marital status independently of other divorce-related issues. It provides flexibility within the legal framework of family law and accommodates unique personal circumstances while ensuring that all matters will eventually be addressed in accordance with the law.